I appreciate those restaurants that treat desserts as more than just an afterthought, keeping to an even keel for the entire meal instead of petering out at the end. Here are some I find and favor wholeheartedly.
A Trio: Two Sweet + 1 Savory
The heat coming through the tall glass windows of Grace Park illuminates the good looks of my companions but it’s making mincemeat of the air-conditioning, turning the air tepid in no time. Still, the food and company are more than worth it.
I’ve mentioned that I don’t like meringue but for some reason, it’s been on my front burner since I make those meringue nests last month. So as my friends tuck into their organic beef belly, lamb adobo, and 3-page salad, I contemplate my Savory Eton Mess (P275). Yes, I know this is a post about desserts, but I include it here because it strikes me that this could qualify as a dessert for that peculiar group of people who “…don’t like sweet desserts”; a misnomer of a phrase if I ever heard of one.
A melding of ingredients heavy on the umami, this mess is a melange of passionate imagining, with the intent of cranking the eater’s desire level to high. Whipped folds of a mascarpone cream cloud exhale their truffle perfume: the first pass. Next and creeping in for crunch are crisps of prosciutto de Parma and salty-not-sweet meringue, contrasting and colliding with bits of Parmesan frico, otherwise known as cheese crisps. It’s layers upon layers of flavors and texture with leaves of watercress to “clear the mess.”
From the Savory, we go to the Sweet Eton Mess (P260). I always thought that it had to be strawberries but my research says that this British fave consisting of meringue and whipped cream relies on whatever fruit is on hand. Grace Park offers the classic and more common strawberries but because nonconformity strongly appeals to me, I go for the blackberries (but there are strawberries in there too).
Really, this dessert can’t be improved upon and it’s just too easy to love. A joy to make – bashing and mixing, how easy is that? – it’s also absolutely joyous to eat. With only a handful of ingredients, it can’t be beat. We take turns digging our spoons in. The unalloyed greed of my lunchtime companions is beginning to show, we fight over the last precious bits; the mark of a truly good dessert.
Ever have a dessert that satiates on the first spoonful? Neither have I. Which is why I’m vexed as to why the Butterscotch Pudding comes in such a tiny jar; perhaps it’s portion control or only meant for one. Whatever it is, it’s a shining testament to the synergy of brown sugar, butter, and cream. Add in eggs for luscious lickability, this pudding reaches in and ravishes with its richness.
Butterscotch pudding is a dessert that’s close to my heart. When I first became a mom, I drowned my anxieties in many a ramekin of the stuff. It soothed me and my aching body like nothing else. Come to think of it, I haven’t made it in years, and Boo’s just a year away from becoming a teenager. Huh. I suspect I may be making more butterscotch puddings very soon.
Manila’s Best Calamansi-Key Lime Pie
After Boo’s dance recital over the weekend, she chooses 2nd’s for her celebratory-slash-farewell-to- summer dinner. She so adores the Triple Mushroom Risotto here that it’s the only time she’ll eat the fleshy fungus.
A meal at 2nd’s never disappoints: Bacon Chicharon with blue cheese; the Juicy Lucy burger, a tremendous ode to beef lovers everywhere; the Shepherd’s Pie, etc. And I can get a properly done cocktail here too so that’s an added plus.
But that evening, it’s the Calamansi-Key Lime Pie that takes our breath away.
A new addition to the menu, it upends my idea of what a pie like this should be. First, it’s round and presented under a finely bubbled meringue cover that’s lightly torched. A fork slides in easily, gliding through a custardy heart before bumping to the bottom. Slightly chilled, the filling masterfully ties together a flutter of citric and sweet and a chorus of crunch from the crust. I pause for a forkful of meringue, contemplate the trails of passion fruit seeds and blackberries, then taste them. Zing! on my tongue, zoom! goes my heart. I eat more pie, then some more and then more.
I’m hugely tempted to call this the Dessert of the Year. It’s killer.
One Rockwell, Rockwell Drive, Makati
0917 513 8945
2/F Building 1
Quadrant 3, 9th Ave
(02) 846 5293