Archive for the ‘Food Adventure’ Category

SMORES BY CARAMIA 

One of the words of wisdom from Word Porn (@wordsporn) is do something that makes you happy. Heeding its words, these days I try and remember what makes me happy as a way to move on after a break up which wasn’t mutual. One such activity is having a slice of cake from Amici, a renowned pasta place with an outlet in Tomas Morato. Their pasta menu undoubtedly is amazing too, but a slice of cake or gelato cake is instant happiness (I’d worry about the calories later.) it is a partnership that only spells sweetness. The pasta is solely Amici but the cakes and gelato cakes are from Caramia bakery that introduced gelato cakes to Filipinos. I find a quaintness to the name, which is Italian for “my dear”, because you can look at the cake and consider it a dear or your precious. Conversely, it is a way of saying you are important to me when a Caramia cake is presented as a gift. 

The one cake that got my attention was Smores, a whole cake of chocolate butter cake smothered with torched marshmallow and topped with meringue-shaped torched marshmallows. A slice with one meringue-shaped marshmallow makes for a delicious tea break; half a slice – half of the “meringue” marshmallow – is a great meal ender. Looks are deceiving – Smores might look cloying but it is the furthest from the truth. The sweetness is just enough to tickle your palate pleasantly.



Prior to digging into a slice is the thrill of opening the box. I think of unwrapping a present during Christmas or a birthday. There is always that thrill that surges through me throwing me back to my childhood when the world seemed a better place and people were less prone to duplicity. Combined with the pleasure of eating a slice of Smores, a broken heart aches less and all is good in the world.

FRAP HAPPINESS II

A different country, different speciality drinks at Starbucks – this is the Starbucks rule I managed to confirm on my Starbucks-hopping. Simply put, the US market had the loved-by-the consumers and hated-by-the baristas Unicorn Frappuccino, Indonesia is now tooting its counterpart of Popcorn Caramel Frappuccino. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Starbucks is treating its loyal customers to two special flavors, one of which is the Roasted Smores Frappuccino. Apparently, this one is back due to popular demand.

Roasted Smores Frappuccino

The scorching heat – 35 degrees is normal temperature each day in Quezon City – was a strong impetus for me to get Roasted Smores Frappuccino (tall size only) and throw caution to the wind. I would worry about the calories later when I get to the gym. Truly frap happiness with each sip, which was far from my imagined saccharine taste. Nestled at the bottom of the ice-blended Frappuccino roast coffee beans were swirls of chocolate syrup reminiscent of the chocolate sauce for chocolate sundaes bonding with swathes of marshmallow. Topping the iced beverage is a whirl of whipped cream sprinkled with bits of graham crackers. It is not hard to grok that it is pure frap happiness: a sip of it is a sweet (not cloying), gooey, and chocolatey goodness that momentarily quells the searing summer heat and uplifts the sadness in one’s heart.

It is a sugar fest with the Roasted Smores Frap and sticky cinnamon bun. (Imperial Suites,Tomas Morato branch)

FRAP HAPPINESS 

The colorful Unicorn Frappuccino did not make it to Asia or my Instagram feed would have been inundated with pictures of it. But it is not like the other side of the globe has been deprived of frap happiness with its absence. This May saw Starbucks Indonesia introducing frap happiness with their new variant, Popcorn Caramel Frappuccino, to its loyal Starbucks card holders before releasing it to the general public.

Popcorn Caramel Frappuccino

It is triple happiness in a tall cup: caramel popcorn reposing on swirl of whipped cream that sits on a perfectly blended caramel frappuccino. It is not cloying and is simply perfect to cool a Sunday early afternoon baking under the blazing sun. Forget the calories – frap happiness is a great momentary cure for the lemons and spanners flooding your universe and a crying heart.

CHAMPAGNE DINNER BY TAITTINGER

Dark skies and an almost-empty gas tank weren’t enough to stop us. Even the snail-pace traffic to Jakarta from Bekasi wasn’t a deterrent. With a little bit of prayer and switching off the car’s AC, we made it to Fairmont Jakarta with time to spare to freshen up. On the 22nd floor of the hotel was the Taittinger Champagne Dinner. The last time I had flutes of the delectable champagne was two years ago when Taittinger was introduced in Indonesia at Orient 8 at Hotel Mulia.

