August 8, 2018

A Story In Every Bite: Vanderlust Bistro + Patisserie, Now Open at The Podium

Food and travel always go together. There is always an inherent interest in food which affects travelers. Food will always be an antecedent of attention or curiousity with regards to travel motivation, destination choice, satisfaction and overall holiday experience. This notion speaks the truth for me. Everytime I travel, I always come away from a trip with a new-found appreciation for the power of food from a certain place. Because if you want to learn more of the locale and its culture, there’s nothing best to explore that through food.

There's something about the cuisine of a specific place that increases the intensity of the memories we build while traveling. The faint aroma of something I ate on a vacation instantly takes me back to the moment I experienced it. Say for example that moment I first ate mango sticky rice in Bangkok, it was so good I gushed so hard and got teary-eyed. That is no joke.

Also when I was in Taiwan, we ate at this eatery (not even a resto) that serves probably regular household dishes. I can't read the descriptions because they were in Chinese, but I picked the ones that I thought looked good and likely to taste good as well. And guess what? They all tasted how I imagined them to be. Even surpassing my expectations. I wasn't even able to control myself from cussing on my first bite. Because seriously the feeling of satisfction was intense! Every time I recon or narrate those moments, I still can taste those food in my mouth and elicit an unreasonable amount of excitement from me.

Food can be powerful especially that it has the ability to shape and define one’s journey and memories. Take for example the restaurant Vanderlust. It is a passion project born out of intense desire for adventure, zeal for food, curiosity of the unknown, and love between a husband and a wife. The concept began in 2013 during the honeymoon of couples Mark Anthony and Valerie Spencer in Europe. They spent a month going from one European city to another, experiencing the rich and diverse culture. Their senses    were    captivated    by    the    new    and unique experiences, from the art and architecture to the music and lastly, the food! Armed with only the love for good food and for each other, the two started to pursue a dream of sharing their wonderful adventure with others who share the same fervor for adventure.

Vanderlust stemmed from the word Wanderlust which means a very strong or irresistible impulse to travel or a strong longing for or impulse toward wandering. But if you’ll take time to check out their logo, you will notice that the first letter is an overlapping V and A which are the first letters of the couple’s name. Also Vanderlust is how the Germans would pronounce wanderlust (yeah just like Volkswagen being uttered as Folks-Vah-gen, I think... I don’t know... but you get the point right?)

I’ve visited their flagship store a couple of months ago and just yesterday, I got the chance to go see their newest branch at the newly renovated The Podium Mall. Their second store brings things up to a whole new level – a huge upgrade from their humble beginnings from QC. The store is way bigger and had an opulence of the old-world Europe where Art Deco meets playful modernism. They kept some of the unique touches from the first store by putting a mural  on one of the walls relating to travel and their white tiles with the logo of Vanderlust with a biycycle (represnting Amsterdam as per Valerie). The place is also so elegant and cozy especially because of the lighting and those beautiful light fixtures hanging down from the ceiling.

I got to try both new and old-time favorites from Vanderlust’s menu:

Chorizo & Roasted Garlic Potato Soup - a hearty serving of creamy potato soup spiced with Spanish pork sausage. This is a savory, hearty and heartwarming blend of garlic and potato. The chorizo taste wasn’t that too obvious but it’s there.

Sopa de Tomapepino - sun ripened tomatoes team up with the cool cucumber to make this soup both filling and refreshing. A tangy tomato soup with hints of sweetness from the cucumber.

Cacio E Pepe Mushroom Truffle - an Italian pasta dish which means cheese and pepper, served with a side of baguette. Vanderlust offers 4 types of Cacio E Pepe: Classic, Basil Chicken, mushroom Truffle and Prawns and Lemon. My favorite among the pasta dishes that we tried and the truffle flavor was very on point. The truffle taste was very distinct, which I love! Moreover, I always liked dishes with cream and hints of pepper, one of the very good combination. Simple yet earthy and tasty pasta dish. This is definitely a must try!

Espaguetis con Albóndigas  - spicy pasta dish topped with scrumptious Spanish meatballs with choice of olive oil or tomato sauce. Best enjoyed spicy but can be adjusted to personal preference. These small meatballs have very deep smokey flavor (probably because of the many ingredients in it especially the paprika) in a very tangy tomato sauce. I like that the spiciness of this was something that I can tolerate. It’s perfect for enjoying with a glass of sangria.

Cacio E Pepe Classic - an Italian pasta dish which means cheese and pepper, served with a side of baguette. Btw, that thing you see on top is Parmesan cheese. This may be the stripped down version of the mac n cheese but a classier and old-world version. You know the saying "less is more"? Well this elemental Italian pasta dish is simply that. It takes its spiciness from cracked black pepper toasted in oil, which I love in my oil-based pastas. This is one of Queer Eye's Antoni Porowski's favorite pasta to cook and teach his friends and fellow Queer Eye Fab Five Tan France tried making Cacio E Pepe and he totally loved it. (if you don't know what I'm talking about Google Queer Eye and watch it on Netflix).

Schweinekotelett with Mustard Cream Sauce – Vanderlust’s best-selling main. Porkchop with creamy mustard sauce, German fermented cabbage and mashed potato. Pork skin cooked to crackling perfection from that Schweinshaxe inspiration. This dish was inspired by one of the most famous dishes in Germany, the Schweinshaxe – roasted pork knuckle with crispy skin. This was so good! the meat was delicate, really juicy and not though and the skin was cooked to crispy perfection. The sauerkraut was a good addition to really achieve that authentic German flavor. And I have to do a special mention of the mashed potato, this was just a side dish but should be commended. It had a good texture, thick, creamy, smooth and buttery.

