To Tuscano Pizza and Beyond

BGC Pizza

If there is something in life we can never say “no” to, it’s #PizzaNight! Never screw with our pizza nights or you’re sure to get a fistful of dough in your pants or pepperoni in your socks.

There is no better feeling than accidentally discovering pizza joints in Manila that serve reasonably awesome and legit pizzas. Take this Tuscano Italian Wood Oven Pizza over at Burgos Circle, BGC as a classic example. The entire name is a quite a mouthful, it makes me full already!

burgos circle taguig restaurant

Having given up on BHS restaurants where nothing could fulfill our pizza cravings – except for Nolita, but I found its pizza on the salty side the other night, so sorry not for now – we ended up strolling until we ended up at Tuscano’s doorstep.

The place serves the usual Italian fares, but greedy pizza kids only order pizza on #pizzanight – that’s the rule! 

vegetarian pizza seafood

We ordered Tuscan Garden (aka the vegetarian pizza) and Seafood Feast (Frutti di Mare), both pies for sharing. I did have a taste of the compli bread because I was already dying of hunger from that trek.

I know there were only two of us, so doing the math, we should have borne a superfluous bounty, but restaurants always underestimate my appetite based on my foot size and my brother, based on his tattoos. Okay, no sense at all.

To summarize, we finished everything to the last crumb and morsel and yes, I ate the crust which I never do with cheap pizzas.

pizza night manila philippines

All in all, considering two skinny kids finished a “for sharing” portion each, I’d say that the quality makes up for the size.

Imagine the Tuscan Garden brimming with fresh vegetables and what seemed to be asparagus! It was an almighty greenery that vegans will pay homage to!

frutti di mare tuscano pizza

 

It wasn’t about thick gooey dough or cheap cheese; it was about fresh and quality ingredients, meticulously put together for that freshly baked Italian gourmet ride. 

The pizza is crisp and crackling with greens, and nothing is scrimped in terms of freshness. Ah yes, to Tuscano and beyond – and can I not eat mainstream pizza ever again?

Or maybe. it’s time to plan #PastaNight!

Decisions, decisions…

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S&R, Sacrifice and Sore Throat

While watching a game at Emperador Stadium, a family walked past us bearing (well, more of flaunting) their S&R paper cups. In a totally unrelated event to follow, a couple shared our bleacher and brought out that yellow box that screamed S&R FRIED CHICKEN.

What a sick joke. That’s it. We just had to take the bait.

After the game, we just had to pay a visit to S&R at BGC. The pizza was calling, and no more Nolita—no more money!

BGC gourmet pizza

Bonifacio highstreet pizza

In the last game, we had dinner at Nolita and for some reason, I found the Cheese Pizza ultra salty, so I had to go for a quick Jamba Juice breather after.

Back to S&R, since it was Lent I fell prey (or pray?) to that Tuna Margherita Pizza heavily advertised in-store, my inner pesky-torian just screaming to be satisfied. While my companion basked in the glory of 2 slices + fries, I had my sacrificial tuna slice.

Unlike the fabulous photo that gleamed of grease and tomato puree, my pizza was on the dried out side. It was just, tinapa dry, sans the gourmet flair.

What the heck is tinapa in English?

 bgc s&r grocery

While the cheese was studded with herbs and basil, the fact that the sauce and cheese were not as resplendent as expected made this pizza a letdown and so if I were given a second chance for my Lenten slice, I’d have gone for that Shrimp Pizza. That one has the juicy shrimps that turns sacrifice into gluttonous sensation.

The cheese pizza, is still, hands down, el cheap-o magnifico! Best cheese pizza for its price!

And so, with this disappointing dinner, I had to atone by giving in to dessert by another heavily advertised treat: Cheesecake Factory Chocolate Fudge Cake.

S&R cake chocolate

I was slightly dyslexic at first glance and read it as chocolate fudge cheesecake—way, way better huh?! But my eyesight returned and reduced this to a mere chocolate cake. With fudge. Given its price (about P130/slice) and brand, I expected way more! Like five thumbs up, I’m getting the whole cake next time around!

Instead, I got a killer sweet cake with no hint of dark fudge; it was more of sugary brown icing on standard chocolate cake. If there were secret fillings of custard or deep dark chocolate or even pockets of cheesecake or choco chips, then I’d have gotten a smile of some sort. But no, it was sweet all throughout, with no layers of varying degrees of sweetness. Since I ate this straight—no water, a little chit-chat—I got a sore throat after!

This must be what you call punishment. Oooh.. I can’t wait for Easter! By then, I can have all the Blue Bunny in S&R! No more cakes!

