I don't think it's possible for anyone, not even a dessert votary, to polish off all the food from the 18 purveyors of Lori Baltazar's Dessert Comes First Christmas Gift List in one afternoon.
Last Saturday, Lori Baltazar of DessertComesFirst.com held her final grand event for the year -- a food bazaar featuring eighteen of her favorite dessert (and a couple of non-dessert) artisans.
As I walked through the entryway of Fully Booked's Top Shelf level, I was greeted by one of Lori's event sponsors -- Selecta. They were generously offering a cup of their Caramel Cheesecake ice cream and a sample of their new flavor, Heath.
Bruges (pronounced as broozh) are makers of very fine Belgian chocolates. Encased in glittering silver and gold boxes, tied with ribbons of brown and some gold, each holds a representative from the different collections that this chocolatier offers. I take one piece of heart-shaped chocolate, topped with a veneer of colorful circular designs, my thoughts wondering what's inside of it. Sometimes, that's the fun in getting an assorted collection, you really never know what you're gonna get. As the chocolate crushed under my bite, a gush of liqueur fanned out within my mouth. I hit the jackpot, I thought excitedly; my ultimate chocolate predilection -- liqueur infused confections. My second piece unwraps an ooze of caramel - almost like butterscotch - that titillates the senses. The third, a white dome painted with a blue-petaled flower, reveals a nutty undertone in that extra praline bite, and last but not the least, a short stick of chocolate-covered jelly candy (?) lends a subtle texture that dances with the tongue.
Spot: G/F Tropical Palms Bldg. 103 Dela Rosa St. Legaspi Village, Makati
Contact Nos.: 816.3091 or 8173262 (June Andaya)
Cafe Ysabel, owned by Chef Gene Gonzalez, went for the sweet route and opted to offer desserts that make the mouth water and the mind marvel. A display of dark chocolate cake dubbed Chocolate Bourbon laced with chocolate frosting and dusted with cocoa powder (?) on top makes real every chocoholic's dream. A triangular Carrot Cake enshrouded in wavy patterned marshmallow frosting sits proudly on the side, with orange- and cream-colored geometric shapes roosted artfully at its summit. And my favorite that is Strawberry Cheesecake stares up at me with those glistening crimson berries coated in a translucent glaze, a backdrop for the soft chiffon and custard ensconced beneath the jam. And let's not forget the Tocino Del Cielo, its sweet crystal syrup trickling down from a plateau of golden custard.
Spot: 455 P. Guevarra St. San Juan
Contact Nos.: 725.5089 or 726.9326
Aside from the aforementioned tempting sweets, there's also some Spanish pastries under the shop name Pasteleria Mallorca, also owned by Chef Gene's family. There's lenguas de gato, argellanas, palillos de milan and the large Mallorca ensaymada.
Spot: 18 Scout Fuentebella Barangay Laging Handa, Quezon City
Contact Nos.: 373.2789 or 373.2790
Note: I never had a preference for madeleines so understandably, this Stuffed Chocolate Madeleines wouldn't fare well with me with its saccharine sweet chocolate flavor. I will say this though, it's undeniably soft and moist with a strong smell of cacao that tantalizes; one which rich chocolate addicts will enjoy.
I may have previously mentioned that I have a love-hate relationship with peanut butter. Unfortunately, today this Chunky Chocolate Reese cake didn't bode well with me. The layers of chocolate cake smothered with peanut butter cream was a bit staggering, and though the raggedness of the peanut streusel sprinkled on top somehow provided a respite, I'm afraid the cake was still cloyingly sweet for my taste.
Bean and Baker
Spot: SM Hypermart, Frontera Verde, Pasig and 148 Katipunan Ave. ATC Center, St. Ignatius Village, Quezon City
Contact Nos.: 0915.9575854 or 913.9875 or 439.3069
Cake Planet is one of my favorite dessert suppliers at the event. My top choice among John Sta. Cruz' foursome: the eponymous (?) Santa Cruz. Layers of chocolate mousse with an interlude of velvety lemon cream crowned with dots of chocolate piping provide an interplay of sweet and tart in the mouth, keeping any cloying taste at bay. The Chocolate Macadamia Sansrival is a much sweeter element, with alternating layers of meringue and chocolate butter cream, each slice bejeweled with a couple of macadamia nuts.
The Turtle Pie holds a slightly bitter chocolate with a tincture of nutty taste, drizzled with caramel nestled in a chocolate crust. I prefer the Banoffee Pie though with banana slices enfolded in milk chocolate ganache and dulce de leche, all under an umbrella of whipped cream drizzled with chocolate.
The Cake Planet
Spot: 91-C Dona Soledad Ave. Better Living Subd. Paranaque City
Contact Nos.: 0915.4493119 or 621.2857 (John Sta. Cruz)
Thank God for the savory stuff like Melbourne Prime which was a very much welcome hiatus from the stream of cakes, chocolates and pastries. As I walked slowly towards their booth, I kept my eyes on those few pieces of Roast Beef Bruschetti, fearing that it may all be gone with just one tiny blink of an eye. A slice of medium rare roast beef sits on a dust-powdered toasted bread, cushioned by a grainy mustard sauce. A dollop of horseradish grace its center, upon which perches a slice of roasted tomato. I gingerly take a bite, careful to savour all the components and flavors. The tenderness of the meat is embraced by the sweetness of the mustard sauce, tarnished with the acidity of the tomato and ends with the sharp, pungent taste of horseradish. Simply delectable!
I wait for the Wagyu Burgers, which, due to my impatience at grabbing the last piece of the freshly prepared batch, I forgot to take a photo of. Just imagine: miniature buns grilled to sandwich about an inch wide of wagyu beef patty striated with perfect grill marks, blanketed with a sheet of blue cheese (?), a couple of arugula leaves and a tiny heap of caramelized onions. The smell of smoky, robust steak just pleasantly overwhelms the olfactory nerves, gently preparing you for the minuscule feast you are about to partake. The tender and juicy beef makes me groan involuntarily, even before my tongue tastes the buttery consistency of the blue cheese. The arugula provides just the perfect bitter aftertaste, balanced out by the sweetness of the onions. I have indeed gone to steak heaven!
Spot: 4362 Valdez St. cor. Makati Ave. Makati
Contact Nos.: 0917.8855000 or 403.4273 or 899.3344
With names such as Sapin-Sapin, Snack Attack and Once In a Blue Moon, who could ever resist trying out these intriguing flavors created by Ian Carandang of Sebastian's Ice Cream. But to my utter dismay, the moments (yes, plural) that I've tried to sample even one of his masterpieces, a long line of fans proved to be a barrier to what was supposedly my uniquely coated frozen adventure. Alas, I should have grabbed a cup when I first got into the venue (big smack on the forehead!), when people have not yet discovered and whispered about these gems of ice cream.
Sebastian's Artisan Ice Cream
Spot: Podium, Mall of Asia, The Block
Contact No.: 426.6935