Monday, March 31, 2014

Sweet Ecstasy: A Fruit of Love

The guy's from California and she's from New York, what crossed their path is their love for food, the outcome is now a destination area for shakes and burgers inspired out of US' In n Out Burger joint.

What used to be a milk and cookie bar, evolved into a good menu for the out of the ordinary, mouth-watering array of comfort food.  Monica Fran and Al, are couples who own Sweet Ecstasy whom we all owe these drool-worthy feature to.  Fran is the balancing figure while Al is the genius behind the menu.  Fran's family background with food and her view of Al's vision cradled the business into what it is today.  On he other hand, you'll be surprised to see this hunk of guy (who by the way teaches yoga classes) in apron baking sweets, experimenting burger options and mixing things up for a divine mix of shake.
Aside from coming up with the menu, he is also responsible for the vintage-looking posters on their up-stairs venue.

The menu basically have changed several times to cater to what diners often order, but now that they were able to lock down all the recipes, and have decided on the final menu, which comprises of all the stuff they love to have, they can say that they are ready to capture the foodie market.  The plan of branching out in Makati is now in the making.

When you go there, you will not only be inspired by the couple's love story, you will be completely enamored by Al's sumptuous creation (or is it his experiments).

From what began with fresh milk from Batangas, have developed into milkshakes that would leave you craving for more from the classic vanilla and chocolate shakes to these cool babies namely...

Salted Caramel with Fudge Brownies

Red Velvet

Coffee Oreo 

 Black Bear 

I chose to have Salted Caramel with Fudge Brownies to really see how well they have fared mixing up the said components.  It would be a  strange choice for many but I had faith in them, hearing they have labored so much to have those concoctions on there.  And OMG!  It was the most awesome shake I have ever had in my entire life.  With exaggerations and all.  Like Happy Barn Milkshake Factory, they use ice cream as their base for the shakes, no ice, not even milk.  So, you will definitely differentiate it from other milkshakes.  The texture is very rich, creamy and dense but smoothly sips through the straw.  I love that it's not overly sweetened, just the right blend of sweetness, and a kick of saltiness, oooh, bravo!  It was also chocolatey from the brownie bits that had permeated through the ice cream.

I was able to taste my friend's Red Velvet inspired shake.  The subtle cocoa taste from the red velvet batter can be hinted making you feel like having a cake except it's cold and served in a tall glass.

The last from the roster above is the black bear, another unique and outrageous take at that.  It's categorized under adult shake for it consists of peanut butter, chocolate ice cream, kahlua and vodka.

Here is their menu, bwt.

Of course, there is nothing like enjoying your milkshakes on a hot and humid day with something filling to go with it.  For us, it was milkshake, fries, burger and wings night.

A typical milkshake/burger combo works for me already but I was not able to help myself not giving in to the sumptuous spread that was upon us.

We began munching on Kamote Fries with Sriracha sauce, Ecstasy Fries and Fantastic Fries (from left to right).  The camote fries and the plain French fries are just the regulars.  However, the Ecstasy Fries won me over.  I love dipping my fries on Heinz and mayo, but occasionally I like to play with other sauces, in this case, the ecstasy sauce - a cheesy, tangy and creamy combination.

Since Cubao X is far from were we usually hang out, it might take me a long while to come back here so when I heard they also serve chicken wings, I have to say yes, albeit I'll be loosening up my belt to allow more  tummy space to be filled up.  
From bottom to top, they are Buffalo, Honey BBQ, Choco Cola and Soy Honey wings.  The Buffalo really stings so have your shake nearby.  My fave is the choco cola, sans the choco flavor.  I love the simple taste of it, perhaps the wings were marinated with Coke or some colas.  The soy honey is their newest flavor which is Asian in taste.  Well, every wings have a distinct character to it, but what I love more is how they were still crunchy after they have been glazed. For a mere price of  P 200 for half a dozen and P 320 for 1 dozen, they are really worth it, so move along Bonchon.

Now on to their pride and glory.  The burger.

Have I mentioned Al, did not have any culinary training at all?  It's all from Google, self-learned baking and experimenting.  But I guess, he probably is the "Jughead" (of Archie Comic Strip) in the flesh, for his undying affinity with burgers.  The story was, Al found this deconstructed recipe of an In n Out Burger and he took it upon himself, until he found the right blend, the one they love, though he did not want to deviate from the original recipe, as told by Fran.