On the side, I am glad I could spend time burning off my idle time calories from this Sole Skate. Saw this on sale, bought it and now, where else but to try it out in one of those BGC empty streets! Instead of kicking balls, at least I can ride my wheels.

skating manila

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Chihuahua Mexican Bar: Dog eat Dawg

Salad make your own makati

Dawg. Live like a gangsta, might as well speak like one, ayt? But that title hits the restaurant spot on—everyone knows what a Chihuahua is, right? When you’re eating at Chihuahua Mexican Grill and Margarita Bar (Greenbelt 2)—you got it—you’re gonna be eating like a dog, un perro.

Like the doggie bowl, concave metal contraption when Taco Bell’s little best friend eats from, if he has a home, well that’s where they serve your grub at Chihuahua.

Greenbelt 2 bar restaurant

I’m not one to complain though, since we’re gangsta. Heck, if you make me eat with my hands—uh oh, I’ve got my limits—no gracias. I like my utensils clean and spiffy but that gigantic metal bowl –cum-chamber-pot, why not?

It’s Mexican food and lo siento, I forgot my poncho-bib.

Enough gangsta talk, since I’m already getting a headache from the misspelled red-underlined words.

jenina gonzales food blog

Chihuahua Mexican Grill is a Mexican joint where, when you enter, you see the strangest folk, corporate beagles playing Uno Stacko—and having a crap of fun out of it. They must have been there way too early, so they were probably wasted as well. I like to go with the latter theory because getting high on wooden games and posting photos on social media as if this was the most fun thing on Earth, is not really NOT a fun thing to do on Earth.

Now if the guy at the next table were to photobomb their wholesome game with his unwholesome finger, now that deserves a “Like!” from me.

No, it did not happen though. Boo.

Greenbelt bar mexican

Now I have to talk about the food because it was what we went there for, not the games or photos of weird people flooding the walls or those pretentious sluts. Stop talking. Concentrate. Food.

The food is served Chipotle or Ristra’s style, the one where you fall in line and order what you want. The create-your-own Mexican meal so that if your food sucks, you have no one to blame but yourself.

It’s kind of pricey from an average worker point of view, but the restaurant has to pay off a lot of entertainment and leisure costs to get Uno Stacko loving weirdos to keep on coming back. Now if it were poker night. Hmmm..

Mexican hang out makati

Since it was a late dinner, I opted for the Chicken Salad.  As simple as that. That doggie bowl comes with fresh lettuce topped with guacamole, queso, pico de gallo, salsa, beans, corn kernels and lean marinated chicken.

It’s the condiments table that makes up for the flavor and aye carumba! experience – jalapenos, pico de gallo, all sorts of chili and tomatillos! Oh yes. I could live with that.

tacos nachos mexican greenbelt

And then we have Nacho Grande: A colossal mound of nacho chips topped with queso, chili, guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa, sour cream, grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, and jalapeños.  Good enough for one and happy enough to forego the burrito.

I’d say, if I had a second time around, I’d choose a lazy lunch hour for that Mexican visit – with daylight to see my food, more time to burn off the carbs and ample idle time to enjoy those tomatillos!

B-ADDENDUM: I did manage to return to Chihuahua for that lazy lunch hour. Unfortunately the chillin’ part backfired as we were met with equally languid service and lack of pico de gallo and other condiments. It was like the place was wiped clean (or kitchen bare) the night before and we were left with chicken scraps (literally) and an absence of fresh produce. With this uncool experience, I have learned to make my own nachos at home. Mexican food craving, solved!

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Cheap (and not so) Sightings

cheap food manila snacks treats

Some people aren’t really poor; they just go by other names like stingy, misers, self-serving, on a budget and my personal favorite, penny pinchers! We have to face the fact that not everybody has a lavish budget to soothe their gastronomic needs. There are other priorities in life, we get that.

Cleaning through my stuff, I realise I have my share of cheap sightings, worth taking photos (and keeping for a very long time). There are a few pricey grub, but they were all one-time meal,s so none were written about and just used up precious Android memory space.

 So here’s a collection of the cheap and not-too cheap foodstuff that managed a smile on my face and oh-so shallow pockets!

Here’s to penny pinching and more to come!

ice cream oreo dessert

Forget BLT and Reuben. Oreo + DQ = The Sandwich.

greenbelt frozen yogurt

Red Mango Green Tea Parfait has everything perfect in it, on it and is just it!

spaghetti factory food italian glorietta

When in a hurry, Spaghetti Factory can be a so-so lunchy.

tuna dill melt

Starbucks tuna dill melt is so lenten friendly, you can be a sinner for lusting over it.

