Archive for philippine food

(lg2a) what’s hot, chocnut?

Posted in artifacts, culture, food, health, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, people, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2011 by mijodo

Don’t get me wrong, my mom was quite a conscientious mother when I was being reared as a child. But there were days when she would ask me to go to the nearby grocery to buy Nestle Chocolate Crunch bar as substitute viand to a plate of rice, particularly when the maid or help was gone, and she was too lazy or perhaps busy to prepare food. And truth to be told, I loved it when chocolate bar became part of the meal – nopes not just chocolate drink such Milo, Ovaltine, Chocolait or ChocoVim.

Of course if you were a kid of the 70s or the 80s, you would remember Serg Chocolate Bar or Nips (M&M’s pinoy counterpart).  Do you still remember Horlicks – that chocolate flavored discs, good for energy (well that is what my mom said to me)? How about those addicting Curly Tops by Ricoa? Or probably you would have good memories of those fascinating but strange looking fake gold coins, laden with creamy chocolate that melted and annoyingly smeared your clothes.

Yet there is no denying that when we were kids, and probably the kids of this generation, would prefer those imported chocolates, direct from the United States or even from those PX stores from Angeles, Pampanga then.

Kitkat (my personal favorite). Three Musketeers. Baby Ruth. Butterfinger. Milky Way. Mr. Goodbar. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Almond Rocha. Almond Joy. Ferrero Roche. Toblerone. And of course, Kisses. These were the chocolates of our colonial-mentality fixated youth.

So when the opportunity came up, from my sisters Jane and Christie, together with niece Ernestine, to passby Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey’s, Pennsylvania, I could not forego it since the trip would surely bring back the yummy-filled memories of  my childhood.

Just like a kid in candy store, I was in awe of how grand the whole area was as envisioned by Mr. Milton Hershey, the grand daddy of confectionery when he started his choco factory. The Hershey factories and corporate office have been located in several hectares or acreage of land. But thoughtfully, a covered mini theme park has been set up to welcome visitors, comprised mainly of families.

In such hall, there were movies that account of Mr. Hershey’s rise to chocolatedom. There were rides that show the processes of chocolate making. And of course, the best part was the Hershey’s store that showcased all the candy products and keepsakes alike. The place was like being in the wonderful world of Willie Wonka without the scary and mean Wonka wrecking you out for being troublesome.

Obviously, there is much love for chocolates by Filipinos, particularly the imported ones. But there is one truly Pinoy chocolate that can rival any of these American goodies in terms of popularity, and even possibly in taste.  Definitely, it is Chocnut or Tsoknut – that humble nutty confection that one can get at the corner sari-sari store for a measely peso per piece (I remember it at 25 cents per piece before).

There is a continuing love for this chocolate that started as  kids’ fare and now has become an important ingredient for sophisticated restaurant deserts – from cakes to ice-cream concoctions. Surely, this choco brand has become  part of the Filipinos’ consciousness that spells comfort and happiness. Sweet kisses to you, Chocnut.

it’s a wrap

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, food, history, lifestyle, locales, people, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2010 by mijodo

 

Among the many Pinoy pastries, the tender and sweet pastillas de leche or simply put, pastillas are worth the bite and more. It used to be that as a child, I would buy by the dozens these two inch, almost candy-hard pastillas, delicately but simply wrapped in white paper. I am not quite sure if such pastillas are still being manufactured until today.

 But then I realized that there is another way of creating and presenting these pastillas. Such can be soft, chewy, sugary concotion where fresh carabao milk is incorporated.  And definitley, these pastries should please those who have the proverbial sweet tooth.  And if lucky enough, one may partake the ones wrapped in the most interesting and most elegant manner – direct from the pastillas corner of the Philippines – San Miguel, Bulacan.

