Thursday, October 3, 2013

Quick Bites: Sights and Flavors at Rockwell's 3rd Ultimate Taste Test

And it just keeps getting better. With over fifty sampling booths, Rockwell's 3rd Ultimate Taste Test showcases the best and tastiest food ideas and food business start-ups in the country. A sprinkling of familiar and comforting flavors, and some cool new flavors that's different and inventive, this year's edition has it all. 

Now on its third year at Rockwell, the Ultimate Taste Test, a brainchild of Anton and Rache Diaz, often serves as a launch pad for some of the best food ideas and businesses, with many becoming popular and familiar names. Here are some of the best and tastiest in this year's edition of the Ultimate Taste Test...

Bad Decisions Premium Burgers. A thick and juicy premium beef patty that's all business, nothing less, and grilled to medium perfection just the way it should be. One bite and you know where the beef is, and the "BD" branding on the bun just adds a certain coolness to the burger, definitely a burger with attitude. Go for Bad Decisions' flagship variant, The Patriot, a classic American Cheeseburger with a mean 7 oz imported beef patty topped with caramelized onions and American cheese. Great with a beer. And bad is definitely good. For more on Bad Decisions Premium Burgers, check out their cool Facebook page at

The Plaza Premium Baked Ham. A classic baked ham based on a traditional and cherished family recipe, and a labor intensive method which include curing with their special marinade, a lengthy smoking process with a secret blend of herbs and spices, and finally oven-baked and glazed for that signature tender and juicy pork goodness. Sweet and lightly salty, this is seriously good pork. And don't forget to try their Hamwiches and Hampanadas too. For more on The Plaza Premium Baked Ham, checkout their Facebook page at

Schmidt's Gourmet Hotdogs. One word. Wagamama. An all beef dog with Japanese curry topped with cabbage, nori and rich Japanese mayo. Sounds good, tastes even better. The hotdog had a delicious snap in every bite, and the curry and Japanese mayo just adds a layer of richness. The hotdog's gone global, or rather, turned Japanese. And the fusion of flavors works for me. And thanks to the friendly staff of Schmidt's Gourmet Hotdogs for giving me a second and third serving...for more on Schmidt's Gourmet Hotdogs, visit their Facebook page at

Flavor Avenue's Bagnet Paella. Now here's a classic Spanish dish given a unique Filipino twist. Slow cooked rice enriched with saffron and topped with salted eggs, caramelized onions, native tomatoes, homemade longganisa and bagoong aioli. And it gets better. The dish is finally topped with Batac Bagnet Chicharon. Different, yet familiar and comforting. Forget your diet with this one. For more on this unique paella dish, check out Flavor Avenue's Facebook page at

Diplahan Lechon. I knew the first time I tried Diplahan Lechon some months back (see my previous post here at that it wouldn't be my last. And it was great seeing Diplahan Lechon at the UTT, with its unique Zamboanga  style Lechon. This is the lechon that really made me appreciate slow roasted pig without the sauce, as Diplahan Lechon's lemongrass, herbs and spices are so flavorful, you don't need any sauce at all.  Well, maybe a little of Diplahan Lechon's special vinegar which works perfectly with the tender and juicy pork. Not to mention the crisp cracklings. And its always cool to discover the subtle regional nuances in lechon. This one's another winner in my list. For more on Diplahan Lechon, check out their Facebook page at

Generals Lechon. Another lechon in the list? Why not. It's lechon. And I just can't have enough of it. Here's one from Negros Occidental for yet another regional take on traditional roast pig. And this time, garlic is the primary flavor. Tender, flavorful pork, crisp skin crackling with a thin layer of fat for added flavor, and the deep, rich and earthy flavor of garlic. Best enjoyed without the sauce as well.  For more on Generals Lechon, see their Facebook page at

