Wednesday, December 31, 2014

First scoop: Caramel Chocolate Crunch

New Zealand Natural presents its premium ice cream variant, the Caramel Chocolate Crunch, winner of a gold medal at the New Zealand ice cream awards.

It's smooth ice cream teeming with caramel and dappled with chocolate cookie bits.

It's a little too sweet. The caramel taste is too strong, overpowering the chocolate component. More balance is needed.

Try it and judge for yourself.

Monday, December 29, 2014

First sip: San Mig Coffee FastBreak

A coffee concoction from San Miguel.

It's instant coffee with cereal and brown rice flakes. It's [allegedly] made in Vietnam with high quality ingredients.

Is it good? Yes. The cereal and brown rice flakes tempered the sweetness of the coffee itself (it is, after all, packed with sugar.). Actually, the mix tastes more like a chocolate drink. Also, the chewy cereal bits make the treat more enjoyable.

Try it and judge for yourself.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

First bite at Chef Resty's Roast Beef Carving Station

Place: Clean and well lighted. Some tables though were a little wobbly and uneven.

Food: Generally not good, disappointing. We ordered the Roast Beef Combo # 2 and the Beef Salpicao.

The Roast Beef Combo # 2 (Php 170): slices of roast beef, served with gravy and two side dishes. For our sides, we chose the Basil and Garlic pasta and Tortilla Chips with Cheese. The roast beef, the restaurant's specialty, was [allegedly] slow-cooked and marinated with herbs and spices. The slices served to us though were cold, tough, and bland. Good thing there was gravy to add some flavor, although its flavor was one we didn't expect. The gravy had hints of anise not found in your classic gravy. The Basil & Garlic pasta was teeming with basil flavor. The noodles however were bland; maybe they forgot to add salt when they boiled them. The Tortilla chips tasted like bread sticks. Weird.

The Beef Salpicao (Php 190): cubes of beef with gravy and fried garlic bits. This one was also a letdown. The meat was tough and salty. Really salty actually. And the dish didn't have the classic buttery-garlicky taste of authentic salpicao.

Price: Considering taste and serving size, food here is a little pricey for regular folks and mall rats.

Service: Bad. The cashier didn't issue a receipt (because they didn't have receipts). The waiter wasn't knowledgeable about the background of the restaurant, and another waiter served somebody else's meal to us.

Chef Resty's Roast Beef Carving Station is on the 1st floor of SM City Marikina.

Monday, December 22, 2014

First bite: Glazed Pork BBQ

It's a new treat from McDonalds.

One slab of pork, slathered with barbecue sauce and topped with onions.

The meat itself is packed and amply seasoned. The sauce is not bad, but unlike the claim of the fast food chain, it is not smoky; it tastes like cola packed with heat. It's sweet tangy thing that has some kick.

An order costs Php 100.

Try it and judge for yourself.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

First sip at KKK Coffee

We were in the mall one afternoon and chanced upon the quaint corner of KKK Coffee. It offers coffee concoctions with kapeng barako as base. We tried two of the drinks they offer: Kapeng Labuyo and Kapeng Pandan (Php 85, medium-sized cup). Before buying, the coffee shop attendant gave us a sample of their kapeng barako, which is also the variant Kapeng Kape Blend.

The barako base was really good. It had the right amount of bitterness and depth. Its taste was punctuated. We liked that it wasn't acidic.

The Kapeng Labuyo was delightful! The "after-heat" of the drink was exciting to the palate. The drink became even more enjoyable after we added some sugar. YUM!

The Kapeng Pandan was O-K. The pandan component was a little overpowering and a tad too fragrant. We however appreciated the uniqueness of the drink.

KKK Coffee is on the ground floor of SM City Marikina.

First bite at Backyard

Place: Nice, solid, and cool decor: car plates, pipes, and buckets for light fixtures and ladders to decorate the bar. The wooden dining tables were spacious, and the chairs and couches were comfortable. And the washroom! One of the prettiest we've seen.

Food: The restaurant boasts of the "farm-to-table" concept, meaning the ingredients are fresh and sourced locally. The food was generally delicious, but not great enough to be unforgettable. Nothing tasted bad, but the tastes we sensed were not unfamiliar to us; we could think of other restaurants that can offer the same things.

