Something Old, Something New: Going Around Cebu

If you're in Cebu for the Sinulog Festival and thinking of where else to go and what else to do aside from watching this year's festivities, read on as I give a round up of some places you can explore while in town, some are old, some are new.

Ralfe Gourmet Chocolate Boutique
A family-owned chocolate paradise tucked in a quiet village in Cebu City, Ralfe Gourmet is committed to putting chocolates made from locally-grown cacao into the limelight. "My grandmother did not only give me a tablea drink; she taught me how to prepare one," says Raquel Choa, founder and president of Ralfe Gourmet. From the moment you enter the gates of their quaint house, the spellbinding aroma of cacao will make you stand in awe. Welcoming you is a chocolate fountain -- literally a fountain in the garden with overflowing chocolate! As you enter the boutique, your jaw will definitely drop at the site of a variety of tablea (chocolate tablets) in all shapes and sizes, truffles elegantly wrapped in beautiful boxes  (think Fauchon or Laduree, or even Pierre Hermes), and a charming high tea set up featuring Ralfe Gourmet's very own collection of truffles, scones, hot chocolate, and the best-selling chocolate mango! I will be posting more about our afternoon tea experience soon!

The BEST Choco-Mango EVER
Aside from high tea, Raquel, together with her children, demonstrates how to properly prepare rich and frothy hot chocolate using the old, traditional batirol. They also show how to create different concoctions with different flavor infusions such as chili, cinnamon, and vanilla, as well as how to make pralines, and how to create the tablea itself. More than indulging in heavenly chocolate products, you will learn to appreciate our local chocolates here.

Ralfe Gourmet's powdered tablea

Their own version of cookie butter. Ehem, goodbye Speculoos!

Ralfe Gourmet Chocolate Boutique
3349 Topaz St., Casals' Village, 
Mabolo, Cebu City
http://www.ralfegourmet.com/

Yap San Diego Ancestral House
One  of the  oldest houses in the Philippines, the Yap San Diego Ancestral House was built sometime in 1675 - 1700. It is located just across the famous landmark, The Heritage of Cebu, at the old Parian Plaza. Just like the iconic Baclayon church (and most of the churches built during the Spanish colonization), the foundation of the house was built using coral stones and egg whites, while the floors are made of hardwood. There's a vast collection of centuries-old furniture, religious icons, and other memorabilia inside the house. Oh, and by the way, did I tell you that the descendants of the Yap-San Diego clan still sleep here once a week? 

A collection of antique santo

The dining area

A breakfast nook
Another precious collection

An old crib at the masters bedroom

An old fridge painted deep brown to blend with the wooden interiors

At the first florr

The old open-air kitchen


Go Lechon-Hopping
Cebu is famous for its scrumptious lechon (roasted suckling pig) that even the iconic Anthony Bourdain said it's the "best pig ever." So, when in Cebu, never leave without trying any of these:

Zubuchon
It is this exact lechon which Bourdain claims as "the best pig ever." True enough, their version of roasted suckling pig is oozing with flavors (and cholesterol if I may add, hehe). The meat is so tender and juicy and the skin is perfectly crisp. Pigs used at Zubuchon are fed 100% organic feeds a week before they are cooked, and are stuffed with about a dozen herbs and spices. The skin is pricked and sprayed with coconut water to make it oh-so-divinely crisp. To wash away the cholesterol, have a gulp of Zubuchon's famous kamias shake.

Pork belly, anyone?

A platter of Zubuchon's lechon

Kamias Shake
Rico's Lechon
If you are game for some spicy lechon, then go to Rico's! You can even visit their place where they roast and pack their lechon. They can even ship it to Manila if you want!

Ready?

The prices are reasonable
You can also try CNT and Ayer's. They have good lechon, too!

Back to Basics
Visit Cebu's famous landmarks like the Magellan's Cross and the Sto. Nino Church. I have visited these sites a few weeks after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu, and I swear I got goosebumps all over when I saw the devastation caused by the earthquake on the bell tower of the Sto. Nino Church. Sad. But what moved me was the sight of more people coming in to visit and give donations for the rehabilitation of the church. I have never seen Sto. Nino Church that full before. I could feel their faith and devotion to Senor Sto. Nino.

The bell tower of the Sto. Nino Church after the earthquake

Wooden braces all over Magellan's Cross


Eat SuTuKil
Another gastronomic experience that you should try in Cebu is the SuTuKil, a combination of sugba (grilled), tula (soup like tinola or sinigang), and kilawin (ceviche). There are myriad restaurants offering SuTukil in the city. Here, you can just select a fish or seafood, or meat, and ask them to cook it the way you want it. We had grilled squid for sugba, sinigang for tula, and kinilaw na malasugi (swordfish) for kilaw. We added a serving of garlic-butter shrimps and fresh buko juice.

Grilled Squid

Fish Sinigang

Kinilaw na Malasugi
Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod
Nestled on the compound of the soon-to-rise SM Seaside City, the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod radiates a modern vibe in all its simplicity. San Pedro Calungsod, the second Filipino saint, was canonized in 2012. He was a native of the Visayas region, although no accounts could tell from which part of the region did he came from exactly.

The facade of the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod

The interiors of the chapel
Alegre Guitars
Aside from lechon and dried mangoes, Cebu is also popular for topnotch quality guitars. In Lapu-Lapu City, tourists and locals alike, professional musicians or just hobbyists,  flock to Alegre Guitars to see how they create these world-class instruments. Even famous artists go here to get a guitar, a ukulele, a violin and other string instruments. There are also miniature ones that are a good souvenir or pasalubong.

Choose your wood


Three of the most famous woods for making guitars

In action
Cute souvenirs
The Heritage of Cebu Monument
Just across the Yap San Diego Ancestral House at the old Parian Plaza, the Heritage of Cebu Monument depicts the important milestones in the history of Cebu, giving a glimpse of the what the province has to offer in one fabulous masterpiece.
The front






Bring Home Danggit and Chorizo
Don't be deceived by the stinky air at  the Taboan Market, for in this stinky little market will you find the best dried fish in all sizes and forms, as well as Cebu's famous chorizo. If you feel that danggit is rather too common, then get a kilo of fish tapa and have it fried perfectly crisp at home. Or, get the dried dulong and top it on you garlic fried rice. Pair this with char-grilled chorizo and there you'll have Cebu's finest in one plate.
Dried fish haven

Dilis, dulong, atbp.

Plump local chorizo

So there you have it, another guide around the city full of history and great food finds! Viva! Pit Senyor!


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