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Dying Young

Mochi Balls are pillow soft rice balls with different kinds of filling. The original Mochi came from Japan. Mochi is part of ancient Japanese tradition and is made every New Year. After the Mochi is cooked, it is pounded in the mortar to give it a silky soft texture before being formed into balls. These days, Mochi is readily available and it's even filled with ice cream or red bean.

These particular Mochi Balls from Dezato, is filled with chocolate.

I am a helpless chocoholic. My friend Karen, gave me a dozen dark chocolate filled Mochi Balls for christmas and I almost died. This is the box:

And when I opened the box, I found them all sitting pretty like this:

When I lifted the plastic lid, the smell of cocoa tickled my nose. And one dozen perfectly dusted mochi balls sat on paper cups in all of their chocolatey glory.

I wondered if I could actually finish the entire box. I doubted I could. So with great care I lifted one ball.

It was so so so soft. Soft like a cotton ball. I was afraid I would squash the little beauty before I could put it in my mouth. And yet, while it was soft, it did not fall apart between my fingers. I felt it's weight shift. It was heavier than I thought. And it shifted and changed form until I put it in my mouth for that first bite.

Apparently, you can't take a bite and put it back on to the paper cup. But I was stubborn and so there you go. The cocoa powder was almost sharp against my tongue. A bittersweet goodness that prepares you for what's to come. The rice was so so smooth and soft and moist. And the chocolate, dark and rich and melting. A swirling cloud of orgasmic bliss in my mouth. I had to take a moment to remind myself to breathe.

So it happened that I ate the rest of that first piece. And then I ate another one. And another one. And another one. Until I looked back into my box and realized I had eaten six. I could've eaten the entire dozen and would have willingly died right there.

I swear these things will be the death of me.

But I didn't. It would be such a shame if I didn't share this heavenly bliss in a box with everyone else. I begrudgingly gave the Mister three balls the following day. I ate the other three.


Dezato Mochi Balls come in boxes of 12's and 6's.
For orders call: Dezato Foods at (02)727-1229
100 Hemady St. New Manila, Quezon City

It's been a while

The problem with writing about food is that it requires more concentration on my part. I have a feelings blog where I write about day to day stuff. And stories are easier to tell. But food? It takes a bit more time for me to come up with precise descriptions of food.

There are only so many words to describe taste and my limited food vocabulary makes it sometimes seem like I'm having an affair with food.

While it's true that I have sampled a lot of good food over the past couple of weeks, I have not really had the time to sit down and write about the gastronomic delights that were. But even that phrase makes me feel like I am not worthy of writing about food. I am pressured to come up with new ways to describe food so that readers like you can almost imagine what it tastes like.

A part of me believes that it can be kept simple. That it should be easy since I only have to tell the story of sight, smell and taste. But the feelings part is something that cannot be denied. That while I struggle to be objective about food as far as the physical senses are concerned, my feelings will always play a big role.

And so a date with my Mister, makes it more special than it actually is - sometimes. And while I always try to be objective about the food experience, I am sure someone will always find my taste disagreeable.

Here's to a brand new year of writing about food. A fresh start for the struggling food writer in me.

Worth the Wait

The Mister made reservations for 8pm last night at Elbert's Steak Room in Makati. (http://www.steakroom.com/Home.html) We were supposed to go last friday but we got bumped off and so decided to move our date to Monday. Yesterday afternoon we were informed that all tables were booked at 6pm and that our table might be 15 minutes late. It was really off to a bad start and I was starting to worry that it might not be such a good place to eat. After all, if reserving a table is this bad, how can we expect good service? But we went just the same, if only to satiate this curiosity.

We arrived at 7:45. There was no sign. We both knew the red panel could be pulled open but we weren't sure if we could. I tugged on it anyway and we were face to face with a waiter. He tells us the table will be late and they're sorry. I shrug. We sit on the black couch in the cigar room.

