The atmosphere is festive and energetic, the people are friendly and upbeat, the food is divine and abundant – that is how I would describe Lori Baltazar’s Dessert Comes First book signing and food bazaar last Saturday at Fully Booked’s Top Shelf in Fort Bonifacio. Upon buying a copy of Lori’s book, I signed up for said event, and that got me the chance to meet Lori herself and some of the chefs featured in the book. As special treat, guests were allowed to taste and enjoy sweet and savory dishes from thirteen different food booths. It was heavenly! I knew there would be many different foods to eat but I was not expecting the servings to be so generous. To say the least, I was happily filled to the brim.
One of my favorites was Chef Him’s Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek Ramen aka Lori’s Cheeky Ramen. It was something else. The beef was super soft, it just seemed to have melted inside my mouth. Another favorite was the fried shrimp lumpia by Chef Stevie Villacin. I don’t like spring rolls very much, but this one is probably the only one I’ve ever really enjoyed, specially because it had a whole shrimp, wrapped in bacon inside. Chef Ricky Morelos’ smoked pork ribs, served with corn and barbecue sauce, was also very delicious. If I could have, I would have gone back for more!
Among the sweet stuff, I really liked Karen Young’s chocolate treats. It was a big mistake that I didn’t take note of all the specific names of the desserts but I did take photos. As you can see above, those little triangular glossy chocolate treats by Karen look perfect and they taste perfect too! Karen, herself, is also such a sweet lady. I’m pleased to have met her.
There was an overwhelming mountain of pies from Chef Ed Bugia of the restaurants Pino, Pipino and the newly opened Breakfast and Pies. I also got to try The Lori, a special Dulce de leche gelato with flambéed bananas, chocolate syrup and peanut brittle made by Bono. Interestingly enough, their Taho flavored gelato was really good too.
By the sixth booth, I was already starting to feel very full so I took a break and had some handcrafted coffee by Jonathan of Magnum Opus, a small craft coffee operation out of BF Homes. I didn’t know exactly what to have so I just told Jon to surprise me. Perhaps the festive atmosphere had me feeling a bit more adventurous than usual . He made me a cup of Nicaragua Jinotega, black coffee that smelled a lot like black tea and had a hint of tangerine. Excellent selection, Jon.
After having visited most of the food booths, I lined up to have my book signed by Lori. She was really cool. There was this energy about her that was just infectious. You meet her and you fall love with her instantly. I believe that is exactly why the event was so much fun. Lori’s passion for food and zest for life brought all these great people together that it was just impossible for anybody there to not have an awesome time.
To be honest, I went there feeling a bit insecure because I’m no chef or foodie. I started learning how to cook late and I’m still learning. I’m lucky my kids eat and even enjoy my cooking! But all these hang ups disappeared upon meeting this community of wonderful people. Everybody was just there to celebrate food and enjoy one another’s company. Guests, even the chefs themselves, were very friendly and encouraging. I left that place inspired and quite full!
I am currently reading Dessert Comes First and enjoying it. I’m excited to learn from Lori and the different chefs and maybe in the future, I will make this killer cheesecake too. We’ll see.