Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

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12 Desserts, 2 Hours, 1 Massive Sugar Rush

posted by in Food Purveyors


It’s a challenge to anybody less worthy but for someone with a formidable sweet tooth, it’s a fantasy come to life.

The guys behind Sebastian’s Ice Cream Studio are making another one of their sweet dreams come true: the opening of their first ice cream shop. So tonight, there are about 20 people – read: willing guinea pigs – who’ve been chosen to taste-test 12 ice cream creations, the popular ones of which will land on the menu.

rating sheet

rating sheet

With admonitions to “… eat lightly or not at all!”, (I choose the latter because I want maximum stomach space), we sit at tables and are furnished with rating sheets. We start with four “Timeless Classics,” the stalwart standbys of which every ice cream shop is built around.


It begins innocuously enough with a Classic Sundae straight up and frankly, just as forgettable. Sebastian’s is known for its “bigness” of flavors and this sundae may be a bit too genteel.


The Brownie A La Mode, which resembles the sundae before it, is one better because of its additional scoop and 3×3-inch brownie. Murmurs around my table of “Perhaps a saltier brownie will work?” are heard as well as the consensus that “… everything’s better with a brownie!”



The Giant Hot Fudge Sundae comes and goes, seemingly a super-sized version of the classic sundae. But when the Double Banana Split debuts, there are giggles and guffaws and little titters from the more conservative ones. Inspired by Serendipity, New York’s iconic ice cream parlor, Sebastian’s banana split has a whole banana sticking out of either side of the goblet, effecting an impression of overflow and mischief. “God, it’s phallic,” I mutter to myself but those at my table overhear which starts another round of side-splitting laughter. As we soon discover however, there’s a reason why banana splits are served in boats: with all that stuff, it’s hard to eat a split the way it should be – moving from one ice cream flavor to another and back, each spoonful capturing ice cream and its subsequent toppings blitzed with a bit of banana.


Another split, this time a Mango Split, ushers in the second portion of the tasting, Sebastian’s Ice Cream Originals. “The mango is a perfect fruit,” Ian explains in his preamble. “It doesn’t need much done to it.” A curd made from the golden fruit drapes over scoops of vanilla bean ice cream; it’d be perfect except that the mangoes are sour. “Make this a seasonal offering,” I write in large letters on my rating sheet. Meantime, I overhear Katrina telling her seatmate about a famous home-baker who “…tastes each mango she uses in her desserts.”


The cheekily-named Chocapocalypse – “how do you spell that again?” – doesn’t have to scream to be noticed. Roaringly eye-catching on its red plate, its massive scoop of chocolate ice cream is littered with chocolate shavings, their brown hue overtaken only by the deep midnight of the languid hot fudge sauce, a chocoholic’s wet dream come to life.

So far, I treat the tasting the way I’ve been trained to do as a food writer: eat little, eat slow, tasting (each dessert’s) components and understanding how all their details work (or not) together. In between alternately scribbling on my rating sheet and personal notebook, there’s not much time nor ice cream left for me; which is fine. I don’t like sharing my food – especially dessert — so if I can’t have my own, a spoonful is good enough for me.


But all that flies out the window when Dessert for Breakfast (cover photo) arrives, a genius combination of waffle crowned with a scoop of butter-pecan ice cream and a splodge of whipped cream, glittering with maple syrup. One bite and I’m hooked. Unfortunately, so is everyone else at my table. Cold, nutty, and sweet provides a backdrop for the utter crispness of the hot waffle, it shatters, followed by a gush of sweet cream. I’ve always advocated soft waffles but after this, I’m doing a turnabout. Swooning as we write on our rating sheets, eyeballs rolled upward in memory of each delicious spoonful, I hear Kris, the girl sitting across from me exclaim, “I can’t believe you just did that!” Attention piqued, I ask, “Did what?” Kris points at Fran, who sits beside me, a goofy grin on her face. “She had sauce dripping down her arm and she just licked it off like it was the most natural thing in the world!” Says Kris, bug-eyed. “Well what was I supposed to do?” Fran good-naturedly shoots back. “It would’ve gone to waste!” Ah, the power of a well-executed dessert.


We’re also served a similar waffle creation, a Black & White, that elicits the same amount of head-bowing-eyes-up-to-heaven adoration. A mammoth scoop of white chocolate macadamia contrasts with the black cocoa waffle finished with a trail of glimmering chocolate sauce. Come hither, it seems to say.

At this point, the weak begin to fall. Muffled protests of defeat are heard and one girl at our table looks like she’s been hit by an ice cream truck. (She has been, sort of.) Glazed eyes and smeared mascara, she’s chanting, “I can’t take anymore, I can’t take anymore,” like a mantra. Our table, compared to the others,  has proven its steadfastness in dealing with rushes of sugar, strengthened in part by nibbles of potato chips and swigs of lukewarm tea.



Tastings are severely limited now to mere spoonfuls, a shame really, for the Coffee & Donuts, a donut a la mode, and the Burger & Fries, a witty parody of the famous pairing made this time with a brioche bun ensconcing a scoop of chocolate ice cream (the burger) and chocolate covered pretzels (the fries). Caramel and chocolate sauces stand in for the ketchup and mustard conveniently placed in color coded squeeze bottles. Genius.


