Category Archives: Dessert Storm

Swensen’s Ice Cream Brings Summer High

opening swensens Sm the block

As implicitly outrageous as it sounds, Swensen’s Ice Cream brought me to an absolute #SummerHigh given its recent opening at SM North The Block.

SM the block ice cream

 

Ice cream sundae sm north

Imagine a hop away from home, and we get instant access to Swensen’s lovely and positively sinister sundaes and cones.

Right at the 2F, near Forever 21 *sigh* and the parking lot – logistically perfect!

philippines food blog

The Swensen’s stall at The Block was launched this May and was well attended by bloggers, shoppers, kids and all sorts of passers by.

Seriously, passers by were not only curious, they got their free cones (first 50) while others really dug in and savoured the various flavours that Swensen’s has to offer.

swensen's sm north line

ice cream flavors swensen's

When we say “flavours”, yes, I mean like loads of choices, you can’t possibly settle for with just one scoop! They have Green Tea, Cantaloupe, Strawberry Cheesecake, Reversible Chocolate, Cookies and Cream and a whole aisle more!

swensen's ice cream quezon city manila

Swensens ice cream flavors

 

swensen's review ice cream

Swensen's ice cream sm the block

Since the place was fairly new though, we had to christen the event with photos, face paint (for the kids) and the usual ribbon cutting ceremony.

I admit, this was my induction in the blogger event realm, and it couldn’t have been better!

Swensen's opens at Sm north the block

swensens old couple

Swensen's kids forever 21

What could be more exciting than having ice cream for lunch?! IKR.

Swensens Manila Philippines

swensens SM north ribbon cutting

The owners and manager were accommodating and just as excited as everyone around. I was tempted to run to Forever 21, but the cling of the ice cream was more intense.

Ice cream fever beats retail therapy. Anytime.

Swensen's launch manila

Swensen opening ice cream sundae

But the real scene stealers were the staff. They were enthusiastically gracious and cool under the pressure of simultaneous orders and inquiries.

SM Swensen parfait

Swensen's happy staff

No, they didn’t flip the whipped cream canister or juggle the Maltesers – although sometimes I wish they slammed the ice cream scooper to announce the next order – but they were efficient and prompt.

Managing crazy orders while prepping the sundaes, floats and what-not was an acquired skill, and they fairly succeeded, on their first day! Bravo!

Swensen's sundae on the spot

Swensens oreo sundae in the making

Swensens oreo waffle blast

The ice cream-bar-man was so used to the clicking and stop-right-there-let-me-Instagram-your-work-in-progress that this outside chaos did not hamper his cream-splashing, nut-sprinkling world of ice cream creation.

Seems like Willy Wonka’s protégé has found better employment at Swensen’s.

Swensens ice cream toppings

Agile and courteous, the sundaes were served fresh from the ice cream bar and still pristine in its frozen state.

Swensen's the earthquake sundae

The Earthquake was massive and everyone that it passed by literally fell off their seats.

When it reached its destination, it certainly caused quite the uproar—but I am happy to report that it left the table in still one piece. I believe the lady who ordered this was never the same, after having left the store, in a state of chocolate high.

Swensens menu 2

Other varieties cater to different flavor and size preferences. Swensen’s Ice Cream has the kiddie servings for the little ones who like their sundaes pink, adorned or just wee enough to carry around! With names like Little Prince and Sweet Princess, I had to stop myself from ordering one for myself.

Swensens the hurricane

The Hurricane is perhaps next to The Earthquake, in terms of size, but don’t underestimate the secondary tempest.

The usual faves Banana Split and Coit Tower are just as resplendent and offer alternatives to the massive sundae bundles.

Swensen's frozen choc malt fantasy ice cream sm

With the signature whipped cream and chocolate dipped cherry and Swensen’s wafer, each serving is sealed with the Swensen’s seal of superbness.

swensens ultimate sundae experience menu

Other creations are sure to haunt you, and first timers will have to go through the menu several times. We understand. I had to take photos to help me decide, remember, change my mind and finally decide!

Swensens menu 1

Imagine that there is one page devoted to Chocolate Fantasy! Decisions to be  made.. More on that later.

Swensen's ring a ding sundae

Swensen’s has the Supreme Sundae poised on supremely tall glasses, one of which is Ebony and Ivory Sundae (ice cream layered with toppings and syrup) which looks so magically glorious. That Ring-A-Ding at the top is neapolitan-inspired, can’t wait to get a taste of all those colours!

The Waffle Sundae offers a break from the usual fruits and nuts with its awesome waffle siding—perfect excuse for breakfast!

