I’m no longer as excited to open Christmas gifts. Sometimes, I do it as late as February.
I’m more interested about the food people send me before and after the holidays. I look forward to the dishes I’m not familiar with. Close friends know what a pintasero I am, so they are cautious.
Bella Yuchengco sent me a box of chocolate chip cookies made by her daughter, pastry chef Sunshine Puey. Anything that comes out of Sunshine’s kitchen is always delicious.
My kids don’t usually eat what’s given me, so my fridge is full of these goodie gifts. But I noticed Sunshine’s cookies were disappearing.
They are plump, mildly soft and apparently made with superior chocolate chips. I get them from the fridge chilled, pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds and hum away. Simply outstanding!
I wanted to order more, but I guess Sunshine was flooded with holiday orders. (Tel. 0917-8832532 or 4039051)
‘Ube halaya’ filling
Pastry chef Joy San Gabriel’s ensaymada is light, moist and dusted with powdered queso de bola.
It’s so soft that with each bite you leave your teeth marks, and a rich, creamy filling of ube halaya oozes out. Delicious!
From the fridge, I pop it into the microwave for 15 seconds, relish it and then feel my bilbil slowly expanding. But it’s worth all the calories.
Joy also makes the best and lightest cheese rolls. (Tel. 0917-5278837)
Better than Almond Roca
From good friend, Charlie Carmona, and his wife Liana, I got chocolate-covered, crunchy caramel with toasted almonds. I almost finished them in one sitting.
These are broken sheets of goodies packed in a can—rich, chocolaty with nutty, toasted almonds. It is a better version of Almond Roca. Masarap.
Also from the same kitchen are lengua de gato sheets. Yes, sheets—light, delicate and not too sweet. Made by Matuts. (Tel. 0917-8224466)
I tried a delicious version of caviar pie in the house of my cardiologist and eating buddy, Eric Pascual, and his wife Tere.
More people are starting to make this, but only a few succeed. (Deeda Revilla makes but does not sell.)
This one has a good balance of cream cheese, chopped onions and chopped, hard-boiled eggs topped with just the right amount of caviar. It has a well-balanced creaminess, saltiness and flavor. Made by Maisy’s Kitchen (tel. 0917-8128216).
Another one I found very interesting was a chorizo de Bilbao made with chicken. This is a healthier version but with the authentic taste of real chorizo de Bilbao. My son Turo and I love it for breakfast or with soft, warm pan de sal.
You can tell that the maker, Regina Francisco, learned or got the idea from Spain. It’s perfect as is or mixed with fabada, pochero or callos. What a difficult task to describe it and not get hungry. (Tel. 9856051)
During our high school reunion, a classmate, Ray Reyes, brought puto pao. In such a get-together, I think there is a silent competition to bring the best-tasting food with all the pintasero around. No one has to do any sales talk—the good ones will jump out.
This puto pao made an impression. It had the taste of puto with lots of asado filling. The ones I’ve tried, even from Bacolod, the filling is so tipid. Masarap! Made by a lady in Project 3. (Aling Dorie’s Puto Pao and Kutchinta, tel. 0945-3987587, 9137137)
For sure, these new discoveries will be on my Christmas 2019 suggestion list. Meanwhile, I just started my supplement diet. Let’s see how long I last.
My next Japan food tour to Fukuoka/Hiroshima/Osaka is on Feb. 17-22. E-mail [email protected]