26 August 2010

the Best Boracay Breakfasts at Real Coffee

It's funny how despite the fact that I hardly ever wake up before 10 in the morning, breakfast still remains my favorite meal of the day! Even if I wake up past noon sometimes when everyone else is having lunch, I still must have breakfast food.

So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when I found myself frequenting this tiny little shack, hidden in a small alley off White Beach at the end of station 1 for my omelette or iced mocha or french toast fix during our past few trips to Boracay.


Real Coffee has become somewhat of an institution on this island already. For years and years now (since 1996 apaprently), Real Coffee has been the go-to place for good coffee and even better breakfasts in Boracay. On any given day, you get both locals, tourists, or long-staying island guests visiting this tiny little hut for coffee and their all-day breakfast!

Some say Real Coffee has become the tourist magnet it is now because of its coffee (at one point, it was the only place where you could get a good cup of coffee on the whole island!).. While others say that its the warm, friendly owner, Lee, that keeps them coming back... Most will argue though that Real Coffee owes its fame to the legendary calamansi muffin!

baking muffins...

Personally, I fell in love with the place just because of its rugged island charm! With its tiny nipa hut structure; its bamboo tables, stools & chairs; the homey open kitchen where the smiling staff busy themselves with brewing coffee, making pancakes and omelettes, baking muffins and serving their guests; their light laughing banter with each other and their guests; mismatched mugs, china and coffee cups; the small jars of Clara Ole jam that they serve with your toast with the bread knife sticking right out of it; and that fat lazy cat that's always ALWAYS napping on one of the stools every single time I'm there... makes being at Real Coffee feel just like having breakfast in your own kitchen. A nice airy kitchen in the province with a view of the blue sea from afar, that is.

Having breakfast at Real Coffee has never failed to cheer me up or just to give me a great kickstart to another day at the beach. And our Real Coffee breakfast on this last visit to Boracay wasn't going to change that.

We arrived in Boracay too early on our first day and while the staff at Discovery Shores were kind enough to give us a temporary room, technically, we really weren't checked-in yet, which meant that complimentary breakfasts didn't apply just yet. Yay! Perfect excuse to head out and bring my mom and the boys to Real Coffee for some good ol' island breakfast fare then.

And boy, did we need comfort food on that first day! After a traumatic flight to Caticlan (turbulence almost throughout the entire flight with a couple of violent dips in the air -- I swear I thought it was the end of us!) and an even rougher landing, all of us needed a good pick-me-up! And Real Coffee certainly did not fail us!

Eek! The plane ride from hell. :(
My mom ordered their Jack-A-Lean Omelette (P250) -- two eggs, onions, tomatoes, tuna and cheese with toast. Now, cheese in an omelette always does it for me but what makes this omelette even better is when you have them put in some pesto (for an add'l P20) so of course I had to be devil's advocate to Mother and convinced her to go for the pesto version.

the Jack-A-Lean Omelette with Pesto & Toast
This Jack-A-Lean Omelette is actually a lighter and as the name suggests, leaner version of one of their best-sellers, the Jack's Omelette (P280) that's made with 3 eggs instead of Jack-A-Lean's 2 eggs! And man, the Jack-A-Lean was already a pretty big breakfast! Mother couldn't even finish it and that was with me stealing forkfuls, too! So I can't even imagine how anyone can even finish the Jack's!

All their breakfast specials come with a cup of brewed coffee or a cup of tea so my mom got her caffeine fix for free! :) So for P270, that's not a pretty bad deal!

The Mister and I decided to split one of our Real Coffee favorites: the Zesto Pesto sandwich with cheese (P220). It was a very hard decision to make though: it was between this or their Egg Salad with Cheese (P170) which is just as amazing!

Zesto Pesto with Cheese
In the end, I think we made the right choice! Chunks of chicken in mayo and pesto mixed with super gooey melted cheese topped with tomatoes & lettuce sandwiched between two toasted, heavily buttered bread. YUM! We couldn't finish this either, their portions were just a bit too big for us, and trust me, that says a lot! :|

The Little Boy being a little French Toast addict at home wanted to try Real Coffee's version. While they had a regular French Toast with Syrup (P130) on the menu, we decided to try the Mango French Toast (P160) which was basically thick slices of mangoes in between two slices of French Toast. Pretty good, too. But I remain faithful to their Banana Pancake (P130) or their Peanut Butter & Mango Jam Sandwich (P100).

Mango French Toast
For drinks, the Little Boy ordered their Calamansi & Mango Shake (P130) which is the perfect drink to order on a hot summer day (though it was a great citrus pick-me-up for any other day, too!), the Mister ordered the Boracay Buzz (P140) which is basically an Iced Mocha with a banana blended in (we love this drink!! Beats Starbucks' frappucinos anytime! ;p), Mother stuck to her cup of brewed coffee that came with her breakfast set while I finally had the perfect excuse to finally order a hot cup of Cafe Mocha (P100).

