Tastease Donuts: Hartford’s Tastiest Donuts!

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After randomly searching for a good dessert place in CT, Tastease came up a lot and all I saw were lots of Instagram posts and good reviews. I had to go check this place out.

Last week, I wanted to surprise my husband with these donuts but we arrived at the store just a few minutes before the store was closing so obviously, no donuts for us! We were told that if we wanted donuts, it’s either we call a day before or I we come in early in the morning. So this morning, I called in to reserve a box — at 7 A.M. The person on the other end asked for my name and what time I was to pick up the box of donuts and I said I’ll be there by 9 A.M. I arrived at the place by 8:45 and this was what I saw when I stepped inside:

8:45 A.M.
8:45 A.M.

 

Not a lot of donuts left. I didn’t ask if they have another batch baking in the kitchen but with what I’ve observed, it’s better to just call ahead of time and RESERVE your box. Trust me on this one, you wouldn’t wanna waste your chances on getting your hands on these yummy treats! A box of twelve yummy little donut goodness and waking up early to get these was really worth it.

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Aren’t they pretty?

 

Despite their size (they’re quite small), I was surprised at how much flavor each bite has — these donuts are dense and just a few pieces and a cup of hot coffee would be enough for breakfast! (We’re not big coffee drinkers so we just had plain ol’ water but still worked well for us!)

Yay for donuts! I can’t wait to try out the other flavors!:)

Have an awesome day!

SLTB

Tastease is located in 70 New Park Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut. Call them at (860) 233 2235.

Read more about Tastease:

CTMQ.org: Doughnuts at Tastease
Hartford.com: Mini Donuts From Tastease
CTNOW: Best Donuts

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Heavenly Cheesecakes by Joey Prats

If, for others, an event is incomplete without alcohol, then an event isn’t complete without cake for me! I’ve even baked some cakes before, although the last time I did was last year — it was a red velvet birthday cake with cream cheese frosting and fresh strawberries for BF. Seeing loved ones enjoy the baked goodies bring me a certain joy that totally beats store-bought cakes. It’s the appreciation for the cake that says, “I appreciate you.”

cake collage
Though I may not have baked for a while, I’ve joined Facebook baking groups and I’m also taking as much lessons as I could so that when I start baking again, I would be better equipped with skills and knowledge that I’ve learned so far.

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Last week, I received my own copy of the Heavenly Cheesecakes DVD by Joey Prats. Included in the DVD are three recipes of cheesecakes — Dulce de Leche Cheesecake, Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake, and Black Forest Cheesecake. I actually can’t wait to try them all! I think the one that’s gonna be easiest to do right away is the Dulce de Leche one because all the ingredients are readily available in my kitchen… plus I love dulce de leche! 🙂 Anyway, I might not be able to do it asap but I’ll be posting it up as soon as I make it. 🙂

I’ve taken 2 classes so far (the Cookies & Bars Class and the Macaron 101 Class) and I highly recommend the Joey Prats School of Baking & Pastry Arts. Though the classes I’ve taken were demo classes, I’ve learned a lot in those classes. They do have an upcoming 3-month certificate course so for those who are interested in baking, I’d suggest this course. I would enroll right away if I have the funds right now, but I don’t yet so I guess there’s gonna be a next time for me… but if you, my dear reader, is interested and you can, then please do so and enjoy learning how to bake at this school. 🙂

For those who want their own copy of the Heavenly Cheesecakes DVD, you can click here to contact them through their Facebook page. They also have other DVDs as well (Joy of Pastry and Best 100 Recipes) so there are a lot to choose from. BTW, those who aren’t in the Philippines can still purchase the videos — I think they’ll send the digital copy instead of the CD, so don’t hesitate to contact them. 🙂

Joey Ayala at Sev’s (Feb. 27, 2014)

(I found this buried in my drafts folder and thought I should edit and finally upload it.) 🙂

February 27, 2014
Browsing through Facebook for some ideas to do for the day, BF and I stumbled upon the page of Sev’s Cafe and saw that Joey Ayala would be performing that night. We were really impressed with his TED video which included his version of the Lupang Hinirang, so we decided to go (click here to watch the TEDx video). Since we both still didn’t have our salaries yet, we were on a budget — it’s a good thing that the P200 ticket has a P100 consumable per person included. Reservations were made with Ms. Ipat, and we were on our way to the place.