J.Anne Gonzales Blondie Bar

Sonja’s Blondie Bar is far from dumb. It’s… black, white and to die for!
dessert chocolate cake

Cafe Mary Grace Chocolate Cake: Php100 with change and that awesome filling

bon chon chicken manila

Unbeatable BonChon Chicken Chops and Chap Chae Korean combo

sweet coffee starbucks

Starbucks Asian Dolce Latte: Sweet, sweet and just sweeeeeeet!

philippines taco bell

Ti Amo Taco Bell. Who doesn’t?

american food manila

Chili’s Appetizer Sampler: Best served with good lighting and endless chatting!

seafood pesto sandwich guy

The Sandwich Guy Seafood Pesto: You will regret being a slow eater.. like me!

jamba juice healthy snacks

Jamba Juice Steel Cut Oat:s: The reason why my fridge now has 3 kinds of oats

tea starbucks yummy

Hands down, the best reward in life is Starbucks Green Tea Frap, Grande without Whipped Cream for my forever misspelled name. Purrfect.

subway philippines tuna

Subway with Tuna and mustard is just the best anti-stress lunch, next to green tea frap.

S&R ice cream tillamook

Tillamook Mudslide makes me forget gelato and vegans exists. I love moo!!!

seafood ramen x centris

The only seafood ramen I can eat: Spicy Chikuwa Ramen. Red not because of #filter but because it’s a fiery pit of chili. Sit beside a firehouse. Be safe.

fruit shake manila

Last but not the least, Jamba Juice is love, lust and life in one. Acai Supercharger for sad days, Orange A-Peel for sick days and Banana Berry any day!

Now that I mention it, not everything is cheap or awesome discoveries. Heck, I just unloaded my memory on this post for random sightings.

Promise the next post will be more… educational and relevant. Yeah right.

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Foodgasm IV: Eaters Always Win

Foodgasm mercato blog review

After attending #Foodgasm4, snappy hashtags filled my head and I realize the #sugarrush was to blame. Imagine #foodporn #Ihave NeverEatenThisMuchFoodinmyLife #midnightmercato #EatLikeTheresNoTomorrow and of course #ohyeahJudgeforaNight grilling me throughout the evening.

Imagine the fear of never waking up thanks to #foodcoma, but luckily, I still did.

 Foodgasm blogger judge

As a blogger-judge-attendee in Foodgasm IV last 08 March 2014 at Mercato Centrale, I realize the only thing missing was a gavel. To pummel my hand from too much eating. Kidding aside, it was a breakthrough experience for someone who has never eaten more than 10 courses in her life. This is so Game of Thrones and I swear, I think I saw Joffrey Barratheon smirk at me.

 Foodgasm4 mercato taguig

As the part vegetarian who has and will always be the inconvenience to hosts and fellow diners, I grievously report having failed to eat everything in the checklist, but was graciously assisted, the “meat” slots have been filled out.

So with our powers combined, we managed to eat majority in the list—except for 2 due too fortuitous circumstances. We tried though. #damnNotoriousUPlines 

Foodgasm lazy black cat plate

After listing my Top 4 (the perfect square – how erudite), lemme just go through the rest. The sugar rush has subsided but still, I am capable of the snappy one (or four) liners. I realize though that I failed to get the contestants’ calling cards and give out mine!

I was nearly rendered sleepless the evening before, grooming my accidentally scented lazy black cat calling card—and I ended up eating and clicking, so not networking. Priorities, priorities.

Mercato taguig foodgasm event

Ah well, here’s Lazy Black Cat’s Top 4:

Foodgasm oreo whoopie cupcake

1.     Chef Francesca’s Cupcakes – Oreo Whoopie Cupcakes

Any dessert that combines Oreo + Cupcake is enough to make me swoon. Add in the Whoopie component and we’ve got a faint spell! The Oreo sandwich cupcake concept is not entirely new, but it’s strangely addictive. It goes well with milk and ice cream, and heck, why not water so long as you get one! This ode to Oreo may sound lame-o, but believe me, a bite of this and you’ll know what Foodgasm is all about! Oh. Yeah. #OreoRules

Foodgasm Niku Niku crabmeat

Foodgasm fishcake mercato winner 

2.     Niku Niku -  Crabstick (People’s Choice Winner)

Best placement and lighting goes to Niku Niku, the crunchiest crabstick of the evening! Tasty especially with the Kewpie mayo and nori cover, it makes a crisp kani snack or siding. Would’ve made this my numero uno, if not for a little paper altercation. #mybad

