Sunday, December 13, 2020

Dining in the Next Normal: SixTop Picks That Will Change The Way You Look at Bibingka, Brownies, Kutsinta, Siopao, Korean Pull-Apart Bread and Banana Bread

You'll probably never look at bibingka, brownies, kutsinta, siopao, Korean pull-apart bread and banana bread the same way again after a bite from these six top picks. Innovation and lavish spins transform the comfortingly familiar into refreshingly new flavor experiences with these inventive finds in this new normal. 

The quarantine imposed new practices and consumer habits that altered the way we go about our daily routine. And this new normal continues to change and transform everything we know and do forcing many to adapt with the times. For the hard-hit food service sector, pivoting to pick-up, take-out and food delivery enabled businesses to remain relevant while others chose to create and reinvent popular staples and elevate it to class of its own. Adie's Delight, The Drunk Baker, Aida's Black Kutsinta, MPantry, Lola Ester's and Chef Sau del Rosario offer their own unique and creative reinterpretations on the staples we love. Here's six top picks that changed the game during the quarantine...

The emergence of dining at home and the food delivery culture are just some of the lasting legacies of the new normal. The featured offerings in this list are geared toward these new consumer habits, packed and delivered to your doorstep for home dining with just one quick call or message on your mobile device or laptop.

In just a few weeks, the holidays will once again reconnect family and friends in the year's much awaited season of giving. The popular bibingka or local rice cake will again fill the tables in countless homes. But in the new normal, virtual get-togethers will be the rule rather than the exception. But the nostalgic and comforting bibingka will be present in the family holiday feast, just like countless celebrations prior to the pandemic. And there's one bibingka that rises above the clutter of the usual offerings from Adie's Delight to make your holiday feast even more special...

The Triple Cheese Bibingka Galapong by Adie's Delight takes the local rice cake to a whole new level with its indulgent flavor and texture. Made exclusively with rice flour which they tediously grind daily, the bibingka by Adie's Delight is by far softer, denser and fluffier than most. The trio of cheeses is the icing on the cake, with silky smooth Cream Cheese, the sharpness of Queso de Bola and the mild and creamy finish of Cheddar for a burst of richness perfectly finished by the slice of salted egg. The soft and fluffy texture sets it apart from the usual dry, cake-like offerings made from regular flour and the triple cheese blend is a flavorful exclamation point to close the case. 

One bite and the multiple layers of flavors and smooth texture weaves pure indulgence on the palate. In addition to their specialty Triple Cheese Bibingka Galapong, Adie's Delight also offers a rustic Creamy Chicken Pot Pie, hearty Shepherd's Pie and other homemade treats like Chicken Tocino, Siomai and Shrimp Cutlets (for more on Adie's Delight, see my post, Dining in the Next Normal: Happiness is Homemade with the Delightful Baked Homemade Treats by Adie's Delight). 

The popular brownie is now all grown up infused with a soothing shot of whisky for another spin on a much-loved classic. The Whiskey Brownies are just one of many liquor-infused baked creations by The Drunk Baker that will have you going for another round of indulgent bites. 

The Drunk Baker begins with the perfect brownie, a massive block larger than most with a decadent moist and dense texture delivering the deep nutty richness of pure chocolate bliss. It's a heavy brownie, with a delectable and lightly crisp top layer over chewy and fudgy brownie. But it gets better. Each bite is followed by the distinct smoky notes and caramel-like sweetness of premium whisky giving this brownie some serious flavors. It's this blend of decadent chocolate and bold notes from the whiskey that gives it character and depth. 

And you just don't get a hint of the spirit, you experience the full, rounded and bold notes of premium whiskey with each bite. Pair your block of Whiskey Brownies by The Drunk Baker with a shot of your favorite label for an elegant pairing. The Drunk Baker also offers an equally indulgent Chocolate Olive Oil Rum Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache for an indulgent afternoon tipple (for more on The Drunk Baker, see my previous post, Dining in the Next Normal: Raise A Toast for The Drunk Baker's Indulgent Liquor-Infused Baked Creations).

Just how do you make the traditional kutsinta different, better and special? You can paint it black. Aida's Black Kutsinta transforms the local delicacy with a cool twist that isn't just for show. The famous Black Kutsinta is as decadent as it gets, from its silky smooth finish and chewy texture to its subtle sweetness. Add a dab of Aida's Black Kutsinta's specialty Yema Spread and crunchy budbod or toasted coconut and your kutsinta is leveled up for a totally new flavor experience.

The isolation of a prolonged quarantine made us all crave for comforting flavors, and this longing for something familiar triggered by these uncertain times brought some semblance of normalcy. With the rise of the food delivery culture, cravings were easily satisfied with just one call or message on your mobile device. As soon as your bilao from Aida's Black Kutsinta arrives, anticipation with a bit of nostalgia takes over...

Soft and springy to the touch, the unique back sheen of the delicate sticky rice cakes tempts the eyes before the palate. A generous slather of Yema Cream sprinkled with crunchy budbod completes the picture. The sweetness of the Yema Cream and the crunch of the toasted coconut weaves both texture and flavor to the soft and chewy kutsinta for an indulgence usually not associated with these local rice cakes. This isn't, after all, not your usual local kutsinta (for more on Aida's Black Kutsinta, see my earlier post, Dining in the Next Normal: Paint It Black with Aida's Black Kutsinta).

Steamed pork buns have long been a popular staple in the local culinary mainstream, and the siopao has been part of everyone's collection of memorable food stories. MPantry weaves its own flavorful stories with their Homemade Wheat Siopao...

