Good finds

There are days when you want to cry and pull your hair out, alternately or simultaneously even. Today was one of them. I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say that although it is nothing singularly major, it is frustrating nonetheless. A series of irritating little events. On top of all that I was also trying to be a good girl with my diet, mainly because I was eating so much for a whole week. But really, it is not a very good idea to be deprived of food when the days are hard, it only adds to the stress.

I carried on as much as I could but because of a headache that was half-real and half-imagined, I surrendered to the call of homemade adobo flakes with rice, a whole big cup of it, the moment I got home. Our kitchen makes that so well already, maybe because it is easily one of the most requested by friends and family alike. I felt so much better after that. The headache literally disappeared and I was smiling again, the irritants of the day pushed behind my mind as something that just was but does not have to be for much longer. It was just another working day, I guess.

Following is a list of recent food finds. I’m sure you have your own but maybe you can add these to yours. They soothe and delight, especially when work gets in life’s way.

• Mexican Chips — I wish you could taste this but unless you go to Ormoc or know someone from there who can bring it for you, that will be quite a challenge. There is a group of Mexican hermit nuns who make these corn chips from scratch to sell over the weekend and after Sunday mass. Each chip is crispy, not salty, not greasy, and perfectly delicious. It is one of those munchies you cannot stop eating once you start. When you go to Ormoc, look for these and take lots home to give to family friends. You will be helping the nuns and spreading a lot of happiness along the way, too. I call them my happy chips.

• Chef’s Mediterranean Chicken — This landed on our doorstep as a gift one fine evening. It was so delicious I had to find out more about it. This chicken dish is thoughtfully and carefully made by Jyn, who calls herself an ordinary businesswoman and wife who loves to cook and entertain. She wanted to offer to the Filipino palate something other than the lechon manok we all love. I love how the chicken is perfectly seasoned with herbs and spices and roasted to perfection. It comes with homemade tortillas, cilantro-tomato salsa, and special aromatic rice. I never got to the tortilla part because I was already so taken with the chicken-aromatic rice-salsa combo. I would fit all three in every spoonful and be all the happier for it. This dish is a pleaser through and through.

Call Jyn at 0917-5280563.

• Carrot Cake — I have two to share with you, both delicious in their own right. I go weak in the knees when I eat carrot cake, it is right up there on my list alongside butter cake and red velvet cake. Like a little bar of chocolate, I can eat carrot cake every day together with my favorite milk tea. I have never met these two ladies whose numbers I will be sharing with you but I feel they are my friends already because I so love their carrot cakes!

Call Mariles at 0920-9791959; and Percy David at 09285220754.

• Villa del Conte — Last Christmas I got as a gift this big and heavy clear bottle filled with pastel-colored ovals that looked very much like Easter eggs. The ribbon that was wrapped around the bottle’s neck said Villa del Conte. Turns out those “eggs” were actually sugar-coated dark chocolate shells with hazelnut cream filling. It is a very happy thing, biting into a thin, crispy shell expecting nothing much only to be rewarded by the pleasure of sweet, rich cream dancing around in the mouth. Of course, one just won’t be enough. When we ate through the whole bottle I searched for more, but was disappointed when I found out it was not available locally. As a matter of fact it came all the way in Italy!

Just recently, I got a box of Villa del Conte chocolates as a gift, together with a flyer that said it is now available in the third floor of Shangri-La Plaza Mall. They have praline balls and praline sticks with a variety of fillings, the pretty chocolate eggs called Ovicini, and Gianduja. Their history as artisanal chocolatiers dates 75 years back and spans three generations.  In pretty much the same way that royals pass on heirloom jewels, so too did fathers pass on the recipe to sons — Nazzareno Cattapan to Orfeo Celestino to Enrico Cattapan. The latter is now at the helm of this beautiful business. To this day, only the best cacao is picked and the chocolates are still handcrafted by artisans in a factory in Italy.

For orders, call 893-2575 or 621-6101

• Brownie Bites from Sugar Bowl Bakery — This is available in S&R. Do not be fooled by the nondescript packaging. This is a gem that calls out very shyly to you when you walk up and down the aisles of S&R. I end almost every meal at home with one of these. It is small but chubby enough for maybe just two bites, or three if you want to pretend to be dainty. It is almost crispy on the surface but inside it is all happy chocolate mush. I love how it tastes more of cacao than sugar, and I take it with milk or coffee and sometimes with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Other than those I really do not mind enjoying it as it is, at room temperature. I do not even warm it. It is wonderful just like that.

Still in S&R, guess what I found on the shelves? Maling Egg Rolls! The Maling Egg Rolls of my childhood! I was so happy to see it, the last time I ever had the chance to buy some was in an imported goods shop in Baguio. I remember it was a very rainy day and I got wet going from the car to that little shop but it was all worth it in the end because I was able to buy the last six cans of Maling Egg Rolls available.

• Salted Caramel Ice Cream — Available at Masetto. No other words needed. That ice cream is enough reason for you to eat in that cozy place that feels like a jewelry box. They have duck leg, lamb rib, pastas, good wine.

Masetto is at 114 Valero St., Salcedo Village, Makati.

• Kimchi with Scrambled Eggs — Scrambled eggs are my favorite anytime-any day snack and ever since Korea, kimchi has become a meal staple. I’ve recently combined them together and they do make a lovely match. I put the scrambled egg in a pretty little plate and on top of the kimchi, and it makes for a very pretty dish for my very pretty appetite.


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