Monthly round-up

Favorites from March 2020: Aka things I miss and appreciate in the time of quarantine

If anyone told me in advance that I’d be spending the last half of my March quarantined at home, I would’ve stocked up on the stuff on this list. I would’ve bought enough to last me at least 45 days, because just today it was announced that the community quarantine was going to be extended from the original plan of 1 month. For the record, I agree that this move is mostly for the best (and hopefully it bears fruit), but I can’t help but wish that that would be the last extension.

It’s funny how I used to think of going to the supermarket as a chore I had to get through to be able to cook or bake. I never quite appreciated the fact that getting to go to the supermarket at my convenience was a blessing. I never needed to line up for hours just to get in. I never needed to wear a face mask that stifled breathing and fogged up glasses just to be allowed in. I know I shouldn’t be complaining because at least we have food in the house while others are scrambling to figure out how to cope with the extended lockdown, but my point is: There were so many simple activities I did before that seemed only “natural”, and suddenly I can’t do any of them anymore. It hits hard.

These days, whenever I go to the convenience store at the corner of my street, I end up staring at the empty bread shelf. That same shelf which I used to mindlessly pass by was always packed top to bottom with loaves, and now you’d be lucky to be able to get even one. The disparity aways gives me a jolt that keys me in on the current reality. This is the moment we are living in right now, and it’s such a strange and scary time. I can only hope that once everything settles back to normal, we all learned a little something that could make us better people of this world. Not just cleaner people, but better, you know?

Anyway, I rambled on too much. This post is actually a little appreciation post for the things that have kept me sane this month. Some of them I would call my “Quarantine Companions”, while the other things remind me of the time before we locked ourselves in our houses. Let’s get to it!

1. Cakeaholic by Joanne’s Ube-Cheese Pandesal

Pandesal is probably my favorite FIlipino bread because it’s the quintessential, heart-warming, perfect-with-anything bread. That said, I am also terribly critical when it comes to pandesal, because while so many bakeries sell these little breads, so many mess it up too. Pandesal that turns to stone? Pandesal that makes you choke on its crumb? I’ve had my fair share of those. Which is why I was quite literally over the moon after discovering this Ube Pandesal, being baked right under my nose! 

The location of this home-based baker is actually about a 10 minute walk from my office, which is pretty close. (For once I have something delicious so close to me!) The bread itself stays fluffy even after several days, and the filling is just the perfect amount of sweet and savory. I toasted my pandesal but didn’t get that oozing cheese for the photo (should’ve microwaved it I guess), but that’s not really something that takes away from the experience of eating these babies. THEY ARE SO GOOD, and not too sweet. They are also not as expensive as most other “gourmet” ube pandesal at Php 250 for 10 pieces, but they are good quality and HEAVY. I once had to pick up six orders of these and they were like an arm workout.

Joanne also makes Dark Chocolate Pandesal, but the ube one stands out way too much. I really prefer that one, but if you can have both, why not? Joanne herself is actually quite approachable and nice to talk to, so I have no qualms going on and on about her creations. She continues to produce her bread amidst the lockdown, which I imagine is a HUGE thing for her neighbors. It hasn’t been easy to buy breads lately. However, it seems some of her suppliers are having a hard time delivering her supplies, so I hope she resumes making her wonderful ube pandesal soon!

You can reach Cakeaholic by Joanne through Facebook & Instagram. Please take note of her production schedule before you order.

2. Cakeaholic by Joanne’s Malunggay Pandesal

At the heels of an awesome experience thanks to her ube pandesal, I went ahead and ordered her other pandesal variants. (Told you guys, I have a thing for pandesal!) While Joanne makes a delicious Oatmeal Whole Wheat Pandesal as well, it was the Malunggay Pandesal I was looking forward to the most. Well, clearly it made this list, so I was not disappointed one bit!

Malunggay Pandesal is one of my favorite pandesals. If done right, the malunggay adds a nice undertone to the common pandesal. This was actually one of the few times I can actually taste that malunggay undertone I was looking for. (You can actually see the big bits of malunggay there.) Of course it’s more obvious when the pandesal is eaten alone, freshly toasted and hot. The crumb is very soft, but it has a bite that makes you munch.

The only thing that I don’t like about this pandesal (and her oatmeal one) is that the bread shrinks as the days go by. The crumb doesn’t become hard or anything, but the bread just visibly keeps shrinking. Not recommended for long storage, and I honestly don’t think you’d have a problem finishing the whole bag in like two days. This Malunggay Pandesal is Php 120 for a bag of 12.

You can reach Cakeaholic by Joanne through Facebook & Instagram. Please take note of her production schedule before you order.

3. This amazing brandless bacon from Arranque Market

Since we are on the subject of breakfast, I just really wanted to talk about this bacon I fell in love with recently. I am not a fan of the American-style thin bacon you can usually buy from the frozen aisle. There’s barely any meat on those things, and they are a thin sheet of fat most of the time. But this specific bacon… I can’t stop eating these. They are small and compact, and when cooked to a crisp, they remind me of crispy jerky that’s juicier and more dense and meaty. Being able to eat these during the ECQ makes me inexplicably happy.

