Food

The Quest for Vegan Cheese

I’m not vegan nor lactose-intolerant. I can still consume dairy but with repercussions–too much of it in my system will cause my body to produce excessive phlegm or mucus than usual. So for obvious health reasons, I’d do my best to stay away from dairy products as much as possible. But the problem is I love cheese so much and cheese is dairy. And to make matters more challenging, I have been craving for some cheese lately. You can say I’m a cheesy person.

All I had to do was ask the all-knowing google where to find a non-dairy alternative to cheese in this predominantly dairy universe. I never knew the existence of such yet a big part of me trusts that google does. If internet only existed in ancient Greece, I bet google would have rivaled the oracle of Delphi for knowledge and information about the existence of things.

Although I haven’t seen nor tasted fake cheese in my entire life (and by “fake” I mean a good kind of fake), I am a great believer of miracles and possibilities. In this day and age of fake boobies and eyelashes, what else cannot be cloned or imitated? Someone out there must have brilliantly come up with the idea of faking cheese too. At least that’s what I thought. So I scouted the world wide web in search for answers and with some help (thanks Kitchen Revolution) and some google-ic intervention I stumbled upon The Real Happy Cow.

Not only the cows were mooing with happiness (vegan equals cruelty-free on animals) but I was ecstatic as well with the discovery I made. I knew that my life will never be the same again after this. So I messaged The Real Happy Cow to place an order only to realize its owned by someone I know. Turns out it is being run by the kitchen goddess Lakapati and her ever supportive husband Alvin. I really admire this couple’s passion for food and anything vegan and how they support each other in this endeavor.

I was initially interested to buy the truffle cheese sauce and have it sent via courier but being the impatient buyer that I am, I didn’t want to put myself in such an agonizing situation of waiting, imagining and drooling over some bottle of cheese that is making its way to my home. It so happened The Real Happy Cow is participating in a fundraising event happening in Makati in the next couple of days. I just decided to wait and make an apparition on the day of the event instead so I can buy my cheese right then and there.

Come Sunday, 12th of June, and I was all geared up for the BIG day with great anticipation. Armed with a sheer willpower, umbrella, and a wallet filled with cash, I made my way to Jupiter Street in Makati.

By late afternoon I arrived at the event venue called The Open Space. Located along Jupiter Street, this small venue is perfectly designed for pop-up concepts and small to medium events.

openspace
The Open Space is located at 134 Jupiter Street, Makati. For more info, go to www.facebook.com/TheOpenSpacePH.

While toy lovers swarmed the SM Mall of Asia for the annual Toy Conference happening on that very same day, many feline lovers and pet owners gathered together and stood united (literally as there are no chairs) all for the love of our furry friends. Dubbed as “Back-to-School Fundraising Bazaar”, a percentage from each sale will be donated to the Philippine Animal Rescue Team.

crowd
Shopping can be a very meaningful experience when you know you are helping support a good cause.

There were booths selling cat-themed items for both cats and humans. Part of the proceeds will go to the cause.

meowbooth
Support @petmeowcatboarding’s spray/neuter program with every purchase of their dreamcatchers and  crafts for sale. For more info, go to www.facebook.com/PetMeow101.
therealhappycowbooth
The Real Happy Cow’s booth (photo courtesy of The Real Happy Cow)

Although I’m very much of a cat person too, the real reason I braved Jupiter Street that cloudy Sunday afternoon despite the threats of rain, laziness and frugality is to purchase some vegan cheese products which taste as good as their dairy counterparts.

cheese
I got myself a bar of mozzarella (P100), a bottle of truffle (P200) and a pack of romano cheese  (P175). All vegan of course.

