A Swanky Kakanin

In my country, there is a ton of silly cultural and superstitious beliefs that needs to be kept and observed during the New Year.  From wearing polka dots, to ensuring 12 types of fruits on the dining table, to jumping when midnight strikes and to making sure all lights are on inside the house, all these and other insane beliefs are observed by Filipinos when New Year happens.  Failure to do so would result to some wicked curse, a good amount of misfortune and a handful of bad lucks the whole year.

Two of the silly beliefs my family did last New Year’s Eve was the tossing of heaps of coins inside the house (for prosperous fortune) plus the serving of classic “kakanin”.  From the amalgamation of two Tagalog root words kain meaning “to eat” and kanin meaning “cooked rice”, kakanin are varieties of sticky and glutinous Filipino delicacies whose main ingredient is rice.

It is an inane Filipino belief that eating something glutinous and sticky during the New Year like kakanin will bring good vibes in terms of relationships within the family.  Reason for eating something sticky will result to a greater bond, affirmative ties and optimistic connection among members of the family which for my family is very important and essential.

My family settled for having the “biko” as this new year’s kakaninBiko is a classic kakanin made of glutinous rice cooked for hours with fresh coconut milk and brown sugar usually sprinkled on top with brown coconut curds! And since I am pretentious, nitpicky and ostentatious, I pushed on levelling up this new year’s family Biko or Kakanin

I had our classic biko topped with dark brown coconut curds, drizzled with rich coconut-cinnamon caramel syrup served with slices of ripe and succulent peaches! Yum!

our swanky kakanin! yum!

Aside from hoping for a continuous upbeat sticky bond with my family, with this swanky kakanin, my hopes are high for a chic, swish and affluent New Year ahead!

Cloying Made Me Do An Exciting Keto Meal

Cloying is a word.  The arrogant in me thinks that only few Filipinos know this word.  If translated in Filipino it is “nauuta”.  It is the sickening feeling you have when you already consumed large doses of super rich eats (like belly fat meats, heavy cake icings or crazy butter-laced sweets).   It is so nauseating, you feel like your head is growing and it will just burst anytime!

At this stage of my being on ketogenic diet, I think I am in the cloying period.  I am starting to get so gutted out by the limited food selections that I have to make.  But the irony and dilemma is that I don’t want to be kicked out of ketosis.   

Espousing on the basic thought of finding a silver lining in the midst of a difficulty, I decided to make my keto meal today a very exciting one!  I instead took time to stylize its plating and took tons of photos of it.

Let me start with my lunch today.  It’s my recipe but it’s Nengkoy who did the heavenly-delicious pickled shallots…

Grilled Rosemary-Marinated Pork with Spicy Mustard, Fresh Cucumber Slices and Nengkoy’s Pickled Shallots

My afternoon snack (and my final meal today) is even more exciting.  Thanks to Joe Duff, the Diet Chef for the Choco-Coffee Mud Cake recipe…


Choco-Coffee Mud Cake topped with Choco-Peanut Butter and Sweet Fresh Strawberries (Who doesn’t love the mix of strawberries & chocolate inside the mouth? huh!)

I totally enjoyed stylizing these! If not for my crazy cloying, I would have not done this.  Expect more of stylized keto meals in the future…

‘Yan ang mga nagagawa ng mga taong, NAUUTA!

Khaoniao Mamuang: Best Thai Dessert

I can no longer count the number of times that I have posted in this blog that my favorite course in an entire meal would be the dessert.  The confectionery course has always been my main course!

When I was in Bangkok with my mom and sisters, we of course got to try Thai dishes.  I have always revered how uniquely sensual and remarkably palatable Thai dishes are.  But still, it is a simple dessert among all the striking Thai dishes that really makes my modest and artless taste buds happy.

I love Khaoniao Mamuang.  Don’t be fooled by how the words were spelled and how should it be read.  The best Thai dessert for me is simply known as Mango Sticky Rice!

I adore this dessert for it is uncomplicated, simple and straightforward!  No lavish implements are needed for its presentation; no rare, pricey and uncommon ingredient is need; no knotty and confusing procedures are required for its preparation; and, no intricate and confusing way of eating and enjoying it.  Yet the taste is so heavenly! 

mango sticky rice in the past are simply sold by street vendors of bangkok, but now it is conveniently available in groceries and supermarkets…

a night in bangkok…

It was my fifth time in Bangkok about a week ago.  I may have failed to revisit some the beautiful and spectacular tourist spots of the city, but I never failed to eat, savor and enjoy the divine and blissful Khaoniao Mamuang!

Uulit ulitin talaga…

Lorenzo’s Way Desserts

Costillas De Ternera Guisada, Spanish Garlic Chicken, Paella Negra, Lengua Estofada and Prawns in Creole and Hollandaise Sauce are some of the sumptuous main dishes found in Lorenzo’s Way restaurant, one of the refined casual dining establishments in Manila.

