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Country Cooking

Food bloggers start staking their claim

By: - Columnist
/ 02:45 AM September 26, 2013

SCAMPI sashimi

“Dessert Comes First” started as Lori Baltazar’s blog. Some six years later, she decided to do a book version. She made the leap not quite as easily, as she explains in her introduction.

A book requires more than just copying and pasting the contents she had in her blog. She added more information and insights to the items in the book.


Her writings are essays, rather than the blurbs and captions most blogs have. It is her experience in writing for print that made her blog-in-a-book different. And her stint as copy editor made her more careful, she said, about tenses and adjectives.

It’s a plus that she has studied under good photographers; we wish we could taste those dishes and desserts on the pages, which showed clearer details such as layers of a cake and the


GRILLED rib eye fillet with miso hollandaise

cream peeping out of a crust.

I am glad Lori did this book because I am a print person. It isn’t a habit of mine to open blogs even if they’re popular, or done by a friend like her. I should actually be more inclined to do so because I used to be a computer programmer, but then that was before computers became a household fixture.

I thought it must be a generation thing until I watched a BBC interview of Margaret Atwood, best known for her book “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and learned that this elder woman tweets and enjoys it.

Then it must be temperament. I’d rather read than scan the Internet. And this column is enough outlet for me to tell readers where I went and what was eaten.


Meeting people

CHEF SEAN Connelly pours strawberry soup on dessert bowl.

People think eating is the biggest perk of a food writer. But it’s really more about meeting people who show you their passion and artistry in the things they do. In her book, Lori features home bakers, chefs and purveyors.


One of them is my friend, Tina Diaz, who was a reliable contributor and stylist for Food magazine. She makes fabulous desserts under the name Taza Platito such as a sticky Tablea Chocolate Cake and wonderful cookies. Her slim figure belies her preference for chicharon bulaklak and street food like fish balls.

“Dessert Comes First,” the book, is big and hefty, best read in the comfort of one’s home. For those who bake and cook, there are many recipes to try but better put a plastic cover on the pages to avoid soiling them. Like most picture-heavy food books, you can have your cake and not gain weight by eating it in your mind.

Print and broadcast journalists greet each other with a nod or a wave during events. But bloggers seem more likely to be chummy with each other, even commenting on some interesting

“DESSERT Comes First” book cover

blog they’ve come across with, and where hubby or wife was today. At the event featuring the cooking of chef Sean Connelly, the bloggers’ tables were the noisiest. It must have been due to the Glenfiddich single malt whiskey, which accompanied the food.

Chef Connelly’s shows are featured on the Asian Food Channel. “Under the Grill,” which finished last week, documented the 100-day race to build his restaurant in Auckland, New Zealand, in time for the Rugby World Cup.

“On the Grill,” which will be aired Thursdays at 9 p.m., follows him around New Zealand to feature purveyors of steak, seafood and vegetables.

Cooking demo

AUTHOR Lori Baltazar

That evening at Edsa Shangri-La Hotel, we went through his dishes and one of them was demonstrated onstage—the grilled rib eye fillet and his fondant potato. As he did so, everyone seated at our table was salivating.

There were two huge steaks, which were magnified further on the video screen. After the demo, bloggers with their phones and digital cameras rushed onstage to take more delicious-looking, close-up shots.

We had a gravalax of king salmon flavored with raspberry and white pepper served with crème fraiche. (It gave me an opportunity to brag that I once caught a king salmon in Alaska.) Then there was a New Zealand scampi sashimi with a dressing of chili and extra virgin olive oil, garnished with baby coriander, more like ceviche in taste, and paired with a smooth Glenfiddich 12-year-old. Soup was mushroom and miso broth with coriander and daikon that I thought had a rather strong-tasting broth.

The main course, as I mentioned, was grilled steak served with miso hollandaise and then paired with a Glenfiddich Solera 15-year-old, a rather robust, strong-tasting single malt like the miso broth.

Dessert was goat’s milk jelly (panna cotta with its top covered with gold leaf) and a strawberry soup made of wild strawberry sorbet, which the chef himself poured in each guest’s bowl.

CHOC-NUT Queso de Bola Cheesecake

Having chef Connelly go around was a great way for him to connect with each diner, but the communication was certainly enhanced by the smoothest Glenfiddich 18-year-old. If a single malt was a mystery to me before, now it’s something to look forward to, taken neat without a hint of water.

The name Glenfiddich says where exactly the Scotch whiskey distillery is located. Glen means valley, and Fiddich is the river that runs through it but which also means “deer” in Gaelic. So, the translated whiskey name is “Valley of the Deer.” My comment about “Valley of the Dolls” was lost on the bloggers too young to remember.


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TAGS: Books, Dessert Comes First, Food Blogs, Lifestyle, Lori Baltazar
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