Merry Moo and Me

I’m so excited to share this with everyone!

I have collaborated with Kelvin Ngo of Merry Moo on a flavor that will be sold in limited amounts this weekend!

And what’s the flavor, you ask? Well, the photo below should be a clue. I baked this last weekend and our ice cream will be filled with yummy (if I say so myself) chunks of this:

Merry Moo cheesecake

Cheesecake by me, photo by Kelvin.

So come over to any one of the Merry Moo stalls to give their Cheesecake Ice Cream a try. They have stalls in Mercato Centrale, Mezza Norte, Salcedo Saturday Market, Legazpi Sunday Market and the Podium Mall. We’re still perfecting this one, so feel free to let us know what you think of it on Merry Moo’s Facebook page!

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Mercato Central Find #4: etc, etc.

I’ve still been going to Mercato on a regular basis, but I haven’t been writing about it lately. Not because I haven’t found anything good, but because I’ve been pooling my smaller finds (stuff I can’t really write an entire post about) to come up with this compilation. So here goes:

Little Ms. OC’s Kitchen’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Litlle Ms. OC’s Kitchen is best known for their cupcakes. Their adorable and incredibly detailed Plants vs. Zombies, Angry Birds and Despicable Me Minions cupcakes are what make most people flock to their booth every Saturday and Sunday morning. And I totally get why, just look at the cupcakes:

In awesome sugary detail

They even have tiny, tiny hairs!

I don’t play any of these games, though, and don’t have a taste for the thick fondant they use to form the sunflowers, pea-shooters and zombies. I flock to their booth for something less cartoony, something more traditional: Little Ms. OC’s Kitchen’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Buttery, chewy with gooey chocolate, these cookies remind me of the cookies I used to bake as a kid. I love how straightforward they are, no gimmicks, no combinations of nuts or white, milk and dark chocolate. Just pure, chewy, buttery goodness. Wait. I said that already. And it just gets better. A bag of 10 individually wrapped cookies just costs ₱180. That’s half the cost of the cookies from a popular chain. And I daresay these are just as good.

They're individually wrapped to keep you from eating them all at one time... Yeah, that didn't work.

 

Gustazo’s Tuguegarao Longganisa

I don’t really know which city in the North actually “owns” this variant of longganisa, but whether it’s Vigan, Baguio or Tuguegarao, Gustazo’s version is the best I’ve ever had. As salty and garlicky as you expect these orange-ish sausages to be and made better by the fact that Gustazo’s uses lean pork. They use less fat in the mix than most, making the longganisa less oily when cooked and easier to crisp up. These are so good, I’m willing to be late for work wake up earlier in the morning just to have a longsilog meal.

A must for any Mercato Centrale stall: SAMPLES!

 

Ormoc Pineapple

Simply put, these are the sweetest pineapple I’ve had in recent memory.

Each pineapple costs PHP 55

Jam Foods & Co. Angus Beef Tapa

If I was forced to choose between the Tuguegarao longganisa longsilog meal and Jam’s Angus beef tapsilog meal, I would crumple up my face and go into ugly-cry mode. I couldn’t. They are both just too good. I love tapa (actually, I love breakfast foods, in general) and Jam Foods’ Angus Beef Tapa is quite possibly the best version of it I’ve ever had. They beef comes in tiny, tiny strips and are cooked to a slight crisp (you can actually request that they cook it tostado, which I will definitely do next time).

Yummehhhhhhhhhh.

It’s salty, garlicky with just the tiniest hint of sweetness. My only complaint would be that it is predictably oily since they use beef that has a higher fat content that typical tapa. So if you’re the type of person who cares about fat intake, that might turn you off it a little bit. I, however, don’t care.

Just think of it this way: That oil makes everything yummier!

The tapsilog meal is ₱120. But you can purchase one kilo of the raw tapa to take home and cook it as crispy as you want it for ₱550.

Mercato Centrale: Merry Moo, Part 2

I’ve been to Mercato Centrale for the last 5 of the 6 Saturdays they’ve been open. And every week, I have a scoop (or a pint) of Merry Moo Ice Cream, with no fail.

I usually stick to my favorite Sea Salt Caramel, but various factors (curiosity, the desire to prove that bacon indeed does make everything better, Sea Salt Caramel being sold out by the time I got there) forced my hand to try other flavors.

First up is Chocolate Peanut Butter. I was a little wary of this, because the combination of both flavors usually turns out to be too sweet for my liking. But my mom swears by this flavor and she says it tastes like Chocnut. I disagree. Merry Moo’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream tastes better. I think the downfall of most PB-Chocolate combinations is that they use milk chocolate or too much chocolate that the sweetness tends to overwhelm. Merry Moo, I suspect, uses dark or semi-sweet chocolate for their version (feel free to correct me, Kelvin) and the ice cream is all the better for it. Imagine, if you could, dark chocolate Chocnut in ice cream. Yummy.