As an added bonus, I also chanced upon their meat-free pork belly aka vegchon. This is good news for people like myself who doesn’t eat pork by choice. I haven’t had the chance to try it but I heard it became such an instant favorite that they will start offering it on a regular basis. I will make sure to add it to my bucket-eating list. I wish they’d come up with a vegan version of bacon too.

vegporkbelly
Meat-free and dairy-free products.
The pork belly poutine (crispy fries and vegchon drenched in our cheese sauce, chipotle/sriracha mayo, bbq sauce and more sriracha garnished with cilantro) is a runaway bestseller during the bazaar last June 12, 2016.
The pork belly poutine is a runaway bestseller during the bazaar last June 12, 2016.  It is made with crispy fries and vegchon drenched in cheese sauce, chipotle/sriracha mayo, bbq sauce and more sriracha garnished with cilantro. (photo courtesy of The Real Happy Cow)

For your dairy-free cheese, meat-free meat and vegan nom needs, check out The Real Happy Cow’s page at www.facebook.com/therealhappycowph or follow them on instagram/therealhappycowph. You can also reach  them via mobile 0998.850.5707. They deliver.

 

Food

Healthy Eating at Quezon City

I just came out of a 2-month hiatus due to a major health crisis I was facing. For 2 months I was feeling lethargic, anti-social, and hormonal. There were a list things that I wanted to do but I was too weak to accomplish any. But the worse part of getting ill is when you eat your food  and your judgmental tongue can’t seem to tell the difference between good and bad taste. This experience has made me more appreciate the simple joys of life which are not that really “simple” after all especially for the sick and ill person. Simple is such an underrated word. I wanted to “re-experience” life again. So I made a pact with myself that when I get past my illness and start to feel better again I will try new things, discover new places, meet people, smell the flowers, follow my dreams and…blog! This time with no excuses. And since I am already feeling better those are what I exactly did last weekend.

If Eat, Pray, Love turned into a healing framework and broken down into 3 phases of healing, I would say that I’m at the “eating phase” of my life right now. For one, it is doctor’s order that I eat at least 5  times in a day to bulk up and start gaining back the weight that I’ve lost. Secondly, I’m quite happy savoring good food and the flavors of new experiences at the moment. Eating just makes me feel more alive.  It is as if my taste buds have mutated both literally and figuratively speaking. I never thought that eating good food can be such an enjoyable and therapeutic experience. If there was something that came out good from my illness is that it gave me the license to eat and enjoy food however and whenever I want. So if you are reading this blog and want me to write a review about food and places, this is probably the best time to send me an invite, don’t you agree? *wink*

As I took toddler steps to becoming a more outgoing person, I turned to one of my favorite restaurants in QC that is within my reach.  Here’s the first part of my weekend escapade.

SATURDAY (June 11, 2016)

Stopover #1: Likha Diwa Vegetarian and Seafood Cafe

likhadiwafront
Vegetation and friendly staffs greet you as you enter the restaurant.

Every QC-based vegetarian and health conscious folk probably knows this place along C.P. Garcia Avenue. It is where art, culture, and food collide. Since its opening on the full moon of June 1999, Likha Diwa has become a favorite hub among foodies, artists, cultural workers, and wellness junkies who lives/works in this side of the metro. A few years back I was under the impression that Likha Diwa was a vegetarian-artist mecca of some sort and to be a fully fledged artist and/or vegetarian one must dine at this small restaurant at least once in his/her lifetime to be “initiated”. I don’t know where I got that idea from but I am buying it anyway. Since then I’ve  become patron of this humble restaurant–the price of stardom.

This is also one of those few places on the planet that I know where I would often bumped into a friend or acquaintance whom I have never seen for years. Of all places it has to be at Likha Diwa! Because of these few but consistent bumping incidents, I started to draw a conclusion that Likha Diwa is a lost-and-found section but only for people. Having said that, so if you happen to have a long lost friend who happens to be fond of shawls, wears dreadlocks, sees fairies, loves organic products, eats only veggies, and hums “aum…”, chances are you two will find each other here. However, if you don’t wish to be found, avoid this place at all cost (at least temporarily).

ldbar
Behind this artsy front is where the kitchen masterpieces are being created.