Dennis the Grillboy's Sisig. From the man behind the legendary Dencio's and its equally legendary Sisig, Dennis Nakpil returns with his famous Crispy Pork Sisig with Dennis the Grillboy. A cool blend of soft and tender pork with crispy cracklings, topped with onions for that extra crunch and bite and chili, perfect with a beer. For more on Dennis the Grillboy's famous Sisig and other grilled favorites, check out their Facebook page at

The Sultry Chef's Roast Beef. Roast beef was never this sexy. And The Sultry Chef's tender roast beef has got to be one of the best in the metro. Slow roasted for hours with The Sultry Chef's secret herbs, the full beefy flavor comes through in every bite. For more on The Sultry Chef, check out her cool Facebook page at

Shmallows' Marshmallow Spread. Playful, inventive, fun, and seriously good. It's an idea that's bound to happen, and the guys at Shmallows hits this right on the money. Spreadable marshmallows, great with cakes, cupcakes, bread, crackers, peanut butter, chocolate, or straight as is, can there be anything cooler? Available in the original vanilla variant, and other exciting flavors like mocha, mango, strawberry and mint, expect to hear more from these guys. For more on Shmallows Marshmallow Spread, visit their cool Facebook page at

Hacienda Macalauan's Live Greek Yoghurt. Just had to balance things out, and Hacienda Macalauan's Live Greek Yoghurt is the way to go. Thick, creamy, smooth and velvety, Hacienda Macalauan's Live Greek Yoghurt has three times the protein than the regular variety, and low in sugar, carbohydrates and calories. Healthy never tasted this good. The Honey flavored variant is a winner, and a personal favorite. Also available in plain, strawberry and blueberry flavors. For more on Hacienda Macalauan's extensive dairy products, visit their facebook page at

Malagos Farms' 65% Dark Chocolate. Just like their artisan cheeses, Davao's Malagos Farms introduces another artisan line, handcrafted dark chocolates produced with the same passion as their signature cheeses (see my previous post on Malagos Farms at the Davao Gourmet Collective at Recently rated at 8.30 out of a possible 10.0 score in C-Spot, the global source for premium chocolate reviews and ratings, Malagos Farms' 65% Dark Chocolate is made from single origin, quality Trinitario beans, grown locally in Davao. And just like the farm-to-table philosophy for their artisan cheeses, Malagos Farms follows a tree-to-bar approach for their premium dark chocolate. Not to sweet, not too bitter, just the right blend of rich chocolate flavor in every bite. For more on Malagos Chocolate, visit their Facebook page at

Blue Toque's Fluffy Ensaimada with special cheese topping. Specializing in handcrafted desserts, Blue Toque revisits the traditional ensaymada adding its own touch to this all time favorite. Fluffier, and topped with loads of cheese, think ensaymada version 2.0. The creator of the popular the Nutella Mousse Cake, Blue Toque offers an extensive line of classic cakes and desserts. For more on Blue Toque, check out their Facebook page at

Uni-Chefs Catering's indulgent cakes, trifles and cookies. Based in Angeles, Pampanga, Uni-Chefs Catering offers a full range of services, and its elegant desserts are just one example of their culinary range. Take this Ube Macapuno Cake, tastes just as good as it looks. An extensive menu, a variety of packages, and elegant desserts, all you need is Uni-Chefs Catering. For more on Uni-Chefs Catering, visit their Facebook page at

Bronuts. Cronuts for bros? About time too. No food fair would be complete without the latest Cronut craze hitting the metro. Flaky, crisp, sweet dough coated with a variety of flavors like Belgian Chocolate with Salted Caramel (my personal favorite), Cream Cheese and Bacon (this too), Strawberry Yogurt and Blueberries and Cream. For more on Bronuts, check out their Facebook page at Yup, I wouldn't mind having another bronut just about now...

A variety of flavors, familiar and comforting, new and different, all under one roof. Congratulations to Anton and Rache Diaz for another successful Ultimate Taste Test, and to all the participants for making this year's edition really awesome. And I can't wait for the next edition of UTT...

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