These highfaluting and pompous sounding dishes may be the some of the best main courses for human consumption but for me the main course remain to be the last dish served in any meal.   As what the common saying goes, “save the best for last”!  That would simply be the dessert.

Having dessert perhaps is like all the other events and circumstances where the so called “last” is considered the highlight.  Aside from sex, cases in point would be a beauty pageant, an awards night, a bingo social and even the Filipino tradition of Santacruzan in which the last part is considered the best part.

Lorenzo’s Way restaurant happens to serve my most favorite desserts!

extra-ordinarily creamy yet classic, Leche Flan

extra-ordinarily creamy yet classic, Leche Flan

blissful with this Pecan Pie

blissful with this Pecan Pie

Gigil Tart. It was immediately sliced as soon as it's served for we could no longer wait, only to realize that we haven't taken a photo yet!

Gigil Tart. It was immediately sliced as soon as it’s served for we could no longer wait, only to realize that we haven’t taken a photo yet!

my favorite! choco banana volcano,

my favorite! choco banana volcano,

Unlike responsible adults, I would rather skip the starters but never the dessert.  Two reasons I guess is the enticing visual appeal as well as that of the pleasurable palatal sensation it generates.

Mapapa-klap yor hands ka sa sarap!

Banana Choco Lava Cake by Lorenzo’s Way Greenbelt

When dining out, I always consider the dessert as the main course.  I admit, I love dessert and I have the biggest sweet tooth ever!

You may not know it yet, but if you happen to be in the Greenbelt area in Makati City Philippines, one superb dessert can be found at Lorenzo’s Way.  And I strongly suggest discovering what you might have been missing! It’s called Banana Choco Lava Cake.

It is the type of dessert that would not overwhelm on the first bite.  It has just the right amount of sweetness.  It’s a warm, moist chocolate cake that would make you feel like it just came out of the oven surrounded by a creamy sauce topped with thin slices of caramelized bananas!

banana choco lava cake

it’s insanely delicious!

It’s the type that would make you crave for more every time you have a bite.  This dessert is so unbelievably yummy!

Mapapamura ka sa sarap!

Osaka has Pablo while Snaffle’s is in Hokkaido

When me and my family visits Japan (which fortunately has been a regular occurrence in the last couple of years) not having the Osaka-originated Pablo Cheese Tart seem like a mortal sin.  Thus, during our present visit we again lined up to buy and enjoy this amazing dessert.  Not only did we have the medium soft version of this enslaving cheese tart, we also had the newest version which has fresh orange on top.



But since the highlight of our present Japan adventure is to experience the Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, we were fortunate enough to come across Hokkaido’s best version and equally popular cheesecake.

a little piece of heaven

a little piece of heaven

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the fascinating palatal experience brought about by Snaffle’s Cheese Cake from Hakodate, Hokkaido.  The soft creamy texture is simply perfect.  This heaven-sent dessert brings a different penchant to your sweet, smooth and cheesy impression.  The savory flavor brings a unique invigorating assault on the taste buds.  Its addictive character is equally impressive to that of Osaka’s Pablo.

the box that easily gets empty

the box that easily gets empty

savoring every bite

savoring every bite

Snaffles was a big hit with my family.  Everyone loved it!  Unfortunately, Snaffle’s as we found out is not yet available in Osaka while Pablo is nowhere to be found in Hokkaido.  I hope I would be the one benefiting from these delicious gastronomic highlights by having these exceptional desserts available in the Philippines.  I know Pablo will soon be available in Manila (by the 3rd quarter of 2015) and I’m wishing that Snaffle’s will follow suit.

Best tsiskeyks eber!

Little Fuji by San Maruku

I know that the popular Japanese-originated St. Marc Café is a freshly minted icon in Manila.  But that did not dampen my yearning to try it in the country where it all started.  I and my family had it at a branch within the Namba area in Osaka.

the now iconic choco cro by st marc cafe

the now iconic choco cro by st marc cafe

People go to St. Marc Café because of their signature and sought after Choco Cro (short for chocolate-filled croissant).  But for me, I would return to St Marc (pronounced as San Maruku) because of their Little Fuji.

Little Fuji which I guess the name was derived from Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji is composed of warm buttery flaky Danish pastry with soft vanilla ice cream drizzled with addictively light caramel sauce.

little fuji (a delicious piece of heaven)

little fuji (a delicious piece of heaven)

one happy customer...

one happy customer…

As expected Japanese vanilla ice cream is so heavenly.  But what is so amazing about this dessert was the savory taste of the Danish pastry.  Japanese pastry chefs of St Marc Café would indeed give the Danish people a run for their money.  We were so impressed we bought the wicked Danish roll for takeout.

Little Fuji, though uncomplicated in its components, is foolishly delicious.  It is so good my soul was screaming “Oishii!”