Using wheat instead of regular flour gives these steamed pork buns rich and nutty notes with a firm and dense yet pillow-soft and grainy texture unlike the usual siopao. Best enjoyed fresh off the steamer so you can experience it at its flavorful peak, these wheat buns just reimagined everything we love about siopao. Aside from the wheat bun, you'll also notice that MPantry fills all their wheat buns quite generously so you can enjoy all the savory richness bite after bite. Available in two variants, the Bola-Bola Wheat Siopao with a massive and juicy pork meatball and salted egg...

...and the Asado Wheat Siopao with its sweet and savory filling of pork layered with a hint of smokiness are two tasty reasons to try MPantry's spin on steamed buns. During the quarantine, we all appreciated the simple pleasures we often took for granted. Offerings like this carried us through another day in quarantine. From the wheat bun with its fragrant aroma and cotton-like texture to the juicy savory filling, MPantry offers a truly unique product that redefines the siopao as we know it. And it works. It's siopao, upgraded (for more on MPantry and their signature Wheat Siopao, see my post, Dining in the Next Normal: A Tasty Spin on Traditional Steamed Buns with Homemade Wheat Siopao by MPantry).

We've seen countless culinary trends during the quarantine along with a wave of home-based food businesses offering the now popular "pull-apart bread," a Korean street food inspired treat. And Lola Ester's has one of the best with their Herb Cream Cheese Pull Apart. Imagine the fragrant aroma of buttery fresh baked bread with hints of garlic, lavishly filled to the brim with indulgent cream cheese sprinkled with fresh herbs and intricately sliced resembling a blooming flower. It's one more flavorful and inspiring story from the quarantine experience that's still creating quite a stir on social media.

Best enjoyed with a quick pop in the microwave or oven toaster, the warm Herb Cream Cheese Pull Apart is lightly crisp on the outside and decadently soft inside slathered in butter and draped in cream cheese for an indulgent richness. The deep nutty hints of garlic and fresh herbal notes completes the flavors and you'll want another bite. Gently pull apart the bun for another creamy and buttery burst of fresh-baked indulgence. And just in time for the holidays too.

Baked every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday of the week, pre-ordering a batch for delivery ensures you get the freshest, straight off the oven Herb Cream Cheese Pull Apart from Lola Ester's. It's also a great gift-giving idea. Lola Ester's also offers other specialty baked items including Empanadas, Raisin Bread and Ube Keso Pandesal (for more on Lola Ester's and their specialty Herb Cream Cheese Pull-Apart, see my post, Dining in the Next Normal: The Ovens Are Fired Up at Lola Ester's Homebaked Bread & Pastries).

Chef Sau del Rosario of 25 Seeds, Cafe Fleur and Culinarya Pampanga didn't pause during the lockdown. Instead, Chef Sau kept busy creating innovative new products inspired by traditional neighborhood bakery offerings with his flamboyant culinary style. Take the banana bread. Chef Sau reinvents the staple by adding imported walnuts and premium Malagos artisan chocolate along with sweet bananas in a tall, moist and dense cake. Meet Chef Sau's very special Vananah Walnut Tsokolateh Vread...

Take a closer look and you'll find large chunks of premium Malagos chocolate both on top of and inside the cake along with crunchy almonds weaving layers of flavorful notes to the moist cake infused with sweet bananas. Move over banana bread, and make way for Chef Sau del Rosario's lavish and over the top Vananah Walnut Tsokolateh Vread.

But Chef Sau has more than just the Vananah Walnut Tsokolate Vread. Indulge with his wittingly named Vuko Fye, Klasik Heg Fye, Tsokolateh Heg Fye, Henseymadah and Huve Brioche (for more on Chef Sau del Rosario and his specialty baked offerings, see my post, Dining in the Next Normal: Move Over Banana Bread and Make Way for Chef Sau del Rosario's Indulgent Vananah Walnut Tsokolate Vread). 

Bibingka, brownies, kutsinta, siopao, Korean pull-apart bread and banana bread, all-time favorites with an enduring appeal that made its mark during the quarantine with refreshed and innovative variations. These inventive spins not only reflected the creativity of home-based food businesses and chefs, but a resilient nature in these challenging times. So how do you improve on classic staples like the bibingka, brownies, kutsinta, siopao, Korean pull-apart bread and banana bread? Just ask Adie's Delight, The Drunk Baker, Aida's Black Kutsinta, MPantry, Lola Ester's and Chef Sau del Rosario and you'll never look at these popular delicacies the same way again...

For more on Adie's Delight, call 0917 880 2212 for orders and inquiries. You can also visit their FB Page at and their IG Account at @adies_delight.

For more on The Drunk Baker, visit their Facebook Page at and follow their Instagram Feed at for more information, orders and updates. You can also call 0917 843 8138 for orders.

For more on Aida's Black Kutsinta, visit their Facebook Page at and follow their IG Feed at @aidasblackkutsinta.

For more on MPantry, follow their Instagram account at mpantry_ph or call 0945 6200 266 for orders and inquiries.

For more on Lola Ester's Homebaked Bread & Pastries, call 8911 6883, 8340 6559 and 0922 861 3830 for orders and inquiries. You can also visit their Facebook Page at and their Instagram at @lolaesters for more updates.

For orders, full list of products, delivery schedules and payment inquiries on Pan de Sau Bekeri's indulgent baked items, call 0917 192 8343.

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