Meanwhile, Katrina, who’s as stalwart about dessert as I am and I, have all but demolished the Pizza di Sebastian’s, an ice cream pizza holding a treasure of cookie dough nuggets  gamboling over sweet cream ice cream on a cookie crust. The table agrees that it’s a non-threatening dessert for those who are incapable of taking on Sebastian’s more flamboyant creations. “But no one can beat Katrina and maybe even you, Lori,” says Sam. “You guys can really hold your sugar.” The others at the table nod in mute, sugar-shocked agreement, while the rest express desires for non-sugary, salty foods like chicharon or sisig.

too much of too much

However, even the sugar prowess of Katrina and I is sorely put to the test when Battle Royale is rolled out. Eight gargantuan scoops of ice cream join the cacophony of a big-ass brownie, four bananas, and enough whipped cream to last to kingdom-come. Eek. Too much of a good thing and worthy competition for Peninsula Hotel’s Pen Pals.

Sebastian’s Cold Comfort
Opening AUGUST 2009
2/F Mall of Asia, opposite IMAX exit

Other Sebastian’s Ice Cream Studio posts:
Ian the Ice Cream Man
Chillin’ With A Chilly Burger

22 Responses to “12 Desserts, 2 Hours, 1 Massive Sugar Rush”

  • hi lori! if you had invited my and linda’s relatives of eaters, you would have witnessed, maybe even be grossed out, how this challenge/taste test would have been a “piece of cake”. we demolish buffets! :-) great, yummy article!


  • were there any spitting pails provided? a taste test like this would make me feel dizzy… i mean that literally.

    No spitting pails, but everyone at the table shared one bowl of each creation. Like I mentioned in the post, most of us just got a spoonful or two at the most, so it was hardly an indigestion-inducing event .



  • Such a huge fan of Sebastian’s. Can’t wait for their shop to open. Even if it is all the way at the MOA.


  • I agree with Anon Paul, spittoons should have been provided! I’m not a big fan of whipped cream (just takes up stomach space — go for the high value ice cream straightaway!), but I do think the Pizza di Sebastian’s looks awesome!


  • If any other proof — photographic or otherwise — were needed of my sugar addiction, this post has provided it in spades. Or, should I say, in scoops! ;-D


  • MOA again? Boo-hoo.

    So far away and Brian won’t take me. I had to ask Anna nga to get me tins of Chicago Popcorn, eh. And now, it’s not like anyone can bring these over to me. *paawa face*

    That’s okay, Aina, you can come with me.



    Aina Luna Reply:

    One of these days, I just might take you up on that offer, Lori.

    Then, I’ll get tins of Chicago Popcorn Shops’ Karamel Krisp and eat Sebastian’s Ice Cream to my heart’s delight! Oh, the sugar rush!


  • Hoooraaay! Picole, Chicago Popcorn and now Sebastian’s in MoA!! Plus Patio Guernica! Yipeeee!


  • I am salivating as I read this. Based on pics alone, I am loving Dessert for Breakfast and Pizza De Sebastian’s. :) Thanks for this post, Lori. It got my day off on a good start.


  • again, a beautiful post. i have a sweet tooth so i would have totally loved doing something like this. ah, but i have to live vicariously and just visit their shop. thanks for the info!


  • It’s Kris with a “K” by the way =) Yes, the image of Fran licking the syrup off her arm is still etched in my brain. Nice to have met you Lori! We’ll probably bump into each other again at the MOA opening for another round of Dessert for Breakfast.

    Hi Kris –
    Sorry! Will edit that now.



  • It all looks so good! Thank god I work at the mall! Can’t wait…


  • Folks, this is like an ice cream orgy. How absolutely, divinely decadent! There was a time in my life where I could polish off about a gallon of half-melted ice cream in less than 20 minutes. Will definitely check this place out just to relive those memories…..


  • They all look like well thought-out and ingredient-loaded desserts (I am immediately ordering the black and white once I find my way to MoA), but is a simple hot fudge sundae too much to ask for?


  • I wonder when they will get to invite me for such a taste test.

    Once I got to be part of testing a new menu for Zucchini’s. Wow that was from appetizers to desserts.

    First time I got to taste Bacon, Basil flavors etc. The taste was different. It was then I realized it was the ice cream effect that I want and not just the flavors we are so used to :)


  • Oooo! I can’t wait for it to open! I’m glad he has found a house for the pizza and other ideas. The coffee and donuts looks like something I’d have for breakfast!


  • wow! i’m so excited! i can’t wait to try the black and white, chocapocalypse and the pizza :) i hope all these will be part of the menu ;) you’re so lucky to be one of the willing guinea pigs! :)
    i do agree about your comment on the mango one. i love mangoes but i’m usually wary ordering desserts with mango especially if it’s not its in season.
    i’m so happy sebastian’s have a new shol. at least this time MOA is nearer to makati than ATC hehe i hope soon (very soon) they will open a shop here in makati like greenbelt or powerplant ;)

    thanks for sharing this good news lorie :)


  • Would you know the exact date of the opening?
    Hoping it would be open by the 4th of August in time for our anniv date :D


  • Wow, MOA, I can’t wait… I’ve been dreaming for a great ice cream or dessert place along Ayala… I’m still dreaming…


  • i cant wait for this! the pizza di sebastian looks mouthwatering


  • I love Sebastien’s! I hope they use real whipped cream instead of those fake white non-dairy whip that leaves a greasy coating in the mouth.


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