 Foodgasm Pesto gourmet tuyo

3.     Buenavi Food & Beverage – Pescado Gourmet Tuyo

Buenavi’s Tuyo Pasta was like finding a needle in a sweet haystack. Amidst the flurry of sugar and chocolate and all things fattening in Mercato, there it was, that sea-inspired pescatorian glory, sprinkled with cheese, with just the right amount of green. This seafood pesto variant has that tuyo crunch, sans the artificial saltiness and fishy aftertaste. Perfect for lent and my go-green diet; how I wish I was given a full plate to finish! #bitin

 

Foodgasm cheecup mercato

Foodgasm Cheecups team johnny

4.     Team Johnny -  CheeCups

The best way to lure me is to set that cheesecake trap—and what more with several cheesecake samplers… in cups? Turmoil. With tiramisu, blueberry and Oreo, amongst others, the CheeCup lineup is hard to resist. A sucker for cheesecake, this has to make it to my Top 4 because I can’t afford a cheesecake revolution. Hey, that just sounds like an awesome flavor. #TeamCheesecake

 

Food trip mercato dessert 

And here’s the rest of the pack and the rest of the comments. If it’s courteous and trite, it didn’t come from me-at!

 Foodgasm Monkey Bread

Ruby Red Kitchen – Parmesan Herb and Original Cinnamon Monkey Bread (2 entries) 

No monkeys were harmed in the process of making the Monkey Bread, I think. The bread is chewy and fabulously tasty. That Parmesan Herb just called out to me and with a dollop of cream cheese, transformed into perfect pasta companion—or on its own! The Cinnamon version is just as delectable and cinnamony, a sweeter (and SOFTER) alternative to the usual rolls.

 Foodgasm batak sesame cupcake

Cuptain Cakes – Batak Sesame Cupcakes

Batak is the new matcha and the cupcake brings forth an aroma of sesame seeds. If you’re not keen on sesame, give this cupcake to me instead! Best with tea and a much bigger serving size.

 Country Okonomiyaki fries mercato

Country Fries – Okonomiyaki Fries (Innovative Winner)

The idea of okonomiyaki fries was enough to make me violate my No Fries rule. Country Fries was kind enough to remove the bacon (they actually shouted the order, so diner-style) and turn it into vegetarian Japanese fries. The fries were fat, fab, and oishii!

 Foodgasm Yema Crinkle

Mau’s Cupcake Café – Yema Filled Crinkle Sandwich

 Two crinkles with a yema center. Love the crinkles but my weirdness dictates a ho-hum approach to yema and so I met this sandwich with a half and half heart.

 Foodgasm blogger judge chocolate rhum balls

Cooking Ina’s Kicthen – Gourmet Chocolate Rhum Balls

Catchy name makes for a real chocolate rum-ble. So many flavors including wasabi amongst others! The flavor of rhum lingers (for me) so eat sparingly and don’t be like me, eating one after the other until my world really rumbled. Or was it crumbled?

 

Foodgasm best food mercatoFoodgasm Mercato Event happy monster

The Happy Monster – Elvis Pie

 I absolutely adore bananas and peanut butter and chocolate. Add in a graham crust and whipped cream on top and that’s the Elvis Pie. It’s not as rocking as I thought it would be since I could whip this at home (or I think I could). But the pretty stripes are worth the wait and make a perfect gift.

 Foodgasm Flan pastillas dessert

Modern Desserts – Pastillas Flan

 Pastillas and leche flan are my hometown products—my lola even makes them at home—so pardon another ho-hum approach on this godly offering. Still, love your own—and points for the packaging, the only dish served fit for my OCD! Never seen flan served so neatly, syrup stains begone!

Mercato Polish pierogi 

Babci Kuchnia – Polish Pierogi

 Some people are just—okay let’s hear it—not that into strange meat-topped feasts in an evening filled with mainstream treats. Still, it was fun watching Gambit dissect this. A for innovation!

 Foodgasm Bacon Cookies

Baking Bad – Bacon Cookies

Living up to its name, the presentation was purposely ‘bad’ and the signage in whiteboard marker—just wicked! Still people seemed to line up for the cookies with bacon, so Gambit had two (my share) but being used to bacon breakfasts, deemed it a cookie with a wee bit of bacon. Couldn’t tell if it should go with syrup?

 Foodgasm March 2014

Chorizo de Cebu

Chorizo de Cebu Philippines

Another meaty mayhem with an umbrella, my only takeaway. Chorizo is chorizo, however way you cook it. Best served hot and oily, nothing fancy.

 foodgasm contest 2014 mercato

Chili Chili Bang Bang and Hunger Buster

 The funny thing is, the chili and the burger were the most queued for and popular spots—and we avoided them at all costs! Having spent 4 years in UP circumventing lines and finding ways around them, being line-averse just stuck like gum on my shoe.