Swensen's waffle sundaes manila

Ice cream floats and sundaes are offered to traditionalists and prefer to chill on the “light” side, while there’s the Walk-away sundae for those on the go and need a quick ice cream fix!

Swensens menu 3

The Basket Sundaes are perfect for the basket case as myself—one who wanted a lot going on in her sundae! I went for my usual favorite companions in the world: Oreo and brownies = Oreo Brownie Basket Sundae.

On a bed of waffle cone, Oreo and chocolate ice cream aligned with chewy brownies and topped with Oreo bits. What a wonderfully crisp affair!

The brownies were just perfect and almost stole the act—until the ice cream merged everything into a flavorful creamy show.

Oreo waffle blast sundae swensens manila

Last but not the least comes the Chocolate Fantasy Sundaes, a whole page devoted to chocolate and other complementing toppings.

Enough with the Oreo, my other weakness seemed to be waving at me: Maltesers. Oh my Maltesers!

Swensen's Frosted Choc Malt Fantasy

 The Frosted Choc Malt Fantasy is chocolate everything and topped with Maltesers. Enough said.

Nothing beats chocolate except for chocolate with Maltesers. Chocolate lovers will go nuts (they have Chocolate Crunch, by the way) with the choices, and the creations will not disappoint. You will find yourself licking the spoon and wondering when your next visit will be. Why not next serving, while you’re still at it?!

Swensen's toppings ice cream review

Swensen restaurant blog review

The Swensen’s menu is certainly a dessert trove of delightful ice cream treats. One visit is never enough and like me, you will find yourself planning what to eat on the next visit which is probably tomorrow.

The place may be small—easy to locate though at The Block—but is big on serving sweet joy and creamy serenity. There’s something about a Swensen’s sundae, that finishing if off gives you a kind of high—the good kind though. Maybe it’s summer or my childhood memories. Or maybe it’s a Swensen’s Ice Cream secret.

In case you find out, do tell.

SM Swensens ice cream review

Swensen’s Ice Cream has branches at SM Mall of Asia and Eastwood Mall—so you know where to find me.

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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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Piece of Cake

cake dessert manila

Of course we know that nothing in life is just a piece of cake. Either it’s a box, a giant slice, a mouthful – but never a wee bite!

Turns out I’ve been hoarding photos in my phone (you hoarder!), which have never seen the light of day. Oh those calories! They need to be let out, to tease and to torture others, not just me!

And so here’s the cake collection as of late, a bit of gelato, but mainly sweets and those treats that keep you up at night.

Starbucks Classic Chocolate Cake: Always a classic, decadent and available. The best pick-me-up for doomsday. Isn’t that everyday?

Manila philippines best desserts

Starbucks Toffee Nut Slice: Invented that holiday name since I forgot its ultra long name that even the barista cannot remember. Cheap and not too sweet, Starbucks’ budget friendly response to the hungry Scrooge–that was me!

lazy black cat manila blog

2nd’s Frozen Hazelnut Cheesecake: Topped with a Ferrero ball, it gets creamier and creamier after every bite. More foamy than hazelnutty, feed only to the underweight.

2nd's Bonifacio global City

Village Tavern Carrot Cake: Oozing with cream cheese, the cake is carrot comfort saviour. Moist and chunky, rabbits will go wild and die of OD – on sugar. Good thing I’m more of a cat, you know.

dessert bonifacio highstreet

New Orleans Bourbon Street Mudpie: Zero ice cream, 100% cake.The sweetness level goes overboard so either have the beer or the cake; make no mistake of having both, especially on date night!

fort bonifacio bar dessert

Starbucks Guilt Free Cheesecake: Looks bland but the amusing layers offer vanilla, chocolate and oreo. For a sugar free creation, that’s quite a spectrum and a let’s-pretend-I’m-on-a-diet treat!

Sugar free cake

Caffe Ti Amo Waffle and Gelato: For an often-overlooked joint Caffe Ti Amo has become a haven for the hiding, criminals and anti-socials who linger in Greenbelt 5. The gelato is spectacular, simply because they offer Green Tea. That’s it. Oh, and they have a rocking chair. Beat that.

Greenbelt 5 dessert

makati food

That’s it for my recent phone uploads. It’s been a blast and I look forward to more leviathan servings of cakes this year–starting tomorrow!

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Take a Lucca

UP Town Center Bread Pastry Dessert

My name is Lucca, and I live on the first floor of the U.P. Town Center – the busiest part of Quezon City.

Lucca is this newly sprouted bread-pastry place; call it a bakery or local pastry shop. Name it your sweet hang-out or whatnot, just don’t sing about Luka because she lives on the 2nd floor!