Champagne Dinner with a view at The View

Table setting at the Taittinger Champagne Dinner


champagne at the bar

the bar at The View

It was a thrilling reunion that April night at The View, one of Fairmont’s restaurants, with its magnificent view of Jakarta’s skyline. A prelude to the eight-course dinner was a tipple at the bar where I introduced Taittinger to my gal-pal Theresia as a way to let the stresses of the mid-week hang. Dropping by the bar to say hola was Alvaro Acebal, Fairmont’s Food & Beverage manager, whom Theresia and I met at Sapori Deli last March at another one-night dinner event of guest Chef Antonio Facchinetti.

with Alvaro Acebal

Photo op with Alvaro Acebal, Food & Beverage Manager of Fairmont Jakarta

Dinner commenced with an amuse bouche of Tuna Tartare with ponzu, yuzu, and avocado that strongly whetted the appetite. You just have to get pass the eyebrow-raising hand cast it is served on.  Juxtaposed to the tuna’s savory flavor is the next course of Apple Pie (View’s interpretation) which was ingenious both in taste and presentation. There was this sweet tugging sensation on the palate between the savory and sweet flavors, and that the apple pie was shaped as a mini ball reposing on a bed of pebbles in a wooden box was simply artistic.

Tuna Tartare

Ready for your Tuna Tartare?


Apple Pie

Apple Pie – The View’s Interpretation

The champagne kept coming and Satria, our gracious attendant for the night, made sure nothing was lacking from our table including enjoyable tête-à- tête. He regaled us with stories about his one-month training stint in Makati and the incidents of being mistaken as a Filipino while Theresia and I coaxed him to put Ambon – especially Ora Island – on his travel list.

Dining with a view

Champagne and dining with a view – this is the life!

Then it was time for the Foie Gras Torchon with cherry gel and macerated mix berries which was paired splendidly with the Taittinger Nocturne, Sec NV. There was this sweet and fruity chase at the end of each bite of the foie gras after nips of the champagne; Satria, following the chef’s suggestion, advised us to quickly follow up a bite of the foie gras with champagne. This dish was immediately followed by Scallop Tartare enveloped in white chocolate foam and lime jelly that did an electrifying cha-cha on the palate together with sips of the Taittinger Reims Reserve Brut NV.

Foie gras torchon

Foie gras torchon


Scallop Tartare

Scallop Tartare


Taittinger Reims

Taittinger Reims goes well with the scallop tartare

Too much champagne is a misnomer. In fact, the abundance in champagne led to a pleasant discovery that Lobster “cappuccino” – fortified lobster bisque and foam – squirted into our cups by The View’s Chef Hans actually blended well with both the Nocturne and Reims.  Discovery 2: the lobster cappuccino was a teaser to the first main dish of Canadian Lobster with Sturia caviar, shimeji, and champignon nage that grooved smoothly on the palate as the flavors mingled with the Taittinger Prestige Rose Brut, NV. Lobster and champagne – what can go wrong?

Lobster Cappuccino

Lobster Cappuccino


Canadian Lobster

Canadian Lobster


Taittinger Prestige Rose

Taittinger Prestige Rose Brut NV

Gazing out the floor-to-ceiling window of The View, the landscape had turned a shade darker as the night danced on. The ant-like lights on the streets below had lessened, but the brightness hadn’t diminished, and there I was happily ensconced in my chair sipping from flute to flute. Life is rosier with champagne in my hand.

Norwegian salmon_The View

Norwegian salmon with glazed oyster mushroom


Satria pours Taittinger Comtes

Satria pours the famed Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc 2004

Then it was time for the main course of Norwegian salmon with glazed king oyster mushroom, champagne, and seaweed broth.  Without skipping a beat, affable Satria was at our table ready to impress us with, paraphrasing his words, the champagne set to dislodge Dom Pérignon from its pedestal. He poured the Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc, 2004 generously into our flutes and bade us a hearty meal. The salmon was flavorful and generous in serving (read: it was more than a matchbox size) while the strip of mushroom melted in the mouth.  And the night drew to a close when the Stone Rose was laid on our table. Breaking the pinkish Christmas “ball” revealed a smooth cheesecake-like texture of lychee, raspberry, and chocolate that rolled effortlessly on the tongue. Which champagne went with it? Take your pick.