Also, seeing girls with 4 plates of that chili and guys dumping burgers in their mouths in ONE bite—life would go on without us getting our share. Give chance to the hungry. Charity counts. I’ll live.

 Midnight Mercato Fort

The lines were probably the giveaway, especially the patience these people put up in the Hunger Buster line. I was so sure the burgers were the winner—and I am glad that others got to enjoy these meaty treats, on my gracious behalf!

Foodgasm 4 Official Pubmat

Foodgasm IV: Everyone’s a winner

The experience being a blogger-judge for a food event was just otherworldly. I came to Mercato with no expectations, except to get filled and dragged along my hungry self for a night of tasting, judging, point, shoot and clicking.

 So absorbed was I with the surroundings that I forgot to take a #selfie. Is this the abnegation talking—or was I in that food high? Perhaps.

Foodgasm mercato jenina gonzales 

Despite the crowds, standing room and table sharing (really how sweet), the overall atmosphere was engaging and reasonably memorable for a newbie. Everyone was so into their food, it was like hippie foodie heaven and everyone just gobbled and chewed and trolled like there was no tomorrow.

 Mercato food blogger event

I admit the “networking” part for me failed but this was my first time; my christening in the world of food blogging events. I enjoyed it so much that should there be a next time (HINT, HINT), I promise to come more prepared, with a higher camera clicking dexterity, the flair for #selfie, a spare hand for shaking and card exchange and a higher high to talk to my table peers. And yes, to be early.

Still, it was an awesome initiation into this foodgasmic tradition and at least I succeeded in #nofilter.

I am hungry once again and cannot wait for the next food event. FEED. ME.

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Foodgasm IV: Bring your own Appetite

March 2014 foodgasm mercato

Define Foodgasm.

It’s a rousing gastronomic fest and a scandalous food trip. A trip to taste heaven which you’ll always want more of—after that first bite.

 You can probably tell my excitement level has reached tsunami high. Well, not because of the outrageous connotations of the event name, but because I have been invited as a blogger-judge to the Foodgasm this 08 March 2014 at Mercato Centrale.

 Mercato taguig foodgasm event

Me and the imaginary gastro-gavel.

Imagine judging all 20-ish new and innovative dishes to be offered to Manila’s foodies and being instrumental in the fate of the Foodgasm Champion.

Imagine eating all evening, discussing sauces and seasoning, while snapping photos, and eating some more. Now that’s Foodgasm, huh.

 Foodgasm 4 Official Pubmat

This Foodgasm event will start from 6-11pm at Mercato, BGC. I know there are ticket prices and transpo considerations, but what you get is an evening of awesome food high. The best of the best competing for your palate. Ah, that’s the life!

Oh and the main organizer, UP Ecosoc, my previous neighboring org put up this video of the event, so check it out if you have the time.

And if you’re busy as a bee like this cat, then just remember 03.08.14 @ Mercato. That’s it!

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Are You Mad? (Mad Mark’s Creamery & Good Eats)

glorietta makati dessert sweets

With all the uproar on gelato, froyo and cronuts, we have been neglecting the ultimate and basic comfort food of all time, the real scene stealer, the bad-day-turned-good BFF and the tearjerker flick’s best companion. Simpletons will agree, ice cream rules—what more with homemade ice cream!

Mad Mark’s Creamery and Good Eats nearly rendered me mad with that outrageous tunnel hike to Glorietta 5! But still, my hunger and curiosity prevailed. To name an ice cream joint Mad Mark’s must mean we have a bizarre one in our midst—or that other synonym—furious? Furious Mark is just getting heated up with his ice cream and I like it!

dessert makati 

I wanted to eat a proper lunch at Mad Mark’s (like salad or chicken or both)  but staring at the chalkboard menu, my EQ for propriety diminished, and I had 2 scoops of ice cream for lunch. Bad girl.

It took me long to deliberate what 2 flavors to select with the long and delectable menu—because I wanted to try ‘em all. Hunger made me crazy-desperate though, and I settled for Half Baked Madagascar (first on the list) and Strawberry Cheesecake (last). First and last. Yin and yang.

 Mad Mark's ice cream yummy dessert

Luckily I had with me a third flavor diner (that does not even make sense), so I had a taste of the Chocolate Half Baked as well! This is the part where parents tell their children that ice cream is not proper lunch and this girl is more than mad, I know, I’m just.. a vampire. LOL.

