This year's Foodgasm, formally titled as Foodgasm: Take the Second Bite, has definitely been bigger than its predecessor. There were 19 concessionaires, a mix of both home-based and official businesses, with 22 different food item entries aiming to please the attendees' palates and each vying to get the title of Foodgasm Champion.
Like other events of this nature, attendees had to sample the offerings from each concessionaire and give ratings (from 1 to 5) for every food item they got to try. Frankly, I don't find it very easy to score the treats I got to taste, especially at the beginning when I don't really have a default basis or standard for giving the ratings. However, after sampling 21 items (I missed 1 since they already ran out of food samples), I got the hang of it and found these gems I consider my top picks at Foodgasm II.
1. Ping Gu Mushroom Fries
My most favorite food item among everything I've tried at Foodgasm II is this small serving of Ping Gu's Crispy-Fried Oyster Mushrooms which comes with a choice of sweet chili, gravy, tomato ketchup or garlic mayo as a dip. Although the concept is simple, it tasted amazing and was really foodgasmic. Biting through the mushroom fries was enjoyable for their delicately crispy outer layer, while the inside was juicy and oozing with mushroom goodness. I was also amazed by the meticulous preparation since not only were the mushrooms freshly-picked, the cook was even using a thermometer to make sure the oil reaches the ideal point for frying these bite-sized deliciousness.
2. Paire's Class A (Almond Slice and Amaretto Sour)
Paire Cocktails and Pastries had 2 entries for Foodgasm II, literally giving us a second bite off its offerings. One was Ligid which is a crispy pork appetizer, while the other was a dessert pairing called Class A which comprises of their almond pastry and amaretto sour cocktail. While their first entry is really good, it was their Class A which got me raving. The almond slice is already very enjoyable by itself, but following it up with a shot of amaretto sour while still chewing on the pastry is refreshing, delicate and heavenly.
3. Sophia School Cafe's Veggie Sisig and Veggie Dinuguan
I'm always open (with both arms) to healthier options when it comes to eating out, so I was really glad that there were 2 vegan entries by Sophia School Cafe that night. The first is their Veggie Sisig where they used tofu instead of the usual pork or fish. Sure, this didn't taste exceptionally spectacular, but the use of tofu while still maintaining that familiar sisig taste is worth the good score. Then, there's also the next dish...
Veggie Dinuguan which successfully placed me in a wowed state. Normally, I'd prefer regular sisig than regular dinuguan, but in this case, the Veggie Dinuguan was more unique and mysterious to me. Just how can you manage to make a pig blood stew without using pig's blood? My bet is on black beans, but I'm not really sure. Nevertheless though, this is a really good vegan alternative to dinuguan. Yummy, but not sinful.
Sophia School Cafe 0917 847-1956
4. Frabelle Foodie Chef's Mini Pies and New Zealand Natural Premium Ice Cream
My fourth spot is a tie between these two brands which are good, but have already been around for a while. For Frabelle's Mini Pies, I think they were made by home-cooks who usually join (or have probably won) Frabelle's cooking and recipe competitions. And while these meat pies may not be entirely unique, they were actually really good.
I've already encountered New Zealand Natural at last year's Ultimate Taste Test, but this year, I think I've made the right ice cream flavor choice which justifies why this is the leading premium ice cream brand in New Zealand and Australia. I got myself a cup of the White Chocolate Raspberry and fell in love with its delicately rich creamy goodness. The addition of white chocolate chips and raspberries also added flair to this refreshingly sweet treat which made every spoonful addicting. It's perfect for the summer season too!
5. Sweet Confections by Giselle's Triple Chocolate Fudge Cupcake
There were a total of 3 cupcake entries and concessionaires at Foodgasm II, but it was this Triple Chocolate Fudge Cupcake that won me over. The frosting isn't really special as it's just the conventional vanilla butter cream icing in pink and yellow colors. However, its base cake is the best among its kin during the night. It was moist and very chocolatey, spiked with an espresso twist. And even though it looks rather ordinary, both my friend Vernice and I agreed that this is indeed the best cupcake at Foodgasm II.
So there you have my personal favorites and top picks at Foodgasm II. It might not directly coincide with the official results of the event -- Paire Foods Inc. (Expert's Choice), Sophia School Cafe (Most Innovative), Ping Gu Mushroom Fries (People's Choice) and New Zealand Natural Premium Ice Cream (Overall Champion), but I can vouch for the goodness of these winners as they're also part of my list.
Anyway, thank you to UP Economics Society for inviting me to take part at Foodgasm II. It was fun sampling the offerings from different concessionaires and rating them. Props to you guys for a successful event, and till the next Foodgasm!