Good food, friendly staffs, affordable prices, and a simple cozy interior are what, I believe, set Likha Diwa apart from other establishments with closely similar niche. Unique to the restaurant is a a subtle bohemian vibe that is simply charming and non-discriminating as it promotes a spirit of openness, free expression, authenticity, and creativity–a place where you can simply be and celebrate your true self.

True to its name Likha (create) Diwa (spirit or consciousness), this is a venue not only where food is enfleshed but also where the creative spirit takes shape and form. It is just fitting that many creatives choose to hold their art exhibits here while some closeted artists (you know who you are!) that I know made their debut here. There is so much good vibes in this place that brings people of like minds to come and gather here.

Likha Diwa’s menu features some top Filipino favorite dishes with a vegetarian or seafood twist. They serve finger foods, sandwiches, soups, pita-wrapped dishes, salads, pasta, moussaka, and vegetarian meals that will surely leave you with a blissful belly. Some of my personal favorites include the vegetarian kare-kare (P115), creamy tuna fettuccine (P100) and buttered tuna (P130). The best part is they serve organically grown vegetables as much as possible and prepare food without the use of commercial additives and food enhancers as they stay faithful to their advocacy of promoting healthy eating. Likha Diwa continues to charm our palates as they re-create some of the best known dishes from both local and abroad in their Saturday buffet.

buffet
Eat-all-you can buffet every Saturday featuring different cuisines from both local and abroad for only P200/person.

While foodies and art lovers are drawn to Likha Diwa for several interesting reasons, I, on the other hand, just can’t resist the call of Likha Diwa’s seductive vegan chocolate (lava) cake. And like a sailor charmed by a siren, I will almost always heed the call without delay. I can hold my pee but not my chocolate cravings. I just can’t avoid the call of the vegan chocolate cake. It is simply irresistible knowing that this is only the kind of cake I can overeat without any worries. Resistance is futile so I surrender.

veganchococake
Vegan Chocolate Cake at P85 only.

Likha Diwa’s chocolate cake is completely vegan made with no egg, cow’s milk and butter, and sweetened with muscovado sugar. I like my lava cake served warm and moist. Every scoop is a guiltless pleasure that makes your taste buds sing with delight. It has a thick creamy texture and a deep chocolate flavor that  I would often pair it with shiitake strips to remove the umay factor and balance the flavors.

shitakestrips
Fried shiitake mushroom served with cucumber sticks and vinegar at P95 only.

Apart from serving good food, Likha Diwa also hosts art exhibits, workshops and private events.

Likha Diwa is located at 1 Lt. J. Francisco St. (along CP Garcia Avenue, Diliman), Bgy. Krus Na Ligas, Quezon City. They are open from Monday to Saturdays from 11am to 10pm. You can reach them  through (02) 434.65.45 or 0923.819.1453. Add them up on facebook.

Stopover #2: Fruit Store at UP Shopping Center

My trip to UP Diliman wouldn’t be complete without stopping by at this very popular fruit store located at the UP Shopping Center. You know it’s like travelling between countries and at every entry/exit your passport gets stamped on by the immigration officer. Getting my cup of fruit shake every time I passed by UP Campus is akin to a passport getting stamped–the cup being proof of my visit to the holy  grounds of my alma mater.

fruitstore
Enriquez fruit store located at the far end left of the UP Shopping Center.

I am pretty clueless how long this store has existed but it has been there already since my college days and probably years prior to that. As early as the dawn of time, maybe? One thing I am certain though is that I rarely see this store empty. There’s always a long line of people waiting to be served.

lineup
People patiently waiting for their orders being made.

Just as important as the right of suffrage is the right to choose your own food. What I love about this particular fruit store is that they serve a variety of fruits and veggies to choose from. Customers get to choose the ingredients they want and create the blend they desire. Some rely on the suggested combination sets posted at the door. Others opt for a single fruit only. But whichever you end up choosing, just remember to prioritize fruits in season as they only come once a year.

fruits
Fresh fruits from the glass display rack.