I had to have dessert, even for breakfast so of course, the mandatory Real Coffee calamansi muffin (P45) was a must. They have other baked goodies like Oatmeal Raisin cookies (P20 or 3 for P55), Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies (P80) that I am absolutely dying to try! ..and a really good Banana Muffin with Walnuts (P45) but it's the calamansi muffin's unique tartness that makes me a loyal fan!

my Calamansi Muffin
Mother, who isn't exactly the adventurous type (I was worried about what she'd think of having breakfast in a tiny little kubo hidden in an alley), absolutely loved Real Coffee! She says that it took her back to her 'probinsya days' when breakfasts were quiet, relaxed, slow, simple affairs. :)

lazy cat seems to think so, too...

And finally, as a testament to my love for this little island breakfast spot... On our last day in Boracay, despite the lavish breakfast buffet we were entitled to at Discovery Shores, I found myself wide awake at 6 in the morning craving for a calamansi muffin. So what's a girl to do? While Mother went to Church and while the boys were still fast asleep, off I went and walked the long stretch of beach from Discovery Shores (from one end of Station 1 to the other) and in some parts, actually waded in thigh-deep waters (it was still high tide at that time) all the way to Real Coffee. Oh, the things I do for a Real Coffee breakfast!

When I got there, I had the whole place to myself so I was able to enjoy a quiet, peaceful breakfast of calamansi muffin and a cold glass of Iced Cafe Mocha (P120), book in hand, while most of the island was still fast asleep... Bliss!

24 August 2010

Why I Want To Live in Discovery Shores Boracay Forever

It's the little things really...

Nothing to do with being shuttled between the Caticlan Pier & Cagban Port on a fancy airconditioned speedboat (complete with refreshing cold towels & bottled water on-board for everyone)..

..not the beautiful suites that have everything you could possibly need and want and more..

inside the bedroom in the 1-BR Suite

the bathroom in the 1-BR suite

and a tub!
our own sunbeds and outdoor jacuzzi
in the 2-BR Suite Premiere
..not its beautiful beachfront location..

..not the Miami-esque vibe and feel throughout the resort..

..not the fabulous sunbeds I could lounge on for hours..

my favorite spot by the poolside

..not its entire gamut of facilities like its game room, kids' playroom, the library, Terra Wellness Spa..

the Sandbox kiddie playroom

..not the pool or the outdoor jacuzzi..

..not the complimentary shuttle service to and from anywhere on the island..

..not the stunning sunsets you can watch from their snazzy bar and their yummy mojitos..

..not the amazing breakfast buffet spreads that we enjoyed steps from the beach and with an incredible view of the sea...

Although trust me, those are all very nice (and much, much appreciated), too!!!

But more than all that, it's really the small things that really got to us...

...the way the pool butlers anticipated and took care of our every single need..

..the way they raked and cleaned the beach diligently every morning..

..the way they always greeted us with refreshing cold towels and a carafe & glasses of cold pandan water whenever we got back from a long walk on the beach..

..the bin of sand toys they lent and automatically brought to the Little Boy to play with as soon as he stepped onto the beach..

..the little treats & snacks they brought us mid-morning & mid-afternoon while we were lounging on the beach or by the pool (from homemade dulce de leche ice cream popsicles to cream cheese-stuffed lychees, from little scoops of strawberry ice cream to mango floats, from sushi rolls to snow cones, from cookies to fresh fruits)..

..the way they remembered what our little boy's favorite flavor for his snocone was and that he likes his orange juice freshly squeezed for breakfast..

..the small snocone & donuts station by the pool..

..the way the servers at Sands (their restaurant) remembered that the Mister preferred a latte and that I always go for freshly pressed coffee in the morning..

..the little tic-tac-toe sets they left in the room (perfect for when we were stuck in the room during the afternoon rainshowers)..

..the little jars of dried fruit, pili nuts, and choco chip cookies that were always waiting for us in the room

..the little bedtime treats of local delicacies that were delivered to our suite at the end of each day..

..the Discovery Shores beach bag, a small tube of VMV sunscreen, a small bottle of body mist and even a Discovery Shores stuffed whale for the Little Boy laid out on the daybed when we arrived..

..the way the staff greeted us with a heartfelt 'magandang umaga' or 'welcome home' everytime we bumped into them..

..the nightly turn-down with potpourri and a night mask laid out on the bed and a GoodNight mat on the floor..

a special dragonfly treat at turndown!

..the way we returned to our beach beds with sunglasses wiped clean, clothes folded neatly, and slippers slid under the shade after dips in the pool or in the sea (those sneaky pool & beach butlers are amazing!)..

