Kusina or QCna?

I am having a major rethink! See, I love the creative process of baking... but the doing?  I get aching arms, sore legs from standing for looong periods of time, neck and shoulders cramping from being hunched over.  I swear you could get carpal tunnel too, from hands clenched over spatulas and beaters.  Maybe someone with chronic fatigue and rheumatism a family curse has no business making baking a business. Spirit is willing and all that.

Have I ever told you about baking in my boots? Not the high fashion kind, just the “pangbaha” (flood wading) rainboot.  On good days, we get three inches of water.  On bad days,  two feet high – indoors!  Bail, bail, toil and trouble!

It has been suggested that I bake elsewhere.  Do you rent a kitchen? Do you build a new one, on stilts? Will you earn enough to pay for the upgrade? Deliveries? Minimum orders? They say going into business, dapat mahaba ang pisi mo.  That's a Filipino idiomatic expression which means having patience, where pisi is thread or line and mahaba means long.  My take on the saying is, you cast a line in the sea and hope the fish bites so you have food on the table.  Sometimes you wait a very long time then you get lucky; or in vain one day and wins the next one.  In my case I'd say I need more than patience - a bigger oven, my own ref because I get flak from hogging two shelves, and an assistant!  Also money to run with.  Throw in muscle pain pills, Vitamin B plus, bananas for potassium, liniments and energy drink. Is it time to get seriously into it? Commit? My head hurts.

So I take off my boots and have lunch with a friend.  She lives at Quezon City, where man versus food is waged every day, and lost - if you're not careful.  Many a time you give in hehehe. Holes in the walls, gated or bush screened verandas, garden gazebos, garage stalls, commercial condos, home kitchens, and any bit of pavement you could place a stool, table, and awning on is a foodie trap.  A lot of fodder to blog about!  

I am a slow eater, so my eating companion would have to wait for me to finish.  At home, l take my sweet time, so the family clears their end of the table long before I got started on my meat course– heaven forbid I have two or more viands or several courses to feast on. I also don’t want one dish to run a-muck with gravy or spill onto another.  Exasperated yet? : )

This is why I love liempo, any kind of barbecue, roast chicken and pork chops.  Uncomplicated eats, a complete meal in my book, with rice and condiments – vinegar, soy sauce, chili, garlic sauce and calamansi.  I'm still slow at the chew but I don't feel full sooner than I do when eating something with soup and sauce.

The friend recommended Zugbu, which serves chicken and liempo that “tastes better than Cebu Lechon”.  I have no beef with that.  ; ) 
I’ll take the liempo any day – maybe three times a day if I wasn’t worried I’d kick the bucket before I get to number 5 on my list.  Zugbu liempo is herb-ilicious! They have a secret rub: I tasted a hint of lemon grass.  The meat is tender; (almost) melts in the mouth save for the crisp and crunchy edges of fat and meat where a lick of flame singed it a bit, hot meat juices sizzling, with the fat under the skin blooming and deflating with an audible pop.    

I plated mine hehehe.  I always do. This is a disclaimer! Zugbu is a no frills, roadside food stall with plastic plates and utensils.  Waaay casual dining, like all the other food stalls in the area. Don't let that stop you!
Then I got served chicken! Best chicken I ever had! They have that same secret spice and herb rub, except there's more "in" it.  See the green bits on the plate? That's what's in the roast - bits of lemon grass, other herbs and peppercorns.  Very tasty chicken! Better than “juicy”.  I asked for more rice.  Aargh!

It’s a good thing I ordered Oolong Black Tea with pearls at Moonleaf instead of the milk tea with pudding I wanted or I would have passed on the chicken.  I eat often, but not a lot in one sitting.  Moonleaf has been blogged about much so I am sure my take on it is just a ripple in the milk tea-sphere!

I like my Oolong, suffice it to say.  I also like the ambience and the photo wall – apparently in place of graffiti indicating who was there, and a penned shout out cum message board for the college crowd.  You eyeball and chill over milk tea nowadays.

At Fancy, I loved seeing my favorite recipe, now one of their bestsellers.  I was part of Fancy's history.  I got to name the cakes too.  One was called Sweet Prince because it looked ..uh..princely (ok, elegant).  What can I say, it was a concept cafe where everything is about sentiment, dreamboats and "like" hehehe.
Sweet but not overpoweringly so. The pastillas and caramel topping is sort of crown like, too! 

Sweet Prince or simply Pastillas Cheesecake is cheesecake studded with milky soft pastillas, a buttery graham crust, and a drizzle of caramel glaze.  It was the less flamboyant "stud" among all the indulgent and show stopping Fancy “girls” -  Chocolate Decadence (says it all), Moulin Rouge (black forest cake), In Too Deep (chocolate cake, really dark) and Romeo & Juliet.  Taste wise, I do not exaggerate.

At Moonleaf and Fancy, you can enjoy S’Mores, Romeo & Juliet and Pastillas Cake by the slice but there's whole cakes on order.  Makes for delectable cake gifts.  I took these pictures of the very first Romeo & Juliet, Sweet Prince and Tall Dark & Nutty (the chocolate bomb!). 

Romeo & Juliet is a keeper from the original line up, too.  It is black and white cake: a triple treat of chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate ganache on fudgy chocolate cake topped with chocolate curls.  It is to die for, hence the name hehehe.

This Fancy is cozy! You could have a Snappy John’s sandwich, too.  For drinks, you could order from Moonleaf next door, through a little window where they pass the drink and bill.

Later that night, we dropped by Mercato at BGC or The Fort.  For more milk tea, Chef Resty’s roast beef, Sushimo sushi and Mio Gelatti gelato.  There’s way more food choices but the lines are long at the popular stalls and it's a bitch to wade through the sea of people and find tables – not even for sharing.  We chanted to ourselves “no room, no room at the Inn” because that’s how it felt like. We were turned away by groups! When we finally got a table, we hung on to it and it was our turn to shoo table poachers away.

There are more mono block chairs than tables and some had to settle beyond the picket fence, with their food precariously balanced on their laps – tough, considering the Styrofoam and plastic food packs.

My best pick that night is the gelato! I am a sucker for gelato and ice cream but hate the too sweet supermarket bought stuff (unless it’s Blue Bunny and Arce Dairy; Mio Gelati now joins my..ehem... august list). The counter people were nice about my taking pictures and handing out tastespoons. I triedTequila Rose (like!) and Chocolate & Chili (chili is too overpowering, you know the heat will build as you eat) but settled on Blueberry Cheesecake (some surprise huh?

Belatedly, I had a taste of their Beer gelato.  Amazing!  I don’t drink beer or anything alcoholic but I like ‘em in my food.  You taste the beer after the sweet but none of the bitterness I hate in the drink.  Very, very nice!  I am going back for that and the bagnet “roll”.  After my Zugbu pig out, no room, no room in my tummy!

On my way out I saw cakes sold on sale, a three for one.  Oh, they look delicious and chunky and “organic” but it made me sad, for some reason I will not discuss...yet.

P.s.  Back at home, I am still weighing things, including an added pound or two.  That's what you get for visiting other people's kitchens (kusina in Tagalog).  And I have only been to a few in QC - mere tip of the burg. Oh, boy!


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