Christmas really is, as the Andy Williams hit song goes, the most wonderful time of the year. There will be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and, most especially, these delicious food items, introduced just this year, for gift giving.
Buttercrunch from Pria’s Kitchen
“My fondness for Almond Roca was an inspiration,” says Pria Chiongbian Solon about her thick chocolate bark. “I started turning them into little logs and it proved to be too tedious. So I made them into slabs instead and doused them with dark chocolate. It’s something different yet familiar, interactive and fun.”
A Buttercrunch order comes with a hammer to be used to smash the bark into bite-sized pieces.
Pria’s Kitchen, 0917-8190545
Sambal Merah by Tin Magsaysay-Matic
“I’ve been so obsessed with sambal since my first trip to Malaysia,” admits Tin Magsaysay-Matic. “So I spent time with local warung (small restaurant) owners in Bali and asked them to teach me. I then picked out what I liked most about each of their recipes and came up with my own.”
It’s deceivingly not spicy and can bring your usual sunny-side up egg or fried fish to a gourmet level.
Mini Mood cookies from Mood Bake
Fashion stylist Liz Uy knows style and that’s apparent in her cookie line’s holiday packaging. Her set boxes come in 15 or 30 mini cookies in three variants: chocolate chip, double chocolate, and matcha white. The regular palm-sized cookies come in fives or 10s.
Whatever you choose, it’ll definitely be dressed to the nines.
Mood Bake, @moodbake.com
Gourmet bottled goods from Buen Provecho!
Every year, Buen Provecho! comes up with a line of bottled goods perfect for the Noche Buena feast. This year’s line includes Spiced Fig and Olive Tapenade, Naranja y Ajo relish which is good for cheeses and fried dishes, Mantequilla Picante which is great in pastas, a keto-friendly Crema de Chocolate spread, and my favorite, the Fiestas Crema Quesos, which can complete any cream-based sauce or simply be enjoyed on toasted bread.
Buen Provecho!, 0917-1374048
Garlic shrimp from China Mommy
The popular home-based food brand had only one prawn dish, Sweet Chilli Prawns. But a client suggested that Garlic Prawns be added.
China Mommy did so, and people enjoyed it. That, and its holiday ham, are the latest addition to its best-selling Filipino-Chinese party trays that include Birthday Misua, Curry Crabs and Fortune Bags.
China Mommy, 0917-5148540
Flavored ‘pili’ nuts by Que Rica
Rica Buenaflor has been bottling Bicol specialties for some time now. She has vegetarian laing, sinantolan, taba ng talangka, and new look dried fish in oil.
This year, she added what is perhaps the most coveted of the lot—pili nuts.
Indigenous to Bicol, these healthy nuts are loaded with magnesium, potassium and calcium and omega fatty acids.
At Que Rica, they come flavored, too—in Himalayan salt, organic coco sugar, coffee and truffle pecorino.
Que Rica, 0905-2772269
Paqueso from La Brazorria de Lasevil
As a tribute to her grandfather, the late Sen. Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo, whose nickname was Paquito, chef Pixie Sevilla invented the paqueso, a soft cheese roll smothered with her brazo de bola (brazo de mercedes queso de bola) filling.
La Brazorria de Lasevil stalls are at Ayala Mall the 30th and TriNoma.
Golden Caramel Popcorn from Chef Tony’s
For the holidays, our favorite homegrown popcorn brand Chef Tony’s released a Golden Caramel variant.
“We wanted to celebrate our original caramel flavor by making a smokier, deeper caramel version,” says Tony Elepano, the name behind the brand.
Chef Tony’s also collaborated with Krispy Kreme in time for Christmas, by topping the original and chocolate glazed donuts with Chef Tony’s popcorn.
Stalls at SM Malls or contact Liza, 0926-7230830
New gelato flavors from Manila Creamery
It seems like Manila Creamery has pulled out all the stops to make the holidays fun and festive by rolling out seven new variants.
“Our Christmas menu is a mix of new and familiar flavors,” says owner Jason Go. “It has also been a while since we released a new flavor, so this was a great opportunity to showcase our craft once again.”