..and who could forget the signature Discovery Shores welcome: with yummy peach & mango smoothies, personalized check-in, welcome sweet treats, a Welcome Home banner, a carafe of their signature pandan water, and a welcome foot bath!

I could go on and on listing down all these little gestures that really show 'service with a heart' but I'll run out of time and space. They cannot do enough for their guests at Discovery Shores and that's what we love them for.

It wasn't always this perfect, mind you. Last summer, after our third visit to Discovery Shores (that time for my parents' 25th wedding anniversary), I wrote a review on Tripadvisor.com here. Let's just say that it wasn't a perfect stay. We don't know if it was because it was peak season then and they had way more guests than they could handle, but that really was the worst Discovery Shores visit for us. We'd noticed that there were a lot of new faces that time so maybe that was one of the reasons why service wasn't up to par. We suspect that there was a lack of training somewhere and that really makes a difference. And for a place that we've come to expect a lot from (especially when everyone goes around brandishing badges that say 'service that's all heart' ), it can get incredibly disappointing when they don't deliver on that promise. Inconsistency is a problem and I really do hope they make an effort not to let that happen again.
But past is past, and I'm happy to say that this visit more than made up for the last and has made us (my mom, the Mister, the Little Boy and I) fall in love with Discovery Shores and its wonderful staff yet again!
Sure, there're still a few misses here and there: the alarm clocks that never work; a shortage of umbrellas for the guests; hit & miss with massages at the new Terra Spa; confusion with shuttle pick-ups...

But the staff more than made up for it with just the simplest, sweetest things.
For instance, on our first day, we arrived in Boracay at around 8am, way too early for check-in, and since we really weren't expecting our room to be ready then and had made plans to have breakfast and hang out somewhere else first, we were pleasantly surprised to find that they had prepared a temporary "wash-up" room for us to stay at until the room we had booked was ready. How thoughtful is that?
Then apart from the usual welcome treats, there was a small cupcake with the Little Boy's name on it as his own welcome treat! So imagine his surprise (and glee!) when he was handed yet another surprise: a gift from Discovery Shores! He tore off the wrapper immediately and revealed a Doodling Photo Frames kit! Arts & crafts for a rainy day! Sweet!

Another time, I was lounging by the pool pretty bummed out that there was no sun at all, and out comes Jigs (1/2 of our favorite pool/beach butler tandem) with a pot of chamomile tea and a plate of freshly baked oatmeal raisin cookies to cheer me up! If that doesn't make you fall in love with the pool & beach butlers, I don't know what will!

On our next morning while we were having breakfast, another surprise came in a form of a slice of birthday cake, personally delivered by some of my favorite Discovery Shores staff (Aby, Rex, Jigs) with a birthday song to boot! What an incredible way to start the day! :)

Oh and look! They even helped the Mister plan a special birthday surprise for me that evening: my very own birthday sandcastle and a special serenade while having dinner at Indigo care of one of their multi-talented servers. <3

my very own birthday sandcastle!

And if those birthday treats weren't enough, before checking out on our last day, I was handed a birthday gift! As if all this spoiling was not enough of a birthday gift!

After all the birthday treats, another new discovery for me on this trip is their bucket of spritzers! I know it seems shallow but these are really awesome!

The Mister, the Little Boy and I got carried away on our last day since the skies were clear and the sun was out and bright all morning. So we decided to make the most of the sun and stayed under it all day, making sandcastles and swimming and kayaking and even learning how to paddlesurf under the noontime sun. BIG mistake! We were all red with shoulders & noses hurting in no time. Then here comes Rex (the other half of our favorite butler tandem) and Jigs to the rescue, with cold face towels and a bucket holding 4 kinds of spritzers: a bottle of Evian and three homemade concoctions: one with cucumber, one with sprigs of mint, and another one with fresh orange slices swimming in it. We loved them! Each one so completely refreshing and invigorating and so perfect for our sunburnt skin! Apparently, they make these spritzers themselves. Is there anything that these pool/beach butlers can't do??!!!

homemade spritzers: orange, cucumber & mint

In a nutshell, the Discovery Shores staff bent over backwards just to make sure we had a grand stay. We were utterly spoiled for those few days that leaving was such a sad, difficult thing to do.

Even this super long post will not be enough to express just how amazing this last stay was.

Thank you, Discovery Shores (special shoutouts to Abbie & JP, Charmaine, Mr. Rene from Housekeeping, Ernest, the manongs by the beach who would help us with our kayaks everytime, Randy Salvador, and our favorite Jigs & Rex!)

...All our heartfelt thanks for really making us feel like this was our second home. :)

P.S. I didn't realize how long this post has gotten but trust me, there are still a lot to rave about. I haven't even gotten to the fabulous rooms we had and the food, oh, the glorious food! So that will have to be a separate blog post. Stay tuned! ;-)