L-R: Candied Bacon, Peanut Butter Chocolate

The other flavor I just had to try was Merry Moo’s Candied Bacon. Because if anything can disprove that bacon makes everything better, it’s ice cream with bacon. And so, did Merry Moo ruin bacon’s heretofore spotless record? I am happy to say that, if anything, Merry Moo’s Candied Bacon ice cream gave further credence to the argument that bacon is a welcome addition to ANYTHING. Even ice cream.

The ice cream is a sweet base, the flavor a cross between caramel and maple syrup. The bacon is chopped into small bits, not too small that you can’t taste it anymore, but not too big that you get a big chunk of saltiness. And beyond all logic, the combination works. The sweetness of the ice cream perfectly complements the saltiness of the bacon. I have to admit, it was a little strange at first, but I kept on re-tasting it and re-tasting it because I couldn’t believe the combination would be THAT good. Before I knew it, I had eaten a disproportionate of what was, technically, my sister’s scoop of ice cream.

So (#2) Chocolate Peanut Butter and (#4) Candied Bacon definitely landed on my list of Merry Moo favorites, just behind my beloved (#1) Sea Salt Caramel and (#3) Strawberry Basil, respectively. At the rate I’m going half of their flavors will be on my “favorites” list.

Mercato Centrale find #3: Smokehouse Sandwiches

Another weekend, another trip to Mercato Centrale. There are just too many things to try and taste that to get through them all without inducing a heart attack, you have to go back.

I’ve been wanting to taste a pulled pork sandwich after watching Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence and other Food Network chefs make or eat different versions of this sandwich, all of them looking absolutely delicious (the sandwich, not the chefs, although Tyler is quite cute when he was less chubby than he is now). So when I heard that these were being sold in Mercato Centrale, I made a mental note to give them a try.

Smokehouse Sandwiches specializes in sandwiches (duh) made out of smoked (double duh) meats. Yesterday, they had three sandwiches available: the Coffee Crusted Beef with Strawberry Glaze, the Pulled Pork Sandwich and the Jamaican Jerk Chicken. As you may well know, I love chicken, so I was choosing between that and the pulled pork. But I just put the jerk chicken on my growing “must-try at Mercato” list and remembered why I was there in first place.

Coffee Crusted Beef Sandwich

My brother tried the beef, which was lovely. They served the sandwich with a very generous amount of the thinly sliced beef, onions, lettuce and bell peppers on a Kaiser bun. The beef is smoked for two (!) days is very tender, moist and has that beautiful flavor that only smoking it can give. Personally, I think the bread drowns the beef a little bit, which is a shame. If I had a full set of cutlery and a plate, I would’ve taken the top bun off and eaten the sandwich open-faced. Just my personal preference.

Bread + Barbecued Pork + Coleslaw + Bread = Delicious!

My Pulled Pork sandwich, on the other hand, was perfect as it is. The pork barbecue is sweet and tangy and the same time and is a little on the spicy side, thanks to the cumin barbecue rub the pork is smoked in. The coleslaw and its creaminess is the perfect counterbalance to the spice. And I’ve got no complaints about the bread drowning the meat here. The pork more than holds its own against the Kaiser bun.

All Smokehouse Sandwiches are sold for 185 PHP. I know that’s an expensive price to charge for a mere sandwich, but do consider that their meats take around two days to prepare. They also don’t scrimp on the fillings, I actually thought they put too much coleslaw on my sandwich, and my brother had four generous slices of the beef. And they fill you up real good. I had one for lunch and didn’t feel like eating dinner at all.

So mission accomplished. Next visit’s mission: find the ultimate burger at Mercato, or get to try that Jamaican jerk chicken.

Mercato Centrale find #2: Merry Moo

In my previous post, my tip when going to Mercato Centrale was not to go there with an empty stomach. For this round, my tip is this: bring an ice cooler, because you’re definitely going to want to bring home some Merry Moo Ice Cream.

Merry Moo Ice Cream is made from locally-sourced, fresh, non-UHT (Ultra Heat Treated) milk. The ice cream is home-made and made in small batches (a labor of love, as my mom put it) and comes in classic flavors with a twist.

Their roster of flavors include: Strawberry Basil, Rhum Raisin, Earl Grey Tea, Sea Salt Caramel, Aztec Chocolate, Apple Cinnamon, Coffee Kahlua, Lemongrass Coconut and Peppermint Chocolate. And, as with almost all Mercato Centrale’s tenants, you can get free tasting samples!