Since this name-calling business can be stressing, I will just let Lucca be Lucca. You can liken it to Bread Talk-meets-Slice-meets-French Baker. Go figure.

pizza food sweets lucca

Even if it serves all sorts of pastries, cookies, and cakes, Lucca is not just that dessert place. I believe there are other unsweet items in the menu, but those fail to register in my interest radar at the moment. I hear the pizza is so-so, so you can skip that.

cheesecake quezon city katipunan sweets

The cookies and brownies though (they have Oreo brownies–cool), for their price range, are reasonably worth it. Hefty enough for a meal and pretty enough as gifts, Lucca can be my new Mercato, if you know what I mean.

Up Town Center food restaurant

They have cakes too, and I bravely had a slice of the 5 Layer Chocolate Cake to-go. Being new, they packed up my slice in that plastic microwaveable container that makes me look like those moms who bring home left overs from friends’ parties.

And it sucks to look like the hoarding kind, so I ate my to-go slice outside of Lucca, as curious passers by stared at my ugly plastic box, probably wondering which home I stole that from. Cake thief!

Lucca 5 layer chocolate cake lazy black cat

The 5 layers of chocolate are all the SAME ganache-like creamy chocolate that was on the safe yet delectable side. It was crusted with what I first thought was Oreo bits, but turned out to be more like crisp cake crumbs. Still, the cake was moist and veered from the too-sweet-teeth-chattering episode, so buying a whole cake is something I may do when I get stressed, depressed or just plain bored.

Lucca does serve cheesecake, cupcakes and other cakes worth trying.

Cheap and lovely to look at, even if you drop them, you can very well afford them anyway! 

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Red Mango Purr-fait

Normally, when one visits Red Mango, the idea of ordering a parfait is unlikely. We admit that we are partly feigning a healthy façade by opting for frozen yogurt, to be topped with fruit perhaps. But like others, I succumb to words like parfait and overload, especially when photographed with what seems to be loads of granola.

Granola—who says no to that?!

So ta-dah, here goes, the Green Tea Parfait, aka the Red Mango Frozen Yogurt dumped with everything within scooping distance!

greenbelt frozen yogurt

Going for green tea flavored yogurt (of course, green me), the parfait contains—get ready for the line-up—granola (my selling point), banana, red beans, oreo, more granola and a surprise, mochi! Somehow the parfait ends up having a sakura theme with the adzuki-green tea-mochi combination which was greatly pleasurable for me.

A bit of an overload though—yes there is such a thing and it’s this parfait—I ended up no longer scooping much of the frozen yogurt since there were too many bits and morsels to chew and swallow. Still, it was an enjoyable cup with varying degrees of texture and sweetness—kind of like a guessing game! Imagine my amazement when the mocha came popping out of nowhere. Bliss!

So if you end up staring at the photo and deciding between parfait or plain—it’s easy, do you want toppings with yogurt or the other way around?

And if you’re gung ho for granola like me. Well that’s a no-brainer!

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It’s a Cookie, yo!

It doesn’t take a brain to tell you that when we say frozen yogurt cookie, expect something sour in between. No, the frozen thing in the middle does not magically turn into sweet creamy bliss once sandwiched in between cookies. The laws of matter tell us that once a yogurt, always sour. If any, it gets more sour as the minutes pass. 

Yoh-froz came up with this frozen yogurt-cookie sandwich to battle the likes of Sebastian’s ice cream (my favorite) and the DQ sandwich cookie. Of course if you want ice cream-sweet, then go for the others. However if you are on a diet, the Yoh-Froz cookies will do.

sandwich yogurt cookie

I went for the nastily named Frookie Monster, because my undying love for oreo made me do it. The oreo bits (if it was even Oreo) were painstakingly crushed and went strangely with the frozen yogurt.

The first few bites can be surprising since I was expecting cookies and cream, not cookies and sour cream.  Still, it was strange yet satisfying and future crave-worthy.

Imagine my dismay when the Yoh-Froz at Hobbes and Landes Trinoma disappeared all of a sudden. Guess it’s back to Red Mango. 