Located in Roxas boulevard cor. Vito Cruz, it’s very easy to go to and very accessible to commuters. It’s in the Vito Cruz side though, and you’ll have to walk a little from the corner till you see an entrance to a parking lot at the right side — it’s at the end of that parking lot. There’s a guard there you can ask as well. (click here for the map)

As we entered the restaurant, I immediately felt at home with the place. The welcoming atmosphere is just comfortable enough to make you want to come back again and again. It actually reminds me of living/dining rooms were friends and family would gather around and enjoy a great home cooked meal while sharing lots of stories over coffee and/or dessert afterwards (definitely dessert for me!!).

I ordered the Pork Afritada and a banana smoothie, but I highly recommend the Tapsilog and the mango smoothie which BF ordered. The dynamite is awesome with the extra crunch and creamy cheese while the squid rings are cooked just right (and would be great with beer). I’m not sure if I was able to take pictures of what we had  — It’s either buried in my dropbox or I think we were just both hungry that time that we didn’t even thought of taking pictures. Everything on the menu is priced more reasonably than most restaurants, and I was pleasantly surprised at the healthier options (i.e. brown rice instead of white rice; vinegar instead of ketchup-mayo dip, etc.). Oh and did I mention the mango smoothie? You need to try it. 🙂

joey ayala
Joey Ayala

The show started and all eyes were on Joey Ayala. He performed different songs of his — love songs, nationalistic ones, even funny ones among all others in his lineup. With every note and word was his love and passion for music, for his arts, and for the country. It’s amazing how in simplicity, the most heartfelt and striking songs were formed. Watching his own rendition of the national anthem on youtube already gave me goosebumps — this is one Filipino who really loves his country. Yet seeing him performing live onstage was a different experience. Simple words are those that actually pierce through one’s soul, encouraging one to think and reflect on the realities of the present and the current situation of the country.

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The restaurant, just as Joey Ayala is, is proudly Filipino — from the flag just above the door, to a portrait of Andres Bonifacio at the back of the counter, to the tables, chairs, and other decors of the place, down to the menu (they serve Basi and Tapuy shots!) and ingredients. This place is perfect for schoolmates or barkadas who are looking for a chill hangout.

Macaron 101 at the Joey Prats School of Baking & Pastry Arts

Last Saturday, June 13, was a very happy day for me — I finally got to attend the Macaron 101 class at the Joey Prats School of Baking & Pastry Arts! They have an ongoing promotion and this is the second class I’m taking (I attended the Cookies and Bars class last month) so I just have to get one more class and the next one is free! Always remember the green walls and the blue gate — I forgot the number of the house but remembered it was this brightly colored house and I didn’t get lost this time. (Yay me!) As usual with all of their classes, the class size was small — there were only six of us that day. I like the small class size because it allows friendships to be created and it’s a good environment for shy ones to be comfortable with the rest of the class. It also makes it easy for everyone to gather around near the chef if needed be. I sat beside a familiar face (she was a classmate from the previous class) then started a little chitchat with her and the Marketing Director, Eric, while we all wait in anticipation for the class to begin.

macaron recipe
Each student is given an envelope with the attendance certificate and all the recipes to be discussed, plus a box of macarons!

The class started off with an introduction to macaron — Chef Joey discussed its rich history (Laduree, Pierre Herme, etc), the different techniques that can be used (French and Italian methods), and the description of a perfect macaron. When a student sets foot in Chef Joey’s kitchen, not only does the student learn how to bake, but he surely will have a more critical palate for desserts and a much more inquisitive approach to them as well.