Madagascar refers to the country but it’s Madagascar because supposedly the vanilla beans are sourced from there and they’re like fresh and the real deal. Whatever explanation there was on the wall, I only got half of it because I was already hungry, without a doubt, and can only process the word vanilla, which by the way was really lusciously concocted tasted like premium vanilla beans in creamy form.

As for the half baked cookies, I would like to bring home a batch and eat them forever. They were chunky and blended well with the ice cream. I admit, I love cookies, which is why I chose this chunky flavor and now I associate Madagascar with Cookie Madness, in a supremely positive way. Beat that Mrs. Fields.

The Strawberry Cheesecake was another wonder because the smooth strawberry ice cream received hints of chunky cheesecake that was really a dessert on its own. Unlike the faker cheesecakes they blend in other creamy desserts (cough cough DQ, and red mango), the cheesecake here was the scene stealer. Cheesecake bits were rich and chewy and could compete with the Madagascar Half Baked babies.

The Chocolate Half Baked is a “variant” of the Madagascar , in chocolate form if you have a wilder sweet tooth. The cookie-ice cream interaction is still the bomb and sweetness overboard. Love it if you’re looking for a chocolate explosion.

Next time though, I will have a proper lunch—and still 2 scoops of any flavor my darts shoot at. Please be Banana Oreo or anything with half baked.

Ah yes Mark you are mad, and keep on doing it, because so am I.

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Bono Noche! (Bono Artisanal Gelato)

review bono jenina gonzales

A stranger once posted on my blog and called me stingy. Lucky guess. It’s just like saying “You’re smart, lazy black cat!” and yes, I won’t complain. Now if you call me a little bad thief, ah well, that depends.

Back to stingy. This penny-pinching side of me hasn’t gone away till now, the hangover from Christmas over spending and that mindless gluttonous spree.

 Dessert sweets SM Aura

Despite my hankering for premium gelato, I have not come close to getting a darn scoop of Bono Artisanal Gelato, because I always end up comparing it vis-à-vis other similarly priced items: Jamba Juice, Starbucks Chocolate Cake, 4 Hot Fudge Sundaes, a bag of Baked Doritos—catch my drift? And I always end up buying the others.

 milo dinosaur Bono gelato

Luckily the Year of the Horse galloped by with a generous heart and thrust a Bono Gelato-Valentine’s Promo to the unsuspecting crowd at SM Aura (I suppose the other branches as well). The rationale was to eat the gelato with your sweetheart, but with an appetite for dessert that can match a family’s, I took this promo as a calling to my penury stricken wallet. In short, all mine.

 food trip manila taguig

P180 for 2 scoops (originally P250), so long as a scoop was one of the 3 chocolate flavors mentioned. Okay, I don’t remember the other 2, except for the one I chose, Milo Dinosaur! Who can resist Milo Dinosaur in Bono Gelato form? I literally grew up draining Milo from the can and eating every crumble, bit and speck.

 Speculoos bono gelato

So it was Milo Dinosaur, and pardon the cliché, Speculoos. The reason why I chose Speculoos is, humbly speaking, we have not tasted “Speculoos” except for a Speculoos Cookie (from Belgium, I think). As for the Trader Joe’s spread and all its evolutions and imitations, nay! Loser. Dieting loser.

The Specu-Milo combination was a splash of old and new sweetness, and being the 80s kid that I am, Milo rules. Speculoos is overrated, with cookie butter bits as expected. It went well with the heart-shaped wafer though, but being the biased old-school patron, Milo made me think of home—when it was still home sweet home. However for Speculoos, it was sweet with a spicy kick, so it’s still something noteworthy and deserves an ooooh on the first bite.

You can just imagine how long it took for me to fall asleep right after. The hangover from the smooth richness of the gelato was invigorating and if any, made me do anything BUT sleep.

Bono Artisanal Gelato is the premium of all those who consider themselves on the same gelato pedestal, and with the way the creaminess just haunts you while awake is a testament to its superiority.

If given the chance, the money or the promo, I will go for a Red Velvet-something else combination. Maybe that Movie Night everyone is talking about.

And if you’re an insomniac like me, treat it like tea and have it earlier during the day. Bono noche!

 cronuts taguig SM aura

On the side, my bro had a box (of 3) of Bronuts, still at SM Aura Premiere. He just had his Amaretto from Bono Artisanal Gelato the other day so he was not as deprived as his stingy sister.

 

While enjoying my supreme scoops, he flicked a bug from that blueberry cronut. That’s one down. (Actually it went to our other brother). The other one was the floss that went to our maid (seriously, she’s a foodie), while he devoured the oreo right in front of me. Perhaps, it was hmmmm-kay but next time around, don’t ever question the gelato. Never.

