In Which There is A Bespoke Peanut Butter Fix…

all i want is
butterfly kisses in the morning
peanut butter sandwiches shaped like a heart
and to make you smile until it hurts

Girlfriend Wanted, Matthew Gray Gubler

PB x 3!

It all started with an article I read via Click the City: there was a shop in Quezon City that sold peanut butter – and not just any peanut butter, at that.  This shop, Peanut Butter Company, sold flavored peanut butter!  Truth be told, my brain went into overdrive: I was thinking of sate ayam made with the curry-flavored peanut butter, brownie-like peanut butter cookies made with the one with dark chocolate, exotic PB&Js made with cardamom- (or cinnamon) infused peanut butter and bespoke mango preserves…!  Oh, the possibilities seemed endless!

Unfortunately, I’m only in Quezon City once a month and usually in the Morato part of town.  Then I heard that PBCo opened a branch at the Mall of Asia.  No dice; I rarely ever go there!  However, given the adage that if Mohammed cannot go to the mountain, then the mountain will go to Mohammed, they opened a branch close by – at the Paseo Center, of all places!  So, finally, I was able to get my PB fix!

There's matcha in my peanut butter!

The PBCo dining experience involves numerous sweet and savory sandwiches that feature various flavors with a number of other ingredients.  You can have something as simple as a classic PB&J with plain creamy peanut butter and grape jelly, or go completely overboard with their Black Forest Sandwich which involves dark-choc peanut butter, cherries, and vanilla-infused cream cheese.  (Trust me: I think I gained a few pounds just from writing that sentence!)

PBCo also serves that infamous – yet divinely decadent – monster of a sarnie held in high favor by the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself: crunchy peanut butter with bacon (lots of it) and bananas.  It goes by the name Elvis, the King, costs P 85.00 for half and P 155.00 for the whole thing, and tastes disturbingly good.  Your hips will never forgive you, but your mouth will.

For home consumption, however, PBCo also sells their flavored peanut butters by the jar.  In case you’re rather iffy that you might get something undesirable (which isn’t likely; they’re all good), they have mini-bottles that go for P 55.00 each.  My “starter kit”, as shown above, consists of the following flavors:

  • Cardamom – sweetly spicy; it has a gingerbread vibe going for it and is excellent for adding a flavorful twist to classic peanut butter cookies;
  • Sesame – think of it as the missing link between peanut butter and tahini; it has whole roasted black sesame seeds stirred into it for good measure.  Excellent for Asian marinades and for quick canapes when spread on plain round water crackers and topped with sushi-grade raw tuna or salmon and minced chives; and
  • Green Tea – don’t let the odd olive color of this spread put you off.  The matcha adds a bittersweet nuttiness – almost almond-like – and a rather floral fragrance to the spread.  Perfect for bespoke breakfasts spread onto warm, buttery croissants with a cup of homemade matcha latte on the side.

I should have cut it into a heart...

Another way to enjoy these scrumptious butters is to make sandwiches out of them with equally unusual breads.  The one shown above was made with cheese-pimento loaf and was just plum-perfect after grilling.  Cutting the sandwich into a heart is optional, of course.  😉

In Which One Gets a Smackin’-Good Korean Meal for a Pittance…

Dolsot-style Beef Bibimbap - with all the trimmings

I crave Korean food on an average of about once or twice a week and, while I don’t always give in, I make sure that I get something magnificently rib-sticking and lip-smacking whenever I do.

And, sometimes, the price actually bowls me over – not because it’s high but because it’s almost criminally low!

Take the bibimbap over at Mr. Kimbob.  Up until last year, this food court fixture served up a pretty mediocre version of my favorite Korean dish.  Thanks to some serious biz-dev activity on the part of the management, Mr. Kimbob has stepped up its game and is giving diners more bang for their bucks.

Come closer... You know you want to...

Believe it or not, a mere P 95.00 (US$ 2.21) gets you a beef or chicken dolsot-style bibimbap!  I refer to it as dolsot-style as it’s served on a heated cast-iron platter as opposed to the heated granite bowl (dolsot) normally used by other restaurants.

Along with steamed rice and a fried egg, you get seriously hefty portions of shredded beef or chicken cooked in a sweet soy sauce, finely shredded cucumber, Savoy cabbage kimchi, cabbage, carrots, spinach, and mung bean sprouts.  The kochujang that comes with it is rather watery, but it’s certainly piquant so be careful about dumping the lot over your meal.

Anyone up for sauce and sides?