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Crepe Me Out (La Creperie)

crepe dessert quezon city

If you are a frustrated princess, there are only two places where you could fulfill that fantasy sans the crown, tiara and killer scepter: La Creperie and Vanilla Cupcake Company. There’s also Etude House, but the ladies in waiting don’t serve tea and only call you princess out of spite and their job performance review.

eastwood restaurant

We visited La Creperie in Eastwood not because of dreams of extravagance or royalty—I would rather be a vampire than wear a petticoat—but because Tous Les Jours does not serve cakes by the slice, and we were in need of a sugar fix. At 9 in the evening. There are just some days when you do and when it comes, saying no will just set you on fire.

eastwood crepe

And so to bring this sugar high to the extreme, I ordered what I normally shouldn’t 2 hours before bedtime and at this day and age, must not, when I do not have an actual sport to burn off all the ingested fat: Mango Hazelnut au Chocolat. Nutella, chocolate crepe and caramel sauce make a triple threat to my being but “no” cannot be the option. Finish the crepe to the last morsel, and I did.

tea eastwood

This was a satisfying soft bundle of chocolate and nutella, with actual fruit that just as well, burst with sugar. It can certainly bring anyone to a sugar high, brought to a pump of moderation with La Creperie’s pricey tea (Paris Singapore by TWG). The price you have to pay for the kettle, I know. But what can I do, bring my own Lipton? *lightbulb flashes*

crepe eastwood

Seemingly, the Strawberry Mango Jubilee in front of me was a fruity frenzy, complete with a soupy atmosphere (that was the orange rum sauce) that was a bit more expensive than my triple choco threat. Still, if I would stuff myself silly with sugar and starch, I might as well go all the way with syrupy sweet chocolate and nutella—the works. Anything with a hint of citrus is just screaming with Vitamin C, and this is why we take multivitamins in the morning.

tea eastwood

And so, La Creperie is that dainty place where you bring your besties for a bit of tete-a-tete or long lost friend for a reunion with teabags to drown those tears.

And if still you don’t get high from all that caffeine, sugar and story-swapping, then I suggest dropping a kettle on the floor. That ought to do the trick. 

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A Blondie Moment

Cupcakes by Sonja Lazy Black Cat

They say blondes have all the fun, but the Blondie Bar by Sonja’s Cupcakes (Serendra) is often overlooked and ignored in favor of the more colorful cupcake bunch. The brunettes (like that choco cream pie) and red (velvet vixen) heads have better mileage in Sonja’s little  shop, but for those who like to look up at the cookie jars, that’s where this flaxen treasure lies.

The Blondie Bar may pale in comparison to the creamed up cupcakes and shimmering denizens of the lower chiller, but for those who’ve tasted it, they will agree that “Everyone loves blondes.”

Sonja Cupcakes Blondie Bar Jenina Gonzales

The main bar may be a simple composition with buttery flair but interspersed with walnuts and chunks of Valrhona chocolate (dark and white), this turns into a blonde bombshell. Nothing compares to its morsels of sweet gratification and fresh oven baked texture. Great with tea, better enhanced when warmed up, the Blondie Bar is everything but dumb.

J.Anne Gonzales Blondie Bar

If any, it’s dumbfounding.

So no more crying when Sonja’s runs out of the Bunny Huggers carrot cake or Valrhona milk-choco hazelnut tart. The Blonde is in.

And no more blonde jokes.

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Let the Cakes Begin: Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

coffee bean and tea leaf megamall

While folks pour in Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (CBTL) for their Christmas stamps, I veer away from this trend of pouring out more cash – during the very season I need it the most. Hence, no drinks for me. December is drought season.

But cakes are very much welcome, as always. A girl’s gotta eat.

Starbucks with its perpetual queue was out of my impatient list, giving CBTL the opportunity to amaze me with their chiller stash. And so let the cake weekend begin.

Coffee bean tea leaf Blueberry Cheesecake Manila

Blueberry Cheesecake

CBTL cheesecakes are known for being on the rich and satisfying side, the Triple Decker Cheesecake being a five-star class on its own. The Blueberry Cheesecake looked just as luscious from afar, it was time to get ahold of this purple presence.

The cheesecake dominated the entire serving which was lovely, though the graham crust was a bit on the boring side. The cheesecake has a citrus-y hint that not everybody might welcome. It’s very subtle though, and I noticed it only because I was eating way slower than usual. All in all, this is a superb cheesecake but sinful as I am, the Triple Decker would always be my top-of-mind preference.

CBTL Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Similar to Starbucks’ Chocolate Cake, CBTL’s counterpart, well, just looks the part. Fudgy and 100% chocolate, it is the undeniable draw for anyone who wants a sweet kick. A bite though would simply reveal its true nature that it is far from the Starbucks variety. A bit crumbly and the chocolate frosting just not “it” I would pass up this CBTL creation.

After all, with cheesecakes and cookies galore, why settle for a lesser cake? And don’t worry some Starbucks cakes have issues too (and it starts with VIA).

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