100 Revolving Restaurant: a room with a view

I looked out and admired the view. It’s not exactly breathtaking to appraise traffic like it was a long congested line of ants.  I tilted my head upwards just a little bit so the concrete jungle is obscured. There were birds and the sky was clear. Now that was a sight.

Then I had a feeling at the pit of my stomach. I could feel the movement of the platform at the fringes of the restaurant. So it does move. It’s not really jarring, but I was queasy to begin with so it took me a while to get used to the movement. At that time of my first visit, it took two hours to complete one revolution. The revolution at the time of my second visit was faster by thirty minutes.
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That’s the first thing you notice at 100, the restaurant with iconic Chef Jessie Sincioco at the helm. She has a flair for grandiosity. The space is easy on the eyes as well. The menu is refined, but strangely enough it’s not as uptight as I thought it was going to be.
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And they make good bread. Really good bread.
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Between the kesong puti salad and the alugbati (which uses fresh, not blanched nightshade), the uncomplicated and familiar flavors of the former drew me in.
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It was a good “caprese” salad, but when the ceasar came out, that was my favorite. It had prawn popcorn, bacon bits over hearts of romaine. It was a good start.
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The dragon maki was hefty enough to be a meal in itself with its shrimp tempura on the inside, and then sprinkled with tempura bits and rich mayonnaise. I’m still learning to use chopsticks properly, and if you see me wield it you’ll notice my hand trembles. But for this maki I’ll brave the tremors.
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The vegetable maki was a surprise! I did not expect that I would enjoy it as well. It’s a notch lower in taste compared to its prawn counterpart, but I still appreciated it.

This sea bass is incredibly delicious. For the price, is it worth the trouble? I’d say yes. It’s drenched in a savory and sweet miso base and gives way to perfectly cooked flesh that holds it shape but it’s still very tender. Yes and yes.
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There’s also shrimp curry and beef roulade, but the seafood gambas is stellar. A medley of fruits of the sea drenched in punchy tomato sauce fits the bill of a good plate of ingredients cooked with respect.
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But the others aren’t rubbish at all! I fact, almost everything that was served to us was great. I’d just like to single out a few things that really stood out.

And I could sing songs about Chef Jessie’s desserts.
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But it’s in a moment of silence that my real appreciation creeps in. I close my eyes and just marvel at how I love a good dessert. In this case, I loved almost everything that was served.

It’s this souffle that made me smile the most. How can something be so light yet so rich? This is a soaring tribute to all things good in life. I am not exaggerating.
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One of my guilty pleasures is peanut butter. But I don’t really enjoy cheesecakes that much anymore because it’s like I’m falling into a pit of heavy flavours that never really take off. With peanut butter however, I can make an exception.
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The revolving tortas are little dense cakes filled with flavoured cream and topped with fruit. At this point I was already coming down from a souffle high but I still made room for this.
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For some strange reason souffle isn’t on your mind, this works. There’s also a delicious chocolate caramel cake that works for lovers of chocolate, but competing for attention against the souffle and tortas is hard.

100 is a posh gem. I’d like to believe you pay not just for the elegant (but also uncomplicated) food but for the great view as well. Who wouldn’t feel good dining with Manila’s shifting skyline as the backdrop?

Right now there are two reasons that compel me to go back: a chance to dine at night, to appreciate pinpricks of light all over the horizon and of course, the souffles. I love their souffles.

100 Revolving Restaurant
33rd Floor, MDC 100 Building, C5 corner Eastwood Drive, Quezon City
+632 962-1016

 

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This is where it begins

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Between this entry and the cliffhanger of a post about macarons, so much has happened. But let this post be my starting point. My new starting point, because early this year things just didn’t feel right… writing just didn’t feel right. Did I have nothing to write about? (refer to the first sentence in this paragraph) Of course not! In fact things have become richer, more exciting but I’m getting ahead of myself. Like I said, this is my starting point.

What this isn’t is an apology. I won’t apologize for going under the radar and allowing this space to gather dust. If you have ever felt like you’re trying to fit a square peg in a round hole then you’ll understand why I just couldn’t force it out of me to blog. Inspiration, I lacked. It may sound like bull but it’s true.

I’m not sure if I got this from an internet meme or if this was a passage from a book, but either way it rings true: “I’ don’t know where I’m going but at least I’m getting there”.

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I found myself in a nice little resto that offers updated versions of Filipino food. Smokin’ Hot BarBQ is pretty cool, if how they treat turon is an indication. Two scoops of ice cream, one laced with jackfruit and one made from ube, rest in a brittle cone whose texture is like that of a crunchy brandy snap more than anything else. Serving it in a bamboo log is the icing on the proverbial cake.
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But the highlight of the day was the company and not the turon. The speculoos cheesecake we had would have to be a close second, but this entry would have to be for the people I was with. I met Yedy and Eugene when we were at Foodgasm. Yedy was also a judge and Eugene was her plus-one. Being the innocent child I was, I asked if we could brave the crowd together as we sampled the food. One thing led to another and there I was almost a month later invited by two bloggers to try a speculoos cheesecake courtesy of Chef Mico Aspiras.
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We were essentially going to photograph the cheesecake so we could write about it. I’ve never done something like that before. Being the one with the culinary background, I just had to wield the knife. It was the first time I witnessed just how mad food bloggers can be when it comes to food photography. I mean, like really really technical. Detail-oriented with a meticulous understanding of light and white balance, these guys worked with gumption. I was, in a way, amazed.
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The conversations just kept flowing and from my end I felt that there was this sense of realization that things just clicked and made sense. We could be friends. What amazed me more was that I was talking to people who actually read my blog and have heard of me even before formal introductions! To add to that, both of them are food blogging powerhouses in their own right. But the latter I could care less about, because they’re just great people.

To cut to the chase, it’s been a few weeks since that fateful day and both of them have been constant weekend fixtures. It’s rare that I get to hit it off with people so quick, to laugh at the most shallow things (and people), and to share similar dreams that revolve around food, words and photos. The universe must be telling me something.

They’ve been encouraging me to go back to writing again because it just feels right for me to use this medium to put myself out there. More than anything else I’ll approach this staying true to who I am, because if there’s one thing I’m proud of, it’s my perspective.
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Oh, and the speculoos cheesecake? Yedy and I found the chocolate good, but overpowering. Eugene enjoyed that part. As for the cheesecake itself, anointing it with speculoos was a brilliant idea, because everyone loves the little cookie that could. I’m not a fan of cheesecake, but what we had was pretty good.

And what/who I have right now? It’s even better.

Having my cake and eating it too

Like a good dessert, FOOD Magazine’s annual Presents Perfect Food Bazaar impressed without being monotonous, cloying and too overwhelming. Considering that FOOD usually devotes a few pages in their November issue to feature the best pastries and  desserts around the Metro, there was a lot to take in (and buy).

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I’ve been reading Food Magazine since I was a fat(ter) child, and it would be such a shame to miss an event like this considering that I’m already here (Manila). The perfect picture would be me buying something from every single stand that day, but that didn’t happen but I’m pretty happy with the things that I did buy. But before that, here are more than a few photos to overload your senses.
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And now with much ado…(and I think some of you might have seen this photo on my facebook page a few days ago)…my haul:
Photobucket Some of you might think I went overboard…but no. In the name of good desserts, it’s my duty, nay, right to be merry. All of these, I would recommend in a heartbeat. I’d like to believe these spell something special when the holidays are upon us. Place your orders before the rush starts, if it hasn’t started yet.
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Dulce de Leche Cheesecake
Delicious from the cream down to the biscuit base.
Forget Me Not Specialty Cakes
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Cassava Egg Tarts
YOU SERIOUSLY NEED TO TRY THIS ONE. PLEASE. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.
Joan and Jane Cake Bites
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White Chocolate Macadamia Brittle Cheesecake
Cheesecake – smooth as silk, the brittle – the perfect topping. Side note: they should sell the brittle separately as well.
Kitchen’s Best
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Red Velvet Cupcakes, blurred in the background: Chocotella
Both moist and rich. I prefer the Red Velvet over the Chocotella but the latter is more indulgent with its chocolate (or was it nutella?) center.
Cupcakes by Klar Joseph
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Assorted French Macarons
Who doesn’t love macarons? Come on.
Forget Me Not Specialty Cakes

Also in the photo: Bailey’s Cream Cheese Bites
A brownie made even better!
Secret Passion (can’t seem to find their facebook page)
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Dark Chocolate with Siling Labuyo (Finger Chili) and Regular Dark Chocolate
Yes, chocolate with chili. It just makes sense. I’ll always be a fan of dark chocolate, enough said.
Theo and Philo Artisan Chocolates

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Polvoron Cupcakes
It’s the classic Filipino polvoron in cupcake form, topped with what I’ll assume is white chocolate, decked out in holiday designs. Fact: my mom is in love with this.
Double Delights Food Products

So there you have it, a sampling of what’s good to taste, give and receive this Christmas. Congratulations to FOOD magazine for bringing together a great assortment of treats!