Il Tricolore - also known as the “The Italian Flag”. Almond crusted Salmon served with leek cream, pesto risotto and cherry tomatoes. The colors of the Italian flag – green, white and red – was the inspiration for this dish. I simply just love salmon in about any dish, so this was two thumbs up for me. The pesto truly enriched the flavor of the the risotto deliciously and also present some  nice looking flecks of green.

Il Naufrago - aka “The Cast Away”. Stuffed crusted chicken breast resting on top of herbed pilaf surrounded by marinara sauce garnished with essence of basil. Sun burnt cast away stuck on an island during sunset. Don't you just love the inspiration for this dish. For a girl who forever loves the sunset, I sure do! Moreover, I am the biggest fan of white meat but for some it can be boring and tasteless but this one has got a lot of taste and texture in it especially with flavored rice and the marinara sauce.

Dutch Baby Breakfast - there are different stories about the origin of this dish. One story comes from an American magazine which stated that it was first introduced as a derivative of German pancakes in a Seattle café. Others say that the “Dutch” moniker refers to the group of German-America immigrants known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, where “Dutch” is a corruption of the German autonym “Deutsch.” This savoury version is made of Kielbasa sausage, Poached Egg, Arugula and German Sweet Mustard. This dish isn’t your typical pancake.  It is oven baked, rich and fluffy. I love how runny the egg was and may I just say that the German sweet mustard tied the whole dish together into a savory goodness. A must try most definitely!

Dutch Baby Lagerfeuer “Campfire” - a derivative of German pancakes, this sweet version of the Dutch baby has marshmallows roasted over flambéed mangoes. I gotta say this was my favorite of all that I tried from Vanderlust's new menu additons. It'll make you feel warm, fuzzy and just like a kid all over again. I just love the combo of mango and marshmallow. I can see myself finishing the entire thing without being guilty of not sharing. By the way, the Dutch babies are only available at The Podium branch.

Schneeball - The “Snowball.” It is a ball-shaped short crust pastry with flavored coating and filling. It has a 300-year old history and tradition, from Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany. This special pastry is one of Vanderlust’s flagship pastries. When Mark Anthony & Valerie traveled to Germany, this was one of the food which caught their interest and sparked the idea to bring EU to their homeland. This pastry was traditionally served only during    special occasions such as weddings. Now it is widely available in Rothenburg, a beautiful town in Bavaria, well-known for its well-preserved medieval look. Available flavors: Strawberries & Cream, Hazelnut Kiss, Calamansi, Peanut butter Ball, Cookies & Cream, Mocha Tiramisu.

This was the dessert I was most excited about like every time. I’ve trek a couple of times to Tomas Morato only for this dessert. Some of my friends who I told and learned about this also visits the QC branch just to get their fix. The pastry is hard, just like hard biscuits, so you have to put in a paper bag and hammer it before you can enjoy it. After hammering that’s the time you pick the pieces and enjoy them. It was fun breaking and eating them. You can let out all your frustrations and heart aches while hammering but at the end it’ll give you a sweet satisfaction. My favorite flavors would definitely be the Strawberries and Cream and Hazelnut Crunch.

my blogger friend Raina of demonstrating how to break the Schneeball into pieces.

Millefeuille - pronounced “meel-foy” and literally means “thousand leaves.” It is a classic French pastry made up of crispy and airy puff pastry and decadent cream, making it both rich and light at the same time. Vanderlust has two versions: the Classic and the Cheesecake. This is such a fabulous and elegant dessert that I almost didn’t want to eat it. I love how delicate and flaky this was. It does taste as good as it looks. Flavors include: Folie aux Noisettes “Crazy Hazel”, Lait Qui Pleure“Crying Milk”, Très Matcha “Verry Matcha ” and “Noix Souffrante Suffering Nut. I can’t pick any favorite because I love each variant.

Gianduiotto - a chocolate originally from Piedmont, in northern Italy. It takes its name from Gianduja, which is a chocolate spread containing hazelnut paste and chocolate. A continental block during Napoleon’s reign made it very difficult and expensive to import cocoa so the chocolatiers from Piedmont had to be creative. It was then necessary for them to incorporate a locally grown produce the region is well known for - hazelnut! Did you know? The first iteration of Nutella was named Pasta Gianduja!! When Mark and Valerie traveled in Europe, one of the “souvenirs” they collected were chocolates! There were so many varieties - from the Austria’s Mozartkugel to the rich assortment of London’s Cadbury - they just had to try some! Now they’re bringing it as this lovely desert. The combination of the finest chocolate and the best hazelnuts comes in a velvety chocolate log which was absolutely a unique pleasure to eat. This easily became everyone’s favorite.

I loved and super enjoyed that I got to visit Vanderlust at their newest branch and got to try the latest additions to their menu. My QC favorite is now nearer to where I live and that gives me a chance to get my hands on those Schneeballs more often! Thanks Val and Mark for bringing and sharing your authentic travel experience through food. The dishes I tried gave me an idea of the taste of Europe, which I am excited to encounter hopefully someday soon.

Btw, here's my review of their first branch at Tomas Morato: Vanderlust Bistro + Patisserie Tomas Morato

5/F, The Podium, ADB Avenue, 
Ortigas, Mandaluyong City, Philippines
Contact Nos: 02 8717314

For more information, complete menu and restaurant reviews, check out their Zomato profile: 
Vanderlust Bistro + Patisserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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1 comment:

  1. Hello!
    wow!This culinar post really got me hungry!
    Great place and dishes!
    Thanks for sharing.


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