I always say the very essence of Christmas is manifested in the spirit of sharing, so when I was invited to the Merry Cremas Food Bazaar sponsored by Alaska and the Asian Food Channel last December 15, I was more than happy to participate if only to be able to discover more delectable goodies that would make perfect giftables for loved ones. I know I bake a lot throughout the year, but on Christmas I kind of allow myself to fall into vacation mode, so I tend to leave all the baking to the pros! 😉
I was actually there as one of the judges for the event, wherein the purveyors were challenged to create dishes that made good use of Alaska Crema, a popular all-purpose cream brand here in the Philippines that we occasionally use at home too. And as with all food contests, the more creative and beautifully presented the dishes, the better. The biggest chunk of the score had to do with taste, while the other two involved presentation and usage of Alaska Crema. And though most of the purveyors were able to accomplish the requirement with ease, I had some personal favourites that received glowing scores.
There were quite a few purveyors in the event but I’ll only be talking about those that made an impression on me. That’s still quite a number because most of the food on display were really eye-catching. Though majority of the purveyors were dessert-based, I was more than happy to find a few savory dishes in the fray. Roasterrific! is one such purveyor that specializes in what they call their Herbalicious Lechon, a mutant version of lechon and bagnet, which is a favourite among a lot of Filipinos for Christmas food fiestas.
Their featured Alaska Crema dish was their Chicken A La King, which was creamy and for me just rightly flavoured; the sort that is perfect with rice.
I wasn’t surprised to find carbonara as one of the offerings in the bazaar such as the one from Party Time Philippines, since it typically makes use of cream in the recipe.
Now being a lover of laksa, it was almost too easy for me to enjoy this Pinoy-style laksa from Cooking Ina’s Kitchen. The “Cooking Ina” herself was there to greet visitors with a bright smile. If it were up to me, I would’ve preferred something with a more spicy kick, but I enjoyed this dish regardless. It was probably prepared this way so even non-spicy eaters can enjoy it.
I also quite enjoyed the 5P’s Burger from The Serving Spoon Manila. It’s very flavourful without going overboard, thanks to the spices and the richness of the Alaska Crema.
Moving on to the sweeter side of things, the bazaar was chock full of crowd favourites like cheesecakes, bars, cakes, and cupcakes with interesting combinations and flavours. The beautiful cakes of Sonia’s Cakes & Bakes was a good indication of what else the food bazaar had in store in terms of sweets.
Joanie’s Cupcakes, one of the winners for the event, had their delicious cupcakes and rainbow cakes-in-a-jar on display. Rainbow cakes are always winners in my book!
The very adorably decorated Forever Cupcakes had a display of festive cupcakes and cookies that would make any passers-by stop and take notice. I especially adore their snow-topped Oreo cookies.
Equally festive were the decorated polvoron and pastillas sold by Double Delights. Being a fan of polvoron, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from how very detailed these were. I ended up admiring them for quite some time and would love to learn how to do these!
These polvoron contained Alaska Crema which added a dimension in taste.
Drenched chocolate cakes were rather popular in the event as this was one of those I got to enjoy while I was here. Sweet Success had their Chocolate Crumble Cakes on display and their glaze was nice and thick on top of a moist chocolate round.
There was one purveyor named Red Velvet that featured all red velvet treats such as their Red Velvet Cheesecake-Swirled Brownies, as well as red velvet cake in truffle form.
Right beside that was The Pastry Parlour, which featured a combination of sweet and savoury baked goods. Their red velvet whoopie pies were the first thing that caught my eye, but it was their chicken pie I enjoyed more.
Pretty macarons seem to be all the rage these days, making Alchemy Baking Magic‘s booth something a lot of people kept coming back to. I really adored their classy-looking packaging, which seemed to magnify the attractiveness of the macarons even more.
I’m not sure if they offered the macarons they gave me to taste test as a regular flavour, but I found it to be really pleasant. The macaron shell’s sweetness was balanced out by the chocolate mousse piped on top, with a slice of strawberry for good measure.
Another popular dish on the dessert train at the moment is the croughnut, an adaptation of which was available at Nutty Drizzle. They had several flavours available and was also quite understandably a frequented booth.
