Receiving a box of Mel Luspo’s Paskong Pinoy Cupcakes brought me much joy. The 12 hand-sculpted little cakes that usually take over five hours to decorate fully represent the Filipino Christmas spread.
The painstaking preparation had something to do with Luspo’s determination to produce something original.
“Using fondant, royal icing, food color and a whole lot of patience, I meticulously hand-crafted each design to mimic the Pinoy hapag-kainan,” she said.
Of the 12, my favorites are:
The “lechon” that Luspo molded by hand and painted with food color and vodka to make the skin glisten.
The “jamon” with pineapple rings and cherries look realistic.
The “kare-kare” is served on a palayok with cute little vegetables and visible slices of meat in peanut sauce.
The meticulously made “pancit” is impressive with shrimps on top.
And, of course, the “puto bumbong” and the “bibingka” topped with sliced itlog na maalat, quesong puti, niyog and queso.
The burnt edges of a brownie pan, brownie tostado as we know it from our youth, devoid of frills, but very comforting: This is how I can best describe Maric’s Brownie Crisps.
Dipped in milk, this simple treat will bring us back to our childhood.
Bake Scout Cookies
“Our goal is to bring back memories of having freshly baked cookies that warm the home and bring people together,” Nikki Manalo of Bake Scout Cookies says.
Crisp on the edges, with a soft chewy center, Bake Scout Cookie has lots of chocolate and a sprinkling of sea salt.
It was Nikki’s brother Chris Manalo who perfected the recipe, as a tribute to their lola, Virginia Manalo, who used to bake for them. They have done her proud.
Bizu’s Salted Caramel Chews
I cannot have enough of these excellently made caramel chews—buttery, sweet and salty.
Another noteworthy Bizu creation is the Salted Caramel Macaron de Paris dipped in Almond Praline.
Bizu’s Chrissy Tanco says, “We create offerings based on current trends and tastes.” Which is why, most of time, their flavors are so en vogue.
Reasonably priced wines
Haribon wines are very reasonably priced.
The red is made from Trincadeira grapes, medium-bodied, light and easy on the entry, with a clean finish. It pairs easily with creamy food as it washes the palate quite well. It is pleasant with pork adobo and pasta bolognese.
The white is an easy drink but with a personality. It is floral with tinge of honey, made from Antao Vaz grapes.
Haribon wines come from the south of Portugal, made from local varietal grapes with low sugar content.
Haribon is a pleasurable drink without hurting the pocket.