From the good people of the UP Economics Society comes Foodgasm 2, an annual event that brings together up-and-coming food businesses under one roof to battle it out and win mass approval and bragging rights. All those who bought tickets to the event were all given a score sheet so they could rate each and every food item they sample. At the end of the night a winner via vox populi is chosen. Props to those who managed to sample everything, because braving the lines and the crowds was a challenge.
I appreciated how diverse and vibrant Foodgasm was. It played to the vibe of their venue (Mercato Centrale) really well. It was casual, energetic and a little spartan in its own right.
Frankly, a lot of the samples, although creative (unusual, out of the box), weren’t “spectacular”. Some fell short in their execution while some fielded items that simply paled in comparison to its competition.
With that being said, I decided to just name Foodgasm’s five highlights – three singular businesses made my cut, three food items deserve one citation, and at one point, it became the battle of the cupcakes. Let the degustation begin.
1. Ping Gu mushroom fries
This was my personal favorite. Organic oyster mushrooms are coated with breading and deep-fried in canola oil. This may not sound like something special but it really was. The crunch of the breading gave way to perfectly cooked meaty mushrooms. Garlic mayo was the dipping sauce of choice, and it was obviously a crowd favorite. “Ping Gu” is Chinese for oyster mushrooms and Ping is also the name of one of the owners. It’s destiny I tell you.
2. Chocobelly by Carlo‘s Kitchen
The universal love of crunchy pork belly is what probably drew the throngs of people to their stall. You might say it’s pushing the envelope, slathering melted chocolate over crispy fried pork but in the advent of bacon jam, bacon macarons, bacon ice cream and all sorts of crazy concoctions, I’m not really surprised to see and taste the combination.
With that being said, I liked what I tasted although I think it might be more of an acquired taste, since I’ve met a few people during the event who didn’t get it.
3. Paire’s Ligid (crispy pork appetizer) and Class A (Almond slice followed by a shot of Amaretto Sour)
With the intention of standing out, Paire went the extra mile and introduced two food items during the event. They had an appetizer, the Ligid, which was slightly similar to Carlo’s crunchy belly in taste and texture. And for “dessert” they had the Class A. You’re supposed to eat the almond slice first and while you’re chewing it, down the Amaretto Sour. It was a pleasantly refreshing combination.
4. “Out-Of-The-Box Effort”: Sophia School Cafe’s Vegetarian Dinuguan & Sweet Baum Cafe’s Baumkuchen
I was perplexed to find out vegetarian dinuguan would be part of the event. Those two words essentially don’t go together but I kept an open mind, and was clearly intrigued. And true enough, it tasted like real dinuguan (blood stew) minus the pork fat, entrails and innards (I’m not a fan of the last two so it’s all good).
It didn’t stand out as a contender, but the fact that it tasted like honest-to-goodness dinuguan was already a feat in itself. Of course they kept mum about the ingredients but I’m not complaining.
The baumkuchen, introduced by Sweet Baum cafe is intriguing in its own right. Baumkutchen is actually a common dessert in Europe and Japan. German for “tree cake”, slicing a piece reveals visible rings like that of a tree. It’s interesting to know that it’s cooked on a spit (think lechon), and the rings are achieved by brushing a layer of batter on the spit, allowing it to cook and turn golden, and then brushing another layer.
That in itself is pretty stellar technique. However, the nice people behind Sweet Baum Cafe should have added more variety to their available samples (green tea!) since the one they fielded was a bit dry, and reminded me of a run-of-the-mill chiffon cake you could easily score from your corner bakery.
5. The Peculiar Battle of the Cupcake Cousins
There were three businesses that offered samples of their chocolate cupcakes: Sweet Confections (Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake), Sugar Rush (Chocolate Kiss Cupcake) and The Cupcake Dealer (Black Velvet).
Sweet Confections offered simple chocolate cupcakes frosted in yellow and pink. It was inspired by the show 2 Broke Girls. The main problem with this fact is not everybody watches the show. And that may be a point of confusion for some. Do they use the same recipe? What do the cupcakes have to do with the show in the first place?
Sugar Rush gave out their version of a chocolate cupcake, studded with chocolate chips and topped with a Hershey’s Kiss. Plain Jane she ain’t. I have to give them props for the detail that went into each cupcake.
The Cupcake Dealer’s Black Velvet came with a white chocolate frosting. It obviously doesn’t have red food coloring. I was told, not by the ones manning the stall but by my classmate who attended the event that they used carob powder in their mix. Carob is a healthier alternative to chocolate, although I could not verify if it’s actually true that it was used for the cupcakes.
Strip away the frosting, the frills and the fancy names and what you get are actually three cupcakes that are really quite similar in taste, as if they were cut from the same cloth, er, recipe book. They didn’t taste bad – in fact they were actually moist, and very chocolate-y which is always a good thing. But the point is, it just wasn’t the night of the chocolate cupcake.
There you have it, Foodgasm through the eyes of the HG. It was a night of good food by all means. Some soared more than others. For a full list of participants and their contact information, click here