Manila Bulletin, July 29, 2005
A blog where the dessert comes first
By Annalyn S. Jusay (now blogging at www.annalyn.net)
The name of the blog alone, Dessertfirst at http://dessertcomesfirst.blogspot.com, indicates that the site is owned and was written by someone with a sweet tooth. From cakes to pretzels to doughnuts, Lori Baltazar’s blog is so full of the kitchen’s heavenly delights that one is very much tempted to rush to the nearest restaurant or bakeshop after reading her entries, never mind the calories of course. It helps that the author is no ordinary blogger but is in fact a chef and a culinary writer. Thus, her posts are written with the standards of someone who is well-exposed to goings-on in the food industry and has the keen insights (plus years of experience) to go with it.
Surprisingly, Dessertfirst is not only about sinful sweets. It also talks about other kinds of food and has an interesting review of Manila’s restaurants, both positive and negative. Readers will find useful Lori’s directory of great resto/cafe finds, complete with addresses and telephone numbers. Also a must-check is her separate site on Multiply.com which lists her
recipes, including one for her in-demand cheesecake. Read more in the following interview.
Q. Please tell us a little something about yourself.
A. You really don’t need to know much about me because if you read my blog regularly, you get a good idea of who I am. People might be surprised to know however, that I didn’t grow up in the Philippines, thus I speak with an accent and my Tagalog is still bulol.
Q. I noticed that you first started posting your blog entries in 2001. Were you using Blogger already during the period?
A. My 2001 entries are archived articles that I wrote when I was food editor of the now-defunct http://www.getasia.com.ph, which was formerly LocalVibe. Some of those articles are still relevant, so I included them in my blog. Technically, I can’t count myself as one of the first Filipino food bloggers because I really only started blogging in May 2005. I’m actually one of the new ones.
Q. How do you find writing in a blog as compared to, say, writing in a food magazine? What do you like about blogging as a medium?
A. Writing in a blog is more liberating — there’s more freedom to write what I want and to tell it like it is, and I value that. It’s a more accurate picture of who I am. I’m unable to unleash my passion for food in my blog. There’s plenty of editing in a magazine or any other printed matter, so I need to conform to its writing style. It’s not bad or good, it’s just how it is.
Q. What made you decide to come up with a food and dessert blog?
A. Actually, the credit goes to my good friend and fellow food lover, Mari Carandang. She had been telling me for months that I should start my own blog, and one day I finally did. Choosing to focus on food and especially dessert was a no-brainer: I live, breathe, eat, dream, photograph, read about, write and bake food! I must admit that I have an obsession with dessert, however, thus the baking and the recipes that I include in my blog.
Q. Other food and dessert blogs/websites that you would recommend and that you often visit?
A. My god, there’s too many to list here! I spend an obscene amount of time reading other people’s food blogs, especially those that concentrate on baking and dessert, see what I mean about my one-track mind? It never ceases to amaze me how wide the world of food is, and how much I still haven’t tasted.
Q. What do you think are the qualities of a great food blogger?
A. The qualities of a great food blogger are similar to those of any other medium. You follow these, and you’re sure to always have an audience: Have the discipline to update your blog regularly. Write clearly and follow basic grammar rules. Include lots of photos (people LOVE eating with their eyes!). Don’t forget to include the address of restaurants you blog about. Most of all, BE YOURSELF. Readers can spot a foodie wannabe a page away.
Q. Care to share with us your culinary specialty?
A. People have told me that my cheesecake is legendary. I’ve blogged about it and even gave the recipe. You can make this cheesecake with your eyes closed and the taste will make people think that you slaved half the day in the kitchen. Stripped to its barest, the most divine cheesecake can be had with just cream cheese, eggs, and sugar.
Q. What are your own observations of the Filipino food blogosphere?
A. I assume you’re referring to Filipino food blogs in the Philippines, because there are plenty that are not locally-based. For those that are, I’d have to say that it’s a new but thriving field. Pinoy food blogs are still in their infancy, and need to be developed more in order to give more information to those who want it. For example, give addresses of the restaurants that they talk about; describe the food instead of just saying that it was good; all those things.
Q. Do you have a favorite food post and why?
A. I’d like to think that everything I blog about is ‘eyeball-worthy,’ my term for ‘worth reading.’ Having said that, however, I do have a favorite food post. It’s entitled, The 10 best desserts in Manila and the vultures who eat them.
Manila’s 10 Best Desserts, in the words of Lori:
Chocolate Decadence Cake by Dennis Hipolito. This is a light chocolate cake in texture and flavor. Not too overpowering and perfect for those who don?t like their desserts too sweet.
Banana Toffee Pie by Roselyn Tiangco. My favorite pie and the baker I run to when I need a dessert in a jiffy and can?t make it myself.
Chocolate Rum Cake by Joyce Aragon. A regular at bazaars, this cake survived the rum cake craze when everybody and her favorite baker were giving rum cakes for Christmas.
Nono’s Chocolate Oblivion by Baba Ibazeta. The quintessential chocolate cake: layers of chocolate cake and ganache textured with walnut praline and dusted with cocoa powder.
Macaroons by Bizu. These macaroons are just like those found in French patisseries, light and unassuming.
Polly’s Chocolate Cake by Polly Garilao. A simple chocolate cake with a regular shiny icing and none of the frills and froufrou associated with most cakes these days.
Chocolate Carrot Cake by Melissa Lim.
Mango Torte by Tony Cuerva. A thin layer of meringue similar to sans rival without the buttercream, crowned with mango balls and decorated with whipped cream rosettes.
Strawberry Shortcake by Baby Yulo. This cake is close to eight inches high and is a sponge cake lightly spread with two layers of imported whipped cream and strawberry flecks, with a topping of large strawberries.
Caramel Cake by Estrel’s. A mouth- meltingly light chiffon cake artistically decorated with elaborate buttercream flowers in beautiful colors.