11 Favorites from May 2020: A combo of coffee, tea, and good food

May 2020 COVER - 11 Favorites from May 2020: A combo of coffee, tea, and good food

Another month has passed and the biggest difference between my May and my April is that I’ve gone back to work during the second half of May. (That’s why the blog’s been quiet too. I’ve either been too lazy or too tired to write anything.) In keeping with my promise to myself to write about the good things that make me smile every month, I am back with my May favorites. I actually also tried some new things on the last week of May that I loved, but I’ve decided to include them in next month’s list. Eleven is enough favorites for a month, don’t you think? Let’s hope this is a good sign that June will be awesome.

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Sometimes I feel like I am constantly surprising myself with the amount of favorites I manage to compile each month. I suppose I have to give myself a little more credit because now I know I do have the ability to find delight even in simple things. I feel like the entire staying at home exercise helped in this regard.

1. King’s Bakeshop Ube Queso Pandesal

The ube cheese pandesal has reached such a high point of popularity, people are even willing to buy expensive AF versions from online sellers. But if there’s anything I have learned from the phenomenon, it’s that it’s possible to get a really yummy and high-quality version without having to shell out over Php 300 for a bag. Cakeaholic by Joanne’s Ube Cheese Pandesal is proof of this. You all have no idea how gutted I was when she had to stop her ube cheese pandesal production during the ECQ because of supply issues. Joanne is back with her delicious purple pandesal now, though she is still easing back into her regular baking schedule. Luckily for me, someone introduced the Ube Queso Pandesal from King’s Bakeshop.

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This pandesal literally shocked me. For Php 85 (6 pcs), you get this soft lightly purple pandesal with a generous amount of ube inside. The cheese isn’t as high quality and sometimes it’s small, but for the price this is REALLY not bad at all! It’s delicious! In fact, I have actually dubbed this a good substitute for those times Cakeaholic by Joanne’s version isn’t available and I have a sudden craving. If you guys only knew how much I truly love the Cakeaholic ube cheese pandesal, you will understand how serious I am about this. Kung alam niyo lang talaga! I seriously love ube cheese pandesal and am not just bandwagoning on the popularity.

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In case you’re curious about the comparison between King’s version and Cakeaholic’s version, of course there is still a very obvious difference in quality. The price alone (Php 85 for 6 versus Php 280 for 10) is an indication of this. Cakeaholic’s pandesal is heavier and filled with more and higher quality halaya and cheese. It’s also soft in a more delicate way. The bread itself has a nice ube taste and color. Meanwhile, King’s version has a texture that’s more like the traditional pandesal. It’s not “pillowy” and has a rougher/drier crumb but it’s still quite soft to the bite. I reckon they added some ube powder to the dough, but most of the ube taste comes from the filling. The cheese in King’s version doesn’t melt once heated compared to Cakeaholic’s, and the size of the cheese slice is not uniform bread to bread.

That said, I think the King’s version is very well done for something mass produced. It’s even better than the version I ordered from a store that got included in the Spot.ph list. You can buy the Ube Queso Pandesal from King’s Bakeshop branches all over Metro Manila.

2. The Walking Mushroom’s Greek Moussaka

I didn’t realize how much I missed Greek food until I ate this moussaka. It was sent to me for review and I only have good things to say! My family and I finished this entire tray for dinner and my Mom actually told me to schedule an order for this in the coming month. 

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I have never been to Greece so I can’t actually compare how “authentic” this moussaka is, but I will tell you that the person who makes it grew up in Greece. I think that’s a big reassurance. It tastes so good I don’t really care to nitpick. You get a good layer of eggplants and potatoes at the bottom, plus a generous layer of tastily seasoned ground meat. Both of these layers serve as a flavorful complement to the creamy bechamel topping. 

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The great thing about this moussaka is the balance of the components. None of the layers overwhelm each other, which means you won’t get ‘umay’ when you eat it. It’s also not oily, and frankly that’s the issue I have with some versions of moussaka sometimes. You can order this moussaka in two sizes from The Walking Mushroom’s Facebook or Instagram!

3. Sourdough Cafe’s Cranberry Walnut Sourdough Bread

As much as I love sourdough bread, not all of them are created equal. Some are a lot tastier and better textured than others, and to be frank, this Cranberry Walnut Sourdough Bread might be one of the best I’ve eaten this year so far. Sure it takes quite a lot of effort to slice through this sourdough bread, but the effort is always worth it when the bread is as good as this! Once toasted in the pan, the bread has a heavenly crunch on the outside and an equally heavenly chew on the inside. SO GOOD.

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Because I turned this loaf into grilled cheese sandwiches, I wasn’t able to taste the bread on its own to see how much of the cranberry comes through. The color is really nice though, and there were enough walnuts in the bread. This is scheduled for a repurchase soon! You can order this bread and more from Sourdough Cafe’s Facebook and Instagram.

