Sunday, December 12, 2010

Merci Beaucoup, Van Gogh is Bipolar!

Life has been both harsh and kind to me these passed years of my life... And after receiving a bad news, I must admit that I have almost given up. 2010 was really a tough year for me. As this year comes to an end, I thought I already had enough of the bad things that life can throw into me; but what I have received is too much - so depressing that my heart can't handle the pain... Happiness and all other positive thoughts that used to linger in my being have abruptly gone out. Dark as it may seem, as if I've been dawdled to hell, like hope had died and I have to live alone in the shadows. Life left me with nothing; the Fates have connived and agreed to give me a miserable future. My dreams and the love that I have been keeping for the longest time suddenly vanished... I cried a lot - sobbing secretly; keeping all the pain inside of me; praying and hoping for everything to be happy again. That night was the saddest, I cried my heart out until I got tired and had fallen into a deep slumber...

That gloomy night was followed by a sunny Sunday morning. I was surprised that after what happened, I was actually feeling light. It was like magic. I don't exactly know if just got tired of weeping, I guess the "self" has its own mysterious ways of coping up from grief. So, I enthusiastically yawned, peeked outside the bedside window, inhaled all the cold morning breeze that I could and greeted myself a good morning...


December 11, 2010, Saturday, 4 days before my birthday...

What happened months ago still haunts me. I guess I am just lucky enough to be very optimistic about life and all the things that it may involve... I have then realized that after all, I have to move on and keep on going, and that indeed, existing in this world is the greatest gift that we could ever have. Speaking of gifts from up above, my family and good friends has always been there for me. They never fail to inspire, give love and support to whatever my dreams are. And just like these special gifts, the passion that I have for food and the arts has been a long time muse that until today continues to encourage me to live a happy life...

So what do these positive and negative thoughts has to do with this very special day? We all have been through ups and downs and might consider ourselves bipolar and what does being somehow, bipolar has something to do with food tripping? or my passion with food and the arts? I am very sure that Vincent van Gogh knows the answer, solely because Van Gogh is Bipolar...

It was like an ambush foodie event, we are all hyped up and excited about it. I decided to meet up my very good friends, Mommy Daney and her super kind and loving husband that I'm going to call Daddy Ian at SM North Edsa to quickly buy some stuffs that we will be needing for out French Flair Party before heading to Van Gogh is Bipolar. It was a bit late, around 7 to 8pm so we're not able to invite our other foodie friends to join us (really sorry guys, we will go back to Van Gogh, promise!) Only my dear friend, Cams was able to be with us that night. It was a cold but a perfect night for a great food experience.

Upon arriving at the place, we we're warmly greeted by Jetro Rafael, the owner of the restaurant. He also invited us to have some tea first at their lovely garden while waiting to be seated. We did take our time by taking a lot of pictures. The facade of the restaurant already has a lot of interesting artistry and ideas to offer. It was actually a duplex that was transformed into a great haven for artists, food lovers and the like.

Van Gogh is Bipolar and The Black Soup Duplex

Tables with candle light at the garden - very romantic

One of the artistic things that really caught my attention was the bunch of melted candles that stood by the side of the entrance door. It radiates a dim light that gives the entrance an inviting mood. Also at the side you can find a table and a chair and blue hanging lights covered with a curtain, that for me appeared to be like an aurora borealis - very cool to look at.

Also, by the entrance door you will see a welcome note, a hanging slipper saying that the restaurant is open, the VGIB business hours, house rules, a shoe stop and a very special note that can make anyone who reads it feel light and happy. I think those words are what Van Gogh is Bipolar is all about. Of course, all are artistically made and bursting with lots of ingenuity and creativity.
Welcome to Jetro's abode! :)

love this! I wonder what the other pair will say... hmmm...
Closed, I guess? haha! silly me! ^__^

Open everyday except Tuesday 6pm to 10pm for diners
10pm onwards for tea drinkers (in our case, we stayed until 12:30am)

We were really curious about why of all days in the week, VGIB is closed every Tuesday. So then we asked Jetro about it and he told us that it's the only day that he can watch a movie before it changes into the next one. He was actually laughing while answering our query and also told us that it is more hassle-free to watch movies on a Tuesday - no lines and only a few people tend to roam around the malls. ^__^

Shoe Stop

Just like a Japanese tradition, before entering the resto, you have to remove your shoes and leave it outside. Doing this made us feel more at home, comfortable, laid back and real. It is being barefooted that we embrace that we're one with the nature and by it means we are always reminded that we're only humans, we make mistakes and the only way to live a happy life is to accept these mistakes and embrace our weaknesses.