There’s Mint Choco Chip; Hazelnut using nuts from Italy; Carrot Cake which makes a comeback every Christmas season; Dragon Fruit sorbet for a dairy-free option; Chocnut Crumble with a hazelnut streusel; Peach Pie which is peach-mango yogurt with puff pastry for crunch; and my favorite, the Langkasuy Cheese, which is like jackfruit sans rival in gelato form.
These new flavors will be available until February 2020.
For tub orders, which come in insulated bags, visit manilacreamery.com
Flavored cinnamon rolls from Betina’s Kitchen
There are cinnamon rolls on the market, but they are nothing quite like the mini rolls Betina Legarda makes.
She’s been doing mini buns flavored with chocolate, orange, blueberry and ube. This year, she adds raspberry and mango.
Betina’s Kitchen, (632) 8073452
Nata de Coco Atchara from Aleth’s Kitchen
Aleth has cookies, longganisa sauces (a must!) and mini quiches.
Her newest item is the nata de coco atchara, which is unique and pairs well with chicharon. “Actually, I’m not fond of atchara until I got to try this and loved it. I attended a class that taught this and adjusted the recipe to my liking.”
Aleth’s Kitchen, 0917-5291055
Bottled kombucha from Bad and Booché Kombucha
It’s ironic that the brand is called bad when the product is actually good—not just for its beneficial probiotics and antioxidants, but also because it smells clean and enticing.
The business started among friends who wanted to help their partner’s genetic autoimmune disease.
“We’ve made it our mission to make our artisan kombucha accessible to others and have them reap the same benefits,” says owner Matti Kawpeng.
There are three flavors: OG Booch, Tutti Frutti and Peach Mango.
Bad and Booché, 0967-3680891
Gourmet Vinegar from Timpla
“I have always been fascinated with making sauces,” says owner RJ Quiroz. “I concocted Timpla Gourmet Vinegar seven years ago because I found myself no longer satisfied with the vinegars on the market. They’re either too bland or too strong.”
That’s when he came up with his own blend of vinegars, citrus and spices that resulted in this delicious condiment.
Timpla, 0918-8855110, or The Larder at Madison Galleries in Muntinlupa
Salted Dark White Chocolate Cookie from Mo’ Cookies
From the maker of bigger-than-your-palm cookies comes a new variant that’s dressed for the holidays. The Salted Dark White Chocolate is classic chocolate chip that’s half-coated in dark chocolate, drizzled with white chocolate, then sprinkled with sea salt.
Shops at Power Plant Mall, SM Aura Premier and The Mess Hall
Ube Cassava Cake from Gracia’s Premium Cassava Cakes
Many local pastries have been flavored with ube, from ice cream and ensaymada to leche flan and pandesal. The cassava cake is no exception, thanks to Gracia’s whose version is homemade, preservative-free and pugon-baked.
It also has a salted caramel version.
Salcedo Weekend Market, 0995-5588389
Mango Jubilee Panettone from Le Sucre Lab Bakery
It’s an Italian classic holiday cake with a twist. Marvin Bagube, who is known for his delectable cakes in a can, made a rich dough out of pure butter, organic egg yolks, dried Cebu mangoes, raisins, candied fruit peels and Kanlaon rum, then baked it to a beautiful golden brown panettone with pillowy soft crumbs. There’s also a chocolate version.
Stall at Alabang Town Center or @lesucrelabph via Instagram
Cassube flan from Lako Manila
“When I moved to Manila from Nueva Ecija, I noticed that it was hard to find traditional Filipino delicacies,” says celebrated pastry chef Sonny Mariano. “I wanted to make something different without bastardizing the traditional kakanin since they’re good as they are.”
The result is the Cassube flan, layers of three iconic Pinoy delicacies, namely cassava cake, ube halaya and leche flan.
The cassava cake is made with fresh coco cream and macaroon bits, the ube is his lola’s recipe while the flan is his own take which is less sweet to balance the dessert’s flavor.