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After the Ayala Museum, we all proceeded to Max Brenner in Greenbelt 3 for pastry and some special hot chocolate. How special? Roland and Ma’am Odette had the Venezuela Dark, I had the Trinidad White, while Ricky and Ma’am Letty had this utterly luxurious and exotic Ecuador chocolate with orchid oil. Almond selected a restorative peppermint tea.

They have this white porcelain earless cup with a pointed lip from which you are encouraged to sip. All the chocolate drinks had these tiny globules of yummy fat floating on top like you’d see in chocolate eh. Ricky let me taste some of the Ecuador, which struck me as only faintly sweet upon first touching the tongue. The sweetness developed in the middle of your mouth, and later I detected the faint perfume of orchid oil (vanilla, identifies the Max Brenner website) which had a long finish in the back of the tongue. Not to everyone’s taste, but definitely to mine! (Note to self: order it next time.) My Trinidad White was yummy, but a bit too rich for me. It brought back all childhood Christmases past,with its dairy velvety-ness and buttery richness laving all over my tongue. I guess the best way to enjoy it would be to take a long sip, let it fill the mouth and senses, before swallowing slowly. And in between, sips of lifesaving water.

We also shared a fancy brownie. I have no idea what it was called since we promptly pounced on it, and in true Pinoy fashion, ping-ponged the last bite around the plate.

The first time I went to Max Brenner it was with the Justice League (the everyday heroines in my barkada) for the newly engaged Tim’s birthday two years ago. We’d had dinner somewhere else and decided to have dessert. Almond very cleverly arranged a surprise entry by Tim’s then-fiancee Eric, home early for Christmas via Hong Kong red-eye. We had a chocolate fondue, which I enjoyed but was not much impressed by. I think I was too busy laughing at Tim’s expression of incredulous joy when she saw Eric.

My estimation of the place has risen since then, after this visit. In my opinion this quality of hot chocolate shouldn’t be downed like it were Swiss Miss and you were in pajamas. First of all, it’s pricey (one could have a full meal for the price of one cup of gourmet hot choco), but I think what we’d ordered was well worth it. I’d been avoiding Max Brenner when it first opened precisely because I feared it would be the sort of place pretentious people like to casually brag about having been to (read: I can afford high-end chocolate! Also read: Been there, done that, now let’s haul my fashionable deconstructed jeans-clad ass off to the next hot new happening place!).

Now that the fashion panic has abated and the place has established itself, it’s actually attracting people in search of chocolate adventure. I think if I’m flush with a little cash and in need of some chocolate therapy, or just planning to celebrate with TDM, it’s a great place to go to. Once in a while.

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