Christmas is fun when you are with family but more so if you meet a family member you have not seen for a long time. This happened so last December 26, 2011 when I met my long-lost cousin, Erika. Since she is now studying and staying at Bacólod City, I decided to meet her over at Robinson’s Bacólod’s newest attraction, Central Citywalk. The name actually loosely reminds me of Eastwood Citywalk which has a similar concept. I planned to drop by here in my visit last November but I only did so in December since I had a free, lazy time most of the days.
The mall strip opened just a few months ago and offers a new shopping and dining experience to Negrénses, especially Bacoleños. It was lightly drizzling which is just perfect for me to enjoy a short stroll along the area. A number of shops have already opened their area though there are a number of shops yet to open, flashing a “Soon to Open in 2012” tarpaulins in the area. Central Citywalk is a work in progress but people are already streaming into the area. After meeting a few classmates and some short talks, my cousin and her friend arrived shortly.
Since it was just past Christmas Day, the restaurants and café’s are full. I planned to take them to Moon Café, but we found no seats anymore. Knowing that there is a Fresh Start Organic Shop just nearby for coffee time and some artisan piaya, we went there but only to find it close because of the staff Christmas party at that day. We decided to try out Cantina Mondo instead since it looks nice. On our way to Cantina Mondo, I met an old friend from high school, John Calvin, who has since lived in Dumaguete City because of his Angkong (Fukien: paternal grandfather)’s business. Being friends from the old days, I invited him to join us.
Cantina Mondo is a quaint little café with a European-inspired artisan selection of dishes. The café is not that fancy, in fact the trimmings are just simple, perfect for an afternoon conversation. Near the entrance, the café has some selections of locally made products and some imported wines, spreads, jams and paté. As we scanned the menu, we discovered that the price is also European-inspired but nevertheless, we decided to try out some selections anyways. After pushing my really shy companions, they finally relented to finally give their choice and orders.
As we sat by the window, a constant Hi’s and waves of hands from people I have not seen for a long time. That day alone, I met several former classmates and former teachers who reminded me of my grade school days. For a modern metropolitan city with a population approximately three quarters of a million, Bacólod City retains a small town feel especially the fact that people you’d see in the streets is someone you might have met before. In a weird twist of fate, Calvin actually knows a lot of my cousin’s friends in Dumaguete City which is actually in the other side of Negros Island.
Not long after, our simple order of chorizo burger arrived. I decided to eat a light meal since we decided to have dinner afterwards. The burger came with a little bit of vegetable relish on the side which I placed inside the burger for an extra veggie crunch. As took a slice, I noticed that the bread was soft enough and the chorizo, nothing really fancy here but fine for a casual merienda. I guess I should’ve ordered their main course meal. A friend told me that I should’ve tried their butter thins and their lengua which I may try next time. Cantina Mondo’s plus is more on being a cozy place to hang out with friends.
With Negrénses having a sweet tooth, it is quite normal to eat a little pastry after the main snack. I decided to order a lemon square cake for our panam-is or what can loosely be translated as a sweet treat. We stayed for quite a while for a little talk. I last saw my cousin when I was six years old before she moved to Dumaguete City. Being the eldest cousin of the family, I felt a certain joy being a blessing to a long-lost cousin. After paying the bill, we decided to go have a fix of authentic and original Chicken Inasal from where this heritage dish of Bacólod came from, the Manokan Country.