03 May 2014

New Hazelnut Macchiato & Caramel Crunch Cake at Starbucks

I have been in and out of Tagaytay since Holy Week and now, Labor Day weekend. It is scorching hot in other parts of the Philippines this summer but Tagaytay manages to remain breezy in the afternoon and still Christmas-like cold in the evening.

Walking distance from our second home is Starbucks, Robinsons Summit Ridge. They have a nice alfresco area which begs a hot handcrafted beverage like this:

Hazelnut Machiatto (ma-ki-a-to)

The delicious, multi-layered Macchiato begins with milk steamed until it's stretched and smooth to bring out its natural sweetness and is topped by a dense, creamy foam. Then rich espresso is poured over and through the foam, where it mixes with the milk and creates a brown mark on top. Finally, the barista signs their work of art with a sweet drizzle made with a mix of brown sugar, butter, Madagascar Bourbon vanilla and a slight hint of salt.

It's not my usual drink (Green tea latte) but I wanted to try something new. Plus, instagram posts about it intrigued me, add the machiatto banners inside Starbucks.

For me, the machiatto is like a dessert and coffee in one. The "crosshatch" caramel on top of the foam is delightful. Especially when it gives you a foamy mustache!

Iced Hazelnut Macchiato

The drink below the foam is still serious in giving you a kick in the afternoon. It is challenging to find a dessert to match this already sweet & tasty beverage.

I also tried the Iced Hazelnut Macchiato and I prefer this over the hot version.

Suggestion to Starbucks: I hope they serve hot Machiatto in glass as seen on their posters. I asked for this from the barista but my machiatto ended in a mug.

This looks so much better! :)

For my Labor Day weekend Starbucks visit in Tagaytay, I discovered their new Salted Caramel Crunch Cake. Every hardworking person deserves a slice of this!

A sweet and crunchy meringue sandwiched between moist vanilla sponge cakes. Finished with salted almond butter cream and topped with a dollop of cream.

I happily asked for a slice to go, but my son ate most of it. All I can remember is it's similar to Sans Rival but so much better. So today, I returned for another serving which I'll happily enjoy after this blog post :)

Until the next long weekend!

16 March 2014

Guide to Wine Pairing at Spiral Sunday Champagne Brunch

The famous Sofitel's Spiral Sunday Brunch is now aptly called Sunday Champagne Brunch. It costs around P3,623 for adults and P1,842 for kids. The welcome upgrade to a "Champagne Brunch" happened early last year following a refurbishment of the Spiral.

In this post, I'm not going to pretend I'm a wine expert. I enjoy wine but have no idea how to pronounce most of their names or what food they go with. I let my tastebuds decide and I'm not sure if this is acceptable to wine elitists. So, I enjoy wine in places I'm comfortable in. Last year, I stayed in a club room with access to Sofitel's Club Millesime where they have wine appreciation and cocktails from 5pm onwards every night. From then on, I knew that Sofitel and wine appreciation in its rawest (and unpretentious) form are synonymous.

To enjoy this wine experience during the Spiral Champagne Brunch, here are my humble tips to get the most out of your P3,623+

1. Select your approach - do you want to focus on food with wine, or wine with food? I suggest try the unbeaten path of pairing wine with food.

2. Choose the atelier or cuisine you want to focus on - Asian, Western, and the Desserts. The order is up to you. You will discover the each cuisine will also go with a different wine group. This leads us to number 3.

3. Look for an in-house sommelier - a sommelier is simply put, a wine steward who will know best about the wines being offered in Spiral and what food they go best with. Do not hesitate to call/summon them to your table. They won't expect you to pronounce Gewürztraminer flawlessly or know what it is. This is why Spiral engages sommeliers to assist diners with pleasure.

You can also look for the French wine experts Tanguy (tang-gee) and Mathieu (matthew, photo above). The friendliest and most passionate about wine I've met in Sofitel. I knew I was in the right place when Mathieu said it's not the ability to pronounce wine and memorize their classifications, but the ability to enjoy the taste and discovering which wine you enjoy best.

4. If you know the kind of wine you like or a variation you want to try, you can also take the route of asking for its availability and for pairing recommendations.

Here's a wine appreciation cheat sheet for Spiral's Sunday Champagne Brunch:

Asian Ateliers

Brand: Craggy Range
Type: Sauvignon Blanc
Origin: New Zealand, 2012
Pairing: wanton soup, white fish, and seafood

Brand: AIX rosé
Type: Ros
Origin; Coteaux d'Aix en Provence 2012
Pairing: garden vegetables. scallops, grilled meat

Brand: Madfish
Type: Shiraz
Origin: Australia, 2009
Pairing: Hokien Mee, grilled pork, any red meat

Western Ateliers

Brand: William Fevre
Type: Chablis
Origin: Burgundy, France, 2011
Pairing: seafood, pesto fusili, fishes, white meat, and foie gras

Brand: Bouchard Père & Fils
Type: Pinot Noir
Origin: France, 2011
Pairing: pizza, red meat, and light flavored cheeses

Brand: Dourthe No. 1
Type: Rouge
Origin: Bordeaux France, 2011
Pairing: any red meat, Spiral burger, full flavored cheeses, and cold cuts

Desert Ateliers

Brand: Hugel & Fils
Type: Gewürztraminer
Origin: France, 2011
Pairing: fruits based dessert, puto bumbong, bibingka

Brand: Henriot
Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Pairing: chocolate desserts

If you ask me, I like the wine that is typically liked by the ladies. These are mostly flat and white wines that don't have strong acidity or that "alcoholic" taste. My experience is that these wines relax and makes me happy the most :D

My Top 3 Picks from Spiral's Wine Selection

1. Champagne Henriot - perfect start to any meal, it is very refreshing and clean tasting.

2. Dragon Fruit wine - surprise! Spiral houses local wines too. If you are lucky, they have this variant (I heard they are thinking about making it a regular) but if not, ask for other local wines just for experience.

3. William Fevre, Chablis - I like to enjoy this after the champagne because it's a little more concentrated yet still light and fresh. Best also for my salmon sashimi and other sushi.

I hope this post offered you some insights that encourages you to comfortably experience wine appreciation at The Spiral in Sofitel Manila. I want to end this by emphasizing it's not about your knowledge of wine but discovering what taste you like and enjoy.

If you found this post helpful, please leave me a comment below or share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter :)

merci beaucoup!