No-Bake Cheesecake

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Baby steps. That’s what I told myself when I finally found a recipe for cheesecake that I was willing to try. Well, that’s what I tell myself every time I want to attempt another dish that requires skill, more than anything else. The thing is sometimes telling myself I need to take baby steps means I’m also leaving the door wide open for procrastination. Which happens a lot, when you’re me.

Cheesecake has been something I’ve always wanted to attempt. I remember, before we even had an oven (we finally bought a functional oven, along with building a new house, just a year ago), I would put together cream cheese, whipped cream and canned blueberries on a pie plate and call it cheesecake. I didn’t know better.

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I told myself I would finally start making a proper cheesecake once I had the proper equipment. The biggest revelation that I had? Cheesecake can be baked (Didn’t know that before!). The possibilities were seemingly endless.

Then we flash forward to the present time, where I can actually look back at all the attempts at it over the past few months. You read that right, past few months. Now, why did I never post anything about it here before? Well, let me count the ways:

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1. The first attempt was decent and tasted like ice cream, according to my friends. I wouldn’t know, I had tonsillitis. That happened over the holidays; I loathed the world.

2. Second attempt was for Valentines Day; I made it for no one in particular. As soon as I poured the filling into the springform and hoisted the whole thing up to put in the oven, the detachable bottom of the pan failed me. I had crust and filling running down my arms. Disgusting, really.

3. Vindication came when I finally made my best ever Red Velvet Cupcakes with cream cheese and streusel. Food Frenzy even listed it as one of the most viewed recipes last February. Oh wait, a cupcake……..isn’t a cheesecake…..right?

4. Last Christmas I followed a cheesecake recipe to the letter. After diligently leaving it in the fridge to cool, slicing the whole thing revealed a runny center. I had to bake it again, and again, and again. Can you picture out a cheesecake that fell from the second floor (SPLAT!) and onto a serving pan – and then you bake it until it’s solid? Good, we’re on the same page.

Now here we are with cheesecake attempt # 5. And I must say I’m pretty pleased with the results. Creamy, surprisingly light cheesecake taste? Yes. Solid structure? Yes. A tasty topping? Yes.

The only cop-out? This isn’t baked. Yeah, cheesecake purists,  this is a no-bake cheesecake. No. Bake.

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The rationale for not baking it? For one, it’s relatively easier than baking. And most importantly, I don’t have to use my oven! You see, we’ve been having perennial power outages that last for around four hours per day, because apparently that’s what happens when you’re in a developing country. So, I managed to work my way around this little hitch.

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The taste has been balanced well – the slightly sharp taste of the cream cheese is tempered with the addition of whipped cream. This cheesecake is pretty heavy, so a moderate slice would go a long way. I’d say, this is a great way of exercising my chance at baby steps. But of course, I can’t wait to try the real deal next time. Successfully, I mean.

PS: As much as I want to blog about how I made dulce de leche, the idea of waiting two hours just to cook condensed milk in the oven, doesn’t appeal to me. The result of the waiting still yielded condensed milk, albeit just darker in color. Maybe I just need to refine the technique. If you want, just use condensed milk. But that’s just me at 21. Maybe me at 22 would be more appreciative. 

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Basic No-Bake Cheesecake (serves 12; adapted from The Best of Food Magazine)

crust

  • 12 – 14 graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

cheesecake

  • 2 tablespoons (around 2 sachets) unflavored gelatin (I used Knox)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 bars (225 grams or 8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) whipped cream (I used all-purpose cream)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) yogurt or sour cream
  1. Combine crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well. With the aid of a spoon, press onto the bottom of a 9 – inch springform pan, covering it completely. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
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  2. In a saucepan, disperse the gelatin in water. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the granules to swell.
  3. Place the saucepan over LOW heat, stirring continuously until gelatin granules have dissolved completely, taking care that it DOES NOT BOIL, because boiling weakens the gelatin structure. Once dissolved (it will resemble runny syrup), remove from heat and set aside.Photobucket
  4. If using all – purpose cream: in a medium sized bowl that has been chilled in the refrigerator, using you hand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk cream until soft peaks form (when you lift the whisk afterwards, a “peak” forms on the surface of the cream)

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    those 'pointy' things are the 'peaks'

  5. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, or simply using your hand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. You may use the same hand mixer whisk you used to beat the all-purpose cream. Add the sugar, whipped cream and sour cream.Photobucket
  6. Pour in the gelatin mixture into the cream cheese mixture. Continue to beat until smooth.
  7. Pour the mixture onto the prepared pan. Level the surface of the cheesecake with a spatula. Chill overnight. Serve as is, or with the topping of your choice. For the dulce de leche recipe, click here or herePhotobucket