"Here, we celebrate our imperfections, embrace flaws & accept weaknesses."
-Van Gogh is Bipolar

After spending some time talking and taking some amazing pictures, we were then invited to finally go inside the cafe. As we open the door and enter into Jetro's home, we were more astounded on how great the whole cafe looks like. It's like a home that houses things that has their own stories to tell. A living art space that brings everyone at their best. A place where you can be yourself, and be not afraid of who you really are. The ambiance it radiates did inspire me and my artistic potentials. There's a bunch of things to check out; from books, to antique pieces, mirrors, clocks to different kinds of hats, lamps and other artistic stuffs, the artistry and creativity are endless! One of the things that really got a hold of me was a bloodstained shirt printed with the cafe's name that was hanging at the back of the door. It was really astonishing and the idea of putting it there where people can only see it once they have closed the way in is so great that you will have to ask why is the cafe named like that.

Van Gogh is Bipolar, from the name of the great Dutch Post-Impressionist painter,
Vincent Van Gogh (The Starry, Starry Night and Sunflower Series)
who is also a famous bipolar.

Jetro's books and backpack photos from his travels around the world...

old photos and frames...

avaitor cap with badges

antique cabinet of President Jose P. Laurel

some vintage finds and trinkets that you will surely tickle your creative mind.

Jetro willingly shared all the stories behind these vintage stuffs. Like for one, that avaitor cap was before adorned with more badges from different places that he had been to compared to what you can see on the picture. And through time, those little knick-knacks tend to be lessened without him knowing... haha! The globe and the trunk signifies his love for travelling the discovering other countries' culture, so as to his backpack photos which reflects the highlights of his travels and of how an excellent photographer he is.

some vintage clocks that we found inside the cafe.
very rustic and gives the whole ambiance a classic appeal

eerie reflection of me behind the beaded curtains

I have a great admiration with lamps...
this one is actually one of my favorites...

Before getting what we will be having for dinner, we were surprised to see a bunch of hats of different kinds - from fedoras to potato caps, berets, newsboy caps, top hats, toques and cloche hats - we sure did had a great time trying them all . And so, we decided to capture those fun moments and created our own hat photo shoot. You can also wear a hat while your eating inside the cafe; such a great way to enjoy their scrumptious meals.

The Jester and Dr. Zhivago

Sous Chef Glenn and Chef Daney

Ratatouille meets Dr. Seuss

My French Lady

Our great photographer that night, Ian...

L-R Cams, Jetro, Me & Mommy Daney, all crazy about hats! ^__^

wacky! ^__~

The fun really never stops once you have witnessed how great the cafe is. There's a bunch of things to check out; so immense artistic inspirations all in one very nice domicile. But what makes it even more interesting is the food they offer. They have it as set meals at 555php and that already includes all the different types of mood teas that you prefer - very affordable considering that what you will be eating are all natural, organic and happy-hormone producing food. You can start by choosing your desired teapot (yes! they have a lot of ceramic and porcelain teapots to choose from! ^__^) and then brewing your chosen mood tea (as for me, I had the Calming while Cams had the Extra Upper) A guide on how you can make your own tea will also be seen on the table (carved with names and rants of people who visited the restaurant) as well as the other things that you need.

"How To Make Your Own Tea"

Which tea should I drink tonight? ^__^

Which teapot are you?

table's side drawer where you can get tea cups and teaspoons

teas to enhance your mood

honey and honey glasses

The tea was really soothing and is a perfect start to a great dining experience. It can actually make you feel light and can lift up your mood in no time. While still finishing our teas, we decided get their menu and ordered their set meal of the day. VGIB is also a self-service type restaurant so you really do have to check out the house rules and how to order board first before doing so. To order, you have to write your name and your order on a piece of paper provided at the kitchen window. Once done, you have to ring the bell and give the piece of paper back to the kitchen for preparation.