Our first dish, the Tinapa and Quinoa Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing (Php 255): salad greens, alfalfa, pickled red onions, cherry tomatoes, salted eggs, tinapa flakes, and quinoa. It was a dish with a good play of textures. The fresh vegetables were crisp. The tomatoes were juicy. The quinoa was soft. This dish also had manifold flavors. The dressing had a good marriage of sweetness and acidity. The tinapa flakes added the right amount of saltiness. The salted eggs though were a letdown. They were too salty and not of good quality.

Next, we had some pasta. We ordered the Nose to Tail Fettuccine (Php 275). Fresh, handmade al dente pasta that's smothered with a delicious tomato-cream sauce, sprinkled with some basil, and dappled with lots of meat (beef brisket, ox tripe, pork cheek, and chicken liver). It's a carnivore's pasta! The meat components were all cooked perfectly. The brisket and tripe were tender, really tender. The flavor of this dish was punctuated, making each bite satisfying.

Next on our table, the Ciabatta with Whipped Bone Marrow and Pulled Pork (Php 255). Yummy bread topped with caramelized onions, whipped bone marrow (bulalo), and little pieces of pork. Yet another meat lover's delight. Each bite was teeming with a balanced (not too salty, not overpowering) meaty flavor. There were also hints of sweetness that complemented the taste of the pork.

Lastly, dessert. We had the Kitkat Brownie (Php 185). Moist, chocolate brownie, with hidden Kitkat pieces, served with mantecado (vanilla laced with nutmeg and cinnamon) ice cream. The ice cream was delicious. It wasn't too sweet. It was creamy and of high quality. The brownie was not bad. It had ample chocolate flavor. It had good integrity. We just wished it was warmer.

Price: Considering taste, serving size, quality, and presentation, we found the food just a tad overpriced. The bill included a 10% service charge.

Service: Our waiters were attentive and nice. They were also knowledgeable about the food they served.

Backyard: Kitchen+Brew is at the U.P. Town Center, Quezon City.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Quick sip: Schlürp Tea Artistry: Ceylon Tea + Guava

Earthy black tea with the right amount of fruity, guava sweetness.

Best enjoyed chilled, not iced.

Try it!

Pillow Puffs and Garlic Baby Potatoes

New treats from KFC!

The Pillow Puffs are small soft blocks of glazed doughnut with a dark chocolate dip. Are they good? Hmmm, they're OK. Nothing is too sweet. We like that the chocolate dip has hints of bitter flavor. The doughnut pillows though lack a certain je ne sais quoi to be great tasting.

The Garlic Baby Potatoes are marble potatoes that are smothered with butter and teeming with garlic. Delicious! Although the garlic taste is pronounced, it is not overpowering. And good thing that this side dish is not salty and that the spotlight is on the natural flavors of each component.

An order of the Pillow Puffs cost Php 30 and a regular cup of the Garlic Baby Potatoes costs Php 35.

Try them and judge for yourself.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

First taste: Toby's Estate and Bucky's

We were in SM Aura one afternoon and spotted a relatively new coffee corner: Toby's Estate. We just had a hearty lunch and needed some hot drink, and maybe a bite or two of something sweet.

We asked the barista what she would recommend for first-timers. She suggested either the Flat White or the Mocha. We chose the Mocha (Php 160). We also spotted some Bucky's on the counter so we got an Original Bucky (Php 70) and a piece of the Big Poppa Bucky (Bucky's with cream cheese and bacon, Php 70).

The Mocha was good, delicious. The flavors of the double shot of ristretto and Ghana chocolate blended well. The milk added the right amount of sweetness and gave the drink a velvety texture. Actually, the barista told us that their milk is what makes their drinks different from those of other coffee shops; she said that they don't heat their milk too much in order to retain its sweetness.

Now for the Bucky's (hybrid of a flourless chocolate cake and a brownie). They were moist and of high quality. Each bite though had a strong vanilla/lemony flavor. It was overpowering, and this overpowering taste made it a little difficult for us to sense the other components.

Toby's Estate, along with Bucky's, is at SM Aura.