Moments later, Elbert himself comes over to apologize for the delay. He offers us drinks on the house. (I was actually worried that he didn't know what he was getting himself into..we love good wine and consume to no end!) We said we'd have it with our meal later and that we'd take water instead. A few minutes later, the waiter comes and serves us with complimentary creamed salmon for starter. (how do I continue to feel bad waiting when they were all so apologetic and kept trying to make up for the wait?)

Creamed salmon sat on crunchy bite sized pieces of bread. It was topped with olive oil and a piece of caper. In the middle was a cherry tomato on some greens. I normally eat salmon sashimi only. I don't really like the smell or taste of it cooked (except sinigang na ulo ng salmon sa miso) because it has a fishy quality that my senses don't agree with. But this had none of that. It was salmon, but it did not smell like salmon. It was fine. And we finished the entire plate. (oh and we had already eaten two pieces before I remembered to whip out my camera and take a photo. sorry)

At 8:20 our table was finally, finally ready. (yay!) Honestly, it didn't feel like forever. Blame it on the Mister being his nice dateable self, or the water with the slice of lemon, or the appetizer, or the couch or the warm lighting. And then we sat, and it was set. The menu was given to us. (I forgot to ask to take it home though - for the married scrapbook thing..) But I had already decided what to have last week. I wanted the fillet mignon. I'm a tenderloin girl, and I have liked it medium rare since the day my father cooked an inch thick slab in butter when I was still too little for the dining table. I also wanted to have it with the creamed spinach. But the didn't have it so I settled for the buttered vegetables instead. But the belly must be ready for the steak and so the wine was uncorked and poured by Elbert himself.

It was a 2005 Merlot - La Joya. Chilean wine. Good for the tenderloin he says. And it was.

We were served Fantan Bread. I forgot the brand, but Elbert said it is commercially available. You can buy it frozen and then you just pop it into a toaster. (we will go bread hunting this weekend..) The bread had a toasted crust on the outside, but soft inside. It's shaped like a fan, as if it was folded over and then baked so it fluffs out just so. Each fluff can be pulled away and its a layer of bread with crusty top and soft bottom. You peel it, butter it and put it into your mouth. Good bread.

Really good bread. It comes in twos, in a basket, and wrapped in linen like warm delicate babies.

I swear we finished it and asked for another basket! And we kept eating bread even when the salad came, and when the soup came, and when the steak came. The Mister (he loves good bread) couldn't help but finish what's left of the bread when the dessert came.

The house salad had mixed greens, onion, yellow and red peppers, avocado slices, and please tell me what the white things are on the side of the plate. The taste of the white vegetable is neutral a bit like avocado but the texture is tougher, not crunchy, but you have to bite it off. Everything comes together in ginger vinaigrette that is oh so subtle. Everything about it is right to me. The gentle flavors, the freshness of it. The different greens, some crunchy some a little on the soft side. There seemed to be a nutty smell to it too but I couldn't really put my finger on it.

Next came the pumpkin soup. I like pumpkin soup. Pumpkin is one among the very few vegetables that I actually eat. And it came as a surprise to me, this soup that they served me. It was pumpkin, but it was not pumpkin. I promise you, it's something very very good. It came all dressed up too. With the croutons in the middle and the leaf and the oil drizzled so. The soup was so delicate, in flavor and texture that I had to let it linger in my mouth. What soup does that? The thickness was enough so that it wasn't runny but definitely not too heavy either. And I was both pleased and confused - in a good way.

And then we waited for the steaks. I imagined that they were watching us eat the soup to get the timing right. They got the timing down pat and I'm impressed, because it was the first time I was served food at the right time on my first restaurant visit. Hats off to the sensitive waiters. When they finally brought our steaks out, I felt myself pause. This is it. The star of our night.

And what a star it was. It was thick. Really thick, seriously, make me drool kind of thick. There was no juice on the plate. Which means it was cooked right. Like a present waiting to be opened. Perfect grill marks on the outside, almost a hint of crust. Almost but not quite. It was almost a shame to cut it up and eat it. I thought I was falling in love with my tenderloin. And the smell. Oh the smell. I was almost unaware of it and yet the influence was not lost.