Chef Joey piping the macaron shells

Macarons are finicky to make which explains why a lot of bakers don’t make them much or don’t even try to make them at all. The baking began with the shells which are deceivingly easy to make: follow the procedure and you’re good to go; just don’t forget the correct preparation of the ingredients, the waiting for the macarons to set, the precise mixing needed for you not to over- nor undermix the batter… it’s fussy — yet easy, something you’d love to hate and hate to love. 😉 Next was the ganache — a simple yet luxurious treat made with the finest cream, chocolate, and ground almonds.

perfect macaron shells
perfect macaron shells

While waiting for the cookies to bake, we were surprised with a generous treat — a slice each of the best caramel flan (leche flan) that I’ve ever tasted! It has this gentle taste that’s creamy, and not overpoweringly sweet, that lingers on your taste buds even long after you’ve had it.

caramel flan
Joey Prats’ Caramel Flan

After the cookies were done baking, and have already cooled down, a generous amount of ganache was piped onto the cookies before being sandwiched by the top cookie… delicious. But painstakingly, we were told that the best time to eat a macaron is on the day after it’s cooked. Tempting as it may be, one must hold back and wait as each cookie is done with its “beauty rest” so as to achieve the different layers of flavor and texture that Chef Joey is proud of. The class ended with more chitchat and we were even able to try some liquid gold — Chef Myrna’s infamous Ultra Special Bagoong (no kidding, it’s so good that you can eat it with crackers). When we finally had to go home, we all left with a box each of macarons (for sharing…?) and a huge smile on our faces.

gorgeous dark chocolate macarons
gorgeous dark chocolate macarons

Although a very finicky treat, one must definitely try making macarons. Patience is truly a virtue one will need when making macarons (and trying very hard not to eat them on the same day it’s baked) but at the end of the day, I love macarons and I shall persist. As Chef Joey said, “mantra is ‘perfection’ and not ‘excellence,’ because the saying, ‘nobody’s perfect’ is just an excuse not to strive for perfection.”

For more reads:
1. Close to Laduree
2. My Sweet Story
3. Joey Prats’ Signature Desserts

For those interested in the Macaron 101 class, there’s another one coming up next month! I also found out that the macaron recipes can be found in one of the DVD that they’re selling. Check out their Facebook page for more details…  🙂

Baking with Joey Prats: Cookies and Bars

Last May 16, I went to the Joey Prats School of Baking and Pastry Arts to try out one of their classes. I originally planned to attend the French Macarons class but I wasn’t able to attend that one so I opted for the Cookies and Bars class instead.

Chef Joey was very friendly and I learned a lot of tips not limited to the topic/recipes alone. He willingly shared tips on different things such as how to improve baking, how to choose the best ingredients (and the best substitutes for those who are looking for more affordable alternatives to expensive ingredients), and different baking equipment/tools. I admire his philosophy on food being more than just something to make you full — he says it should be an experience that would make you feel as if you’ve gone to heaven and back. I can’t agree more because personally, I’d rather spend on something that can make me happy rather than just have something mediocre — that way I’m sure cravings are satisfied. He doesn’t scrimp on ingredients either, only using the best ingredients in the market in order to produce his luxurious treats (remember though, good quality doesn’t always have to mean sky-high prices).

yummy

For p3000 per class, I think this is super worth it. Cookies and bars are what may seem to be the easiest to make for beginner bakers; however, this class proved that making cookies and bars can be done in many different ways. Each participant is given a folder which includes recipes from the class and a certificate of attendance. At the end of the class, we all got to take home a box of goodies to enjoy and share with our family (or to keep to ourselves, whichever one pleases).

raspberry square

The school is located in a quiet village in Paranaque. To get there, you’ll have to get to Marcelo avenue via the West Service Road. You’ll see a 7-11 and a huge “Marcelo Green” sign so it’ll be easy to spot. Go through the village gate and turn left, then turn right when you see the Mango Corner Diner & Living Room Bar. It shouldn’t be hard to find (although silly me got lost the first time i tried to go there, haha!).  You can also refer to the map below.

address

Joey Prats Baking School offers different classes every weekend such as Macarons, Cheesecakes Cookies and Bars, and Artisanal Ice Cream. They also have a certificate program for those who want to take their skills further. For those who want to inquire about their classes, you can click here to check out their Facebook page or contact them through their numbers (refer to the picture below).

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SLTB