Advocafe

Our hot drinks and hearty meals do far more than just quench our appetites. What we pay for our food, more often than not, goes to fund an enterprise that we may not consciously think about when we are gathered for some grub. At Advocafe, one can see where the profits go—and the impact that a meal can have on the life of a community.

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We heard of Advocafe several years ago, from a student studying in the Ermita area of Manila. This was touted not only as a place with reasonably priced dishes, but also as an advocacy for the Philippines’ indigenous groups. At present there are around 110 indigenous ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines, comprised of 14-17 million persons. Many of their communities have difficulties with accessing basic services and utilities as well as preserving their local culture and traditions. There are several groups involved in the advocacies for indigenous groups, some of which have partnered with Advocafe to provide a venue for marketing indigenous coffee and other products.

It took us some time to find Advocafe owing to its being a relatively small location in a neighborhood of large businesses. Its relaxed and warm interior was the perfect place for us to stop for a leisurely brunch. We ordered the Biya (dried fish) all day breakfast meal, Pesto Pasta, and a cup of Hot Chocolate as well as a cup of Dilaw (Turmeric) herbal tea.

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The crispy Biya came with a cup of upland rice, with its signature reddish-purple grains. We realized that the perfect combination would be this Biya meal with the sweetish hot chocolate, the latter being perfect for pouring over the rice. The fish itself was not greasy or overly salty, giving some mild sharpness to the meal.

The Pesto Pasta was at least well cooked, with the pesto itself having a mild flavor. The Dilaw Tea was rather strong for our tastes, and we figured would be better for pairing with rice cakes.

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To cap off our brunch, we got a slice of Advocafe’s signature moist chocolate cake. To our delight this treat was not sickly sweet, but provided just a mild hint of dark chocolate. We recommend this for diners who may not be so accustomed to rough tablea flavors, but still want a taste of local dark chocolate.

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All net profits from Advocafe  go to educational programs for various indigenous groups in different parts of the country. These educational endeavors include livelihood training as well as adapting to climate change. Other local products such as tablea blocks and herbal teas are also available here on a retail basis. This is truly one place to dine for a cause.

Food Score: 3.5/5: While we certainly enjoyed the all day breakfast, we feel that their pasta could be improved in flavor and presentation. The portion sizes are reasonable for student and backpacker budgets.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4/5: The service here was fast, even at an early hour. The ambiance of this place is very inviting with its comfortable seating and warm colors. The photograph displays also help provide a bird’s eye view as to what Advocafe is all about.

GERD Score: 3.5/5 For anyone dealing with heartburn, there are some options one can select such as the cakes and tea, along with a meal or two. One could say that Advocafe is a good spot for an quiet afternoon snack.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5: Some of the breakfast selections involve processed meats such as hotdogs, which may not be tolerated by some diners. However the herbal teas and non-coffee selections make this place very worth the visit.
Team Glasses Score: 4/5 : Advocafe is a place with a heart: simple and reasonably priced food, with a mission to help others. We definitely recommend a visit to this place not only for the meals, but to also learn how you can help our countrymen from these indigenous groups.

Advocafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Enchanted Farm: Food For More than Just Eating

It is a courtesy when dining out to give one’s ‘compliments to the chef’ after an excellent meal. Sadly, it is not a common practice to pay respects to those who grow the food! In recent years, some farm-to-table restaurants have raised some awareness about where they source their organic vegetables and free-range meats, but for most diners the distance still remains between their tables and the farms, ranches, and fisheries where the food is actually produced. However, there is at least one place wherein customers can come up close and personal with a community that is behind some up and coming food brands in the Philippines: Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm.

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At the entrance to the farm

Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm is located at Barangay Encanto, Angat, Bulacan. This venture by the non-profit organization Gawad Kalinga has partnered with a village to help set up social enterprises wherein much of the profit goes to the community that started up the business. Since 2010, the Enchanted Farm has served as a start-up point and ‘incubator’ for a variety of social enterprises such as Bayani Brew, the Human Nature beauty and personal care line, as well as other start-up businesses begun by students who have trained at the farm village university. Not surprisingly many of these enterprises would be featured at the farm’s seventh anniversary fair, which Team Glasses was all too eager to pay a visit to this month.

One product that immediately caught our attention was the Luscious Choco Gelato courtesy of Kayumanggi Organic. We discovered that this was actually a vegan gelato, making use of coconut milk in lieu of cow’s milk. Admittedly I was skeptical at first, but then again, chocolate has always been more than enough to overcome our doubts.  And indeed, our faith in chocolate was proven right, for the first spoonfuls of this gelato had the distinctive flavor of tablea melting in our mouths. The gelato itself was light and smooth on our tongues, yet remaining rich in flavor down to the last drop. Most interestingly, the gelato did not trigger another of Lee’s acid reflux attacks, a problem we’ve encountered on most other occasions with dairy desserts.

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Alas, this gelato was so good that we finished it before getting a picture. This is all that’s left!

Another treat during our visit to Enchanted Farm was the duck burger from Golden Duck, a social enterprise centered around a duck farm started within the community. At first glance these burgers appeared to be on the plain side: bread, patty, onion, and tomato. No lettuce or cheese. One bite though was enough to explain exactly why this was the most Spartan burger we’d encountered yet; all the goodness was in the patty itself. The duck meat was rich and fatty, but seasoned with pepper to offset the otherwise heavy taste. This was one case wherein no fixings were necessary.

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“How is this NOT a thing?!”

Yet another homegrown delight was the chocolate cake from the Make Peace Bakery, a French-inspired bakery run by the community youth. This particular dessert was not too sweet, with a light chocolate flavor that sank through every bit of the chocolate sponge cake. Only a little icing was necessary to spruce the cake up. The result was a dessert to rival those of Manila patisseries—and at a fair price to boot.

Thankfully we, and other travelers, do not have to venture as far as Bulacan to sample these treats. Kayumanggi Organic sells its chocolate gelato as well as coconut oil, coconut sugar, and wild ginger over at RealFood in Alabang. The duck burger as well as other products from Enchanted Farm are also available at Enchanted Farm Café on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.
Hopefully as these products and other social enterprises become more available and prosper, more communities will make their way out of poverty and continue to develop. And having healthier and sustainable food options in the market is a great boon to gourmets and gourmands who would like to be sure of their health—as well as the welfare of those around them.