They also have cream puffs filled with Alaska Crema vanilla pastry cream, which I enjoyed munching on as I haven’t had cream puffs in a while. 🙂
Another stall that had cream puffs and eclairs was CJM’s Catering Services. These were not my favourite version but I did like their mac and cheese, which was one of their Alaska Crema dishes.
These Nutella Rocks from Baked Bites were interesting. Essentially a love-child of a brownie and a Ferrero in flavour and look, they were chewy and the Nutella taste was very present. I did however enjoy their caramel topped cheesecakes as well, which was very rich and fully caramel.
A popular brand among online bakeshops, Hey Gourmet! is a shop that specializes in yummy ensaymada in a number of unique flavours. (Tiramisu Ensaymada, anyone?) As expected, they were also one of the winners of the event.
I’m a fan of those who can play with rock salt in their baked goods so I thoroughly enjoyed their Rock Salt & Cheese Bars.
The most creative I ate was the Turon with Salted Caramel from Roasts Coffee & Bibingka. Instead of frying the turon in the sugar, they made a caramel sauce to drizzle on top instead, which was a nice twist from the usual. The portion was too small for me to get a good taste of the banana in the turon, but the caramel sauce (where they used the Alaska Crema) with the combination of salt is always something that tickles my tastebuds.
Now we come to the four purveyors that presented me with my favourite desserts. The first is the famous MedChef. Their chef Hasset Go has been featured in many local TV shows and publications already, so this was one of the more popular brands present in the bazaar.
They had their popular bars in full force on their booth, and if you want to get a taste of all of them you can buy them skewered in what I would like to call the “Capsule of Sweet Dreams”. I can only imagine what the reaction of my dessert-loving friends would be should I ever give them this skewered hot mass of cakes. And by the way, their Moist Chocolate Cake drizzled with caramel sauce was indeed the stuff of dreams.
As a chocolate lover, I found myself inevitably drawn to the Malagos Chocolate booth. I know a lot of other people also enjoyed their chocolate a lot since they were one of the winners in the event as well. The cacao beans used in Malagos Chocolates is farmed locally in Davao. I’ve actually noticed this brand before but haven’t had the opportunity to try it. They are very proud of their 65% Cacao bars, which is just about the perfect percentage cacao used in most baked desserts. I’ll have to try making a dessert out of this soon.
I ALWAYS enjoy my chocolate dark so when I drank their hot chocolate I fell in love! There’s something to be said about the simplicity of eating from a chocolate fountain as well, as long as the chocolate in it is as good as this! It’s not exactly something new or ground-breaking but it tasted pure and soooo good. This is the sort of chocolate that can put the Philippines on the map, and the packaging is world-class as well.
The other hot chocolate I got to enjoy was from ChocoATBP. Much like Malagos, the cacao used in ChocoATBP products hail from Davao. The chocolates undergo much testing and experimentation before that correct taste is captured and shared with the rest of us.
And though their pure chocolate tablea drink was good, I have to make special mention of their chocolate bar cakes. The depth of the chocolate in them was something I would gladly describe as unadulterated; the same way I like eating my chocolate. I had a taste of the Tsoko Sili Squares and I just REALLY loved it. It’s the one that effectively etched itself into my memory. I’m a chilli-chocolate fan, you see!
And the other cake that made a huge impression on me would be the Yema Cake from Nothing But C. I don’t actually like yema because most of the ones I’ve eaten are break-teeth-sweet. (Totally invented that term, but you know what I mean right? The stuff that’s so sweet you feel like your teeth are about to fall off?) But this one was fantastic. It had all the right flavours of yema found on the glaze; with that lovely scent and light sweet taste of condensed milk very present without being too overpowering. I think they made the cake base taste milder and it worked beautifully to maintain the balance of the cake as a whole.
Nothing But C also has their lechon cake, which is their popular moist chocolate cake enveloped in fondant and made to look like the Filipino favourite lechon baboy. If your family is a fan of cake instead of lechon, how about putting this at the center of a special gathering for a change?!
I guess you can tell from my narrations above which of the purveyors got my gold star of approval. The products of their creativity in using Alaska Crema was impressive, and I’m really happy I got to discover some new favourites I can pass on for others to enjoy as well!
Full disclosure: I was invited by Alaska Kremas to taste test and rank the purveyors in this event, but all the opinions stated above are my own.