House Rules

The Bell

As for our order, we had Mozart's Feast of the Day: Virginia Woolf's Tear Soup, Larry Flynt Cabbage Experience & President Roosevelt's Norwegian Salmon Belly served with Van Gogh Black Rice. For our drinks, we had Courtney Love's Potion and for dessert (my favorite part) we ordered Mel Gibson's Darkest Sin. The concept of the whole cafe and the names of their dishes are noticeably unique - all were named after famous people and personalities that are known to have a bipolar disorder. Also, they use all natural and organic ingredients that are proven to induce a happy feeling to everyone who eats it - very healthy and beneficial - good food without the guilt.

I first had a drink of the potion, then I fell in love with it. I even asked Jetro if I can have my drink bottomless. He smiled, went into the kitchen and brought another glass and refilled my drink. The juice was sweetened with Palawan honey (same honey that we used to sweeten our teas... ^_^) and contains bits of fruits, grape slices, pomelo pieces, mint leaves and other herbs that made the concoction really refreshing.

Courtney Love's Potion

After enjoying that very revitalizing drink, we claimed our soups and entrées at the kitchen counter. Being a soup person, I immediately tried the Virginia Woolf's Tear Soup and it was really delicious. I was amazed of how they combined different ingredients and came up with a tasty soup that can actually warm your heart and soul. It was made from chicken or turkey stock with lots of herbs and veggies in it. I remember telling my friend Cams about how interesting this soup can be - the flavor was great as well as the texture and the bite given by the other ingredients in it - a true comfort food to lighten up one's heavy heart.

Virginia Woolf's Tear Soup

The great feast continues with President Roosevelt's Norwegian Salmon Belly with Van Gogh Black Rice and Larry Flynt Cabbage Experience. It was an organic, de-constructed meal that you can customize based on how you would like to eat it. What I did first, as what Jetro have suggested, I wrapped some salmon, black mountain rice, cashew nuts, baby potatoes and fresh basil with cabbage leaves, squeezed some orange juice and then plunged it in the olive oil-bagoong dip. The taste was really peculiar but great. I never expected those ingredients to blend very well in my mouth. You can actually eat every component of the meal on its own but merging their flavors will give your meal an extra luscious taste. I also tried the salmon with the black mountain rice (without the greens this time) and it was such a treat! The crusted salmon dipped in the olive oil-soy sauce tasted really fresh and juicy, perfect with the bite, texture and mild flavor of the black mountain rice. Me and my tummy had a real great time having this dish.

President Roosevelt's Norwegian Salmon Belly with Van Gogh Black Rice
Larry Flynt Cabbage Experience

While waiting for our dessert, we decided to take some shots of the quirky features of the cafe, mainly the Red Curse Healing Wall. Every wall inside this intimate place boasts immense ideas that leaves every curious customer a great impression, like the kiss mark wall and the wall filled with notes and business cards. But this red painted wall tends to really stand out. On it, you are allowed to write everything that you want, whether it has something to do with what you feel or just a simple remembrance that you dined in this extraordinary cafe. Venting your feelings out on this wall is a good way of letting go of those burdens and negative thoughts that makes our hearts lonely - so, it is not just the food which is happy-inducing but so to as the interiors and actually everything inside the resto. I was so glad that we're seated next to it for settling there while eating gave me such a different vibe. What I wrote on it was my deep appreciation and happiness of being there.
The Red Curse Healing Wall - ready to absorb all of our madness

see how Cams and I enjoyed the place so much!

Also, on the very same area is a mannequin dressed with an apron printed with Michaelangelo's "David" and seats covered with a cloth printed with Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus". Some of the other interesting pieces that we saw includes an umbrella that appeared to me as a ceiling lamp and the curtains that adorned the arc before the red wall dining table. Jetro enthusiastically told us that the umbrella was from Belgium and that the curtains was actually a gown worn by his dear friend, Grace Nono.

Michaelangelo's David

ceiling lamp umbrella from Belgium

Me, Mommy Daney & Cams having so much fun joking around! haha!

