MILLIE: I am so impressed with friends who have tried to reinvent themselves and create dishes, or venture into a small business to make ends meet during the pandemic. Some, of course, do it as a hobby, because of their passion for cooking.
But I do know that in most cases, this pandemic came about so unexpectedly and has definitely stirred an urgent reaction for many of us who have suddenly lost our jobs or main sources of income. Here are some heartwarming stories of resilient survivors.
My good friend Rene Alcala was mulling over doing bottled delicacies after he sold his small boutique hotel in Tagaytay, luckily just a few months before the Taal eruption. Since the pandemic, his bottled line has grown to include sinaing na GG, chicken adobo flakes, pork adobo flakes, different pickled vegetables or atsara varieties like mixed veggies, ampalaya, green chili atsara.
He has expanded his menu line now and also offers frozen, ready-to-eat pork embutido and ready-to-fry crispy pata . He has also added special longganisas from Baguio, Lucban, Cabanatuan and Calumpit. Rene calls his food line The Pantry. Very enterprising, indeed.
KARLA: One of the best discoveries of the past month has been the marinated kesong puti in a bottle by Erlinda Reyes, or tita Ning, as we know her. Tita Ning is actually my lola, married to my grandfather’s younger brother.
When I was younger, she forbade me to call her “lola,” and so I grew up calling her “tita.” Being well into her senior citizenship, she was able to transform her time in lockdown into a productive one. She taught herself how to make kesong puti from scratch through YouTube.
She sources the fresh milk directly from farmers in Laguna, Bulacan and Pampanga. She brines the cheese and marinates it in extra-virgin olive oil with fresh herbs from her garden and spices from her travels. She makes a fresh batch weekly, while I help her by selling it to my network through my company, La Petite Fromagerie.
Since both Lola Ning and Lolo Vic are on lockdown and have limited sources of income, this somehow helps relieve some of their financial burdens.
MILLIE: Another friend, Lizette Licaros, a top-rate foodie with whom I share many happy eating memories, has launched her newest food adventure at the height of ECQ, called Plate Culture. Liz says she needed a special project to keep her sanity while on lockdown.
True to form, her original specialty, twice-fried chicken and pork adobo made from premium cuts of pork and chicken sprinkled with crunchy bits of fried garlic, has become an instant favorite of many. The dish comes with a scoop of finely grated atsara and a light adobo sauce on the side. It’s an ideal gift and comes in a box with a sticker that says, "The best gifts are homemade." One can order it ready-to-eat or ready-to-fry.
My own nephew, Benjo, faced with the reality of graduating from college during the pandemic and uncertain of employment, embarked on a micro business with his friend Kim Funa, selling healthy and guilt-free alternatives to everyday snacks. Called Hippie Dip, they make hummus, the classic Middle Eastern dip made from chickpeas and blended with olive oil, fresh garlic, tahini and spices.
Hippie Dip now offers different flavors: the O-G for original, pesto and chocolate hummus, plus a spinach dip made with three cheeses and loaded with spinach, yogurt and packed with probiotics.
KARLA: Our latest addiction has been the Signature 4C, or the classic chocolate chip cookies of MailChip. It is a soft and chewy cookie with crunchy edges, just the right amount of oozing, chocolate-y goodness using both 64-percent and 55-percent dark chocolate and cacao nibs for a slight crunch, then sprinkled with Maldon sea salt flakes.
Nines Licad, a marketing and communications professional and blogger through www.ninesvsfood.com, is the brains behind MailChip. This 2020, she challenged herself to start living out of her comfort zone and try doing things she wouldn’t normally do or always wanted to do. Baking cookies was one of the products of that challenge. Since she has been confined to working from home, it has given her more time to perfect her recipe.
Using the finest Filipino chocolate, she has come out with several variants such as Orange Dark Chocolate Chip, White Chocolate & Cranberry and the Milky Crunch, which is a mix of both dark and milk chocolate. The good news is, Nines also sells the frozen raw cookie dough shaped as scoops called Dough Stash. Mom and I regularly keep at least two dozen frozen cookie-dough scoops in our freezer, so we get freshly baked cookies every single time.
MILLIE: I just want to say I admire these people for their creativity and originality — instead of copying from others — and endeavor to support and promote their works of edible art.
For orders call The Pantry at 0917-672-8182 or visit www.thepantry.com.ph ; La Petite Fromagerie at www.lapetitefromagerie.ph and Instagram @lapetitefromagerie; Plate Culture at 0918-926-1796; Hippie Dip at 0956-760-4300 or FB @hippiedip and IG @hippiedip.ph, email [email protected]; and call MailChip at 0956-249-1630 or IG @mailchip.