These specially made pastillas from the last town of Bulacan, just before Nueva Ecija, are beautifully packaged in Japanese paper, which has a tail, almost similar to the ones of a traditional Filipino Christmas Lantern (parol).  Take a look at the tail, and be at awe with the delicate cut-outs which reveal a dainty lace design. It is almost tempting not to open the “pabalat” (wrapper)  itself as the wrapping is just too pretty to waste.  But then one  just has to give in to taste more of that creamy pastillas!
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It is said that the tradition of creating these pastillas wrappers dates back probably to early 20th century, and the folk art has been passed on through the generations. Alas, today, as there are less people (usually ladies in their 70s and 80s) who are adept in doing the intricate cut-outs, one needs to find a specialty shop in San Miguel, Bulacan to preorder the pastillas (now in different flavors such as keso (cheese) and ube (purple yam) and be astonished by the taste and the sight of these native sweets.
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You may want to order a box and proudly present it to a loved one from Aling Nene’ s Pastillas Shop. Just call Erwin at 0905-791-1123.

a lady wades through its river

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, food, history, lifestyle, locales, people, religion, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2010 by mijodo

It is like a scene straight out of an old part of Manila – a little chaotic, a little washed out. Multitudes of jeepneys and tricycles ply about the narrow city streets at its most commercial site of Centro. People try hard to amble about at the avenues and roads, without much of the wanted sidewalks or pavements. The city proper perhaps may look indistinguishable from other Philippine cities however one has to see through Naga City’s bustling commerce and animated lifestyle, to find out the genteel quality of its people and the soulful character of the vicinity.

If it is Naga, then it has to be Penafrancia. The charter city is host to the the most prominent church of the whole Bicolandia – the Penafrancia Church. At the corner of the metropolis, one can see church’s more moderne architecture where the image of Our Lady of Penafrancia is housed. Every September, the whole city and its devotees make a rapturous commemoration of a festival in honor of the Virgin. In other parts of the Philippines, such religious event is done in frenzied street style celebration. But somehow the local church officials through the years have made the whole Marian festival subdued yet with distinction – the image of the lady is paraded through the river of Naga. There, along different sections of the river, hundreds and thousands of people witness with much anticipation the fluvial parade, beautifully lit by the candles in the evening.

There is much piety and reverence pouring out from the place. Aside from the Penafrancia Church, it is the Cathedral of Naga that dominates the area. The Cathedral boasts of a spanish-romanesque influences with its thick walls, round arches, and large towers.

More education, less movies. Naga has numerous and prestigious colleges and universities. Among them is the Jesuit driven, Ateneo which has two campuses in Naga. One is in the nearer Bagumbayan Sur; the other a little toward Mt. Isarog, in the area of Pacol. For the youth who are leaning towards technology and science as a career goal then they should enroll at government funded, Naga City Science Highschool. During weekdays, one can see a plethora of students, enjoying the company of classmates and friends inside and outside school campuses.

Interestingly enough, the city kids of Naga do not frequent the malls. Perhaps, because all the malls in the city do not have movie houses (at the time this was written -2009). In fact there  just few of them – independent movie houses – scattered in the city. But this will change, as a humongous mall will open in the coming months to serve Camarines Sur and other provinces of Bicol. Surely, the mall will have many cinemas. And this may just alter the simple ways of the studentry of Naga.

Some like it hot – and with gata (coconut cream). Yes, it has been told that Bicol’s cuisine is largely spicy hot and calorie rich. One of the fastfood restos that promote such delectable local food creations is Geewan which can be seen in many parts of Bicol, including Naga. There one can have an appreciation of the original laing (taro or gabi’ leaves cooked in gata), Bicol Express (meat in shrimp paste and gata, and pinangat (ground beef wrapped in banana leaves).

The food in the Geewan is definitely scrumptuous, but somehow there is less bite than expected. Most probably Geewan has tempered the hotness of its servings, in order not to cause tongue trauma to its valued clients. Afterall, many customers who come by to this place are tourists who just want to sample the famous food of the region without experiencing the complications brought about by the supposed spiciness.

Definitely less piquant, but as flavorful as the other native Naga food is sinuman. It is a snack made out of glutinous rice cake cooked in panucha (crude sugar). In the outskirts of Naga City, ambulant vendors bring and display the stuff in a bilao (bamboo tray). Sinuman costs at five pesos a piece.

