What is a mallet?
A mallet is a type of hammer used for stonework, woodwork, steelwork, leatherwork, and jewelry; during sports and games, like croquet, polo, and Whac-A-Mole; and on musical instruments, like a xylophone or glockenspiel. A mallet is also used to tenderize meats, open hard fruits and vegetables, and ground spices, ice, and crumbs.
Last year, I discovered another use for the mallet: to crush dessert!
On January 2017, I found online this Korean restaurant along Taft Avenue that offered a sweet treat that required the use of a mallet. Unfortunately, my friends and I learned later that the place closed some years ago. Fortunately, some months after my discovery, I came across a similar idea but at a different place. This time around, my friends and I were determined to dine there. Not even the dry run for the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) meeting could stop us.
So, where were we heading?
Vanderlust Bistro + Patisserie is a restaurant tucked away in a vein of Tomas Morato Ave. It is owned by Valerie and Mark Anthony Tan and they opened the place during the latter half of 2016. Unlike most dining places that specialize in just one country’s usual fare, Vanderlust casts its net wider by offering European dishes not usually found in other restaurants here in the Philippines.
When my friends and I entered, we discovered it’s a cozy place, made cool by the blue motif and even cooler by the European indie music they played. There’s one unisex bathroom at the first floor. I didn’t explore the second floor, so I have no idea what the upstairs looks like. I didn’t have time to because we were readily engaged by their wonderfully cheery staff. The nice lady wondered us if it was our first time there; she pointed to us their best sellers and asked what we would like for dessert.
During our wait for the food, they placed plates on our table. It excited me to learn that they too use blue plates. From what I have read about color psychology and dieting, using a blue plate could help with portion control. There are few food items that are naturally colored blue, so food on a blue plate stands out, making a person more aware of how much food is already on the plate.
Kelvin ordered a German plate: Schweinekotelett with Mustard Cream Sauce. He would have offered me bite, but he knows I don’t eat pork. I thought he disliked mashed potato. I was wrong. He said he saved the best part for last.
Cat went Spanish with her Espaguetis con Chorizo. She finished it easily and paired her lunch with the Belgian pilsner Stella Artois.
As for me, I stuck with an Italian classic: Cacio E Pepe. I was floored to discover that pasta could be made with any sauce! Just have cheese and pepper and it’s set. I loved its simplicity and the lingering heat, which made my mouth water for the dessert. And what was for dessert?
Schneebälle (“snowball”), also spelled as Schneebällen, is a German pastry. While it is Instagram-worthy and most definitely a sweet treat, it is a hard cookie—with strong emphasis on hard, ergo the need for a mallet. Each Schneebälle is presented with its own wooden mallet, paper bag, and a small wooden board. Our choices were Erdbeer Affäre, Hasselnuss Kuss, and Peanut Brittle (I didn’t get the German name for it). Once the Schneebälle is placed inside the bag and the bag on top of the board, channel your inner Hulk, Thor, or someone just as infuriated to smash away at the treat until it is reduced to bite-size pieces. It was such a loud and fun exercise that the four old ladies at the next table became curious at what we were doing and eating. One of them even cheered us on!
But that wasn’t all. We also had Italian Cannolis. One order of cannolis is a small plate of a trio of the same or different flavors. I asked for assorted little tubes, which were Primo Grigio, Limone Capone, and Porpora. The colorful ricotta was just heavenly. My only dismay is that, while I like Earl Grey as tea, I dislike it as a flavor for cream.
We had such a smashing good time at Vanderlust, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we returned.
Vanderlust Bistro + Patisserie
100 Scout De Guia Corner Tomas Morato Avenue, Tomas Morato, Quezon City