In the West, there is an elusive beverage known simply as a pumpkin spice latte. Said to be a harbinger of autumn in that part of the world, it is a melange of espresso, steamed milk, whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice, a sweetly fragrant blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. However, there is – to the knowledge of those in the know, really – absolutely no pumpkin in a pumpkin spice latte. What a travesty! What a sodding, crashing bore!
Now, really: I love dishes made with pumpkin, either sweet or savoury. There is nothing more comforting than coming home on a rainy evening and sitting down to ginataang kalabasa (kabocha pumpkin cooked with sweet onions, garlic, and salt-dried fish) over a steaming plate of rice. Pumpkin bread, on the other hand, is so much more satisfying than banana bread, especially when heaped over with crunchy peanut butter whilst still hot from the oven. So, I went meh at the notion of a pumpkin spice latte. I did not, though, turn my nose up at the pumpkin spice milkshake they have over at Milk Box, a new breakfast/dessert spot in Alabang.
Milk Box is brought to the public by the same team behind the popular third-wave coffee bar Yardstick over in Makati. It’s small southern outpost serves its signature coffee blend as well as a few other coffee-based beverages. But its primary stock in trade is waffles and wonuts (well, waffles deep-fried like donuts till magnificently crunchy all over), as well as what they call Cwazy Shakes.
These are not garden-variety milkshakes; no, these take after the recent trend from Australia for insanely decadent, seriously over-the-top milkshakes topped with whipped cream, sweet syrups, and bits and bobs of cake, pie, or what not. Also, these are insanely thick and bewilderingly rich (hence the name) made as they are with ice cream custom-blended by Fruits in Ice Cream for Milk Box.
The pumpkin spice Cwazy Shake was what I opted for, seeing it was Hallowe’en when I paid Milk Box a visit. (So seasonally appropriate!) This rather baroque confection features FIC’s pumpkin spice ice cream which is really made with pumpkin (thus the colour and the sweetly vegetal shreds of sweetened gourd scattered throughout the golden mixture) and a proprietary spice mix that calls to mind autumnal pies and similar desserts.
The massive mug is served atop a wooden board and comes garnished with a generous dollop of whipped cream, rather sloppy (in an appealingly aesthetic manner) splodges of chocolate syrup, a crunchy waffle wedge, chocolate-coated pretzel rods, and a generous scattering of crispy wonut crumbs.
You may have, at this point, noticed that there is a spoon beside the mug. Now, you will wonder why this particular drink needs a spoon when there’s a large straw stuck into the middle of it. Well, here’s why…
It’s quite thick, so you need the spoon to scoop up the shake and eat it the way you would a soft-serve sundae. As far as pumpkin-flavoured desserts go, this is the real deal and is certainly a better buy than the sadly misnamed and totally pumpkin-free cups of overpriced coffee being flogged by certain commercial coffee chains. Trust me: if you want a real pumpkin spice treat, this is the proper way to go.
There are other flavours available, of course, but this first taste of what Milk Box can offer has lingered with me. I look forward to having another one quite soon.
Milk Box by Yardstick: Ground Floor (New Wing) – Alabang Town Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa