First Class

Gift ideas for foodies

/ 12:15 AM December 04, 2016

Finally it is December. (And I confess, I can’t wait for 2017! But I must digress…)

Since it is now officially the month of giving and cheer, here’s a quick foodie gift guide for you.


Nana Meng Tsokolate will sell cassava cake with leche flan topping, suman antala, “bibingkang malagkit” and “kutsinta” during the holidays. This year, the brand will also sell Bulacan “kutsinta.”

Nana Meng Tsokolate will sell cassava cake with leche flan topping, suman antala, “bibingkang malagkit” and “kutsinta” during the holidays. This year, the brand will also sell Bulacan “kutsinta.”

  1. Nana Meng Kakanin

Nana Meng Tsokolate has been around since 2004 selling traditional hot chocolate in the form of a cocoa paste mixed with peanuts or cashew nuts or in the more familiar pure cocoa balls. Following Bulacan tradition, this hot chocolate is usually paired with sweet rice cakes (kakanin). This year, the company is offering gift items comprised solely of kakanin such as cassava with a leche flan topping (my personal favorite), kutsinta, bibingkang malagkit (like biko) and suman antala (usually in a combined package with the tsokolate).

Nana Meng Tsokolate bottles are available at Balay Dako and Sonya’s Garden in Tagaytay. All products, including the “kakanin,” are available at the Salcedo Saturday Market in Salcedo Village, Makati, every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. For orders, contact 0917-539 3937. For product lists, visit the Facebook page of Nana Meng Tsokolate.


  1. Nana Meng Chicharon

Aside from the kakanin, Nana Meng also sells full back fat chicharon (pork rind). This is a specialty product of Bulacan. It’s funny, the chicharon in our hometown of Sta. Maria, where there is a chicharon workshop at almost every corner, is classified semi-back fat and full back fat. That is why when we Bulacañas try chicharon that is just air, we can’t help but scoff at it.

Be a hard-core chicharon eater and try Nana Meng’s. You don’t know chicharon until you have tried this.

Same details as No. 1.

  1. Chichashrooms at Echostore

Speaking of chicharon…

There is no off switch for inspirational business guru Chit Juan. She is constantly encouraging people to eat healthy and preserve slow food. Her company, with partners Jeannie Javelosa and Reena Francisco, embodies these philosophies.

At Echostore in Salcedo Village, you will find specialty greens and vegetables from small (not industrial) farmers, gourmet products from budding entrepreneurs from the provinces, and delicacies from around the country packaged to delight the urban consumer.

But what captured my interest was a product called Chichashroom. It is non-pork chicharon—everything you love about chicharon without the fat or the guilt since it is made with mushrooms. And it is gluten-free, vegan (no pork oil or fat) and no MSG.


I finished two bags in one sitting. It is that good, I was that bad. Don’t tell Santa!

There are a lot of Echostores across the country. It is also their way of sourcing from farmers nationwide. For a complete list of stores, go to http://www.echostore.ph/index.php/contact-us/ or visit them on Facebook at Echostore.

Eat MY SPuDs Spicy Pork Floss and Chips is a great gift for gourmet munchers.

Eat MY SPuDs Spicy Pork Floss and Chips is a great gift for gourmet munchers.

  1. Eat MY SPuDs

The case-sensitive name contains the first letters of the names of the brand’s creators: pastry artist Penk Ching, Singapore-based food developer Dennis Hipolito, their siblings Yvette and Shen, and their friend Ayet.

Their products are gourmet potato chips. The bestseller is the Truffle and Chips, which uses Italian white truffle oil.

But Marilen Fontanilla, former editor in chief of F&B World and food columnist of ManilaSpeak.com, swears by their Spicy Pork Floss and Chips, which is made with spiced pork floss and what Dennis calls “a secret blend of seasonings that makes you want to have more.”

Another addictive product, for sure.

To order, contact 0917-PATATAS (0917-7282827) or e-mail [email protected] They are also on Instagram @eatmyspuds.

Joconde Chocolate Decadence Cake

Joconde Chocolate Decadence Cake

  1. Joconde Cakes

Speaking of Dennis, his sister, Yvette, makes amazing cakes—the kind with compact flavors and full ingredients. They are known for their chocolate cakes (although I always cram Polly’s at the Magallanes Shell Station). Or for a unique cake to bring to that potluck dinner, try their Salted Egg Yema Cake.

Check out @jocondecakes on Instagram and Facebook or call 0917-8486656 for orders.

  1. Aleth’s Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cookies

If I were Cookie Monster (which I sometimes actually am), I would always ask for private dining diva Aleth Ocampo’s Ghirardelli Choco Chip cookies with pink Himalayan salt. It is thick, not overly sweet, buttery, and just all around delicious and delightful. It costs P750/dozen. It comes in a jar. Half jars are available.

She also has a new product: pastillas stuffed with marshmallows. Like how? You’ll have to buy a pack to find out. There are 12 pieces in a glass jar (tub) and costs P260 per tub.

All these are available at Aleth’s Kitchen on the lower ground floor of SM Aura Premier from Dec. 2-4, 9-11, 15-24 & 27-30 and at the Resorts World Manila 2/F Atrium (Near Tao Yuan) from Dec. 12-23. Or for orders, contact 0917-5291055 or call the landline 8510180.

  1. Bubbka (Babka by Bubbles)

I heard about the babka from foodie friend Nana Nadal.

What is a babka?  It is a spongy, brioche-like yeast cake traditionally baked for Easter Sunday and Christmas in Eastern European countries. There is also the Jewish version, which is made from a doubled and twisted length of yeast dough, baked in a high loaf pan, filled with cinnamon and/or chocolate, then topped with streusel crumble and dusted with powdered sugar.

These are the specialties of chef Bubbles Cruz-Lerias. She has two versions: chocolate and chocolate walnut. Order at 0917-8863856.

  1. Cocoro

If you want to eat healthy but not at the expense of your sweet tooth, check Cocoro products.

I heard about this also through Marilen and found out that it is by Jamie Lao, daughter of fruit cake master Ju.D Lao.

Marilen was raving about their peanut spread and I now know why. The Auroko Peanut Butter is made using toasted nuts, organic Ivory Cocoro Sugar, and sea salt.

Cocoro is an advocate for coconut sugar. They share this info on their website: “Coconut sugar is less sweet than cane sugar but more flavorful when used in baking. It has molasses-like flavor similar to brown sugar, but it has a low glycemic index which is good for diabetics and for weight loss.”

They also have a variety of coconut sugar by the pack. Try their Cocoro Dark Caramel, an alternative for brown sugar but with a lower glycemic index. They swear it’s good for coffee and tea or even for cooking adobo. There is also Cocoro Dark Caramel Coco Sap Sugar Rocks, which can be used especially by diabetics as an alternative for brown sugar rocks. And there’s the Cocoro Coco Sap Sugar, a natural sugar substitute proudly made by Filipinos in Cagayan de Oro and Davao.

To order, visit their Facebook page Cocoro. For product list, check out their Instagram @cocorosugar.

  1. Frozen Cheesecakes by Sebastian’s

Ian Carandang, the genius behind Sebastian’s Ice Cream and its twisted (in a good way) flavors has come up with another genius idea: frozen cheesecakes.

Cheesecake lovers will be delighted to know that you can now eat your cheesecake without a fork. The brilliant boy crafts the cheesecakes in the shape and form of a popsicle. So you initially think it is ice cream … until you realize it is not. It is baked cheesecake on a stick.

They come in various flavors: chocolate, apple pie, dulce de leche and ube. And they are not overly sweet.

For a bite of this optical illusion, visit Sebastian’s at Podium Mall in Ortigas.

  1. Billie Bean Coffee

Take a break from those Nespresso capsules and go local with your coffee. Try Billie Bean’s Sagada blend. These are sold at P750 a kilo and will wake you up without making you feel like a zombie. Order via Instagram @billiebeancafe.

More food gifts and pot luck items in my next column.

Visit margauxlicious.com or follow @margauxsalcedo on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

And let me be the first to greet you a Merry Christmas!

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TAGS: Aleth’s Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cookies, Billie Bean Coffee, Bubbka, cake, chicharon, Chichashrooms at Echostore, christmas, Cocoro, Eat MY SPuDs, food, Frozen Cheesecakes by Sebastian’s, gift ideas, ice cream, Joconde Cakes, Nana Meng Chicharon, Nana Meng Kakanin, paskong pinoy, Pastries
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