While enjoying the food and the place, the bell rang signifying that our dessert is ready. It was the Mel Gibson's Darkest Sin which is actually a shot of jagermeister with wild honey, dark chocolate and walnut. You have to get a teaspoon to mix it all up, allowing the liquor to melt the dark chocolate. Once done, you have to drink it bottoms up! I immediately became a fan of this dessert, its like having the best of both worlds - strong liquor and good dark chocolate. After consuming a single shot, you will be surpirsed of how good it was that you will be craving for more. You will even not let any of the dark chocolate left at the bottom of the shotglass go to waste. Jetro, through our chit chats learned that it will be my birthday on the 15th, so as a birthday gift, he generously gave me another shot of that sinful delight.

desserts ready for pick up!

Mel Gibson's Darkest Sin

Mix it all up! ^_^

bottoms up! :)

A toast to life! Prost!

Having the dessert was even made better by our talk with Jetro. He shared with us his story of when he started to become a bipolar and the struggles that he did to overcome it. With his stories and artistry, he really moved each of us to continue embracing life and celebrate our imperfections. As I quote Jetro's words, "To those who are bipolar, it is not a disease - it's a Gift!" These words left me with such a great inspiration and taught me more to see how beautiful life is. That talk made our night complete, we were not only physically full but also emotionally and artistcally occupied.

Speaking of being filled with such great artistic encouragements is another area at the cafe: the wash room. It was formerly Jetro's dark room that was the eventually turned into a wash room upon establishing his quirky restaurant. There, using an invisible ink, you are allowed to write on the walls your deepest and darkest secrets. Also, you will find there a sweet marriage proposal of a guy that according to Jetro was now happily married with the same girl he proposed to.

Jetro's dark room turned into the cafe's wash room

give in... reveal your deepest and darkest secrets inside this room

nude photos

black light

the sweet marriage proposal posted on the bathroom wall

One more unique thing about Van Gogh is Bipolar is their payment method through the Honesty System. From the kitchen counter, you will be given a paper wherein your orders and its corresponding price were listed. You have to put your cash payments into the red box provided before the door. If you have some change, you can get it at the same box with full honesty. Above this payment box is a board full of notes and business cards from people who were thrilled and astonished by the feats of the restaurant. Since I don't have a business card yet, I made a personalized note with a cartoon drawing of myself on it, expressing how thankful I am to have this one in a million experience and for the wisdom and inspiration that I gained from Jetro and his place.
me, putting our payments inside the red box

wall posted with bunch of notes and business cards

A thank you note from thestrollingspoon to Jetro & Van Gogh is Bipolar

Before leaving, we were privileged to browse on Jetro's back pack photos and to our surprise, he gave each of us the pictures that we loved, with his signature on it and some honey sticks too! ^_^
postcards given to us by Jetro

Ian's copy of Jetro's winning photo.
This photo won the Northwest Airlines World Travel Photography Competition 2008

eerie images - Cams' favorite among Jetro's works

Mommy Daney's fave - a toddler playing hide and seek

My fave pic

Truly this experience is one of a kind. I've never felt so happy and so alive while dining in. I never been that confident to share my thoughts and openly talk about it. This place and its concepts teaches people to learn how to see life in a brighter light and that nobody's perfect. What makes each of us beautiful is our imperfections and we must learn to embrace it. It's a perfect niche for discovering what you already have and what else you can do. This experience really brought me back my gifts and inclination for the arts, since I am not able to practice it for quite a time now. It was at VGIB that we celebrated our love for food, arts, music and literature. I think the place brought the best in everyone and with that I salute Jetro and Van Gogh is Bipolar for not only providing us with good food but also for imbibing in us the true meaning of life and how we can more appreciate its beauty. VGIB is now one of my favorites and I, together with foodie friends (especially Yedy and Bherry) will surely go back soon to have another great dining experience!

Merci beaucoup, Van Gogh is Bipolar!

Van Gogh is Bipolar

154H Maginhawa Street, Sikatuna Village, Quezon City
First come First served
open 6pm onwards except Tuesday

Special thanks to Ian for the fantastic shots and to my mommy Daney and dear friend Cams for inspiring and motivating me to finish this post. And to Jetro Rafael, I am forever grateful for that one of a kind foodie experience!

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