I finally succumb to the pull and dive in with my knife. Oh, it's soft. I swear to you, it is. And the perfect pink was revealed. Oh my. I slowly put the first bite into my waiting-willing-watering mouth. I chewed and I think my heart stopped. I love steak. I really do, but how they make them at Elbert's Steak Room, is really something else.

It was lovely, it was wonderful. It was how it always should have been. It was soft and juicy, and flavored just enough to bring out the best in it. And I wanted it to last forever. But all good things come to an end. In the end, it was gone. The last piece every bit of good as the first. Not quite as warm as the first bite, but a difference in texture or taste, there was none.

We tried three different steak sauces, although it was almost a sin. And while the sauces were great, I honestly prefer to eat my steak without any sauce. There was a mushroom cream sauce, mustard cream sauce and the chimichurri sauce. The chimichurri was an herb sauce. I was so in love with my steak that I forgot to pay attention to the sauces. For that I am sorry, but really, it was the steak's fault because it was so good.

And yet there was more. I being big on dessert, got the Mister to order the sampler. But you know, when they served dessert the waiter said they were giving it to us for free. Because we had to wait for the table. And I really felt it was too much, but who in their right mind will refuse free dessert? :)

The sampler had three things on it: The Best Chocolate Mousse, Creme Caramel and Chocolate Pudding. I started with the Flan and finished with the Mousse. Which was a good way to go.

The flan was firm, and yet creamy. It had a hint of sweetness, just enough to make you think it's sweet, and yet little enough to make you think that it's not sweet. I am obviously torn. The glazed orange rind on top along with the slice of peeled orange, really does it. It was so simple, and marvelous. The candied orange peel had just the right sweet-caramelized quality to it. It went so well with the creamy flan.

I must say that I am not a fan of pudding. I was wary about trying the chocolate pudding. The Mister who likes pudding, was happy with it. It was good, because I ate more than a bite. It was moist, and soft, topped with chocolate sauce and a sweet creamy sauce.

But the Best Chocolate Mousse really was the best. It was all chocolate mousse. A scoop of dark chocolate mousse in a very very thin crust, topped with runny white sauce that brings out the sweetness, and crushed pistachio nuts. A sprig of mint and chocolate sticks make it so grand. Tall and proud. And I took a bit of everything and put it in my mouth. It was chocolate first and chocolate last, everything else was complimenting the chocolate. The chocolate, the mousse. A fitting finish to the beautiful meal.

But it was yet to be the end. There was tea and coffee to be had before heading home. So it ends. If we had been smoking still we would've gone for some smokes.

I must say, the service was incomparable. The waiters were there to sincerely serve but they weren't there. Half the time they were already bringing to us what we were about to ask for. And yet, we had our private little thing, the Mister and I. It was almost like we could be alone. I was pleased that they could answer our questions. I was grateful for the attention and the pleasant speech.

I am grateful for the appetizer, the dessert and the wine. If he hadn't offered, we would've ordered and paid anyway. (maybe not the salmon cream..but we liked it, we honestly did) We had been planning this for a week, and a good steak dinner must include good wine and a just dessert.

I would like to go back and have another nice meal. But maybe not that soon, because I hope to keep my waist. :) I have started telling friends about Elbert's Steak Room because it was worth the wait.

(food photos here: http://pics.livejournal.com/leaalissa/gallery/00019pq4)
(Elbert's website: http://www.steakroom.com/Home.html)

Table Wine and Favorites

Easy dinner. A bottle of table wine, schueblig sauteed with onions, cherry tomatoes in olive oil, potato marble (don't ask me why, that's the Mister's dish..), bread and some black olives for me. (the Mister hates black olives).

Someone asked me if we really eat like this at home..and he couldn't believe that we do this on a regular basis. Since wine nights started, we've had it weekly - the Mister and I. A cheap date if you ask me..:D

will update with the food prep later.

back again.

Since my last post was about dessert. I thought it would be fitting to come back with dessert.

This was what I served Vanny before she left for Dubai. *sniff* I think she hates me for making her eat something so fattening. But she ate it. (She loves me!)