This Cheese Burger (P 170) on the photo is a stunner.  I guess he was able to figure out what the customers like as well in their burgers.  But what stands out in the sandwich is the beef patty, thick, yet grilled to perfection.  It's savory without being salty, succulent in every bite with added crisp from the fresh tomatoes and lettuce.  It also boasts of the secret ingredient, the ecstasy sauce. To be honest, I've never tried an In n Out burger and I have yet to sink my teeth on Cali Burgers (said to be the pseudo In n Out burger) but what I can tell you is that this burger really gives them the pride. So make sure to come at Sweet Ecstasy hungry and have your fill of one of the tastiest burger in town and its partner in crime, the milkshake.

Sweet Ecstasy
Cubao Expo, Quezon City
Contact Number: 0916 594 1229
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

TRAVEL: Balite Falls

I was on the verge of deleting some photos on my memory stick till I chanced upon these.  We visited this place a year ago and I have almost forgotten about my promise of taking my niece and nephew here for a day of swimming in cold spring water.  

I thought this could be a good way to start enjoying summer.  Balite Falls is one of the easiest resort to visit in Cavite.  It's situated at the coffee capital of the Philippines, Amadeo, Cavite, the town just before Tagaytay.  

No frills, just thrills and the inviting nature around the falls.

We weren't able to have a dip in the water when we went there.  It was a quick stop-over before our Tagaytay dinner.  As you can see, these girls aren't prepared for it.

This girl though is a bit disappointed of not bringing her swimming outfit and gears.  Maybe next time, my bunso.

Balite Falls is located at the right side of the road when traversing Tagaytay.  You won't miss the path going there for there is a big sign just before the path.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Poetry and Prose Patiserrie

It was those kind of spur of the moments when you just have to say yes to an invite even though your schedule is so tight.  Upon seeing the invite from my email about the owner of Pages Deli opening up another restaurant in a whole new concept, I knew it would be something out of the ordinary.  I've always been in love with Pages Deli's "bookworms' nook" theme and when I heard of the new restaurant's name, Poetry and Prose, I remember how eager Ms. Jojo Paje of telling me how she and her daughter love literary artworks, which definitely gave the whole vibe for Pages.

If there is such a thing as Philippine-based Parisian patisserie, it would probably be Poetry and Prose Patiserrie.

Let me give you a sneak peak in one of Shangri La Malls newest posh tea and pastry place.

Poetry and Prose exudes an elegant, clean slate for writers, French-cuisine mongers and those who want to just read poems and novels quietly while nibbling on some macarons and sipping a hot cup of tea

The only colored portion in the shop is this huge painting with a backdrop of what seemed to be Parisian shops and of course their pastries that could match the ones being served in five-star hotels in the metro, only with the costs from regular tea places.

I'm a sucker for whatever that is Julia Child-related so this quote really defines their effort to serve up artfully sculpted French pastries.

The place is just so dainty for tea-time meetings with your lady-friends and for sure to also serve up to manly cravings.

It might be that the chefs were able to discover the art to creating French pastries and the secrets to which French patissier have become so famous for.

My plate of pastry bliss...

A patisserie is a French bakery selling decadent pastries and confections. No matter what type of baked good you are craving, such as a tart, petit four or a chocolate eclair, you'll be able to find it behind Poetry and Prose Patisserie's glass display case. You don't have to live in France to enjoy authentic French pastries it's just a few walks away from the bustling EDSA.

Poetry & Prose 
Address: G/F Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City
Contact Nos.:  (02) 631-0420 or (0932) 886-5778 

Small Bites by Moveable Feast

Just like what famous food writer James Beard always says, "Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”  People would always think of food as the top most essential need of every human body.  But behind all the science, the arts and even the culture that surrounds every aspect of food, we tend to leave behind what matters most, how to sustain real, safe and healthy foods not to compromise with the negative effects of eating food that are merely giving every bit of junk in our system and eventually shedding off environmental resources.

So when I found out about a group of people driven with  particular goals to preserve every ounce of meaningful food habits and are collectively putting up events to promote local, seasonal, and sustainably grown ingredients, I never hesitated but to give them a hand.

The Moveable Feast is at it again on their regular farm-to-table concept dining.  Spear-headed by Jenny Pascual and a joint effort from artisan food-makers.

Changing the venue from the rurals to an urban dining experience.  Do join them for some "Small Bites"on a tapas night and  learn about the trends in food movements and sustainability and how to become part of their advocacy at Yardstick Coffee, Esteban St., Legazpi Village, Makati at
 6 PM.

