Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In praise of Starbucks' Fudgy Butterscotch Bar

When Starbucks landed on Philippine shores in the late 90s, I immediately became a fan; not because of their coffee though, but because of a certain pastry that I found there. It was called "Butterscotch Fudge Bar" at the time, and it made me frequent the Starbucks branch along Tomas Morato, the closest one to our office at the time. I remember that I would bump into my friend Gigi in that branch in the morning, and we would find that we were there for the same reason- to have this particular bar.

Fudgy Butterscotch Bar

I love the random strips of chocolate on the bar, as well as the nuts on it. I like the dense texture when I sink my teeth into it. Some of my other friends find it too sweet, but I think it's heavenly. A few years ago, the composition of this pastry was changed. All the chocolate was placed at the bottom of the bar instead of being randomly found throughout the pastry. It wasn't as delicious as the original recipe, but thankfully they reverted to the old style of making it.

I still have the Fudgy Butterscotch Bar whenever I am in Starbucks, and whenever it's in stock, of course. (I'm sometimes tempted to throw a fit when I find that they've run out.) The taste has remained consistent throughout the years (aside from the aforementioned lapse), and biting into it is one sure way to cheer me up and make me ready to face the remainder of the day.

All over Metro Manila

Monday, July 19, 2010

Conti's Pastry Shop and Restaurant

Whenever I eat at Conti's I usually end up eating too much dessert (usually Mango Bravo). It is, after all, a pastry shop. So when I do find myself having lunch or dinner there, I force myself to have a light lunch, so I have a lot of space for their delicious pastries. During this particular visit, I started off with some asparagus soup.

Asparagus Soup

The soup was just enough to warm my tummy, so I could get right down to business. I was with my fellow dessert-lover Isabel, so we ordered two desserts between us- Turtle Pie and Mango Bravo.

Turtle Pie

Mango Bravo

I've tried several of their desserts, but I think that so far, Mango Bravo remains my favorite. I liked their turtle pie, but I still prefer the version of Sugarhouse. Conti's Mango Bravo, however, ranks very high among my favorite mango-based desserts. It's so good that I've had to forego the restaurant's main dishes just so I can make room for a big slice of it. Maybe I should eat at Conti's when I'm not having a sugar craving, so I can give proper attention to the rest of their menu.

Conti's Pastry Shop and Restaurant
1C-17 Serendra
Bonifacio Global City
Taguig City
Tel. No. (632)856.2352 to 53, (632)901.3486

P1 Level, Trinoma
EDSA corner North Avenue
Quezon City
Tel. No. (632)900.5013 to 15

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cantinetta, Burgos Circle

I've liked the Italian restaurant Cantinetta since I first tried it years ago. I remember that we featured it in our lifestyle show "F" as one of the year's best restaurants (I think that was in 2004). I'd only been to their branch in Rockwell, so I was glad that I would get to try their branch at The Fort, when some of my friends decided to meet up for dinner there.

Since I hadn't been to Cantinetta in a while, I decided to have my favorite dish there; the very simple but delicious pasta with olive oil, garlic, and chili. I like the size of the servings in Cantinetta. Not too small, but not obscenely big either. Just enough to fill you up. In fact, I had no more space for dessert after I finished the whole plate. Though maybe that was more because I also had a few slices of pizza from my friends' plates.

Penne with Olive Oil, Garlic, and Chili (Aglio 0lio e Peperoncino)

The dinner didn't last too long, because it was a weeknight and a few of my friends were tired, while some others had somewhere else to go. Next time I go to Cantinetta, I'll make sure I'll have enough time to eat even more slowly, have a few more courses, sip some wine, and enjoy some dessert.

Cantinetta, Burgos Circle
Forbes Town Center
29 St. Rizal Drive, The Fort
Taguig City, Metro Manila
Tel. No.(632)403.5220

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

UCC Coffee Vienna Cafe, The Podium

I recently had an overnight planning meeting with some colleagues, and we had a couple of our meals at UCC Coffee Vienna Cafe at The Podium, which was walking distance from our venue. I like the food in UCC, I just think it's a bit expensive for a coffeeshop. Maybe the prices are steep because of the cost of the franchise. Or maybe it's a prestige thing, which seems to be working out just fine. After all, it's been around for quite a while, so I guess people don't mind shelling out a little more for the goods they offer (myself included, occasionally).

One thing I've noticed though about the few branches of UCC that I've gone to is that the wait staff don't really move all that quickly. Since I hadn't been in a rush during those few times, I didn't really mind. But I figure that if I were, I would be a little upset at their pace of service.

Salmon and Spinach Penne Gratin

For dinner, I had their Salmon and Spinach Penne Gratin. I liked the taste of it, though I did wish it had more spinach. To top off the meal, I shared some chocolate French toast with several people. Considering how many calories were in the pasta dish I had, I thought it would be a bit much to have it all to myself.

Chocolate French Toast

The next day, I had their tinapang bangus. This is one of my favorite breakfasts, so having this with garlic rice and a runny sunny-side-up egg, and coffee to boot, was just perfect. A bit heavy for breakfast, (especially since we split another order of chocolate French toast) but perfect nonetheless.

Tinapang Bangus

UCC Vienna Cafe
The Podium
18, ADB Ave.
Ortigas Center
Mandaluyong, Metro Manila
Tel. No. (632)687.3107,(632)637.3118

Friday, July 02, 2010

Cafe Mary Grace, Trinoma, Quezon City

I rarely go to the mall, and this lack of experience translates to low levels of shopping savvy. So when I had to buy some obligatory presents, I didn't know quite where to start. I enlisted the help of my friend Isabel, who is more of a mall expert. We went to Trinoma to achieve my mission, and with Isabel's help, I finished it in less than an hour.

After present-shopping, we went to the part of malling that I enjoy best- eating! We went to Cafe Mary Grace, since Isabel wanted to have some hot chocolate. The cafe had a menu of interesting kinds of hot chocolate. We tried their Tsokonut chocolate and their Mexicana tsokolate.

Mexicana Tsokolate
Tsoknut Chocolate

Although we were just planning to have a light afternoon snack, as usual, I ended up having more of a meal, and ordered Mary Grace Mushroom Cream linguine. Being cream-based, it was very heavy (and delicious!). The drizzle of truffle oil made the pasta more interesting, and ultimately worth the calories.

Mary Grace Mushroom Cream Pasta

I really should go to the mall more often. Next time though, I should just go straight to the part where I sit and eat in a restaurant.

Café Mary Grace
Ground Level Trinoma Mall
EDSA cor. North Ave.
Quezon City, Metro Manila
Tel. No. (632)916-9003