One day. One thousand foodies. Too many dishes to love.
Just like in the previous years, I was one of the first people in line at the entrance of the Rockwell Tent for the Ultimate Taste Test event. Going early has certain advantages such as having more room to take photos of the purveyors and their food before the hungry lunch crowd barges in. The fare samples were also still in order, and food diplays like lechon and the like were not yet massacred nor mutilated.
It was certainly no small feat to get to taste each and every edible thing in sight. Admittedly, there were few (mostly desserts) that I failed to try. In spite of that, the UTT was more fun for me this year since aside from having a lot of delicious and commendable comestibles, most of my fellow food bloggers (a.k.a. KTG) were also there. Some were even "special guests" of Spanky Enriquez of The Daily Spank Blog, host of the event, in a little foodie interview session.
Now let's get on with the food. Here are my top 10 picks---in no particular order---for this year's Ultimate Taste Test...
At first glance, I waved at these cupcakes dismissively. In my mind, they were just one of the too many crowding the whole place. But try I did still. I got the green tea looking treat, afraid that the s'mores one would be too saccharine for me. Turned out to be a good choice as it had a well-balanced green tea matcha flavor with a whisper of citrus in that one seemingly tiny bite.
When told that we had to choose only one variant, it was a toss-up between Cream Cheese and Bacon and Blueberries and Cream. As much as I love Salted Caramel, I felt that the Belgian Chocolate would be too sweet for my taste. I finally chose the Blueberries, but ended up getting even the Cream Cheese due to one of the Bronuts "Brothers"' generosity. Sadly, it was all in vain since I didn't like the last minute addition at all. The cream cheese was too in-your-face, and the bacon was lost on me.
I did however enjoy my original choice. A light yet sweet flavor of blueberries tinctured with a bit of tartness greeted my mouth on the first bite. Deceivingly soft, this pillowlike dessert opened to a treasure of cream that bathed my tongue and delighted my palate. I'm positive this would be a favorite cronut flavor for me.
This Zamboanga lechon had a unique, lighter skin redolent of one that's been deep fried. A closer inspection sent a fragrance of herbs and aromatics my way; I believe this was stuffed with lemongrass. Truly tender and succulent, with a bit of fat oozing out, it's best dipped into their special vinegar---no liver sauce for this one---which comes in plain and spicy variations. They then deep fry the skin for that crunchy texture to accompany the unctuous meat.
Ooh la la! Speaking of vinegar, I loved the sour taste of this orange diluted acetic acid peppered with chili seeds and other spices. It was also nice to know that this palm and cane vinegar comes with no preservatives.
What attracted to me to Jack Frost Premium Ice Cream was their proffering of unusual flavors like Nuts and Roses, Culture Milk, Watermelon Delight, Oreo Cheesecake, etc. When I asked what the best seller was, they pointed out the Basil, so try I did. It did hint of that, but was also muted by the milkiness of it. In the end, it was its refreshing quality that quite endeared me to it.
How could you not sit up and take notice when the smell of sizzling pork was wafting through the air even several feet away from this booth? An innocent crunch paved the way for some seriously savory porcine meat and innards. What I wouldn't have given for some plain rice at that point.
Surprisingly crisp despite being cloaked in its multi-dimensional sauce, one bite simply led to another. True to its promise, the sauce was indeed sweet, tangy and spicy all at once. I would have run back to the booth and begged for a couple of more pieces if I weren't pressed for time, and there were still a lot of dishes to taste.
A robust garlic essence infused into the lechon meat blew me away at first bite. Wow! I was chewing on a piece nicely proportioned with tender meat and fat, when a piece of the skin entered my mouth. Crackling sounds were ringing off my ears as I gnawed on the crisp, flavor-packed skin. This is definitely one of the best lechons out there. And mind you, I didn't have it with any liver sauce yet.
You know me, I'm not a dessert kind of girl. If I do eat them, I usually favor ice cream over cakes, cupcakes, brownies or what have you. While I may sometimes enjoy a slice of cake that's not too cloying, it's definitely not the norm. Moreover, it's very rare that I crave for a cupcake. So when I suddenly yen for this Black and White Cupcake as I type this, the first thought that comes to mind is: "What sorcery is this??"
It's a moist and sweet chocolate cupcake with a tempting cheesecake center. Rich, but not cloying, the surprising thing was that it had no butter(!). With that taste and texture, how could it not have butter?? But Everyday Mom is really famous for that. They also use no artificial colors, flavors, nor preservatives, priding themselves in offering products that are all natural and healthy.
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Bono Gelato. I think it's even apparent in my numerous Instagram photos of their different flavors. So when a friend tapped me on the shoulder, and half-dragged me to Jameson's Gelato's booth right in the middle of my shot of another purveyor's goods, I was skeptical to say the least, and I kept on blabbering about how no other gelateria could top Bono anyway.
Well, a scoop of the Pistachio pretty much shut me up. I still love Bono's for their generous pistachio bits laced into their gelato (aside from it tasting like the real thing), but I was amazed that another gelato brand had captured a very genuine taste of it as well -- the nuttiness, complete with the sometimes burnt, slightly bitter taste you get from an actual bunch. In terms of texture, though, my vote still goes to Bono for its silkiness.
Congratulations to Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet and to all the UTT organizers for yet another successful food event! Until next year!