Food judge for a night...
One morning, I woke up to find an invitation from UP Economics Society in my inbox. It was an invitation to be one of the blogger-judges for a fundraising project called Foodgasm. It's a food tasting competition to be participated by up and coming food businesses, wherein samples of their fare are to be judged by chefs, food bloggers and other foodies.
Fast forward to the night of the event. I came early and started taking photos of the different food being set up by the purveyors. I see some new names as well as familiar ones. It was a bit hot inside the enclosed tent of Mercato, albeit I was excited for everything to start. So without further ado, I share with you my top picks at the Foodgasm (in no particular order). Please bear in mind that I have quite a low tolerance for sweets especially those in pure form, meaning, there's nothing in it that cuts through all the saccharinity. That may explain why this list consists mostly of savory comestibles.
Let's start with the Bagnet Paella from Flavor Ave. I may have mentioned this a few times or so -- I'm not too fond of paella. Admittedly, apart from the few I've tried, I'm not one to gauge which is good or not, save for what I find acceptable to my own palate. What intrigued me with this one is the lightness of flavor tinged with a hint of acidulousness, slowly cleansing my mouth of the sweetness that lingered from tasting the pastries prior to this rice dish. A sporadic crunch echoes softly; the culprit -- bits of bagnet folded within the golden grains. As a finish, the salted egg provided the briny taste fairly amid the trifle slices of longganisa.
These little risotto balls are definitely a mouthful... of goodness. The Tinapa and Sun-dried Tomato Arancini from Bistrology certainly packs a punch with its slivers of smoked fish hiding in a bed of sundried tomato risotto, filled with mouthwatering melted mozzarella. They are then rolled into a ball and deep fried for that hot, savory meal in a nutshell.
Panzarotti seems to keep showing up at every food event and food market recently, just like mushrooms that keep sprouting everywhere. That's a good thing by the way, because these pizza pockets are just plain good. After trying out a few flavors, I've come to appreciate the Bianca which has a bit of a cream base more than the All Meat which, on the other hand, tends to fall on the usual pizza/calzone flavor spectrum that shouts tomato sauce. Among the 3 dips available -- pomodoro, pesto and blue cheese -- I always go for the latter for that contrasting flavor that goes really well with any of the panzarotti variants.
This Taiwanese Style Chicken Leg from Kyma's actually showed promise; I could even smell the delicious aroma wafting through the surrounding air. But after biting into the sample, which was just a tiny portion of the chicken skin, it was really hard to tell. A bit of salinity covered the piece, one that I think would have been balanced out by the white meat, had we just had the chance to devour it.
Having been used to buco pandan at parties catered by different suppliers, this Mango Pandan was a fresh alternative. Who doesn't love mangoes anyway? The sweetness of the fruity bits married beautifully with the light, hollow taste of pandan, both fusing together in a dessert that's best cold and on top of your taste buds.
I must admit I don't eat santol. Not that I hated it or anything, there's just something there that's not favorable to a child's palate and ever since, I hadn't bothered on trying to consume it again. So I was hesitant to take a sample of this Sinantol delicacy. Fortunately, I did. And I was glad I did. It had a slight kick to it that whet my appetite even more. A little spicy and a little salty, it was also available with rice and was great with it, too. Unfortunately though, I forgot to go back and get a bottle to bring home.
Never having had the opportunity to try out Mad Mark's, I was thrilled to see their booth there. Though the photo above shows the Half-baked Madagascar ice cream, I actually chose the Salted Sumatra, which is their coffee-flavored variant. One bite and I'm hooked; I couldn't believe how silky and creamy it was. It just kept melting on the top of my tongue as I slowly savored the coffee flavor that was neither strong nor bland.
Aptly called "The Ultimate", this gourmet mousse cake is literally bliss. As soon as my lips imprisoned the small, dulcet block, a rush of coldness hit my gustatory organs followed by a velvety smooth texture of the mousse hitching a ride on a layer of crunch. The rich Belgian chocolate is extremely apparent, but as to how they've managed to keep the cloying property at bay, I could only wonder. May I reiterate, I abhor victuals clad in overly sweet wardrobe, so the fact that this flamboyant dessert managed to capture my fancy, is indeed worthy of a blue ribbon in my book.