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Café strengthens ties with local producers

/ 04:56 AM December 15, 2014
Fresh bread, sweets and fine dining at Café by the Ruins Dua (Ilocano for second), which opened in Baguio recently.  Photos by EV Espiritu, Inquirer Northern Luzon

Fresh bread, sweets and fine dining at Café by the Ruins Dua (Ilocano for second), which opened in Baguio recently.
Photos by EV Espiritu, Inquirer Northern Luzon

BAGUIO CITY—The summer capital’s familiar landmark in more than two decades, Café by the Ruins, is giving its patrons a “second serving.”

Recently, the Café by the Ruins Dua (“dua” is an Ilocano word for two), the first branch of one of the city’s best restaurants, opened its kitchen to residents and visitors on Upper Session Road.

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Café Dua, its owners said, will sustain the restaurant’s support for local producers. The ingredients that went into its dishes, bread and other creations were sourced from local farmers.

Laida Lim-Perez, one the Café’s founding partners, said they wanted to encourage the use of local products and showcase these to the rest of the country and the world.

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“We want to eat local, but taste global,” Perez said.

She said Café by the Ruins has established a strong partnership with their suppliers through the years, even transacting business by telephone calls and text messages. Products are delivered through bus shipment or commercial courier.

Through these partnerships, the restaurant helps in stimulating local economies and supporting organic agricultural practices, she said.

Perez said they wanted to avoid importing products as much as possible, that even their lamb is sourced from a farm in Tarlac province.

“The lamb [supplier] was recommended by a friend of a friend, and by talking on the phone, we started talking business already,” she said.

The restaurant’s owners, in a statement, said the Café’s menu changes every four months to feature the best of what is in season in Baguio.

Chicken, fish, meat and vegetables served by the Café are bought at the Baguio public market and from local suppliers, while its supply of chocolate, coffee and milk comes from all over the country—from the Cordillera to the Davao regions.

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Its “tablea” chocolate comes from Davao; honey, coffee beans and organic vegetables from Benguet; cow’s milk, “kesong puti” (white cheese), seafood and “bagoong” (fish paste) from Pangasinan; carabao milk and cheese from Nueva Ecija; lamb from Tarlac; duck from Batangas and Laguna; hibiscus or gumamela flower from Mount Province; “tapuy” or rice wine from Baguio City; meat from the Baguio market; “bangus” (milkfish) from Dagupan City; and “tilapia” from Ambuklao Dam in Benguet.

The restaurant gets its “palayok” (clay pots) from La Union, while the textiles for staff uniforms come from Ilocos Norte.

Celestina Arvisu, president of Ruins Inc., said the decision to branch out was planned when the Café turned 20 years old in 2008 but they could not find the right location.

With that in mind, the owners also envisioned the Café to have its own bakery, a production house and a commissary.

After discovering the new site on Upper Session Road, they decided to turn the place into a coffee shop. Initially, the two-level Café Dua, which sits about 100 people, will operate from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Its owners said Café Dua is a case study in social enterprise, with the business offering not only food but a place where Baguio artists can exhibit and sell their works, and where cultural, literary and musical events can be staged.

“We started as a ‘tambayan,’ not to make money, but to get together and share food. Now it’s more business; we have employees. We are now more serious than when we started [this venture],” said writer and artist Baboo Mondoñedo, one of the Café’s founding partners.

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