Merry Moo's Kelvin Ngo

Then comes the decision: which flavors to actually buy? The Earl Grey Tea flavor is among the most popular, but as I am not a tea-drinker, it wasn’t exactly my favorite (although it was yummy, and I totally understand why people are raving about it). The Aztec Chocolate is a party in your palate, a blend of chocolate and Mexican spices, with the kick coming after the initial sweetness of the dark chocolate.

But those weren’t the flavors I bought to bring home. Upon seeing the card that said “Sea Salt Caramel”, I knew I could be on the cusp of an addiction. I’ve made my love for the combination of caramel and salt known before and Merry Moo’s creamy version is no exception. Instead of the sickly-sweet caramel taste that you would almost expect, you get a subtler, toasty sweetness, like the caramel was taken off the stove a mere second before it started to burn. And, that’s a very, very good thing.

Another unexpected good thing is the combination of Strawberry and Basil. And, no, it doesn’t taste like strawberry ice cream marbled with pesto sauce. Basil is actually quite sweet on its own, so it complements the strawberry, giving the creamy-sweetness a fresher taste and different dimension.  So, yes, if you were looking to buy a pint of Strawberry Basil from Merry Moo yesterday, I was the one who took the only pint they had on hand.

I guess that would be my only complaint about Merry Moo: that they make such small amounts of their ice cream. I have half a mind to offer my services as an ice cream making assistant, if only to ensure my personal supply of Sea Salt Caramel. Oh, and yeah, one more, they didn’t remind me that I haven’t sampled the Coffee Kahlua yet. Boooo.

Full disclosure: I know Kelvin Ngo, the owner of Merry Moo, as he’s the boyfriend of one of my friends from college. However, I wouldn’t even make the effort to write a post if their ice cream was anything short of delicious. And I paid for my ice cream in full. Maybe if I start working for them, though, I’d get a discount.

Merry Moo is located at the outdoor pavilion of Mercato Centrale, corner 9th and 30th Streets, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

Mercato Centrale find #1: Baked by Anita

I finally got the chance to visit Mercato Centrale at the Fort this weekend. I think it’s pretty obvious from the blog that I love to eat, so it was only a matter of time that I’d make a beeline for a market offering the best food finds in and around the city.

Inspired by the original Mercato Centrale in Florence, Italy, this market at the Bonifacio Global City is a more modest version, made up of two air-conditioned tents and a pavilion of outdoor stalls. But don’t be fooled, there are gastronomic treasures to be had.

A very important tip: never go to MC (I don’t think anyone really calls it this, but that name is too long to type over and over again) on an empty stomach or else you’d be gobbling up each and every sample of paella, cookies, cheesecake, chocolate, ice cream and yoghurt that you pass by. Not to mention you might end up buying everything you’ve taken a fancy to. And in MC, that’s likely to be a lot!

And as proof to that point, my mom and I made our first purchase within five minutes of arriving. At Tent No. 1, is Baked by Anita, offering mini cupcakes with some unique and surprising flavor combinations. Bacon & Maple or Saffron with Black Salt, anyone?

Baked by Anita's offerings

There were, of course, samples, and one taste of their Sticky Date with Salted Caramel Butter Cream and Himalayan Pink Salt (whew!) got us hooked. It tasted a little like Food for the Gods, which I love, but the salty-sweet frosting took it, like 12 levels higher. We quickly snatched up a dozen, an assortment including the aforementioned three flavors and Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Truffle and Caramel Apple.

They cupcakes are a little on the pricey side, 35 PHP for one, three for 100 PHP, six for 200 PHP and so on. But with ingredients like the world’s most expensive spice and fancy colored salt, I suppose the higher prices are merited. Besides, cost and worth are two entirely different things. And were these mini-cupcakes worth it?

They sure were. The Chocolate Chip cupcake was like a cookie combined with the bread-y-ness of cake, while the Bacon & Maple was further proof that bacon DOES make everything better.

L-R: Chocolate Chip, Caramel Apple, Bacon & Maple, Sticky Date, Peanut Butter Truffle

But the Sticky Date remains my absolute favorite. A close second is the Caramel Apple. It’s a caramelized apple cake with a cinnamon-pecan crisp. The salted caramel drizzle on top is the perfect foil to the sweet, cinnamon-y cupcake base. I’m licking my lips just thinking about it.

That's a tired (from all-night baking) Anita on the left and the other lovely folks from Baked by Anita

So obviously, Mercato Centrale find #1 was a win. Let’s see if I get as lucky with my other purchases.

Baked by Anita is located at Booth 17, Tent 1 of tMercato Centrale at Corner 9th and 30th Streets, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.