CIRCA 1900 is an elegant turn-of-the-century lifestyle destination tucked away in the heart of a bustling metropolis that is Cebu City.
Here, time seems to stand still, an American colonial mansion that has been renovated into a restaurant-cum-piano bar with function rooms for different celebrations. The restoration of the ancestral houses of the Jereza family gave way to Casa Uno and the addition of Casa Dos.
The serene, idyllic setting amidst trees and greenery beckons weary city dwellers.
An invitation to a leisurely early-morning breakfast at Casa Dos was a fitting treat as I prepared for another hectic trip to New York City.
My husband Ed and I drove to Circa 1900 in Sanjecasvil in Lahug to join former CDN publisher Eileen Mangubat and Circa 1900’s owner Eya Shrimski.
We were greeted by the countryside setting of lush greens, tall trees and the kind of hush interrupted only by the chirping of birds. Just like Casa Uno, Casa Dos boasts of an elegant staircase at the foyer that leads to the second floor with rooms for private gatherings and parties.
Breakfast is served at the Cicada Tapas & Bar or one may choose to enjoy it al fresco, at the open covered courtyard with an inviting swimming pool and garden. A Noshery across Cicada bakes fresh breads and pastries daily.
For starters, we had a plateful of sliced fresh tropical fruits with honey and strawberry citrus dip and a huge mug of freshly brewed Roasters Juan Coffee.
For the health-conscious, the menu starts with Fit that offers toasted rolled oats with dried fruits and nuts, low fat
yogurt, egg white and herb omelet with spinach, mushrooms and gluten-free bread.
I went for Pinoy with fried eggs over-easy, garlic rice, beef tenderloin tapa and longaniza. Ed and Eileen chose the Hungry, a hearty breakfast of two fried eggs, beef sausage, bacon, sauté garlic mushrooms, roast tomato, hash browns and toast.
For the sides, Eya recommended trying the exotic additions: Crocodile Tocino and Ostrich Tapa.
Both meats come from Cagayan de Oro, according to Australian Executive Chef Steve Shrimski who manages the Circa 1900 kitchens together with his Cebuana wife Eya. Importing the ostriches from Australia, Cagayan de Oro’s Lim Ket Kai family ventured into ostrich farming in 1996.
The Philippine Ostrich and Crocodile Farms were eventually established. Ostrich meat is characteristically red, very lean since it is low in fat and high in protein, while crocodile meat is white, with equally high protein content.
Ostrich meat is very tasty in contrast to milder-tasting crocodile meat that tastes like chicken meat with a hint of fish flavor. The tapa and tocino flavors were classic Pinoy.
Chef Steve’s cooking style combines elements of different culinary traditions and is able to work around with Asian flavors
He retains the Filipino heritage with his Filipino dishes with interesting twists. He also widely uses local ingredients.
He maintains an herb and vegetable garden in the sprawling Circa 1900 property.
Eya took the time to indulge us with her presence while Chef Steve had to go about his busy schedule.
We picked on Eya’s healthy choice of Sweet Corn and Zucchini Fritters with fresh mushrooms and kangkong.