Naga may be as busy as the other urban centers of the Philippines. And it is possible, with some salient modifications in urban restoration, this chartered city can catch up with them in terms of luster and gleam. But it is Naga’s graciousness and ardent character that should always be kept and preserved by its people.

orientalia

Posted in artifacts, culture, food, history, lifestyle, locales, travel with tags , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by mijodo

The rite of Chinese New Year has been more pronounced for some years now in the Philippines (This year, it was celebrated on February 14, Valentines Day). Before, only the Filipino Chinese celebrated it, with all the trappings. Yet somehow, Filipinos in general, have regarded the Chinese New Year as an important occasion, thanks to the feng-shui experts and geomancers who graciously advise on people’s luck and fate for the new year through the use of the 12 animal signs during the many television interviews.

If the Chinese New Year is quite relatively new in many parts (beyond Binondo) of the country, Chinese food though has been relevant part of our rich Filipino food culture. There are all kinds of pancit – Bihon, Canton, Lomi, Mami, Sotanghon – all coming from woks and pans of our Chinese ancestors.

Of course, there are all sorts of lumpia or spring rolls. Crispy Lumpia Shanghai. dipped into the tangy sweet and sour sauce. There’s old filipino favorite Lumpiang Ubod (coconut palm hearts) or Lumpiang Gulay (vegetables), beautiful for merienda, served with thick brown sauce (if eaten fresh) or just plain vinegar (if fried).

Dimsum staples such as siopao (bolabola or asado) or siomai can be ordered from ritzy Chinese restaurants or just neighborhood eateries. In fact siopao and siomai have become popular streetfood themselves and should satisfy hunger and craving in a jiffy.
 
Aside from Chinese cooking,  Japanese food have become slowly part of food interests of Filipinos, particularly among the urbanites.  Some metro dwellers have already acquired the taste for sushi and sashimi although raw in preparation.  Japanese mimimalistic food entrees may not be as popular as the Chinese yummies, still such delights from Japan have already made signficant inroads to the Filipino tastebuds.
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Although Chinese New Year celebration comes only once a year (obviously), it is quite reassuring that all the oriental gustatory gratification can be had all year round right from our favorite restos or just from our own kitchens.

fall into temptation

Posted in culture, events, food, lifestyle, people, tradition with tags , , , , , , , on October 23, 2009 by mijodo

candied fruit delights by ted's temptations

It is again that time of the year when life becomes more frenzied by the day as Christmastime approaches. Gift giving can be a harrassing thought.  Garments and apparel as gifts can be tricky; one needs sizes and measurement of the recepient. Some gifts may require gargantuan amount of money. And some gifts are just plain tacky. Thus food, particularly coming from the best kitchens will be most appreciated, by those who seem to have almost everything in life.

Ted Valdez’s household can be a little bit crazy as Yuletide season comes nearer. From her (oh yes, Ted’s a “she”) kitchen, she concocts the best toffee candy bars in this part of the Philippines, rivaling the premier brands of the US. Unlike the ones abroad, where people have difficult biting into the candy, Ted’s Temptation Toffee Candies can be easy on the bite, yet still having a definite crunch. There’s a secret into it, and she would hardly say it.

But it is no secret that her recipe, which is inspired from her sister’s, only uses the freshest ingredients – variety of nuts, chocolates, and butter.  Ted’s toffee candies have an assortement to choose from – cashew, almond, mocha, and fruity flavors, all individually wrapped, and all elegantly boxed or put into cannisters, and yet not as expensive as the US brand counterpart (Almond Roca).  The packaging, and what’s inside are all pretty, and would be highly recommended as personal gifts, even for Valentines. “But during Christmas, some have ordered by the dozens as corporate gifts,” Ricky, Ted’s husband, averred.

Through the years (about 5), Ted has expanded her tempting treats. There’s the melt-in-the-mouth caramel candy.  Her chocolate eclairs and vanilla puffs are loaded with to-die-for creamy sensation.  Her candied fruit are true delights, and in different varieties – cranberry, calamansi, mango and pineapple. And of course,  to those craving for more chocolates, her brownies are raved about.

