One of the things I never thought I’d actually do was learn how to bake. Sure, I love to eat delicious baked goods (who doesn’t?), but after a disastrous attempt to bake my mom a birthday cake when I was 13 years old, I’d stayed as far away from an oven as possible.
Fast forward twenty years later and surprise: baking is now something I do for *gasp* fun! No, really. I bought a small electric oven last Christmas because I wanted to eat healthier and stop frying everything. Little did I know that with the baked vegetables, fish, and chicken would come cookies, cheesecakes, and muffins. Oh, the irony of it all.
Aside from the end goal of actual baked goods to eat, the process of baking lends itself to additional valuable lessons:
1. Be patient. The typical chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for you to scoop the cookie dough onto baking sheets and refrigerating the dough for at least an hour, but best for at least 24 hours. But why? Why have cookies tomorrow when you can have them today? As it turns out, refrigerating the cookies stops them from spreading out too much and also brings out more of the flavor. More patience = more delicious cookies.
2. Learn the ropes first before trying to tweak anything. Baking is that delicious blend of science and art. Unlike dishes where you can play with the recipe on the fly, baked goods need exact recipes because each ingredient reacts with everything else. Yes, substituting 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda when you change the recipe from 1 cup of milk to 1 cup of yogurt makes an absolute difference. Once you’ve mastered the basics and the ingredients, then you can change the recipe.
I learned this lesson the hard way when I figured hey, two medium eggs were the same as one large egg, right? Wrong. What were supposed to be eight cookies merged into a single huge COOKIE. The batter was too wet and thus spread too much. The cookie tasted fine, but still. Since then, the most off-recipe thing I’ve done so far is double the vanilla extract and cinnamon because I wanted a stronger flavor. I’ll get to the recipe development stage eventually. *crosses fingers*
Continue reading “Lessons from the mixing bowl”
Food writing is definitely NOT one of my strengths. I love to eat good food of course, but eating and casually recommending restaurants to anyone who asks is miles away from actually writing about it. So when The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf teamed up with Writer’s Block Philippines to offer a food writing workshop featuring, of course, the pretty impressive menu of the 26th St. Bistro by the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, I knew I had to go. I’d already attended WBP’s travel writing workshop and I was sure that I was going to have a lot of fun with the food writing workshop, even if it meant being in BGC at 9am on a Saturday.
CBTL offered ten free slots to to those who submitted the best new articles for the Brew Your Best Year website. The articles had to be about career and finance, fulfillment, health and wellness, and discovery. Because work meant that I didn’t have much time to write, I submitted a modified version of this blog post on the non-academic things I learned in grad school. So happy it still got chosen <3
Continue reading “Brewing my best food writing at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf”
Giving up coffee for Lent doesn’t mean that you stop going to the 26th St. Bistro by The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. After all, there’s more to the 26th St. Bistro than just their Original Ice Blended coffee. Can you really stay away from the Bistro’s high ceilings, warm lights, comfy chairs and tables (with power outlets!), and most importantly, OMG-that-looks-so-good-I’ll-order-that food offerings? This season is the perfect time to trawl through the 26th St. Bistro’s seafood selection!
If you want lighter fare, my favorite 26th St. Bistro-exclusive seafood fish is the herb-crusted salmon with lemon risotto and hollandaise sauce. The pan-seared Norwegian salmon is juicy yet flaky, easily separating into thin strips. It rests on a bed of saffron lemon risotto, with the lemon giving the fish an extra zing as you chew them together. The slight saltiness of the salmon’s crumbly herb crust also lightens the hollandaise sauce. While the plating is excellent, be sure to take pictures quickly as the fish is best eaten hot.
If you want something heavier, the seafood marinara is going to fill your tummy right up. I love a good tomato-based sauce and CBTL’s passes muster. The tomato tang is very evident but not overwhelming. The cheese shavings also counter the tang with some saltiness. They were also pretty generous with the seafood, with seared scallops, squid rings, white fish, and prawns with every fork twirl.
Aside from these exclusive menu items, the 26th St. Bistro also serves fare from the regular CBTL menu. The smoked salmon and dill cream cheese bagel is here – similar to the classic breakfast set but served with fries instead of coffee. There’s also the sardine and garlic linguine, which has shredded, salty, Spanish-style sardines and crispy roasted garlic. With seafood fare like these, who needs meat?
The 26th St. Bistro by The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is located at the Net Lima building, Bonifacio Global City and at the Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Ortigas.
*This post was written as the culminating exercise of the Brew Your Best Food Feature – a food writing workshop that The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf held in partnership with Writer’s Block Philippines. A separate post on the workshop coming soon!