Stone Rose

Stone Rose

A champagne dinner is exciting. However, a well-orchestrated Taittinger champagne dinner is more than simple excitement. It’s a bubbly and electrifying dining experience that leaves wearied souls keyed up and ready to tackle the world again.

world of Taittinger

world of Taittinger

FOOD TRIPPING IN BALI

Mention Bali and food in one breath and the flavourful nasi campur that lights up the palate come to mind. But iconic local dish aside, restaurants abound in and out of Sanur that makes food tripping in Bali a very delectable experience. It is also an advantage to have a gal-pal who has had her ear on the ground when it comes to the culinary delights around the island.

Sanur is replete with myriad dining choices, but my culinary adventure always started each day with breakfast at La Tartine, the restaurant where guests of French-owned Hotel Puri Tempo Doeloe troop to from 7 am to 10 am. One’s choice of breakfast set comes with fruit salad, orange juice, and black coffee or tea. A creature of habit, my choice was always scrambled egg with fried tomatoes and herbs partnered with a thin pancake from the other sets of bacon and egg, scrambled egg with grilled cheese, tartine of the day, and nasi goreng (fried rice) or mie goreng (fried noodles). Each breakfast set is prepared on the spot with the right amount of oil and spices, and absolutely basking in freshness. For a mid-day repast of Italian, gal-pal Eta swears by the nonpareil menu of Massimo – Italian Restaurant on Jalan Danau Tamblingan. This more-than-a-decade old eatery sees nights teeming with diners already seated or waiting for their table. The first time we got there we had 40 minutes before we could get ours, so we had gelato (the cannoli is good) first and walked around the area. The gelato counter at the entrance is similarly swarmed by diners. The special dish that night was paccheri in salmon tomato sauce in which the creaminess of the sauce was a beautiful melding of cream and tomato sauce that zigzagged on the palate, urging me to finish the dish to the last tube pasta. Meanwhile, Eta’s favourite spaghetti carbonara was equally bursting with flavour. On our next visit I went for the classic mushroom fettuccine while she went out of her comfort zone and had spaghetti aglio olio.

La Tartine breakfast

Breakfast of scrambled egg at La Tartine, Sanur

pasta from Massimo

Paccheri with salmon tomato sauce from Massimo

Spaghetti aglio olio at Massimo

Spaghetti aglio olio at Massimo

Massimo gelato

gelato by Massimo

Another dinner excursion in Sanur led us to Kuu Izakaya Dining located also along Jalan Danau Tamblingan. Eta and I were in the mood for Japanese and took our chances when we spotted this one. Kuu was a serendipitous find: strong, palate-tickling flavours; food served on elegant glazed earthenware; refreshing Mango Tango and Apple Cinnamon drinks; Zen-like ambiance; and gracious servers. We had a feast: tempura ebi (crunchy and not oily), tori teriyaki (succulent and not salty), dragon maki (creative dragon rendition with the shrimp head), and chawan mushi (bouncy egg custard).

dining al fresco of Kuu

Dining al fresco at Kuu

Dragon maki

Dragon maki for two

Chawan mushi 2

Piping hot chawan mushi

Kuu

Kuu drinks

L-R: Apple Cinnamon and Mango Tango

Going beyond Sanur, it was Cafe Lotus on Jalan Raya Ubud for lunch. It is another iconic dining establishment on the island that beckons the guests because of its location and view. Located between Ubud Palace and Museum Puri Lukisan, and adjacent to a Starbucks, the sittings near the entrance are fantastic. They offer a majestic view of one of Ubud’s main temples, Pura Tama Kemudra Saraswati, which is the stage for the nightly performances of traditional dances. The temple lies beyond another pull-factor of the restaurant: an enormous lotus pond with ancient kamboja (or magnolia) trees joined by the newly added by orchids standing regally against the alluring blue skies. My chicken satay were not scrawny slivers of grilled chicken, but succulent chunks that almost melted in your mouth while Eta’s breaded chicken was not oily or thickly wrapped in bread crumbs. Sadly, service was less than welcoming – the server that greeted us was crabby.

