Of course I’m talking about myself, but in this case the title of this post just happens to be the name of a bakery-café hidden within the corporate jungle that is the Makati Business District. Nobody I’ve talked to seems to have heard of it but the name is so compelling that it practically screams to be visited by dessert lovers.
A diversification effort by furniture company Play & Display, In Love With Sweets (ILWS) is a showcase of the company’s wares, (i.e. plates, sofas, cutlery, etc.) While ILWS is a coffee and dessert place with an occasional pizza and pasta thrown in, its sister restaurant, Salt & Pepper, which is situated right beside it, is the casual dining restaurant serving Western, Asian, and Mediterranean cuisine. The beauty here is that you can sit in either restaurant and enjoy food from both places. Of course Miss In Love With Sweets herself ”“ ahem, me ”“ chooses to plop herself down in front of the pastry display case at ILWS; it’s the best seat in the house, wouldn’t you agree?
I’m having lunch here with Jennifer, the person responsible for some of the most awesome pastry packaging I’ve seen in a long time. It seems almost ironic that we’re seated right in front of the cakes and their not-so-good-looking cakeboards. I’m almost embarrassed that Jennifer has to see that kind of packaging.
We order one dish from the ILWS menu, Thai Spicy Pasta (P299) and one dish from the Salt & Pepper menu, the Bracciola Zucchini (P189).
For the pasta, fettuccine noodles are tossed in peanut sauce together with shrimp, bell pepper strips, some ham chunks and mushroom slices. The sauce is pleasant enough, reminding me of the peanut sauce used in satay (Indonesian barbeque), but the shrimps are tough and have been reheated one too many times.
Bracciola (brah-chee-OH-la, also braciola) is Italian for roulade, a French term for a thin slice of meat rolled around a filling and usually secured with a pick or string. In this case, it’s a layered affair of pork tenderloin, roasted zucchini, tomatoes, and cheese. I admire the restaurant’s attempt to pull off this sort of dish: there’s sincerity and a somewhat homey feel to it emphasized by the scoop of mashed potatoes and buttered vegetables, but I’m dismayed that the cheese is of the processed product type, similar to Ques-O or Kraft Eden cheese. A more genuine cheese not cheese product would have considerably brightened up this bracciola.
In Love With Sweets is a happy hue of orange and stripes, a place to go to on dreary, rainy days. The orange polka-dotted sofas are eye-catching, and those seated there catch the eyes of passers-by, since the sofas are right beside the immense glass windows which look out and up on the towering buildings outside as well as the grid-locked traffic. There’s an open kitchen where I watch a baker twirl breads into a danish. Towards the back and near the Play & Display store is the bakery where breads are being displayed on large glass plates. It crosses my mind that Bread Talk has made it trendy and desirable for breads to be displayed and bought in this way, a definite improvement.
The desserts come in three sizes at ILWS: cutie, which is about the size of the cakes they serve at Cheesecake Etc; midi, the cake size at Bizu, and grande for the tall and majestic cakes, like the Super Moist Chocolate Cake (P139/slice) that Jennifer and I order. I’m almost always never happy with just one dessert, so we opt for something called a White Forest (P99/slice).
The chocolate cake is the bestseller at ILWS: regal in height and black as night, it’s a dense four-layered cake with plenty of chocolate curls and thick fudge frosting. It gets to be a bit much after a few bites, but I particularly like the chocolate truffle on top. The truffle itself sticks to my teeth and is quite cakey, tasting like a miniature version of the colossus that it sits on.
As for the white forest cake, what I’ll say about it is that I now know what cardboard tastes like. A combination of custard and sponge cake, the cake is gummy, like it’s outlived its shelf life. I take only one bite of this cake and all I can taste is … cardboard. I can hardly wait to swallow because spitting it out isn’t an option. I can only hope that my face isn’t displaying the absolute atrociousness that’s in my mouth. I look at Jennifer and she in turn, is looking at me with a somewhat bemused expression. I ask her to taste it and when she does, all she says is, “Perhaps some of its packaging transferred onto the cake.” If only I could be as polite.
Chalky cake aside, my highlight at ILWS is the contraption that I see on almost every table. Looking like something I’d find in an Italian curio shop, it’s a bizarre collaboration of what looks to be a tall glass, a mini metal tank, and a perfume spritzer. To add to the mayhem are the metal tubes and … is that a faucet I see???
Unable to contain my curiosity any longer, I grab the sleeve of the nearest waiter and I ask him excitedly, “What do I have to order to get that?” He laughs at my bug-eyed excitement and replies that it’s what they use for their siphon brewed coffee (P49). Almost every table has one of these machines happily brewing away, a sign of its curious appeal, and soon my table has one too.
It’s best to just go and experience this coffee contraption yourself without me explaining it. In short however, a flame is lit underneath the “perfume spritzer” which sends water from the “metal tank” into the tall glass. What follows is a downright captivating show of bubbling, plunging, dripping and drinking. You’ve got to see it to believe it. And it’s damn good coffee too.
In Love With Sweets / Salt & Pepper
G/F Security Bldg.
6797 Ayala Ave. corner V.A. Rufino St., Makati
Open 7 am ”“ 10 pm daily