The production of such indulgence can be a little daunting to Ted and her brood, particularly during the holiday season.  But it is those who have tasted and continually appreciated her kitchen creations that inspired Ted and husband, Ricky to do much more. Somehow, for many years to come, people will just have to fall into Ted’s Temptations.

(For orders – call 09176269312 or 8232235. You may check Ted’s Temptations Multiply Account – tedstemptations.multiply.com)

chill!

Posted in artifacts, culture, food, lifestyle, tradition with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2009 by mijodo

mais con yelo supreme

Since the Philippines is in the tropics, aside from halo-halo, Filipinos have readily come up with other native popular chillers and coolers.  They may not have reached the stature of the great halo-halo (https://letsgopinas.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/hail-halo-halo/), yet they are still effective to cool down the body heat.

1. Guinumis – A coconut milk drink with  sago (tapioca balls) and gulaman (jelly). and pinipig (pounded immature glutinous rice) or cron cereals on top. Flavorful cocodrink which origin is supposedly from Nueva Ecija. Best to have guinumis at Ponciana’s and Via Mare.

2. Sago and Gulaman – A mixture of tapioca and jelly, with a hint of banana extract and vanilla. The arnibal (caramelized sugar syrup) creates the burnt/rust color of the cooler which started humble in the streets and has now been elevated in many restaurants using tall glasses and large straws. Goldilocks has good sago and gulaman preparation. But I wish they were served in tall glasses, and not in plastic cups.

3, Buko Juice – Athough halo-halo may be the king of Filipino coolers, it is the image of the buko (young coconut) that represents the Philippines more, particularly to the Westerners. Buko juice together with the shredded meat can be served in a tall glass, sometimes with sugar and even evaporated milk. But it is more fun, if you sip the juice, and scoop the meat from the the nut.

4. Buko-Pandan – The craze for anything buko pandan (salad, shake and juice) started only in the 90s thus it buko pandan juice is relatively new. The pandan leaves gives an aromatic flavor to the buko juice, and voila -another innovative quencher is born!   Fruit Magic kiosks inside malls could serve up one nicely.

5. Mais con Yelo – Somehow this chiller’s popularity has waned probably because of the addition of new coolers such as buko pandan. Yet it is still refreshing taste cornbits and evaporated milk together, served with shaved ice. Iceberg’s has a mean mais con yelo with ice cream on top.

6. Kalamansi Juice – Others prefer drinking it hot, particularly for colds and fever. But cold kalamansi (calamondin) juice can be an answer to the cool lemonade of other countries. Others serve this citrusy flavored juice with honey. Good for the heat, and good for the health too. One could have it inside your home.

7. Other Fruit Juices – Since the Philippines is host to lots of  fruit bearing trees and plants, then obviously there are fruit juices to experience and explore – from the common mango or melon juice to the more exotic dalandan or guyabano juice. Drink it fresh or take it from extracts coming from the bottles. All refreshing, all reinvirgorating, all thirst quenching, all good.

menu for living the life at bantayan island

Posted in artifacts, food, lifestyle, locales, nature, people, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2009 by mijodo

deliciously grilled fresh scallops

Puso (4 pcs) – P8.00

Petso (2) – P50.00

Chorizo (2) – P30.00

80z Pepsi (3) – 30.00

Total – P118.00

Yups, that’s what the  total bill is  for a late lunch at the dining area of Aling Maribel near the market at Bantayan proper.  And that is good for two people. Amazingly, not bad.

The food stalls there serve different grilled seafood and rice packed inside coconut palm leaves (puso).

Bantayan is the northern most island of Cebu. And there are three municipalities which qualities are different from each other. Sta. Fe has the powdery white sand beaches to boast about.  Bantayan proper has its 430 year old church that truly impresses. And Madridejos has the magnificent sunset view to wow its guests. 

Bantayan Island is a three hour trip from the Metropolis of Cebu. Take a Ceres bus at the North Bus Terminal or even the faster van for hire at SM Cebu to the wharf of Hagnaya. Then ride a ferry towards the port of Sta. Fe. Then you may need some help for you to explore Bantayan’s three towns. Just look for Don-don and Danny to assist you as they have their padyaks (foot pedalled cab) and motorcycle. Just call them at this number 0907-6445218. 