Throw in an additional P 50.00 (US$ 1.17), and you also get soup, a generous amount of kimchi, and a medium-sized soda.  With generous portions and scrumptious flavors, it certainly isn’t a bad deal.  😀

In Which We Double the Pleasure at Lunchtime…

KFC's Double-Down Fully-Loaded

I confess that there are certain things that I cannot get enough of – so much, in fact, that it borders on either the criminal or the insane.

Dark chocolate is one and L’Arc~en~Ciel songs are another.  I cannot get enough of most dishes baked au gratin with generous helpings of cheese and bechamel sauce, shoyu ramen, and spicy instant seafood udon with an egg poached in the broth.  Up until recently, I could get enough of a certain Mr. W (but why I got fed up is a story for another day) and I’ve developed a Criminal Minds habit (8:55 PM every weekday on Fox) and I’m not sure if it’s Reid or Morgan who does it for me.  I’m mad for matcha lattes and milk tea in the mornings.  I’d kill for the tempura tuna sashimi tartare over at Teriyaki Boy and the Suki Beef Teppan Don.

And I admit that I can chow down on serious honking helpings of KFC – particularly the Double Down.  As if that weren’t bad enough, I also admit to ordering the Fully-loaded Double Down meal which has the thigh-fillet-bacon-and-cheese sarnie with rice (!) and one’s choice of a side dish; I always opt for mashed potatoes (!!!) here.

Call me mad; call me a glutton – really, I don’t care.  All I care about is the food: so bad, so unhealthy, that it’s good.  :p

So, what can’t you get enough of?

In Which We Find a New Spot for Caffe e Gelati

Dark Chocolate Gelato (Piccolo)

Happy Easter, everyone!  How was your Holy Week?

My kid sister and I do not look alike, nor do we share the same interests through said interests do sometimes overlap.  (Case in point: I write, she draws.  We’re working on a manga-style project this season.)  Luckily, we both love to eat and this shows in our generous figures.  However, even intrepid girls like us end up with flagging appetites in the summer heat.  But not where ice cream and coffee are concerned!

A couple weekends ago, between clothes shopping and manga tracking, we opted to take a break over at Caffe Ti Amo on the ground floor of Greenbelt 5.  The latest addition to the Jollibee Group of Companies, it’s the sort of place that would give old standards like Starbucks and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf a run for their money.

Yes, there IS a tree in the middle of the shop.

Caffe Ti Amo is a Korean franchise.  So, while it looks like a New York street corner, it would certainly not look out of place as the setting for those wildly popular Korean soap operas.  You get comfortable seats – even armchair rockers! – with an upbeat yet relaxed ambiance.  Jazz music interspersed with the more tasteful sort of Korean pop ballads plays in the background and customers can browse through the shop’s collection of books, broadsheets, and magazines whilst sipping their coffee.

But enough with the place, let’s have something nice!

Signorina! Gelato, per favore!

The shop’s friendly baristas will let you sample the gelati before you buy, helping you narrow down the choices.

A single flavor selection – the Piccolo – will set you back P 55.00 and looks deceptively small.  However, I should state here that said small scoop shown above practically stumped me and my sister!  For such a small thing, the Piccolo Dark Chocolate gelato is incredibly rich and delicious.  The texture is thick, almost chewy – like frozen brownie batter whipped with cream.  You could tell that they used good-quality chocolate as the bittersweet flavor lingered on our palates long after we managed to finish the cup.

Coffee + Gelati + Ice = HEAVEN!

Their reasonably priced Caffelato Frappes  (P 125.00 – 145.00 for a regular, depending on the flavor) are nothing to sneeze at either.

Unlike conventional ice-blended coffees which only mix coffee with milk, ice, and flavored syrups, each frappe gets a scoop of gelato thrown in for good measure.  Think milkshake – only, a seriously caffeinated one!  We recommend the rich, buttery-tasting caramel and the smoky dark chocolate which has chopped chocolate thrown in for good measure.

Nirvana achieved!

So, is it possible to reach nirvana at Caffe Ti Amo?  Well, as far as the gelati and frappes are concerned, my sister and I definitely think so!  😉

In Which Sybdive Goes on Easter Hiatus…

Creme egg, anyone?

In commemoration of the Easter Triduum, Sybaritic Diversions will be on hiatus till Sunday, 24th April 2011.

Please do take the time to pray this season and, in your prayers, please remember the victims of the Japan Earthquake as well as those who are suffering right now due to both social and political injustice.

God bless you all; Happy Easter.  🙂