Tuesday, August 12, 2008

UCC Blended Coffee at UCC Cafe Terrace

I usually go to UCC for an extra special coffee fix. I have always been mesmerized by the obsessive-compulsiveness of how they brew their coffee and the luxuriousness of their cafe interiors. Speaking of interiors... It had puzzled me how one UCC shop can look quite different from the next. One UCC shop can sport a darker paneling and furnitures while another is all bright and sunny. Their facades, also vary a lot. This has on odd occasions thrown me off, making me check the signage twice to make sure I am entering a UCC shop and not a completely different establishment altogether. Ah, signage, yet another thing that perplexed me about the UCC shops. I noticed that even the names of the shops are different from one another. I would later find out that there is a connection between the name and the type of cafe experience that a particular shop is meant to give. Take for example, my favorite kind of UCC shop, the UCC Cafe Terrace. The UCC Cafe Terrace is meant to be:
"The café of choice for those who want to enjoy a panoramic view as they take time to relax and reward themselves with premium coffee. The earth and warm colors of its huge glass windows, trellises, ceiling fans, and wooden furnitures and fixtures, all contribute to a classy yet cozy ambiance which renders a more laid-back atmosphere parallel to a country club setting. As the name suggests, provisions for outside seating offer a tranquil respite for our guests to immerse themselves with their environment, may it be a scenic view of lush greenery or the breathtaking sunset at the bay area or the beautiful skyline as night falls."

Talk about attention to detail. Read more about the different cafe concepts of UCC, here.

Call it child-like awe for all things round, shiny, and glassy, or just plain- though all too mature- craving for perfection. I simply love my coffee-time just a little bit more than usual when I have it there.

My personal favorite is the UCC Blended Coffee. At Php129, I think every peso is well worth it. If you're feeling a little more indulgent, try their esteemed Blue Mountain No. 1 Coffee, and just hope against hope that you don't get hooked. Me, I've tried it and I am hanging in there... by a Php399 thread.

Photo credits: www.digitalformat.blogspot.com.
More about UCC at kainpinoy.com and foodtrippings.com.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I made truffles!

I made ganache as frosting for my chocolate cupcakes last Friday. It was a wonderful alternative to chocolate buttercream frosting that's made with confectioner's sugar. I found the ganache to be less sweet and more chocolatey than chocolate buttercream. I also appreciate its silky texture- it kind of makes you want to keep the ganache in your mouth a little longer than you normally would. The dark yet shiny veneer of the ganache gives cupcakes a more elegant look so you may want to give it a try if you prefer a more refined-looking cupcake.

From the ganache I made, I had a little left over. Not wanting good ganache go to waste, I thought about making truffles. So, with my fridge-hardened ganache, I formed little one inch balls using two regular teaspoons and rolled the balls in unsweetened cocoa powder. I put the chocolate truffles back in the ref to let it harden a bit more and then, with a cup of brewed coffee, I proceeded to indulge in my very first hand made truffles. And I must say, they were pretty good. Not bad for an amateur. (While I am writing this, I am thinking about dousing my ganache with some alcohol for my next foray into this truffle-making gig.)

I have enjoyed some commercially-available truffles and I have always considered them an wonderful albeit expensive treat. It's a comforting feeling to know that I can actually make my own whenever I feel like it, and I won't even have to break the bank for it. Life is sweet!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Have Mussels, Will Bake.

Call it personal bias, but I think tahong (mussels) from Bacoor, Cavite are the best ones I've tasted. The great thing about it is that, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Php30 can already get you a hefty kilo of these delectable shells. My mother however, insists on sourcing tahong from her suki where she gets the best choices at Php50 per kilo. And for good reason. Those mussels are about 3-4 inches in size and with flesh that's juicy, plump, and slightly sweet, filling up at least 3/4 of the shell, you won't help but eat more than your tummy can hold. It is positively delicious straight up boiled or steamed with salt and crushed ginger. Or, for an indulgent treat, make Baked Tahong out of 'em. Try my sister's recipe and I'm sure you'll get as much rave reviews from your guests as much as we do.

Mara's Baked Tahong Recipe

Ingredients:

1 k. mussels
Dash of rock salt
2 inch ginger, crushed

2 red onions, minced
1/4 c Thai basil, minced
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1/2 block grated Magnolia Quickmelt or Ques-O cheese food
Crushed black pepper, according to taste
1/8 tsp salt

1/4 c. Kraft parmesan cheese
1/8 c. crunchy minced garlic
1/8 c. minced flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Procedure:

1. Wash mussels in running water and cut off whiskers. In a big pot, steam mussels with a little water (about 2 cups. We use Sprite or 7 Up instead of water, whenever available.) seasoned with salt and ginger until the shells have just opened. Remove the empty half of the shell. Arrange the retained halves on a baking tray, flesh-side up.

2. Saute onions and basil in 2 tablespoons of the butter until the onions begin to turn translucent. In a bowl, blend cooked onions and basil with the remaining butter. Stir in grated cheese and season with salt and pepper.

3. Top each of the mussels completely with the cheese mixture (about a heaping teaspoon each). Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese (about 1/4 tsp. each), crunchy garlic, and parsley.

4. Bake in a 200 degrees celsius oven for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Japanese Seafood Soup Spaghetti at UCC

UCC's ultra-loaded Japanese Seafood Salad

Apart from their outstanding siphon brewed coffee, UCC also excels in the food department in my notebook. Yes, they do serve food there. Not just the sweet, pastry-types you get in most other coffee shops (although they do have fantastic selection of desserts), but honest to goodness full-blown meals. Not just sandwiches (If you feel do feel like a sandwich though, try the Cliffhanger. Very good.). Not just salads. Not just pastas. But, yes, rice meals, too. Most of the meals in the menu comes in big servings, easily big enough for sharing, so you may want to talk to your server about how big exactly the serving is for a meal before you order.

Check out the Sumiyaki Eel and Mushroom pasta

My current favorite in the menu is Japanese Seafood Soup Spaghetti. You can have it in tomato, white, or curry sauce, but I prefer tomato sauce. Delectable choice shrimps, squid, and fish swimming along with pasta in a rich tomato soup- it's just perfect for a cold and squishy rainy day. It's an uncanny combination, but it really works. It works pretty deliciously, as a matter of fact.

Japanese Seafood Soup Spaghetti

Visit UCC, whether it be Cafe Terrace, Cafe Plaza, Park Cafe, or Vienna Cafe, (More about these trendy cafe concepts in another post.), at The Podium, Ortigas Center; Tomas Morato, Quezon City; Rockwell, Makati; SM Mall of Asia, Pasay; SM The Block, Quezon City; Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; The Paseo Center, Makati; Westgate Center, Alabang; and Connecticut, Greenhills, San Juan.

Like UCC's Yakiniku Rice

Promos. Their newly opened branch, UCC Coffee Cafe Terrace, at the Lobby Level of Trinoma offers free 4 hours valet parking for every single minimum receipt of Php1,000 from July 27, 2008 until December 31, 2008. Also get a 15% discount on all food and drinks until August 31, 2008. Now how's that for a grand opening promo? So be sure to pay them a visit.

Hamburg Curry Rice

Read more about UCC Coffee at Pinoyfood and Food Trip Tayo!.
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