And since Bantayan Island has access to the freshest, mouthwatering seafood – crustaceans, shells and fish alike, particularly in this unassuming grillery, Arjaymay near the beaches of Sta. Fe. The owners can even cook up the famous rock lobster at P160 pesos per serving.

And of course, don’t forget to buy your pasalubong afterall, this is where a significant portion of dried seafood of Cebu come from. There is danggit, and there is danggit unsalted for those health conscious. Just get such just before you go on board the ferry back to Cebu city.

There is much more in living life at Bantayan. And definitely there is much more to talk about in the coming posting as well about the three towns of the island of Bantayan.

hail, halo-halo

Posted in artifacts, culture, food, lifestyle with tags , , , , , , on March 1, 2009 by mijodo

halohalo with wafer on top

Here comes summer again.  Air can be arid and dry.  And the heat brazenly pounds on many of us, Filipinos. But one is not worried, Filipinos have concocted its own heat minimizer – the halo-halo.

Halo-halo (“Mix-mix” if translated in English) is a fancy thirst quencher, ingrained in the minds of every Filipino during the summer months of March to May.  A cornucopia of ingredients – shaved ice, ube (yam), macapuno (jellylike meat of the coconut), leche flan (custard), boiled red mung beans, kamote (sweet potato), kaong (sugarpalm seeds) and saba (a variety of banana). pinipig (rice crispies), evaporated milk – creates not only a sweet blend of flavorful refreshement, but also a delightful tall-glass or large bowl presentation, more particularly when topped with violet (ube flavored) or yellow (mango) colored ice-cream. A fiesta not only in taste, but in colors too.

There is scant literature on the origins of the halo-halo. Some say it might have come during the Japanese occupation as the Japanese then were selling shaved ice with red beans in it. Others say that it might have been in the 1920’s when ice plants were constructed, thus making the main element of shaved ice less expensive.

Through the years, the importance of  ice is highlighted. For the more discriminating, the quality of shaved ice is as important as the freshness of the ingredients incorporated in halo-halo. Ice should be truly fine and powdery, not coarse nor crushed.

As Filipinos are inventive, many have tried to recreate, retouch, and reassemble this kind of Pinoy cooler. The humble vendors in the markets would do a scaledown version of halohalo by putting less ingredients or even eliminating some of the less popular or expensive ingredients such as garbanzos and pinipig.  Others even make substitutions like slivers of  fruits like melon and mangoes. All components are then squeezed in a shorter glass, usually a coffee brand giveaway. Everything is done to economize, and yet still can give  the same effect of cooling down the average people.

Another variant becoming popular is the creamy halo-halo, made popular in Pampanga. 
This kind is focused on just several ingredients, doing away with some of the fruit and rootcrop components of the usual hal0-halo.  This version has shaved ice, leche flan, cheese, macapuno, banana, and camote, and more of the milk ingredient. In fact there are supposedly three kinds of milk in this cocoction. Thus this halo-halo produces a cream and yellow blend.

To enjoy halo-halo, at the start let the spoon slightly stab on the shaven ice and let the milk and the ice cream produce a gooey melange.  Then let the tongue distinguish the flavor of each food element. But make sure that all the stuff come together  into a meld which should compose its own textured yet luscious taste. It has been told that establishments Little Quiapo, Aristocrat and even fastfood area Chowking serve up the best halo-halo. But for those a little upscale, Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati is touted by Time Magazine, no less, to have created the ultimate one.

Many ponderers have used the halo-halo as a tool for commentary on our Filipino psyche. The festival of colors inside a cup describes the Pinoy’s artistic eye – a fear of the unadorned.  (Look at the jeepney – another Filipino icon.)  Moreso, the concoction is also an apt symbolism of  the Filipinos’ imaginative spirit, creating something so sublime and inspired with such a hodgepodge of almost diverse ingredients. Halo-halo – so Filipino, so cool.