Every year, there's a much-anticipated event especially made for food lovers and food critics-wannabe, it's the Ultimate Taste Test by Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet. This annual food trip event gathers foodies in one venue to give them a chance to sample mouth-watering food items and concoctions from over forty home-based businesses.
This year is the 10th installment of the Ultimate Taste Test, and the 2nd to be held at the Rockwell Tent. So aside from getting a chance to try out items from up and coming food businesses, some of the Power Plant Mall’s very own establishments were also included in the list of concessionaires. And while I missed out on the first 9 UTTs, I'm glad I was able to attend this year's together with my friends from The Foodies Circle.
Rockwell's 2nd Ultimate Taste Test had over 40 stalls including a San Miguel Lifestyle Brews station. And while we decided to ditch the beer, I'm proud to say that we've conquered every food and drink stall in the food tasting event. I guess this shows how excited we were to finally attend Ultimate Taste Test, or maybe we're just gluttons?
It was quite hard to rate everything we got to taste, especially during the last few minutes when we're already too full. However, I somehow managed to come up with my top picks from Rockwell's 2nd Ultimate Taste Test. This is in no particular order, by the way.
The Fruit Garden's Berry Dream Jam and Tropical Paradise Jam
I've always loved pairing breads and crackers with fruit jams. And while I've always been disappointed of most jams I've tried in the past, The Fruit Garden's is an exception. We got to sample the Berry Dream and the Tropical Paradise which are both excellent in their own right and both very fruity without being overly sweet unlike most fruit jams in the market. Their packaging is really nice too, perfect to give as gifts this Christmas.
Swizzle Mobile Bar's Caramel Beer and Rainbow Shots
I'm generally not into alcoholic drinks, but I was so enticed to try out the offerings at Swizzle Mobile Bar since the drinks looked so bright and happy. And I'm glad I gave in 'cause both the Caramel Beer and Rainbow Shots tasted amazing! They were both sweet and just light on the palate, perfect for non-regular alcohol drinkers like myself.
Bayani Brew's Lemongrass Pandan Iced Tea and Purple Leaf Iced Tea
Being a tea lover, I was so intrigued about Bayani Brew. I got to try both the refreshing Lemongrass Pandan Iced Tea and the Purple Leaf Iced Tea which was made from talbos ng kamote. I seriously can't believe that I got to try a drink made with sweet potato leaves. But more importantly, I can't believe of how good it tasted! When their products become available in the market, I'll make sure to stock up on Bayani Brew's iced teas.
I also got to chat a little with its social enterprise head, Mr. Ron Dizon, and found out that Bayani Brew's products are made of local ingredients from Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm located in Bulacan. And with a promise of not just nutritious and tasty all Filipino iced teas, but also an indirect way to help our local industry and fellowmen, I'm sold!
Mac's Deli Vigan Empanada
While I oh-so-love my dad's special empanada, I also found pleasure in trying out one from Mac's Deli. I haven't been to Ilocos yet so I don't have anything to compare their Vigan Empanada with, nor do I know how authentic Vigan empanadas should taste like. However, from a simple and unbiased foodie's perspective, this Vigan Empanada is really good! I loved how savory it tasted with its Vigan longganisa and egg filling, especially when eaten with onions and a sweet vinegar dipping sauce.
Skew U's USDA Angus Beef Tapa
I've already heard a lot of good things about Skew U, but this was the first time I got to try anything from them. They were letting foodies sample their USDA Angus Beef Tapa, and I was surprised how theirs is super tender, super succulent and super savory. I enjoyed every bite from the sampler they handed me, so as my friends. Their Angus beef tapa was so good that I wish I could have come back for more!
Carlo's Kitchen's Crunchy Belly
While I'm not really the type who goes gaga for pork items, unlike the beau, I actually enjoyed sampling Carlo's Kitchen's Crunchy Belly which was very crispy, savory, salty and sinful. And although I don't drink beer, I think this can be a really good pulutan!
Chef Anton's Roast Turkey
I was really excited to try out Chef Anton's offering especially after seeing a nice and festive display of his Roast Turkey. And when I already asked for a sampler, I loved how they served the turkey on top of a slice of bread with lettuce. The samplers didn't only look very appealing, but also tasted great, highlighting the juiciness and the sweet and savory flavors of the Roast Turkey. Plus, they were also very generous in giving out extra helpings of their dish to returning foodies.
