The sweetest things in life are not always free. But if you’re lucky enough to find those that elevate the simple pleasures of eating then spending hard-earned money doesn’t seem like a bad thing. After all, you only get to live once. And depending on your beliefs, there may not be even an assurance of an afterlife. So why penny pinch on food that leave you weak with delight? Indulgences that leave lasting impressions on your taste buds are worth all the calories gained and currencies spent.
For someone who considers eating as one of the greatest pleasures of this earthly life, I’d say my palate is quite easy to please. However, I’ve developed great liking for certain treats discovered over the years.
- Dark chocolates – Whatever divine inspiration or cosmic explosion that created this world did great in including dark chocolates. Health benefits aside, those bittersweet concoctions are guaranteed to release all dormant endorphins. Need some pick-me-up? Grab a bar and savor every bite. Next thing you know, the blues are gone and you’ll be asking life to bring it on. Lindt and some artisan chocolates found in some travels easily top the list of my favorite dark chocolates. There are a lot more out there waiting to be discovered. Just a word of caution: Get ready to be hooked.
- Stroopwafel – A 3-month stay at The Hague introduced me to the texture rich, sweet-induced happiness that stroopwafel offers. Partnered with a steaming mug of coffee or tea, the delicious Holland waffles unfailingly chased away figurative clouds dragged in by what seemed like perpetually overcast autumn skies. Some of the best I’ve tasted were grabbed from various grocery shelves. Sadly, the taste profile I got attached to remains elusive in this part of my world. I think the Dutch alone, and maybe their closest neighbors, have perfected the art of making them.
(photo credit: hollandcandyshop.com)
- Chocolate-covered mochi – In Japan, there’s no dearth of unforgettable surprises. People there generally have the flair of turning the mundane to something interesting. Good or bad, the simplest things often end up on the list of cuteness and amazing overload. A box of chocolate-covered mochi bought from a store in Narita airport was one prime example. I wasn’t much of a fan of mochi before. I’ve tried some plain and flavored mochis in previous visits but they didn’t stick. Until those chocolatey morsels happened. It was nothing but deep and abiding love since then. Repeated attempts to scour the Internet for information on that particular brand of mochi bought years ago got me nowhere. Even the photos I found didn’t come close to how the ones I favored looked. A perfect blend of bitter, sweet, smooth, and gummy. Mochi is one Japanese experience deserving of a slot in everyone’s bucket list.
- Royce chocolate-covered potato chips – No other chocolate-covered potato chips would do, in my point of view. I tried to find other brands at groceries and 7-11 stores in a brief visit in Tokyo. Some came close, like the ones bought at a 7-11 in Shinagawa. But they sadly lacked the right combination that only Royce seemed to have mastered. Granted Royce is not really easy on the pocket. However, you can consider purchasing a box of the sweet-salty snack as a reward for whatever reason you can come up with. Everyone deserves a pat in the back sometimes. These chocolate-flavored potato chips are like gazillion pats and hugs to myself.
- Somen: The Japanese cold noodles – My friend Anna Liese is to blame for this addiction. She treated me for lunch twice in this little authentic Japanese restaurant in Makati. Clueless me didn’t even know that cold noodles do exist. My concept of them was limited to those instances when bowls of leftover ramen got cold treatment in the refrigerator. I’ve never imagined that there are actually cold noodles on some restaurants’ menu. I’m not much of a noodle-eater but somen changed that. Now, I find every reason to crave for the fresh, subtle flavors that are so deeply satisfying. The one I tried was not as fancy as what this picture looks like and yet it continues to haunt me. A comfort food when comforting isn’t even needed. That’s somen in a nutshell.
- Tubig ni Maria Clara (Maria Clara’s water) – Technically not a food, but it deserves a slot on this list. A humongous pitcher of iced water infused with cucumber juice, ginger syrup, citrus, and I don’t know what else – that’s what Tubig ni Maria Clara is. Thanks to Anna Liese, again, I got to taste this very refreshing drink while dining at Pia Y Damaso at Greenbelt 5 in Makati. At first glance, the huge pitcher was daunting for a party of two. After a few sips followed by substantial gulps, I can proudly say my friend and I finished it off like two desert travelers stumbling upon their first oasis. Cold, not so sweet, and filled with hints of every refreshing flavors that blend perfectly with water. It’s simply irresistible. No wonder it comes in bucket-size pitchers.
Life, indeed, is sweet. One of the great ways to celebrate it is to nurture that love for your favorite things. And most times, food comes high on the list.