More food especially appropriate for the season.
Bagels & cream cheese “schmear” at L.E.S Bagels
Every Sunday, my Bin takes me out for a coffee run, essentially our time together in my coffee shop of choice. We go as far as QC, Manila, and everything in between.
L.E.S Bagels is something my husband has fallen hard for so we’re there about twice a month, at least. I’m not a fan of Chef Cuit Kaufman’s previous ventures, Borough and Nolita, but I do consider L.E.S Bagels his tour de force. The New York vibe he attempts to generate in his first two stores reaches an astounding apex in this “Lower East Side” outpost. Even better, he’s done it in such a way that Filipinos can relate to and want more of.
The bagels are outstanding, of course. Simultaneously dense and chewy, a result of boiling and baking, the flavors discombobulate then stimulate desire – I want them all. But what’s a bagel without a schmear, its cream cheese companion? From plain to bacon cheddar to garlic and chive (my choice) and the classic lox (my Bin’s fave), the cream cheese spreads initially give me sticker shock. From small to large, creamy bliss begins at P120 and can zoom to P950. A small tub of lox is already P260 but the cream cheese they use is of the best quality (Philly, perhaps?) and even a small is sizable and sufficient for sharing (see photos here). I won’t quibble where quality is concerned.
I’m told that I must try the sandwiches at L.E.S but you know what they say about the best intentions getting waylaid. I blame it on the sweets here and standing in front of the smorgasbord that is their display – so blatant! so obscene! – I can feel a twitching on the side of my temple and feel my restraint slowly eroding.
If there’s only one sweet you order here, I insist it be the Oatmeal Maple Cream Sandwich Cookie (lower right; P160). Brown butter cookies, nubby with rolled oats, hug a swath of maple cream. Tan on khaki, crunchy and rough segueing to smooth and sweet, it’s a dream. I also love the Pumpkin Muffin and the Brownies (P180-P240), thick bricks of unbridled gluttony, I adore the Macadamia White Chocolate Fudge and the Blondie.
Tuscany, Upper McKinley Road
McKinley Hill, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
Open daily from 7am.
Foie gras finger sandwich at TWG
I don’t fancy the tea pots at TWG, they’re mirror-shiny and I don’t relish watching myself as I stuff my face. Still, they’re stunning vessels carrying hot fluids with the most evocative names. As befits any tea room, TWG is genteel and somewhat hushed. My friend, Gina, jokes that it’s the type of place where it’d be accepted to sip with one pinky finger raised. Service is anticipated and discreet and requests are replied to with “Certainly.”
The teas are unparalleled naturally, and I’ve spent many an occasion just sitting with a pot and a cup. In this temple of tea, the savories trump the sweets. The macarons aren’t worthy to be called such, the scones bounce back when thrown at a wall, and the apple tart wept more than I did when we finally met.
What I do like are the finger tea sandwiches. Included in the sandwich selections, it’s a tea time choice available only from 3-6pm. Choose a trio from six options; today, Gina and I want the Roma tomatoes and Moroccan Mint Tea infused sauce, smoked salmon with cream cheese and chives, and foie gras.
Pain de mie, a rectangular loaf otherwise known as pullman bread, is the traditional choice for (English) tea sandwiches because of its dense crumb and sliced-off crusts. Presented in mini triangles, the six sandwiches are served at room temperature and my, we feel so proper nibbling on them!
I especially like the foie gras sandwich. Gina’s not much into this liver delicacy so I get both of them. Generously sliced and more pâté de foie gras than just foie gras, its firm and slightly cool texture partners well with the moist, soft bread. Eat this with the Magic Christmas tea (limited edition) and bless yourself with a breather from the holidays.
TWG Tea Boutique
See link below for various locations.
Bread pudding at Myron’s Place
My mom tells me that there’s an old-fashioned type of bread pudding where the custard and bread are blitzed together before being baked. The result is a bread pudding that’s very tight and dense, as opposed to a looser, softer crumb characteristic of this dessert.
This is exactly the type of bread pudding available at Myron’s Place in Greenbelt 5. Aside from the Reuben sandwich and steaks, the desserts are stellar, speaking highly of pastry chef-owner, Monique Eugenio’s skill set.
The bread pudding is so tight-crumbed that it slices – and reminds me of – a pound cake. Fused into firm custard, the bread is spongy in places and succulently sweet in other spots, with a bit of bite in between. Then the dessert is taken to another dimension of pleasure with the introduction of caramel times two: in ice cream and sauce. Cooked just ’til it’s a breath away from bitterness, the caramel rakes the pudding’s smoothness, deep amber dripping on gold … then a stopgap of a scoop of caramel ice cream, house-made. The now-familiar junction of salty on sweet is welcomed, a cool counterpoint to the warmth of the pudding and lick of sauce.
Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati
757 9898 / 757 8898