My love affair with Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung (House of Wood in Kapampangan) started last March when 22 foodies decided to bravely go where none of us have gone before. I was speechless. I was not able to complete my blog post on Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung last March 20, 2007 because of the overwhelming emotions that I don’t know where to start.
It is like a dream come true experience where you relive the experience in your head and rave about it to yourself. I felt writing about it will not bring justice to the experience because I would only write – Awesome food! Awesome hosts! Awesome ambiance! I was contented with reading the food trip account of Wysgal (Rants and Raves), Mila (Watergirl), Spanx (Manila Boy), Nena (Ramblings from a Gypsy Soul), Anne (Eat Bangus) and Joey (80 Breakfasts).
Six (6) months after that experience, my brother, Lorenz and wife, Carmina, who got married just last October, requested me to organize a Pampanga Tour with Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung as the highlight of the trip. How could I refuse?
We were lucky to get a booking at Claude’s on the last minute because you would need advanced reservations. He usually only accept one booking per month and you need to be at least 10 because Claude and wife, Mary Anne will be your personal hosts for the 4-hour lazy weekend lunch.
People often ask me on the direction of the place. You would have to drive all the way to Pampanga via North Expressway, exit San Fernando Pampanga, find your way to the Ayala Alabang of Angeles City– which is Villa Gloria Subdivision and find your way to Claude Tayag’s house. From the outside, Bale Dutung looks an ordinary corner lot that spans a few blocks.
As you enter, it looks like an old place full of antiques where in fact, it was built only in 1998 – 80% of which came from junk of old churches, bowling alleys, and old wood furniture. Claude and Maryann emerged from their personal room on the second floor and greets you with a smile, “Welcome to Bale Dutung!”