Moveable Feast aims to bring together slow-food advocates, epicures and anyone who just loves eating and talking about food.  One of their thrust is to transcend the message to bring forth transition to a sustainable food future by educating people about the benefits of sustainable agriculture, wholesome food, and by providing resources and access to our farmers, foodmakers, and businesses to help consumers make better food choices.

To inquire about how to reserve your slot kindly visit their website at
Visit their FACEBOOK page here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

IHOP Rsstaurant's Filipino Breakfast Dishes

When you hear or read these letters - IHOP, what comes to your mind?
Of course, pancakes duh, silly me.
Perhaps you do have your favorite breakfast food, beyond hot pancakes,waffles and eggs.  To date, the global chain has been serving 65 different signature, made-to-order breakfast options.

International House of Pancakes, or IHOP Restaurant to foodies all over the world, had been continually affirming these words " everything you love about breakfast."  True enough that after a year of opening their first Philippine branch, they have thought of their local Filipino diners as well.  They now have three locations in Manila, at W Global Center, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, UP Town Center, Katipunan Ave., QC and at the Entertainment Mall of SM Mall of Asia.  With that said, the long lines of their BGC branch have been lessened.

It was such a blessing that they opened another branch which is near my place (Mall of Asia) and how exciting that they have decided to add new Filipino menu offerings.  The home-spun favorite of many Filipinos and probably the ones our Filipino friends abroad terribly miss will now be part of the menu served on all the IHOP branches for a limited time though.

They have added five different entrees which are all-time faves served with garlic rice and two eggs cooked the way you want it.  You may opt to have it with atchara and seasoned vinegar.

Here are the savory addition:

BREAKFAST BEEF TAPA(served with sunny side eggs)

CLASSIC PORK TOCINO (served with sunny side eggs) 

SAVORY PORK LONGGANISA (served with scrambled eggs)

LEAN CHICKEN SAUSAGE (served with scrambled eggs)

CLASSIC CHICKEN TOCINO (with scrambled eggs)

With these new addition, they aim not only to give local diners what they look for but also show the best of Philippine culinary to foreign guests.

If only those Polish bloggers have stayed longer in Manila and have tried these offerings, maybe, just maybe, the offensive blog and commentaries about our food could not have been posted and nothing like "I'd rather go hungry than eat Pinoy food," have even made social surge online.

Read the whole story here.

Among the choices, my favorite is the Lean Chicken Sausage.  I love how tender the sausages were, they are not that salty either, contrary to what the Polish food and travel bloggers Agness says about our dishes.

According to the staff of IHOP, all the ingredients are locally sourced and hand-made at their commissary.  Thus they can vouch on the food's freshness.

Going back on how ingenious Filipinos are and how they flair when it comes to fixing food, how about some new scoops from the same restaurant.  Haha, get that, new scoops!  The pun is intended to indulge the writer for some reason...

Literally speaking, they have also launched four new ice cream parfaits which is a co-creation with Nestle Ice Cream.   These are scoops of our favorite ice cream selections from Nestle but made notoriously addicting.

Groupie of the four flavors of ice cream parfaits.
Chocolate Decadence (P245)

My favorite among the four.  A co-mixture of IHOP's very own Butter Pecan Syrup, dark chocolate and white chocolate chips and maple candied bacon over a decadent chocolate ice cream.

Mango Peaches and Cream Parfait (P 195)

This one has a touch of breakfast with the addition of IHOP's special granola.  Loads of peaches is served on a huge sundae cup with mango and vanilla ice cream.

Mixed Berry Parfait (P 245)

It's every child's favorite flavor, chocolate ice cream only it's smothered with cool strawberry and blueberry toppings, with a dollop of yogurt oozing down and oatmeal streusels for that crunchy and healthy punch

Last but definitely not the least is the Childhood Memories (P 195)

Said to be an outcome for a dire need of childhood precious memories (from eating vanilla ice cream perhaps) is this cup filled with vanilla ice cream layered with strawberry and blueberry syrups and the secret and most adorned ingredient, cheesecake bits.  The topping of crispy golden hash brown pieces makes this an instant crowd-pleaser.

All these new offerings have been available since March 17, and will be on the menu for a limited time only in the Philippine branches.

Have you tried any of these yet?  Please let me know how it was.

Do make it a habit to visit IHOP Philippines' Facebook Page