Ironically, I can’t get any information about this from my Mom, aside from the fact that her suki sells it to her at the Arranque Market. Sorry guys. I guess she wants to keep it a secret lol.

4. Hummus sampler pack from Yummza

First of all, I didn’t know about this brand until they messaged me. Similar to many things in my food discovery journey, I decided to go in blind and just trust that the product will be good. And boy was this good! Yummza Hummus uses premium ingredients to create their delicious products, and you can taste it from the first bite to the last.

The chickpea-based hummus is a healthy alternative to any savory spread or even dip, and frankly, it’s been a constant breakfast companion for me during this time of quarantine. I’ve been spreading this on my toast or plain crackers, whichever is available for the day. In fact, I’ve been trying to go through this stash slowly.

I’ve been fond of hummus since the very first time I tried it, but I seem to recall only ever eating plain hummus. Don’t get me wrong, plain is good, but oh my goodness, you have to try them flavored. My favorite flavor from the Yummza lineup is the Sun Dried Tomato. It has a bit of tang and a bit of spice; really the perfect thing to tickle my tastebuds in the morning. It’s only my favorite by the smallest of margins, because I also really like all the other flavors.

Their Tandoori, Balsamic Vinegar, and Pesto flavors are also really good, but the Original flavor holds its own, especially when eaten with their equally delish homemade pita chips. They also have a flavorsome Garlic Jalapeno Sauce that’s great slathered on anything, but especially on meat and fries I find.

It’s really hilarious how much effort I’m putting to stretching these little jars of hummus to last me until the end of quarantine (whenever that may be). The good news is, they are still delivering within Metro Manila during the ECQ. You can reach Yummza Hummus through their Facebook and Instagram. I may have to as well.

5. Jingay’s Gourmet Laing

When I tried this brand for the first time, I had their sinantolan. Jingay’s cooking style for their sinantolan didn’t beat my all-time favorite brand, but their laing was another story. This kind of laing is perfect for my tastebuds. It wasn’t too vinegar-y but was the perfect amount of flavor and savoriness, with a creamy mouthfeel from the combo of olive oil and gata.

Some other bottled and canned laing can come off a bit too sour, to the point that it makes you wonder if it has gone bad or something. (I think it’s just the specific recipe they use.) Jingay’s laing was just delightful. Wish it was a little spicier though! You can message them through Facebook for inquiries and orders. 

6 & 7. Munchy’s Vege Crackers & Popcorners Corn Snacks

Say hello to my favorite crackers and my favorite chips. Some people go crazy for Ritz and Doritos, I go crazy for these two things. And let me share a little secret: I actually stash these in a corner in my room where nobody will pay them any attention lol. But since it’s hard to buy these at the moment, I am very careful about rationing my stash.

These snacks have such a satisfying flavor and texture combo that I don’t normally find in other products of the same category. The Popcorners have this interesting bite to them that really reminds me of corn, and the Vege Crackers also have this flaky, airy crispness to them. It’s hard to explain. I am just grateful I have some stashed at home.

I bought the Popcorners from the supermarket, whilst the Vege Crackers were from here.

8. This Awesome Sticky Mango Cake Recipe

Inspired by the sticky date pudding, this Sticky Mango Cake gives a local twist to the classic dessert by making use of dried Philippine mangoes. I never thought to use dried mangoes in a cake before so I really found this quite genius. You get bits of the dried mangoes in the cake, but the caramel sauce also has a sweet mango flavor because there’s some mango juice and jam infused in there too. If you like Sticky Toffee Pudding and mangoes, this cake is DEFINITELY for you. If not, this cake is still for you lol!

Grab the recipe here.

9. Chilled Coconut Cream with Peach Gum and Taro Ball

49644123272 3b7e7d0e7c h - Hilton Manila's Hua Yuan Brasserie Chinoise is the perfect place for elegant Shanghai cuisine

My last venture to the outside world before the lockdown was when I got invited to Hilton Manila for lunch and afternoon tea. Up until now I keep thinking about this mind blowing dessert I had at their main restaurant, the Hua Yuan Brasserie Chinoise. It’s one of the things I want to have again once this is over. It’s such a refreshing dessert!

The texture of the base is reminiscent of taho rather than cream or jelly. It has a very delicate and pleasant coconut taste that’s not sweet. The sweetness you get from the toppings, and you also get different textures and flavors too. There’s the peach gum that is super chewy, and then the taro ball that is quite a crisp type of gummy. You also get softer bits of coconut gelatin topped with toasted coconut flakes. Not a very complicated dessert to pick apart, but well executed. Yum!

If you’re adding to your list of places to visit after Community Quarantine, you can read about Hilton’s Hua Yuan Brasserie Chinoise and their Madison Lounge & Bar where they host their afternoon teas.


Full disclosure: This post is not sponsored. All items were purchased on my own unless otherwise stated. I received no compensation for writing this post. All opinions are my own.

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