I started Dessert Comes First when my daughter, Boo, was just three years old. Looking now at the posts I’ve written about her (see links below), they read like a timeline of her food life, and I feel a mixed bag of emotions.
Boo will turn 12 next week, only one year away from being a teenager. To my eyes however, she’s already very much one. She loves music, denim shorts, ballet flats, and she lives to loom — her latest creations being puffy heart charms and some too-cool, no-name cuff that even I have eyes for. As is typical of adolescents however, Boo prefers that her door stay closed, and she slams her laptop shut when I’m in the room. When dealing with my daughter, it’s a dance of persist-or-resist; I understand, I have a fierce need for privacy also.
But food and everything surrounding it tethers our togetherness. Not surprising, considering what I do for a living, and since my Bin is out of town, Boo and I are bonding at two restaurants.
We’re at Potts Point Café (PPC), a new place with an Australian accent and a heavy emphasis on the farm-to-plate concept that’s currently so du jour. Situated where Swensen’s was previously, it’s a thoughtfully designed space with brown and wood centered on a stark white coffee counter and open kitchen.
“Let’s have something for the middle, okay, Mom?” Boo is big on starters and inclined to Italian cuisine so we begin with the Fried Organic Mushroom Risotto Balls (P220). A bite reveals its bacon center, a contrast to the chewiness, and a brief dip in the accompanying tomato puree introduces a pleasant tang.
A pair of pastas arrive next. “Mom, it’s nice, you can really taste the lamb,” says Boo, bent over her Australian Lamb Spaghetti Bolognese. But when she lifts her head, her eyes widen in alarm. “Yikes, your lips are so black!” I grab a spoon and look: indeed, my lips are a startling shade of goth-gone-wild. My order of Squid Ink Spaghetti (P285) is to blame, but no regrets. The exotic flavor of squid ink is sharpened by the tastes of tomato and arugula and the topping of calamari is perfectly crisp; first-date food this is certainly not. Boo tries some and we giggle hysterically at her black lips that scarily reflect my own.
Time for dessert, and I ease into a Flat White, a uniquely Australian beverage. Potts Point uses beans from Delano Coffee, a Sydney-based specialty coffee roaster. Exquisitely pulled and almost painfully smooth, it goes down well. Gazing at its mirror-like smoothness, Boo asks, “What’s the difference between a flat white and a latte, Mom?” Reaching for a teaspoon, I reply, “In Australia, a latte is served in a cup, and a flat white…” I dunk the teaspoon into the drink and offer it to Boo, “…
has smoother foam and is served in a glass. Try some, hon.” I’m raising her to try everything once – to be open-minded about food and life. She gingerly slurps some of the taupe-colored liquid and makes a face. “I don’t think I like coffee yet, Mom.”
We’re in total agreement however about the desserts. I’ll say that the Butterscotch Budino is PPC’s banner sweet, whether they’ll agree with me or not. Softly-set custard slides down the throat trailing aromatic waves of brown sugar and vanilla. Pop! go grains of coarse sea salt embedded in the caramel and a single spoon quenelle of cream. Superlative. And even better than the one I have in Mozza.
Mom, you have to try this!” Boo thrusts her dessert at me, the Strawberry, Kiwi and Mango Trifle (P185). In it, streusel weaves its way through a vanilla custard, flavors changing depending on the flirtation with the fruit. “I love this creammm, “ Boo murmurs, excitedly licking her spoon. “We have to bring Papa here when he comes back.”
The next day, we’re at Brasserie Girolle, one place that knows how to do a proper brunch. We have the place to ourselves with lounge music as our soundtrack, and the pleasures presented by a mellow morning and a mimosa. We revel in the glow of a cloudy, rain free day. Boo asks the waiter to take our picture. “Send it to Papa on Viber, Mom, and I’ll write the text.” I peek at her message, it’s strewn with exclamation points and emoticons.
Eggs Benedict is commonplace in Manila but I find that no one does it better than Brasserie Girolle. Among the variations, I like the Salmon Benedict. Skillfully poached, the eggs shimmy then surrender before releasing their golden salve. The hollandaise sauce that laces the lot is also masterfully done, with a precise hit of lemon. Boo angles for a forkful. “Mmm. Mom, take a picture and send it to Pa. Tell him we found the best eggs Benedict in Manila!”
She declares that “mushroom and truffle are BFFs!” and at Brasserie Girolle, their Mushroom Truffle Pasta with Scallops proves the point. Not too aggressive with either ingredient, both rake through the glistening noodles, a subtle combination that makes Boo swoon. The large scallops stand guard, succulent stopgaps for the drips of cream dotting the plate.
We swap plates and share conversation. “How come we have better meals when Papa’s not here, haha.” She jokes. Then, when I tell her that her recent revelation to her dad almost gave him a heart attack – sorry, can’t write here what that was – Boo smiles knowingly. Her smile widens when talk turns to what we’ll do for her birthday next week.
As I down the last of my mimosa and grab my purse, I watch Boo as she walks ahead out the door. Soon, she’ll be a teenager, taller than me, and will probably be asking to borrow my favorite red lipstick. Until then, I relish every day and every mom and daughter date we have.
Potts Point Cafe
2/F Veranda Level, Eastwood Mall, Libis, QC.
(02) 426 1635
On Facebook: PottsPointCafe
G/F Fort Pointe Bldg, 28th St BGC
(02) 856 6639
Brunch daily from 11am – 3pm.