These are my top picks, what are yours?
Unlike last year, when I was too overwhelmed with all the food, and lack of experience made it impossible for me to complete the event, this time around, I successfully got to taste at least one of each food purveyor's product samples. Armed with a better strategy, I went early to get nice shots while the tent wasn't yet crowded with hungry foodies. Starting at the left side, snaking my way from booth to booth, I took photos of the comestibles, taking all the finger foods I could already cram inside my mouth while walking. The others that needed a plate and fork, I figured, I could come back for later when I had my camera back safely in its bag. So, without further ado, here are my top 7 picks (in no particular order) at the Ultimate Taste Test event...
Mama Lou's Panzarotti seems to be everywhere and that's quite a good thing. I have mentioned previously how I adore these pockets of goodness especially when dipped with my favorite blue cheese and sour cream sauce. I like the mini versions and hope they make it a permanent one, since it's something I could just eat on the go sans the mess.
I don't know about the other flavors, but I loved New Zealand Natural's White Chocolate and Raspberry ice cream. It traversed on a thin line of richness without being cloying (you know me, I detest all things saccharine), and I like the mix of the white chocolate's subtle sweetness with the raspberry's tartness.
Intrigued with how each layer of color stayed put (the owner wouldn't let on how they make it), I downed a shot glass of this Swizzle Rainbow Shot and liked the sweet taste with a light burning trail that was totally fun.
Another favorite is Saint's Alp's Blueberry Double Chocolate. I liked it so much that I marched down to its store in Bonifacio Global City just to see if the other flavor, the Chocomint Delight, would be as wonderful. And it was. But that's another story. Anyhow, the tartness of the blueberry was lovely with the chocolate sorbet and the coldness just hits you in a good way, while little Kisses-like chocolate chips are scattered on top, giving you something to nibble at while enjoying the flavors.
Based on looks alone, mossy green wasn't necessarily a color that would lure me to eat a particular cake. Aesthetics aside though, this Moshi Moshi Green Tea Cheesecake, was scrumptious as it was luscious. Served a bit cold, the velvety smooth consistency had a slight sweetness tinctured with a green tea flavor that's not overpowering.
Lulubelle's Frozen Custard was cold, creamy and captivating. Its texture is more silky than your average ice cream, possibly due to the eggs added into it. The owner even put an extra shot into that sampling cup, but I was tempted to ask for even more. It swirls playfully in the tongue, whisking you into a cool, velvety dream.
One bite and I thought I would melt at the same time the beef inside my mouth would. Talk about bringing truth to the phrase melt-in-your-mouth! Hillside Ranch's Slow Roasted Beef Belly was so tender and just plain succulent that it was hard to stop gushing about it. The gleaming skin is a testament to its oleaginous property that would make it so sinful, yet irresistible.
Aside from my favorites, there were still some worthy of note. Again, in no particular order, among them are...
I've always had a propensity for flavored taho, actually even for the plain one. There's something nostalgic in consuming a small cup of this soft soy abounding with little sago pearls, swimming in a pool of saccharine syrup. Adding different flavors just makes the experience more gratifying. I'm always eager to go to Mang Pedro's booth as the flavors I've tried so far has been really good like the Almond, Choco and Strawberry. This time I tried the Ube flavor and it, too, did not disappoint.
Whenever I go to Duty Free Philippines, it's rare that I don't buy at least three pieces of Vigan Empanada from a stall whose name I keep on forgetting, smack in the middle of the food court, right near the exit. It was sebaceous and could have used more meat, yet all the ingredients -- egg yolk and veggies included -- made for a tasty snack on the way home. Mac's Deli's Original Vigan Empanada was reminiscent of that, only meatier and less greasier. Agree to a bit of onions that they would add, for it even enhances the flavor profile of this delectable snack.
Kusina Reyes' Aligue Rice could have used more of the aligue taste, yet in hindsight, I think adding some would make the dish already dangerous. I love the hint of acidulousness though, and grateful for it, if only for the fact that it cut away all the sweetness of the cloying treats I've been tasting throughout the event.
Not only are Everyday Mom's Banana Cake and Carrot Cake pillowy soft and really moist, I love the fact that their sweetness is tempered. The cream cheese frosting isn't tinged with too much sourness either, unlike some others I've tasted elsewhere. Balanced flavors, not to mention healthy, too, I could just imagine myself eating these with a glass of cold milk, just like a kid.
Albeit a bit on the briny side, I still appreciated the uniqueness of flavors bursting as you bite into these little chicken chunks. Each representing a country, the extremities of taste will leave you hankering for another bite as you try to contemplate which of the three samples of these Chief Wings you favor the most. I finally settled on the Shou Xi ones from Japan which uses ponzu sauce, giving it that hint of tang.
I'm not really a jam person, but I have to say, The Fruit Garden's luxury jams are really great. It's apparent that they didn't skimp on ingredients, and the texture was just right. Both the Tropical Paradise and Berry Dream were nice, the glass jars were nothing to scoff at either. Frankly, I didn't bother with this when I first saw it in bazaars and food events, although when I got to taste it with savory treats in one recent cocktail event (I'll tell you all about it next time), I was amazed at how much it worked and I've come to appreciate it even more.
I love chocolates with alcohol; hence, the same love rolls over to ice cream with alcohol. Frisch Liquor Ice Cream's Russian Winter really hits you with a rush of Kahlua and a hint of vodka. It was great and definitely intoxicating!
It was certainly a day of food, friends and fun. I look forward to the next one!