Whenever hunger pangs strike and I am in the area, I would grab a cup of fruit shake. This is a good way to avoid the temptations of grease and sweets that are so abundant inside the campus. Not only am I choosing wellness, I am supporting a local business with a health advocacy thrive and prosper.

cup
My 12 oz cup of fruit shake for only P30.

Enriquez Fruit Store is located at the UP Shopping Center, Diliman, Quezon City. They are open daily.

Verdict: Mission accomplished!

Food

Delight Your Taste Buds at Larcy’s Cupcakery Cafe

Looking for a cozy place to  hang out that serves some delicious pasta and pastries? Look no further and head out to Larcy’s Cupcakery Cafe at the newly opened Estancia Mall in Capitol Commons, Pasig.

larcysfront2
At the counter.

larcysfront

Just a few blocks away from busy Ortigas stands a new mall called Estancia. But unlike its mall predecessors in the vicinity, Estancia offers a more secluded and quiet spot to dine and chill. Since it mainly caters to residents in the area who are working professionals, I can imagine having the mall to myself especially if I go there on a weekday. I’m really not fond of hanging out in malls but Estancia proves to be quite an exception due to its very relaxed vibe.

At the ground floor level of Estancia mall one can find Larcy’s Cupcakery Cafe. The place is hard to miss due to its fancy design and cool ambiance. When I first saw the cafe with all the different types of cupcake parading on the display rack, it conjured images of the pastry house from the classic tale of Hansel & Gretel to mind. The child in me fell in love with the place at an instant. I’d say Larcy’s is a place to go to whenever you want to give your inner child a nourishing treat after a long week of being a serious and functional adult. Don’t we all deserve a sweet treat?

larcysmenu1
Larcy’s food menu comprises of chips, soups, burgers, panini and pasta.
larcysmenu2
Larcy’s has a nice selection of beverages too.

Whether you want to have a me-time or have some serious catching up to do with good friends, Larcy’s provides you with just the right venue to do so. This is a perfect place to read a book, check emails, or do journal writing. Introverts and creative people such as myself will surely find this place very conducive for concept-development or personal introspection. The artsy feel of the cafe will help bring out one’s creative juices and channel the right inspiration needed to get a job done. If by any chance one is feeling sociable, Larcy’s is also a nice place to meet and catch up with friends over good food and drinks.

Larcyswall
Fancy heart designs on the wall leading to the second floor.
Larcys2ndfloor
More seats at the second floor.

What I also like about this cafe is the food which is truly a delight to the taste buds. I’ve tried a couple of  their cupcakes and they really tasted so good. But what really impressed me is that they serve very delicious pasta. Being a pasta lover myself, I never tasted anything like their Penne Mushroom Truffle. It’s so creamy and it just tasted so heavenly! Even the  garlic bread was baked to perfection I must say.

Larcysfoodanddrinks
Some of the food and drinks we’ve ordered.
Larcyscupcake1
Pink Velvet Minicupcake is the best-seller at the moment.
Larcyscupcake2
Some chocolate goodness.
LarcysPenne
Delicious Mushroom Penne Truffle with Garlic Bread.

If you get a chance to swing by in Pasig, don’t  forget to check out Larcy’s Cupcakery Cafe and get ready to say ‘aah’ to some heavenly goodness.

Larcy❤s Cupcakery Cafe is located at:

Estancia Mall at Capitol Commons
11:00AM – 9:00PM
Contact Number: (02) 656-7404

BF Homes, Parañaque
178 Aguirre Street, BF Homes, Paranaque
Sunday – Thursday 11:00AM – 11:00PM
Friday – Saturday 11:00AM – 12:00AM
Contact Number: (02) 478-2849

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LarcysCupcakerycafe
Instagram: @larcyscupcakery