4. Pepe Samson’s Thai Green Curry

I’ve been seeing Pepe post about his Thai Green Curry for a while now, and one day he messaged me to say he wanted me to try it. It’s been a while since I’ve had a friend send over some made-from-the-heart dishes so the prospect of this really made me happy! And since I love curry and spicy things (and he is always making me drool with his posts of both things) I silently and excitedly anticipated this to land on my door. Well it is as good as it looks!

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The curry is creamy with a balance of spice and umami. I love how it has a genuine kick– the kind that makes you want to dig in with a ton of rice! If you didn’t know this was home-cooked, you’d think it was from a restaurant. The quality of the ingredients, and even the way the pork and veggies were cooked, is restaurant-grade. Oh, and Pepe did not hold back on the basil and cilantro. I love it when a fellow #cilantropist cooks! (He coined that term. I LOVE IT!) 

Sad to say this dish is not for sale, but I think we will all be tuning in for the day he posts the recipe on his blog! In the meantime, let’s try his Thai Pad Kra Pao recipe. (Friends who cook and share their recipes are awesome.)

5. Mom’s Steamed Garlic Scallops

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During the ECQ, my Dad ordered a bunch of frozen meats and seafood. While my Mom was thinking about what to cook out of all those frozen things, she came up with the idea of this steamed garlic scallop dish, inspired by the version cooked in Chinese restaurants using shrimp. She went to work in the kitchen and invented a magical topping mixture for the frozen scallops, and the result was a garlicky, spicy, and super flavorful dish. (She always has to count the number of scallops to make sure we all get equal portions, or else a fight will break out LOLOLOL.)

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The secret ingredient to that special topping is actually Democrita’s Chili Garlic, which I mentioned in last month’s list. I also mentioned this dish but did not share a photo, and since she made it again in May, I decided to include it this time. If you’re curious about Democrita’s Chili Garlic, you can check them out on Facebook or Instagram.

6. Lion Coffee

Having never been to Hawaii and having no Hawaiian acquaintances, I’ve never been familiar with their food products. It’s a shame, because they seem to have a pretty awesome food scene from what I hear. So it doesn’t shock me that they’d have some pretty good food products as well. This month I’m happy to have dipped my foot into Hawaii’s food world beginning with this coffee.

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I’d never heard of Lion Coffee until my dad’s friend gifted him with a box set for Christmas. Heck, it laid forgotten in the pantry once again for months until I dug it up. The packaging had a premium look to it, with a bright red design that undeniably draws the attention. This set has 3 different blends, and the first one we opened was the Vanilla Macadamia one.

I’m not a fan of flavored coffee because I often find that most of them do not taste quite right. Rather than capturing the essence of their flavors, they can taste a bit artificial or a bit off. But this Vanilla Macadamia Blend from Lion Coffee might be the best flavored coffee I have ever tried. It smells AMAZING, for one thing. Literally, AMAZING. When I had my first sip, the vanilla jumped out at me first with its sweet undertone, and then your get that macadamia sensation trickling in. Rather than a solid macadamia taste, it’s more of a tingle at the back of your tongue, if that makes sense. The flavor is bold without being an artificial slap in the face, and I was very much instantly in love with this blend.

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Lion Coffee’s Original Roast is also quite good. It’s very bold, and I imagine some people might call it ‘matapang’, but it ends on a sweet note. Exactly the way I like my coffee! It’s great with or without milk, sweetened or not. Lion Coffee’s Gold Roast is the less bold version of the Original, and this one I like to enjoy without milk to get the most out of the milder flavor.

Anyway, I loved this coffee brand enough to start doing some research on where to buy it, and found that it’s actually being distributed locally now. When I saw the prices however, I took a step back. I realize good coffee will cost you good money, but at the moment, I am not prepared to shell out Php 450 for 200 grams of coffee and Php 600 for 280 grams considering there are some GOOD local alternatives that cost less for the same amount of beans.

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But truth be told, a more financially robust version of me would DEFINITELY buy this coffee. It’s seriously good and worth all the awards and accolades written on the box. The current version of me will be waiting for a sale to happen lol. You can check out Lion Coffee Philippines on Facebook or Instagram.

7. Caffe Bene Grapefruit Tea

I first encountered the deliciousness that is Grapefruit Tea when I went to this really unique café in Gangnam, Seoul with some friends many many years ago. At the time, I wasn’t yet familiar with Korean fruit teas, so I was really amazed by that Grapefruit Tea. It’s a little different from grapefruit juice in that it doesn’t punch you in the face with the bitter and sweet taste of grapefruit. It’s a bit more delicate, and depending on the café, they sometimes add in the pulp and the candied peels. I’ve always loved adding candied citrus peels to my tea to sweeten it slightly, but the bright taste of that grapefruit tea was something that stuck to my memory.