The Plaza's Premium Roast Angus Corned Beef
I only know The Plaza for their catering services and premium baked ham. However, I so love their meaty, tender, succulent and almost melt-in-your-mouth Premium Roast Angus Corned Beef which they served sandwiched in a soft and fluffy pandesal.
Hillside Ranch Corned Beef Brisket and Slow-Roasted Beef Belly
Even if I already had quite a few meaty treats at the food event, I'm so glad I didn't miss trying out the goodies by Hillside Ranch. They had two items showcased that day, and I first got to try the Corned Beef Brisket which isn't only very tender but oh-so-succulent as well. Although this one has leaner meat, it was still so savory and so enjoyable.
Next of course is their Slow-Roasted Beef Belly which looked super enticing especially when it was getting cut. Since this is a belly portion, it had lovely strips of fat between the meat layers which makes it so juicy yet still as meaty. Both beef products were very memorable so if you ask me to choose a favorite from Hillside Ranch, I'd pick both!
Chow Fun Chicken Fry and Dark Chocolate Buchi
Moving on, I also loved Chow Fun's Chicken Fry which is a Taiwanese chicken chop deep-fried and coated with herbs and spices. I've recently been digging this more flavorful variant of fried chicken, so this item definitely became memorable.
I also liked their Dark Chocolate Buchi even though I generally don't dig the regular buchi. This pastry made from glutinous rice and covered with sesame seeds may look simple and not so appealing at first sight. However, when you bite into it, your chocoholic craving will be left satisfied as the chocolatey goodness just explodes in the mouth.
Villa Del Conte Chocolates
And speaking of chocolates, Villa Del Conte which I usually see in Trinoma is also one of the concessionaires. They showcased two of their chocolate items which are the Dark Chocolate with Coffee Cream Filling and Milk Chocolate with Hazelnut Chips. While I generally love my chocolates more bitter than sweet, I love how smooth and chocolatey these creations are in the palate. Both are great in their own right, and I'm sure these will satisfy even the non-chocoholics.
Frisch Liquor Ice Cream
I've mentioned that I don't really drink a lot of alcohol, but I love eating food items infused with it. And luckily, Frisch Liquor Ice Cream offers just that! I got to sample three flavors which are the Russian Winter (vodka & Kahlua), Choco Rumboozle (rum & Cadbury) and Carami de Cerveza (beer & caramel), and each one of these liquor ice cream flavors was good with a slight intoxicating kick. So to those who'd love to get the best of both worlds, dessert and some alcohol, I highly recommend Frisch Liquor Ice Cream!
Masatami Shave Ice's Flavored Shaved Ice
I already got a taste of Masatami Shave Ice last summer and loved it. However, what I had before were their Hawaiian shave ice items. This time, I got to try three of their flavored shaved ice in Langka, Peanut and Black Sesame Duo and Swiss Cheese. All three of these flavors were good, but I personally love the Langka and Black Sesame more as they stayed so true to their flavor and were simply a delight to eat.
Sugarhouse's Kiwi Swirl Christmas Loaf
Photo on the right grabbed from Sugarhouse's Facebook page
As a bread and pastry lover, I fell in love with Sugarhouse's Kiwi Swirl Christmas Loaf which will be out this November. Although we only got to sample a small piece from the whole loaf, I super dig how soft and fluffy the sweet bread was. Plus, it has a kiwi filling inside which gives the whole ensemble a harmonious blend of sweet and slightly tangy.
So there you have it folks, these are my personal picks and favorites at Rockwell's 2nd Ultimate Taste Test held last September 15, 2012 at the Rockwell Tent. And while I only listed 14 food businesses, most of the concessionaires showcased items which had me going giddy in excitement. But of course, I can't include everyone on this list. Rest assured though that I was completely satisfied at the foodie event. And as a first time UTT goer, I'm impressed that the event was very organized. The food samples were of generous portions, and the venue was very conducive and far from being cramped.
How about you, have you been to Rockwell's 2nd Ultimate Taste Test?
If you did, which are your top food picks?