 

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Beets Please: California Pizza Kitchen

Food pizza restaurant manila review

I have abstained from eating at California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) for the longest time, albeit not related to utensil hygiene or rude service, but from a domestic altercation memory best left be buried in my metal abyss.

It would seem that I have gotten over that trauma—though unfortunately for CPK, it has become associated with adverse heart palpitations and childhood doom. Which partially explains why whenever someone asks about CPK, I always forget that a branch exists in Trinoma. For this idiotic lapse, I apologize.

To make up for my unforgivable food-related blunder, I have thus decided to write about CPK, but of course, expect the usual candor.

 Quezon City Pizza Restaurant

What is fabulous about the CPK Trinoma branch is that it’s located in a remote and private section beside Mango Tree Bistro, at the al fresco wing, but way quieter. Of course that peace was shattered when one of the patrons gave the shrillest squeal I have even heard—too alarming for a mouse but too short for a siren—so yes, it was certainly produced by a real girl.

Why she did that, it will forever be buried in the CPK CCTV archives, but no, it wasn’t me. She beat me to it. Boo.

Before you continue reading, let me just warn you that I went to CPK for the SALAD and not the pizza. Yes, I had on that pseudo diet mindset that evening and wanted to have my share of dessert, and so to please both my body weight and palate, I opted for salad. Blame the math.

While it’s just silly to go to California Pizza Kitchen and not eat pizza, it’s just like going to a bar and drinking water. Yes, I do that. I admit, I am not fun company.

 

And so, for the salad I will give you 2 kinds: Like and I-tried-to-like-but-just-can’t.

 

Let’s start with the bad news: Chicken Moroccan Salad.

 j.anne gonzales blog

In an effort to have “everything on it” this salad does the job. It literally has a smorgasbord of toppings, some of which you have never tasted in your life. Imagine beets. I thought beets were for old or sick people, and here they were, topping the salad like purple rhinestones on a crown of green. There were dried cranberries, avocado, almond slivers, dates (eww to the highest level) –the chicken was drowned by these festive tops.

Funny thing is, I forgot the dressing, whatever it was and the chicken, so it became a fruit-and-nut salad explosion. It also caused quite an explosion in my belly. Vroom-vroom. Biofitea, begone.

Then comes the promise of a return to CPK: The Original BBQ Chicken Chopped.

 jenina gonzales vegetarian salad

Now this one’s a winner, just by going through its name and composition (chopped lettuce, black beans, sweet corn, jicama, cilantro, basil, crispy corn tortilla strips and Monterey Jack cheese). Right? It isn’t just that it’s made up of the greatest toppings on Earth, it’s the way they’re tossed and come together in this Mexican fiesta of a salad. If all salads were like this, who needs pizza, huh?

Trinoma California Pizza Kitachen

All right, I lied a bit. I did have pizza, but the simplest kind, not the fancy, gourmet, artsy type that hipsters would order. Just the simplest version to appease my simpleton craving for mozzarella cheese. And yes, they do have that kind as well that goes by the conservative name: Traditional Pizza.

I did not make that name up.

Traditional Pizza is just mozzarella cheese on top. Rather than torture my arteries with mozzarella sticks, I went for the pizza instead. Good choice (pat on the head, lazy black me). It was chewy and comfort food tears-in-my-eyes satisfying.

The Chicken Moroccan Salad went on top of this pizza to balance its horrific and unknown ingredients. It was my hope to blanket these aliens with mozzarella presence. Kinda worked too.

sandwich quezon city trinoma

There also was another strange presence on the table, which was another traditional looking piece of homemade bread (I forgot the name of this Chicken Sandwich), but sadly was not mine. I could only click and salivate from my end. The happy diner was happy until the last bite, so I take it was a poultry success of a sandwich. It was the most Instragram-genic of the dishes as well.

Maybe next time.

But before anything else—note to self—there is CPK in Trinoma. Now don’t go driving off to U.P. Town Center for pizza. The parking there is just horrible.

