Tag Archives: coffee

Madge Cafe: Where La Paz has been getting together for a cup of coffee for over 80 years

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Peter dela Cruz, third generation owner of Madge Cafe.

Madge Cafe, located in La Paz market, has been a community hub for over 80 years, since Vicente dela Cruz opened it in the late 30’s, naming it after his wife.

The Cafe uses pure arabica beans, which they roast themselves. The coffee is made the old-fashioned way, the same way from when the Cafe first started, using a cloth ‘sock’ to strain the brew. A wall is lined with shelves that hold personalized mugs. “Those mugs are for our regular customers. We have customers that have been with us since my father’s time. Everyday, naging routine nila to drop by here and have breakfast,” says dela Cruz’ grandson, Peter, who runs Madge Cafe with his mother, and who has managed to add his own spin to the cafe, without changing its legacy.

 

What better way to while away an afternoon with friends than with coffee and pastry?

 

“When I took over, I thought of having mugs with their names for the regulars so when they drop by, they have their own mugs. We also know how they like their drinks,” he says.

Peter also introduced iced coffee, which helped the Cafe attract the younger market. They also serve home style meals, as well as pastries that they get from a nearby bake shop.
Madge Cafe continues to be part of the community. “There’s a group that meets here every day,” Peter says. “Every time someone has a birthday, they spend it here. They’ve become a community.”

Some regulars have even become family friends. “One lawyer used to review for the bar here every day. It was a memorable time for him. He’s our lawyer now,” Peter says. “Some couples have gone on dates here, and some have even had their prenup photos taken here because this is where they met or got to know each other.”

 

Madge Cafe: Serving coffee before it was cool.

Madge Cafe continues to be an Iloilo institution. It recently opened its second branch in The Shops at Atria in fast developing Manduriao. “Many people ask what our secret is,” Peter says. “Actually, we don’t have a secret. Our coffee is served as is, no flavors added. It’s traditional… We’re really homegrown Iloilo.”

 

Eating Iloilo: La Paz Market

My friends and I were supposed to spend the day visiting old buildings in Iloilo City, but Mother Nature had other plans. It started to rain around lunchtime, and since were near La Paz, we thought it would be perfect to warm ourselves with batchoy.

We asked our cab driver where locals went to get their batchoy fix, and while he rattled off three or four places, he concluded by saying that he liked Netongs the best. So off we went to the La Paz market to find Netongs Authentic Lapaz Batchoy.

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There are three kinds of batchoy available, all of them built on the foundation of egg noodles, pork broth, and pork bits. I picked regular batchoy (no beef), but added an extra raw egg, because I like swirling it around and watching the ribbons cook in the hot broth.

Sated, we agreed that coffee would hit the spot, especially on a lovely rainy afternoon. A look online told us that we should check out Madge Cafe, and that it was nearby. We didn’t know that nearby meant inside the market, just a few steps away from Netongs, so that was a happy surprise.

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The cafe opened in 1951 and has been a popular haunt ever since. The coffee is heated and strained through a sock-like sieve. There’s brown and white sugar on the table, some of them in old-fashioned canisters. Some of the mugs behind the counter have names on them so regular customers always have a mug to drink from.

Madge Cafe is an institution, its interiors harkening back to when it first opened. Even with the proliferation of restaurants and coffee shops in the city, Madge Cafe is still where people go to meet over a good cup of coffee.

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Strong coffee with milk, regular coffee with milk, iced black coffee, and a custard roll from Madge Cafe at the La Paz market in Iloilo while we wait out the rain.

The rain let up just as we finished our coffee break, so we got to continue exploring the gorgeous old mansions that dot Iloilo City. It’s nice that Netongs and Madge Cafe, two institutions, still stand, their popularity never waning. It speaks of a love for tradition, a respect for the old ways, and most importantly, a constant demand for a good, reasonably priced meal.

A Rainy Day at the Ghibli Museum

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Fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s animation cannot go to Japan without stopping by the Ghibli Museum at least once in their life.

The museum is located in Mitaka, Tokyo. There’s a bus stop near the Mitaka station where buses take tourists directly to the museum. The adorable sign makes it hard to miss.

Timetable for the bus to the Ghibli Museum.

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Mitaka is quite proud of its landmark. Some of its buses are decorated with cute Ghibli-themed designs. These are actual city buses with actual city routes. They also happen to pass the Ghibli Museum.

The bus that took us to the Ghibli Museum.

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It’s famously difficult to get tickets to the museum. Tickets have to be bought in Japan, and there’s only a limited number of slots for foreigners. Luckily, the friend I was staying with is a resident, so getting tickets were no trouble at all, for me, at least.

It was raining on the day we visited, so tents had been set up outside the museum, which looked like something from out of a Miyazaki cartoon. The buildings looked like they were built into hills, with windows peeking out from shrub-covered walls. Everything had a pre-WWI tinge to it, that fantastic era so prevalent in Ghibli films.

We arrived just in time for lunch. There’s only one restaurant on the premises, the Straw Hat Cafe. The food is delicious, in the way that it seems that all food in Japan is delicious, but nothing special. Plus, it was overpriced. But aren’t all museum cafes overpriced? It’s the experience that you’re paying for, after all. And this particular museum has truckloads of those!

But first, lunch!

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The Straw Hat Cafe posts its specialties outside. Its menu is simple and is made up of categories that sound like they should be yelled at you by an enthusiastic child temping in the family restaurant like “Something Cold to Drink,” “Something to Eat,” and “Dessert&Cake.” It is quite possibly the only good use for Comic Sans I have ever seen.

"Daily Soup" from Straw Hat Cafe at the Ghibli Museum. Today, it was corn soup.

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I love Japanese-style corn soup. It’s creamy and slightly sweet, but with a bump of umami, and when served hot, it hugs at the insides. Of course, I had to have the soup. I decided on the Pasta Neapolitana with a Mischievous Meatball because my friend told me about its importance in Japanese history (see photo caption below).

We also tried the Creamy Vanilla Cheese Pie with Pineapple Crust Edges, which tasted like really well-made refrigerator cheesecake. After a good meal punctuated with fun conversation, we were off to see the museum.

Creamy Vanilla Cheese Pie with Pineapple Crust Edges and coffee from Straw Hat Cafe at the Ghibli Museum.

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Unfortunately, the Ghibli Museum did not allow photography inside its premises. Visitors get to learn about the animation process as well as enjoy rooms themed after their favorite animations.

Everything outside can be photographed, though, including and especially this adorable Totoro manning the ticket booth, the soot sprites huddling underneath.

Look who was manning the ticket booth!

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The museum is out of the way, but it’s worth the trip. Even if you aren’t a Miyazaki fan, if you visit the museum, you’ll probably come out wanting to watch everything in Studio Ghibli’s discography.