Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Quick Bites: La Nuova Pasteleria's Profumo di Tartufo

Recently, I was half-heartedly watching an interview with legendary fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg on TV while the hubby was distracted with his fantasy basketball league on the iPad.  As she luxuriated on her plush couch, dressed in one of her coveted wrap dresses, she said something that deeply resonated with me and caught my attention.  When asked by the British interviewer what it was- with the organized chaos brought about by astronomical success- that kept her sane, she imparts: “Solitude.  Sometimes, we owe it to ourselves to just be alone.”   

            In this frenetic, modern lifestyle, we have taken huge pains to stay connected and be constantly “in the loop” with whatever new gadget that does the job fastest (and makes you look cool while doing it).  But despite the constant need to be in touch with each other, there is that little voice that says when you need a little time on your own.  Just be still and quiet, allow yourself to clear your mind.  Or think.  Whatever it is that you feel you need to do for yourself.  Even as a young girl, I cherished these moments alone where I am allowed to dream and wish and wonder.  And now, when the young girl’s daydreams are replaced with harsh realities, these little pockets of solitude are all the more precious. 

            Last weekend, I spent some of this sacred alone time with a plate of Profumo di Tartufo at La Nouva Pasteleria- a mountainous pile of tagliatelle in truffle-perfumed cream sauce and porcini mushrooms, topped with wide films of prosciutto.  That rich cream, coupled with the dense earthiness of the mushrooms and the heady aroma of truffles, acted like a healing elixir for my soul.  I tear off a little piece of ham as I roll the wide, flat pasta around my fork, and it imparts just the right amount of salty, porky flavor to an already highly immoral dish.  I derived so much pleasure from it that, as I sat there alone, I was wishing that I had someone to share it with.

            And enough for two, it truly was.  I wrapped the remnants of the pasta and hurried home, feeling revived, my mind clear.  I felt it in my bones that I was ready for a fresh week and the new experiences it will bring.  Watching Matt scarf down the other half of the Profumo di Tartufo, hearing his grunts of approval (punctuated by the occasional commending profanity)- I count my blessings:  I am only alone when I choose to be.

La Nuova Pasteleria
G/F San Antonio Plaza
McKinley Rd., Forbes Park
Makati City
Tel. no. (632) 867 2370

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Remember Your First Chocolate Kiss?

College gave me my first taste of the real world- meeting people outside my usual circle; encountering challenges (both in school and in life) that tested my mettle; basically, I learned that the world could both be loving and cruel.  But aside from waking up to these harsh realities of life, it was during my university days that I got to really experiment with food. 

            There are many blissful food memories of my time in the Katipunan area, and quite a number of them had something to do with The Chocolate Kiss CafĂ© at the Bahay ng Alumni in UP Diliman.  I recall how excited I was to be able to enjoy generous portions of my favorite pastas, followed by huge slices of beautiful cakes.  To my young, unexposed palate, it was my haven of good food, away from the poorly ventilated grills and fast food joints that college runts like me used to frequent. 

            One weekend, Matt and I were in the QC area and I spotted the branch of Chocolate Kiss along Roces Avenue.  Excited, I decided to grab a quick snack just to see what has become of this old favorite. 

            I loved their Fettuccine Carbonara, but having since outgrown pastas with creamy white sauces, I ordered their Aligue and Prawn Pasta.  The linguine was nicely cooked (al dente), and the aligue (crab fat), although fundamentally rich, was not oily.  There were notably more than a handful of prawns in my bowl.  Most aligue pastas tend to be heavy on the garlic, but CK’s version seemed to have practiced restraint.  I think I like it more this way. 

Matt opted for the Salisbury Steak with Mashed Potato- his idea of comfort food.  I believe he enjoyed it, particularly the thickened, home-style gravy.

            For dessert, I had to have a slice of a classic- Devil’s Food Cake.  Stark white peaks of marshmallow-like frosting enveloped a rich, fudge-y chocolate cake- there’s a reason why it made an impact back then and was burned into my memory.  It’s still good.

            Matt also had to have his cheese fix- this time in the form of a Blueberry Cheesecake.  The blueberry topping was obviously canned, but the cake itself was good enough- thick and dense, but not cloying. 

            The service was a tad “too relaxed” for my taste- boisterous banter (and singing!) among the staff is a no-no in my book.  Save it for your yosi break, guys.  Still, it was a fun afternoon of reminiscing, especially having discovered that this old favorite has maintained the pleasantly homey quality of their food.

The Chocolate Kiss Cafe
G/F Korben Place
Roces Ave. cor, Sct. Tobias St., Q.C
Tel. no. (632) 412 7876