After our stay in Badoc, Ilocos Norte, we made our way by bus to my auntie's house in Baguio for a couple of days, got on another bus, and ended our trip at another auntie's house for a couple more days in Manila. Since we weren't at either place for very long, I don't have many food pictures from Baguio and Manila. Sad, that. So instead, I figured I'd post a roundup of all the goodies I brought back home from the Philippines for my family (but mostly for me).
More hits from the pasalubong! Consider this the remix.
That's My Jam
The picture at the top of this post was taken at the Mountain Maid Training Center (AKA Good Shepherd) in Baguio. The shelves against the wall are filled with various fruit jams and candies that are made by student workers and nuns from the Good Shepherd convent. The big draw to this place is, I think, the Ube Jam. But I didn't buy any. Now, before any of you roll your eyes or start tsk-tsking me, I have a very good reason for not buying any World Famous Good Shepherd Ube Jam.
Every single jar of Ube Jam that was on sale that day was going to expire in a few short weeks. And we still had another week to go before we flew home. And because the jars came in two sizes (Giant, and Giant-er), I figured there was no way my wife and I would be able to go through a jar before it went funky on us.
This seemed like a practical decision at the time. But I do regret not obtaining any Ube Jam. My mother actually brought some back for my dad, and I was able to sample some of the Ube Jam at their place. It's dang tasty stuff and I'm kicking myself for not getting any. Even if it did spoil before we finished the jar, at least I could have had some for myself. Hmph. I'm an idiot (commence eye-rolling and tsk-tsking).
But I didn't go home empty handed. I still brought back some strawberry jam, rhubarb-strawberry jam, and mango jam--all of which won't expire till 2009 (damn your short shelf life Ube Jam! damn it straight to hell!)
I haven't cracked open the strawberry, or strawberry-rhubarb jams yet, but the mango jam is wonderful.
We also picked up a tub of peanut brittle from Good Shepherd. I love this stuff. Even though I live on the other side of the world from Baguio, a bit of peanut brittle from Good Shepherd always seems to find its way to me every now and again because it seems to be the Pasalubong of choice whenever someone comes back from the Philippines. I love the peanut brittle from Good Shepherd because although it is very brittle and crunchy, it isn't overly hard, sticky, or tooth-breaky--it's juuuust right. (And if you make it to the end of this post, I've got a brownie recipe that uses some of this beautiful brittle!)
I also brought home a pretty hefty bag of blow Ilocos sea salt. A single flake upon my tongue summoned the flavors of the South China Sea and the essence Badoc's warm climes... eh, it tastes salty.
Barako Bomb Uh, Coffee
In the picture above, the beans on top are Barako coffee beans indigenous to the Philippines that I found in Baguio. On the bottom are my usual Sumatra beans from Starbizzle. The Barako beans are lighter in color since they aren't roasted (burned) as long as Starbucks beans are. Barako also has a fresher, fruitier aroma to it if that makes any sense at all.
The Barako coffee also brewed up lighther in color than what I'm used to. It was just a shade darker than a normal dark tea. Likewise, the flavor of the Barako was milder than I expected, but still very unique and bold--kinda grassy, kinda fruity. I think I've just been conditioned and brainwashed by Starbucks burnt coffee that I'm so used to that super-roasted flavor. But the Barako was definitely a nice change of pace for my morning cup of Joseph. For a more in-depth look at Barako, and other Pinoy coffees, take a gander at this post by Oggi.
I also brought back a big ol' bag of crank tiny dried shrimp from Badoc. These little fellers are good for flavoring soups like dinengdeng (I had it like that in Badoc), or for making shrimp fritters called Ukoy. As you can imagine, they've got quite the aroma and are funking up my pantry. I've got an idea for them so stay tuned.
Down the Hatch
A couple of my cousins were nice enough to buy me a small bottle of Genebra Gin and a big bottle of Tanduay Rum to add to my liquor cabinet. I know there are a few different varieties of Tanduay Rum, but this specific kind had a pinkish, gasoline-ish hue about it. It still went down pretty smooth though.
As far as the Ginebra Gin goes, I was a bit confused by its cap. It was the kind of pop-off cap you need a bottle opener for, thereby making it seem like the bottle is a single serving. I know its a small bottle, but there was no way I could drink the whole thing in one sitting. So I just kinda bent the cap back onto it after sampling it on the first go-round. It's a nice subdued gin, not as floral or juniper-y as I usually like, but it still makes a great martini and a couple other cocktails--stay tuned for those.
I was also very lucky in that one of my cousins took me to a bookstore and let me pick out a few cookbooks for her to buy for me. I wanted to make sure I chose books that I couldn't get stateside, so they were cookbooks that I've never seen or heard of before. Feast of Flavors from the Filipino Kitchen, Lola Oreng's Culinary Heritage (this one has recipes in English and Tagalog), and Kape, A Philipine Coffee Cookbook (not really recipes with coffee, but recipes for pastries). I haven't tried any recipes from any of them yet, but they all seem to have some good eats in them that I'm sure I will be experimenting with soon.
Speaking of good eats, I've got a brownie recipe for you that makes awesome use of any peanut brittle, but Good Shepherd peanut brittle is the sentimental favorite of course. My wife actually found this recipe at the back of Gourmet magazine when we came back from the Philippines, so we immediately knew we (actually, just she) had to make it ASAP. It's chocolatey and peanut-buttery and heavenly (the peanut brittle was made by nuns, for Christ's sake! Er, I mean for someone else's less-ironic sake!)
Peanut Brittle Brownies
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, June 2008
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
4oz. unsweetened chocolated
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed peanut brittle
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with oven rack in the middle of oven. Butter and flour a 13x9-inch baking pan.
Melt butter, peanut butter, and chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove saucepan from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature. Whisk in brown sugar and vanilla. Whisk in eggs, one at a time.
Combine flour and salt, and then whisk into chocolate mixture. Spread batter into baking pan and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle the crushed peanut brittle over the top of the brownies. Place pan back into the oven and bake until a pick inserted into the center comes out with crumbs, about another 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.