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I can’t remember if it was my Korean friend who told me, but I eventually found out that I can actually buy fruit tea concentrates in big jars from the supermarket. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the one cup of grapefruit tea I had in Gangnam cost as much as half the price of an entire bottle of tea concentrate! (Of course, the prices still differ depending on the quality of the teas.)

For some reason, I never noticed Caffe Bene’s Grapefruit Tea in supermarkets in Seoul. My dad bought this on a whim from S&R and it might just be the best jarred grapefruit tea I’ve tried so far. If you’ve never tried these jarred Korean fruit teas before, it’s basically a jam-like “concentrate” you mix with water to make sweet fruity tea. Although you can add either hot or cold water to make your drink, I personally think the flavor comes out more if you use hot water to melt down the tea base, and then add ice.

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What I love about the Caffe Bene Grapefruit Tea is how it has a pleasant grapefruit taste with some equally nice candied grapefruit slices to munch on. Most of them still even have some juice-popping pulp attached! It’s a refreshing drink to have on hot afternoons, when you inexplicably crave something cool and sweet. You can buy this and other flavors of Caffe Bene fruit teas from S&R.

8. Auro Chocolate Assorted Kit & Vegan Baking Set

A brand that needs no introduction! And frankly it doesn’t even need to be featured here anymore with the waves it’s been making, but that doesn’t change the fact that Auro deserves all the praise it’s been getting.

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It’s one of the few brands that’s managed to make me appreciate white and milk chocolate– probably the only LOCAL brand that has done so to date. Not only is their chocolate legitimately good, they also know what they’re doing when they make their flavor pairings.

It’s one thing to be creative with flavor pairings and another to have the ability to recognize if a pairing actually works or not. And so far, they’ve been really good at finding a balance between these two things, as evidenced by the popularity of their chocolate bars. I am so glad they offered up their chocolates in a set during the ECQ. It wasn’t cheap, but it was totally worth it. I’m VERY slowly eating through my stash!

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They also offered their baking chocolates in sets during the ECQ, and this one was an easier decision for me to make. I have not been disappointed by these chocolates since I first tried them in my baking. Auro Chocolates can stand up to imported brands any day. I have a number of different brands of chocolates in my baking pantry, but this is the only local brand I use and stock up on. Check out Auro Chocolate’s website to see their product lineup!

9. My new Hario Mizudashi Coffee Pot

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I went back and forth a lot debating about whether I needed to buy this Hario Mizudashi to make cold brew. Making it using ordinary kitchen things is easy enough, so I was hesitant for a long time. (Value for money nut here.) Normally, when I’m unsure about something, I put it in my shopping cart and check back on it after a week or so. If it was an impulse/spur of the moment thing, I usually end up deleting the item from my cart. This one though, even after a month, I was still seriously thinking about buying it.

And thanks to a credit card promo I finally did looool.

Even though this thing costs Php 1,400, I don’t regret buying it now that I’ve used it many times! It’s very good quality since it’s Hario, but mostly I’m very happy about how easy it has become to make cold brew. No extra strainers or filters or clean-up’s needed! Thanks to this I’ve managed to experiment on a handful of flavor-infused cold brews without hassle. LOVE IT. I bought this from Barista Essentials on Lazada.

10. The Best Thai Iced Tea Recipe by Oh, How Civilized

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There’s not much I want to say about this except it’s a damn good Thai Iced Tea recipe. The ratios make such a good glass of Thai Iced Tea. It’s just milky and sweet enough, and it retains the lovely tea flavors especially if you add some good black tea into the mix. I love this recipe so much in fact that I’m planning to feature this in a recipe video and special post soon. In my opinion, it tastes even better than the authentic Thai Milk Tea offered by the popular chain Chawadi Cup.

11. My ‘Two Ways to Cook Tteokbokki’ video

The last entry in this list is my favorite shared recipe/s on the blog for the month. I love tteokbokki and I love how this video turned out. Every time I watch it, my mouth waters! You can’t lose if you decide to make either the Classic Tteokbokki or the Spicy Carbonata Tteokbokki.

That video cover is making me drool!


Full disclosure: This post is not sponsored. All items were purchased on my own unless otherwise stated. I received no compensation for writing this post. All opinions are my own.

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All images and videos on this blog are owned by The Tummy Train and Clarisse Panuelos. Unauthorized use of content, removal of watermark, or edit and reupload is prohibited and will constitute theft.

1 Comment

  1. Pepe Samson
    2 June, 2020

    Yayyyy OMG so happy my curry is here!!!! Aaaand, I have to try those ube breads soon!


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