That's a French Baker brownie under vanilla ice cream. :) Lucky me there was bottled cherry in the fridge. I microwaved the brownie until the middle melted, topped it with ice cream and cherry. Served!

i love love love dessert. No meal is complete without it!


It's great to be back. After the food photos accumulated in my hard disk with no hopes of finding their way into this blog..I am finally back. And those old photos might not come out here..because I can't effectively describe the taste of something long digested. Has to be fresh! :)

A Kiss to Build a Dream On

Always kiss me goodnight. A nice meal should end with an unforgettable dessert. The dessert being the kiss at the end of a wonderful date.

It should be subtle. A suggestion of good things to come. But it will also clearly pave the way to an end. The end could be coffee or tea. Something warm to tuck you in. A sweetness that will linger in your mouth. A touch that delicately ushers you to the door.

A kiss before you finally close your eyes and dream.

The Old Spaghetti House

This was long due. We had this last month. And it's really bad practice to write about food that you ate a loooong time ago. The memory just isn't fresh enough. It will be unfair.

But I have notes on this. I wrote them as I ate. :) I wanted to come up with the words immediately after swallowing so I wrote about it right there and then.

This is my lucky Mister. See how happy he looks? That half liter carafe of red wine cost us two hundred pesos. And it wasn't bad. It was ordinary Australian table wine. Which was really good because I prefer Australian wine. (which is mostly because I have not had the luxury of tasting fine French wine..the only ones available here come from California or Australia, French wine can be had for an obcene amount of money.)

The cheese pizza was lovely. It had the crunch and the richness that cheese provides. It was served on a warm plate too which really helped because I am a slow eater.

This was the spaghetti pomodoro. We ordered just one and had it split. It was too sweet for my taste. I was searching for a bit of tang. I couldn't tell if they added sugar or if it was the canned tomato that was just a tad too sweet..

The happy Mister. :) Some of my friends find him good looking. What do you think? (heh, I don't think he wants me telling things like that here..hahahaah)

*dandararan!* DESSERT!
But it was just piped out ice cream with maltesers on top. :( I thought it would be this grand thing..because on the menu it looked so pretty.

But it wasn't. It was just vanilla ice cream grudgingly topped with maltesers. (grudgingly because they put only three pieces!

And there I was expecting a wonderful end. I always look forward to dessert...
I was not really a sandwich person until I started spending lots of time with the Mister. (Who was then just someone whom I played football with in school..) Sure I liked bread, my then favorite was the toasted pandesal with butter and sugar that my Lola (grandma) Sepa prepared for me in the afternoon. Apart from that I also liked cheese burgers and footlong sandwiches with sauerkraut.

And then the Mister showed me how to actually make sandwiches. It started with the simple BLT (bacon lettuce tomato) and I have never stopped trying different things since.

So now I can make this.

I used store bought focaccia. (I forgot the brand, but it's the same one that makes all kinds of bagels and tortilla and pita pockets and..oh crappy memory..I'll post an update when I remember..but don't count on it so much) I chose the focaccia with parmesan cheese for added flavor. It is like putting my insalata caprese in between focaccia. :) Layers of tomato, cheese and basil with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. I wish we had some parma ham that time, it would have made the sandwich taste even better. But we didn't so there.

It was a pan toasted sandwich. At home, it's just the Mister and I. And we don't really have that small electrice oven toaster so most of the time, I use my ever reliable teflon pan for toasting bread. I toasted the focaccia slightly on either side, before assembling the sandwich. I continued to toast it after assembly, heating it until the cheese melts a little. You don't want a soggy tomato and basil leaf (Well, you might, but I sure don't.), so don't overdo it.

Here comes the eating part: off the pan, it is hot, so be careful. The focaccia is golden brown. Biting down produces a crunch sound, and then the juicy firmness of the cheese and tomato mingling with the olive oil. The sweetness of the tomato and the saltiness of the cheese goes well together. The basil gives you that fresh flavor. A smell and taste so good you don't want to swallow what's in your mouth, like you want to hold on to it for another moment. *sigh*

It should go well with a glass of red wine. Any table wine should do well.