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The Village Tavern: That Scrummy Supper

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The Village Tavern is perhaps the closest thing to an Irish pub that I would find in this life—unless I manage to sneak into someone’s luggage to the United Kingdom, an idea I find rather feasible given my size. I have always envisioned the authentic pub as brick-layered, partly rustic, showing the occasional football game with screaming-jostling abound. A leprechaun or Ron Weasley might make a surprise visit but other than that, mugs clicking are the staple.

bonifacio restaurant bar

The Village Tavern in BGC offers a different perspective to the classic pub theme, elevating the experience to high end, grandiose American, gastronomic experience. Perhaps relying entirely on the word Tavern is a misnomer worth welcoming, since focus on meticulously prepared food will find greater appreciation in a hunger stricken place like Manila. The meticulously prepared food also has a price, a bit too much of it. Let’s just say Ron Weasley would go all “Blimey!” once he reads the menu and might have to skimp on Butterbeer for a week.

restaurant taguig

The serving size ought to make up for the costly meals, but for those served for the solitary diner, best to credit presentation and restaurant lighting as contributing factors to the food cost.

bonifacio high street restaurant

The Tavern Nachos are the usual kind, glammed up a bit with monterey jack, cheddar, salsa, sour cream. Being the resident vegetarian, the beef was requested to be placed on the side—to which they obliged. There is nothing absolutely special to say about the nachos, since nachos are always exemplary unless topped with Kraft cheese, so as a default appetizer, nothing beats nachos. Except anything with mozzarella.

jenina gonzales restaurant article

The Onion Rings are probably the cheapest item in the menu, probably because they were more batter than onion. As an inexpensive siding, they were hmmm-kay. As a person allergic to oil, grease or trans fat, stay away.

j.anne gonzales fort bonifacio

The Jalapeno Poppers are said to be the bestselling items in the menu, frequently favored by food bloggers or anyone who loves to get creamed and spiced up at the same time. Unfortunately, the bacon prevented me from digging in, but with the sour cream cheese and fried presence, these poppers find it impossible to be everyone’s favorite. Again I’d be bound to ditch this over something with mozzarella, or the nachos for that matter—and the meat eaters will agree.

j.anne gonzales food review

Another strange and fatty concoction of Chorizo and Cheese – not mine.

food trip bonifacio highstreet

The Flash Fried Calamari was a dash of seafood splendor. Albeit a small serving, the bite size pieces found themselves all over my salad and plate. They were cute to look at and left a lasting memory in my palate. They also disappeared in a jiffy – like a flash someone ate ‘em all!

Taguig american comfort food

What I am grateful for is salad. Anywhere I go, salad is normally the safest choice. Having seen the Chicken Thai Salad served about 4 times since I got to The Village Tavern, it warranted an order – just for me! Maybe it was the towering greens or the wonton strips or the Asian allure. For me, it was the curiosity. A bit on the sweet side, but with cabbage, edamame and delectable chicken strips, this was worth the rare caloric fest.

bonifacio central restaurant

The Black Pizza is sadly not mine. Topped with meat and pepperoni, I can only stare and sniff. My, my, the black crust alone was drool-worthy so I needed a bite, at the very least! Look at those herbs; they were calling out to me!

Black Pizza Bonifacio global city

Good thing there was a meatless niche and graciously sliced for me. Ah yes, this cheesy chunk of black pizza was fantastic, chewy and teary-eyed yummy all throughout. Being a crust hater, this is one of those rare occasions I happily finished the crust. It was a mind boggling crus-terrific slice. I wish there will be vegetarian or seafood options for this one!

mussels cappellini seafood

The angel hair Mussels Cappellini is exotically named and brandished on a soup bowl. The pesto-white wine sauce complements the mussels but others, like myself, may find it on the sea-salty side. Perhaps my parmesan was uncalled for, or my palate is just unfamiliar with Chilean mussels, which is strongly the case. Pardon the seafood deficiency since my most extensive background hails from the overly bland cream dory. Overall though, the angel hair and soupy texture lighten the saline rush and we get a pure mussels madness—with all that iodine and zinc, we should be getting smarter, awright?

dessert lazy black cat

I Instagrammed my Double Decker Cheesecake, labeling it as death, or a welcome to it as such. Though double in layers, it could perhaps feed a family, a large one for that matter. The layers of Chocolate and Cheesecake make you forget that you are in a watering hole where drinks and friends are the reason for convening; with this giant slice in front of you, only the cheesecake matters. It’s brick of a cheesecake will make you forget even your BFFs, guaranteed a near sleepless night and will make you wish you didn’t order those jalapeno poppers instead.

vegetarian bonifacio restaurant

Trying to personify vegetarian in the dessert arena, ordering the Very Best Carrot Cake was imperative! The cream cheese icing was a tad too much after having a creamy salad, but a dollop here and there could be spared.

Chocolate torte lazy black cat

That St. Barths Chocolate Torte at the background was not to be messed with. Sweet through and through and only with the vanilla ice cream to counter the sugar kick, this was the devil in disguise. Good and evil on a plate. You ought to consider confessing after this uber-sweet-treat.

If there’s a reason to go back to the Village Tavern, it’s to eat all those blasted desserts. Big enough to feed a village—so that’s where the reference comes from, mate!

restaurant bar fort bonifacio

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