For Pinoy food lovers, October signals food, food, and more food, thanks to Best Food Forward, the benefit food fair now running on its fifth year. The event will be held on October 10-11 from 10am to 8pm at Rockwell Tent.
What I love about Best Food Forward is how it feels like being invited into a family’s home then partaking of food from their own table. It’s fun talking to the vendors because a lot of them are the actual people behind the food. You get to hear the stories of how their offerings are actually discoveries from their own experiments, or family heirlooms from their dear old lolas.
Curious about this year’s event? Here’s a sampling of who and what you can expect to see at Best Food Forward 2015.
Frozen Weekends specializes in homemade frozen food—the kind you can pop in the deep fryer straight from the freezer for midnight snack attacks. In fact, that was exactly how Frozen Weekends started.
Frozen Weekends offers two variants of croquettes: a cheesy chiki-curry, and a creamy crab and corn. We got to try the creamy crab and corn and it lives up to its name. A creamy center studded with generous chunks of kani and corn, crusted with a golden crispy outer shell. It’s the kind of thing I crave for during midnights. (And need in my freezer right now, gaddermit.) Frozen Weekends also offers Lola’s Bolas, a juicy and flavorful riff on the Italian Meatball that the owner crafted for her grandma’s convenience. Grab it from the freezer, reheat, then stick it on anything that needs a bit of meatball. Nyum.
Word for the day: Temakeria. That’s what you get when Japanese temaki gets the Mexican taqueria go and have babies. Sushi Nori gives the classic temaki and maki the Tex-Mex taco treatment by adding a bit of crunch and heat.
Natalia’s Rustic Kitchen
Natalia’s Rustic Kitchen is anything but rustic. Or maybe, we can call it faux rustic since it’s the sort of dish that’s perfectly instagramable. Natalia’s offers potluck ready party trays and catering packages that will definitely impress. Let the other guests bring their roast chicken and baked pasta, while you up the ante with legit Moroccan Tajine, made with their own Ras El Hanout blend. Even their moist and tender meatloaf gets the fancy treatment. Those yellow bits on top? No, not crushed pineapple. Those are preserved lemons.
And the best thing about Natalia’s Rustic Kitchen? It’s not just a pretty dish. It’s a damned tasty one. The flavors are spot-on, the meat perfectly prepared. So you can instagram your food and eat it too! (Weak pun, I know. *cringe*)
3 Hungry Tummies
For a different kind of chicharon, be sure to hit 3 Hungry Tummies. This stall specializes in unusual chicharon snacks. There’s no pork crackling skin here. Instead, they offer bacon cracklets, tapa chips, chori crisps, corned beef crunch, and bangus skin fritters. All tasty, yummy, addictive things that crackle and dance in your mouth. All I needed was a good book and a bed to lounge on and my day was set. (And to think that the preview event was in the middle of a bookstore already!)
I had to keep coming back to their table for refills, not just because their crisps were oh so yummy (they were!) but because my toddler couldn’t get enough of their bacon crisps! So yeah, they’re definitely on my to-buy list come this weekend.
Go Brewed Coffee
Next stop was Go Brewed Coffee. Go Brewed Instant Drip Coffee is brewed coffee prepared with the ease of instant coffee using the pour over method. Each sachet comes with a filter bag of coffee that has paper handles so you can hang it over your cup. Pour your boiling water in, then allow it to drip. When you’re done, tug on the handles, bring them together, get your last few drips out, then throw it away.
You’re left with a strong, aromatic cup of brewed coffee without the fuss of having to wash your coffee press. (I have a love-hate relationship with my coffee press.) Go Brewed is manufactured locally, and uses handpicked local beans, so you’re not just enjoying great coffee, you’re also supporting local!
Let me get this out of the way: I love Patisserie Sabine’s Milo Cookies and need more of them in my life. Lots and lots and lots and I won’t share. HA! These extremely chewy cookies (the kind that stick to your teeth) boggle my mind. They’re pretty non-descript looking but don’t let that bland appearance fool you. Put these cookies in your cookie jar and you’ll be eating through the jar before you realize it. Consider yourself warned.
Aside from the Milo, Matcha, and Smores cookies, Sabine also bakes gluten-free goodies. But really, it’s all about the Milo.
Casa San Luis
If we’re talking classic, decadent desserts Casa San Luis would be it, with their old school fruit cake, the gorgeous calamansi cake with marshmallow frosting, and the chocolate crepe cake.
Casa San Luis offers comforting old-fashioned favorites—the kind we don’t see much of now with all the fancy schmancy coffee shop desserts—and upgrades them. They feel more refined, but the flavors are classic. Nutshell review? Casa San Luis is a time machine that brings you back to Lola’s house when you were a kid sneaking swipes at dessert before Sunday brunch.
Boozed up brownies. I could hear your collective cheer all the way here. And why not? Brownie Bar’s alcohol infused selections are really, really good. My favorite would be the Black Label because the moist denseness of the brownie was the perfect vehicle for the copious amounts of Johnny Walker in it. It’s much stronger than the other alcohol-infused baked goods I’ve tried before. That’s a good thing in my book.
If the alcohol infusion isn’t enough for you, Brownie Bar also offers Brownie Bitters, their take on the classic bitters you mix with your cocktails. Their specially concocted brownie bitters are drops you can add to your brownies for an added punch. More alcohol, yes!
I love gelato, so Gelato Lab was actually the first stall I hit during the preview. Gelato Lab’s take on ice cream is rich and thick. So thick that it didn’t melt easily, a characteristic I’ve observed in high quality ice cream. The luxurious texture was accompanied by concentrated, solid flavors that was absolutely delicious. The Bailey’s confused me! I wasn’t sure if I was still eating gelato or knocking back a shot. That good, yes.
And if that wasn’t enough, Gelato Lab and Brownie Bar are teaming up for Best Food Forward for brownie ala mode. Yes, whiskey brownies with Bailey’s gelato. You’ve gone off to boozehound heaven.
Bald Baker didn’t have a stall during the preview, but they sent us off with a box of assorted cookies! If you like your cookies cooky, Bald Baker is the shop to check out. Their combinations are quirky, and offer a lot of play on flavor combinations and textures. Think oranges with miso and black sesame seeds with marshmallows. But the funny thing is, it works! I can go on and on, but it’s best to taste them for yourself.
Deep Dips by Chef Arnold is back again, with more bottled offerings. I wasn’t able to check the new products out much, but they look promising.
Want to go? I’ll be raffling off four tickets to four lucky winners. Yes, four, so you can bring your family along for a glorious foodfest that’ll surely leave you catatonic afterwards. Food coma, much?