Chicken satay at Cafe Lotus

Chicken satay by Cafe Lotus

view from Cafe Lotus

View as you dine at Cafe Lotus

Venturing into Kuta, we went American for lunch at Hard Rock Cafe on Jalan Pantai Kuta, which is just opposite the famed, crowded Kuta beach. Ironic as it may seem, I had the duck breast which wasn’t a disappointment. The slices of duck breast were juicy and the kailan crunchy. Adding a zing to the noontime meal was having chicken wings with tangy barbecue sauce for appetizer. Meanwhile, Eta’s fish and chips were a good choice – succulent fish that wasn’t thickly coated in batter or swimming in oil.

fish and chips from Hard Rock Cafe

duck breast from Hard Rock Cafe

Tangy Chicken wings

Food tripping in Bali is a gastronomic experience with the myriad restaurants ready for the picking. The choices are endless with each new day promising a palate-tickling, tummy-satisfying culinary journey.

CRAZY SWEETNESS

The adult in me cringed slightly as the sugary beverage landed on our table. But the child in me did a little somersault, excited over the colors and overall look of the drink called Cloudy Rainbow. It is crazy sweetness in a drinking jar: the front view is a fluff of pink cotton candy sitting on top of the jar while the sugary fluff’s behind is a scoop of vanilla ice cream and two cookies floating on a sea of Sprite. A thick layer of aquamarine syrup at the bottom completes the drink.

The ornery adult (due to hunger) was mentally re-christening the drink to Rainbow Cloud which, in her mind, captured the total appearance of the huge sugary cloud peppered with bits of color cereal staring at me. I let the other kid at the table, soon-to-be-10-years-old Christian, savor his Cloudy Rainbow.

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Cloudy Rainbow – poofy cotton candy in front

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Peek behind the Cloudy Rainbow

Now, both the adult and child in me were in collusion that they wanted a piece of the other sweet stuff that made it to our regular haunt, Eat Happens, this eatery at within Grand Galaxy City. We – me, gal pal Theresia, and her son Christian ­– were in the mood for something chocolaty for our martabak, traditionally a stuffed pancake or fried bread from Saudi Arabia, which Eat Happens reworked to suit the sweet palate of the Indonesians. The staff attending to us had her finger on our pulses and zoomed in on a martabak called Martabak Jungle, a circular plate of crazy sweetness. Lying enticingly on the thick pancake, which can be sliced into four or eight pizza-like slices, were toppings that included thick layers of ground Oreo, chunky chocolate, cut up Kit Kat Green tea, and Ovaltine doused with condensed milk.  She also mentioned that we could change any of the toppings, so we swapped the Ovaltine for swathes of Nutella spread.

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Martabak Jungle by Eat Happens

Martabak or a drink, one is in for massive doses of crazy sweetness at Eat Happens.

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Martabak Jungle – crazy sweetness up close

SATAY AYAM MADURA

Satay ayam, or grilled chicken on a stick, is the Indonesian (or Malay or Philippine) version of the barbecue that has become one of my favourite Indonesian dishes. It’s smaller in size compared to the Philippine version because each skewered chicken piece is bite size. Last night, amidst the sudden torrential, flood-inducing downpour in Bekasi, Indonesia, I discovered – it was my first time at the place – this wonderful satay ayam stall at Summarecon Mall manned by three people, a female cashier, a male “griller”, and a meal assembler.

Called Satay Ayam Madura, it’s at the food court of Summarecon Mall that caters to Indonesian cuisine from the various islands of the country. The food court is a sprawling area that has indoor and outdoor sitting that are ringed by trolleys and food counters. Satay Ayam Madura is situated to the left of the entrance toward the stage area where that night had a band performing local ditties with the simultaneous screening of a football match on a gargantuan screen. Follow the smoky trail and you’ll find Satay Ayam Madura. The smoke from its grill enveloped the sitting area making it hard to breathe and one’s eyes sting but the smoke eventually dissipated. There is a respite from the grilling if orders have slowed down a bit.

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The satay ayam is grilled on the spot in this narrow trough-like griller. The sauces and rice are ready to be assembled on the plate, but one has to wait for about 15+ minutes for the satay ayam to be ready and have an order of nine satay ayam nestled in peanut sauce and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) ready for the taking. The grilled chicken is served either with lontong or the more commonplace steamed rice. I usually go with the lontong, cylindrical rice cake wrapped in banana leaf and boiled cut into bite-size pieces, because of a childhood predilection for sticky rice.  I was a bit apprehensive the peanut sauce would be spicy as it is always the case, but it wasn’t so it was one happy meal for me. The satay was fresh and succulent, and the sauces were flavorful. Even the lontong had this fresh taste to it. At IDR29, 000 per plate (PhilP109.22), one is in for an economical yet very appetising dinner during a stormy Saturday night.