Kaloka sa sarap!

Cigare by Yoku Moku

Sweets have the strange power to make people smile.  This principle is totally accurate especially when you are eating a piece of Cigare butter cookie by Yoku Moku.  This Japan-made cookie is the most delicious butter cookie I have ever tasted.  It is so rich in butter yet so subtle it melts in your mouth.  It’s better than excellent!  This cookie is a bombdiggity!

delicious smokeless cigars!

delicious smokeless cigars!

I would consider Yoku Moku Cigare to be a luxury kind of a cookie.  To seal its freshness, each rolled cookie is individually wrapped and packed in a beautiful metal tin box.  It is made from all-natural ingredients that is why its shelf life is shorter as compared to an ordinary cookie or confectionary.  It is actually one of the most overpriced cookies I have purchased.

The hardest part after eating this cookie is the struggle and resistance of refusing to take another one.  The strong craving to eat another will ensue after the first stick.  You would realize that it‘s definitely very difficult to eat just one Cigare.  You will either get so sad or much worse go so insane if you would not buckle down to eat and enjoy another round.

Ito ang stik-ow ng mga sosyal. Sarap sobra!

Pablo Cheese Tart Got a Bright Spot Light

Osaka is known all over Japan as having the best gastronomic courses and culinary entities.  Thus, it is not farfetched that the best cheese tart in that part of the planet originated in Osaka.  I am talking about the luscious cheese tart from Pablo.

Falling on queue at Pablo’s take-away shop to purchase the famous cheese tart has been part of my last three visits in Japan.

nengkoy while on a long queue at pablo take-away store last spring of 2014

nengkoy while on a long queue at pablo take-away store last spring of 2014

where magic happens...

where magic happens…

Served in large spherical portions good for sharing, my theory why this cheese tart has gone so admired and popular is because its flavor and texture is never overpowering to the taste.  Unlike the usual cheese tarts when consumed in large amounts would result to nauseatingly cloying feeling, Pablo’s version is subtle, light and delicate to the palate.

Pablo store has gone so swell, I was amazed to learn that they have progressed from a take-away store into a casual dine-in shop serving various drink concoctions, pastries, cakes and desserts.  These pastry diner shops also became a hit, it has started to mushroom around Japan.

spherical pieces of heaven!

spherical pieces of heaven!

what a luscious selection!

what a luscious selection!

During my recent October 2014 visit, I told my dear nephew and nieces (based in Osaka) that I and Nengkoy would not miss the opportunity to dine in one of the Pablo shops before going back to Manila.

However, our first venture at Pablo’s Shishaibashi branch was a failure because there were no seats available and we have to fall on a long line of patrons waiting for their turn to be given those precious table.  Me and my mother settled on buying the premium version of the cheese tart and have it devoured at my nephew and nieces’ house.

new dine-in pablo branch in shinsaibashi

new dine-in pablo branch in shinsaibashi

Our second try was a success! After accomplishing a long walking tour of the majestic Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture, we agreed to have a snack before going back to Osaka.  We were glad to find out that a Pablo dine-in branch has just opened in Himeji.

Pablo in Himeji was a true winner.  Aside from the good food and drinks we had, I specifically loved the restaurant’s beautiful interiors!  The aesthetic elements of the shop were remarkably trendy, cool and stylish!


welcome to himeji branch!

super nice...

super nice…

glad to have discovered this branch in himeji...

glad to have discovered this branch in himeji…

cozy corner...

cozy corner…



With the light enchanting flavors of their appetizing dishes combined with modish designs of the interiors, it would not be a surprise if Pablo would cross ocean borders and establish its shops at other places around the world.


Luscious Main Course at Georgetown Cupcake

inside georgetown cupcake, los angeles

inside georgetown cupcake, los angeles

Quite a bunch of people know that oftentimes dessert is actually my main course.  I don’t always have desserts but when I know that it is to be served and available, it becomes the primary course, the gastronomic apex and the highlight of my meal.

When me and my friends where visiting places of interest along Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles, we decided to delay our lunch and instead entered the fancy store of the famous Georgetown Cupcake.

Georgetown Cupcake being founded by the best-selling authors of Cupcake Diaries and having been featured in a lot of American TV shows, it would be stupid of me if I start complaining on why we are having enchanting sweets instead of a hearty lunch.

"main course" on display...

“main course” on display…

six cup-sized heaven

six cup-sized heaven

denton could no longer wait for me to finish my photo-taking

denton could no longer wait for me to finish my photo-taking

The four of us shared a half dozen of cupcakes of various flavours.  I glugged it down with a tall-sized Illy brewed coffee.  The two most bewitching flavours were the chocolate salted caramel and lava fudge.  The moist yet fluffy texture and perfect harmony of flavours were so enchanting it feels like being in a great opera.   I can simply describe it as one great decadent self-indulging climax.

Kasing sarap ko yan!