Here are the plates and pastries that made my holidays very merry.
I’m laughing out loud while reading my first post of 2012. It’s a hoot to see that I’m presently in a similar situation but the first two weeks of January are always the same. Since the holidays give me unfettered license to indulge a little – okay fine, a lot more than usual – once January 1 rings in, it’s back to more disciplined eating. I’m never contrite for what and how much I eat – food is a blessing of course, but methinks I’m looking much like the ham I enjoyed on Christmas Eve: piggy, so now I’m paying for it. Such is life.
So while I now munch on greens and granola and sip green tea, I look fondly back on the pleasures that made my holidays so pleasurable; and I eat again, albeit vicariously.
Caviar & Egg at Bizu
Bizu’s newest store at One Rockwell is enchanting and altogether magical. Channeling inspiration from Ladurée, the two-story space devotes its first floor to a fairyland of sweets prepped and primed for maximum temptation. Look: mirrors and lights aplenty, the sheens of ganache glisten, tufts of cellophane gleam, and pretty packages mischievously glint.
Bizu offers some of the best breakfasts in Manila and the Caviar & Egg is a truly luxurious way to start a holiday morning. An egg with its top perfectly lopped off is held aloft on a heap of Himalayan pink salt, use it sparingly. Such a stunning treasure, small and delicate, proffering pleasure, but oh so precious little of it. Nibbling a little of the caviar, they pop and burst their exquisite flavor. I dig my spoon deeper and a yellow flow gushes its welcome, its multiple components rising as one: egg, scrambled, but ever so lightly; a subtle tang, the velvet caress of crème fraiche; caviar, gritty-smooth; and then the cleansing zing of dill.
My breakfast dependable:
- The Eggs Ben at Bizu. Read my description here.
At another time, evening this time, I enjoy this Speculoos Snowman. It’s reminiscent of the Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter and Biscoff cookie spreads that were the Christmas gifts du jour for 2012. Too cute, with scents and flavors of ginger and cinnamon unfurling, I naughtily debate whether to bite off its head or bottom first. (Something I wish I could do for real with people who irritate me).
Hamachi Kama at Sensei Sushi
Chef-owner Bruce Ricketts is not in the house on my maiden visit to Sensei Sushi. I’m disappointed but am indubitably impressed with how ably his staff of three (from what I see) handles the crowded restaurant.
My Bin and I are at the bar, a perfect perching spot to view the chalkboard menu, the motley collection of Japanese tableware, and best of all, the showy plating techniques. Witness: spritzes of truffle oil, sometimes darker soy-based sauces; the former bestows a mystery of aroma and flavor, the latter, a spray of dots, receding in size on the plate. Because the chef goes to market daily and creates what’s fresh on that day, the menu changes accordingly.
Today, the Tuna Sashimi, twirled and presented like a pinwheel on the plate, is optimal, as are the Oysters, fried and crowned with a fanciful assortment of garnishes. Around me, plates whiz by, their contents varying in heap and height, tantalizing and tempting.
I don’t understand the Uni Tempura (topmost, partly hidden) looking like fritters in flight and so cloaked in nori wrapper, but what I do love is the Hamachi Kama (below). Oddly shaped, it’s the collar (part) of the yellowfin tuna. Delicately fatty, it’s grilled just until opaque, its meatiness coming alive with hits from the ponzu (among other) sauces.
Such culinary imagination is demonstrated in this nondescript place. I look forward to my next trip back.
268 Aguirre Street,
BF Homes, Parañaque
(0919) 377 2966
Hot Frozen Choco Velvet from Larcy’s Cupcakerycafé
Yes, it’s really spelled “Cupcakerycafé,” and it’s the only other bakery in Manila aside from Sonja’s that possesses that captivating butter-vanilla aroma that envelops me as I walk in the door. The appeal of this place is evident in the candy striper pink motif that extends from the walls to the menu boards to the merchandise. Special notice is given to the accents, particularly the cerise-hued water bottles, and the individual cupcake stands, definitely objects of desire that I’d like to purchase. The open kitchen (bakery, really) beside the counter is compelling and impels me to order more cupcakes than the average person should consume in one sitting. When it comes to dessert however, I’m far from average.
The cupcakes here are too light for my taste. Akin to sponge cake, I feel that the cake used isn’t suitable for a cupcake, certainly it’s too springy for something that’s eaten out of hand. I think maybe I’m just being overly fussy, persnickety even, but other people I ask share the same sentiment. There is one thing at Larcy’s however that we’re in unanimous agreement over, and that’s the Hot Frozen Choco Velvet.
Sludgy and sweet at first and charged with a chill, it goes down easy. Rather than the complex notes that dark chocolate will give me, this has a more direct, one-note keel, milk chocolate melding with more milk, streamlined with sugar, and made complete with a cap of cream. “My god, it’s like Magnolia Chocolait all grown up!” My Bin proclaims as he stealthily swipes the glass from me to savor another sip.
178 Aguirre St.,
BF Homes, Parañaque
(02) 799 4174