Showing posts with label fruits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fruits. Show all posts

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Mango trees in full bloom

The village where I reside in was supposedly formerly a mango orchard. As such, there are many old large mango trees everywhere. The Clairvoyant and I like to think that a mature mango tree is the status symbol for a homeowner in our village and we are fortunate to have one in our home. We actually oriented our house to retain the mango tree in our lot (the right thing to do) and it is one of the distinct features of our home.

Most of the old mango trees where I reside are now in full bloom. Many branches (large and small) are now sagging with the weight of the flowers. I am afraid branches will start crashing down once the flowers transform into fruits.
Our mango tree had not been as productive the past almost 4 years after a large branch was removed by a strong typhoon in 2014. We were able to harvest something like 3 to 4 boxes of carabao mangoes then, and now look forward to a good harvest in a few weeks.
Another street and more flowering mango trees.
We hope to have a good harvest in the coming weeks and are praying that there won't be heavy rains that will ruin the flowers.
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Monday, September 25, 2017

Atis in Vietnam!

Atis or sweetsop is my favorite fruit. One of the highlights of the trip to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) aside from the conference I attended, was going to Ben Tanh Market where may of us got our souvenirs to take home. On the Sunday we were there, we checked out the fruit stands to get some to eat back at the hotel. I was delighted to see they had atis, which was also in season in the Philippines, only that theirs were larger and heavier. We haggled a bit as we tried to get a feel of the prices for fruits. My friend brought lanzones, too, and both of us thought it over if we were going to buy some of the large chicos that was also available and ready to eat. The atis, we were told, can be eaten the following day.

I bought a couple of these large atis
Here's a standard pen for reference on the size of the atis

We didn't get to eat our atis until 2 days later. It was worth the wait though as we were treated to really juicy fruit with just the right sweetness. I shared my fruits with other colleagues who weren't able to join us at the market earlier.

I brought some of the seeds with me back to Manila. I will be planting those and hopefully they will grow and bear fruit in the future.
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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Kaimito season

I was going to write about one of my favorite fruits last month but couldn't get a nice photo. It's a good thing I was able to get this opportunistic shot as a friend was getting some kaimito at a roadside stall along Katipunan Avenue in Balara. We learned last week that the fruits were not necessarily harvested from the many trees in Balara and the UP Diliman campus. These came from Bulacan but were being sold here because the area is already well known for kaimito during its season. In fact, we normally see a lot of pickers with their long poles getting the fruits from the trees near our office. And so some staff refuse to buy because they argue that the pickers and those selling the fruits are basically free-loading from UP's trees. No matter, the price per kilo is 50 pesos, which is still cheaper compared to the 70 to 80 pesos per kilo prices in supermarkets. 

There are basically 2 types of kaimito on sale - the green ones and the violet variety. Some violets are lighter -colored.

My only comment here is that you should go down from your vehicle to select the fruits yourself. Chances are, most of the fruits the vendors will give you if you do not have a suki would be either overripe, bugbog or have a lot of borers (worms?). Always examine each fruit and ones that are too soft are often undesirable. Also try to look for the tell-tale holes that are the indications of borers.
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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Off-season atis

My trip to the wet market last Saturday allowed us to re-supply with seafood, particularly fresh tuna and shrimps from our 'suki' vendors. But my most interesting find, well according to me, is that my favorite fruit is available at the market. Atis or sweetsop is something I would have expected during the dry season in the months we often refer to as summer in the Philippines. We are currently in the middle of the wet season and experiencing some heavy rains almost everyday although there hasn't been a major typhoon to affect our area, which is close to Metro Manila.

Atis or sweetsop is a popular fruit that's usually available during the summer (dry season).
Though I welcome having atis at this time of year, I wonder if this pleasure is actually in exchange for something quite serious and maybe bad. Perhaps change is really coming (to use this favorite tagline of supporters of the current Philippines president). Only this time, this is climate change that's probably already here.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fruits and vegetables shopping in Baguio

A trip to Baguio won't be complete without buying vegetables and fruits there. Baguio's location is very strategic as vegetables and fruits, primarily from the neighboring towns in Benguet Province pass through the city en route to other provinces and Metro Manila. Produce from neighboring provinces in the region (Cordillera Autonomous Region or CAR) and those in Regions 1 (Ilocos) and 2 (Cagayan) also find their way to Baguio where there is demand for them but with much less escalation in prices.

I used to go to the Baguio Public Market to get vegetables and fruits. But the last few trips I found it better not to brave the crowded market and purchase items instead from the roadside shops you will find along Marcos Highway. There are many farms along this major road and many of the shops are owned by farmers selling their own products. You can get veggies and fruits for significantly less than the prices in Metro Manila with less of the hassle when you shop at the market. And you get to buy directly from the farmers (hint: they have smaller shops along the road usually near their homes).

Roadside shops along Marcos Highway have all the vegetables and fruits you'll probably be buying for personal consumption or to give away as pasalubong to family and friends.
The produce at the shops seem to come straight out of the popular folk song "Bahay Kubo."
There are also other items on sale at these shops including the popular brooms. Most of these aren't made in Baguio though the city's name is on the brooms. There are also peanut brittle, strawberry jam, ube jam, chocolate crinkles and other stuff for those who want to do last minute souvenir shopping or perhaps add to the stash they already got earlier just so they're sure they have enough pasalubong.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Chocolate review: Kirkland Dark Chocolate Covered Mangoes

This month has already seen me posting what seems to be a 'career-high' in monthly chocolate reviews. It's not because I don't have other material to write about but more like I have a lot of drafts on chocolates that have accumulated that I have to trim down. Still, these posts seem to be quite enjoyable and a nice distraction from the more serious stuff I write about in another blog and as well as typical work-related writing that I also do.

This feature is about chocolate covered mangoes that we got at an S&R store the last time we did some groceries there. That was months ago and we got curious about this pack, which cost something like about 800 pesos. We had intended to taste this and then, if it was good, the plan was to purchase a few more packs to bring abroad to share with friends missing Philippine mangoes and like chocolate (who doesn't like chocolate?).

Kirkland Dark Chocolate Covered Mangoes come in a 500g resealable bag
The packaging states that mangoes are from the Philippines and the chocolate used was responsibly sourced. I am not sure about where the cacao came from but the mangoes most likely came from Guimaras, which is a prime producer and exporter of mangoes abroad and particularly to the US and Canada.
Details about the chocolate covered mangoes are at the back of the package
A description of the mangoes and a definition of what they meant by 'responsibly sourced' chocolates
Nutrition facts and serving size
It doesn't say what % of cacao comprised the dark chocolate but based on the taste, I would say that it would be minimum 30% cacao.
Kirkland's dark chocolate covered mangoes is a winner! I think it is a delight and enjoyable mainly because of the mangoes they used. Tremendously biased as I may seem but it is my opinion that the taste of mangoes from the Philippines is how mangoes should taste like. Soon I will be writing about a more premium chocolate from a more popular and established brand that also used mangoes and I will explain there why that chocolate doesn't taste quite right.
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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Chocolate review: Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai and Blueberry Flavors

A friend gave a pack of chocolate-covered fruits to the Clairvoyant and we were delightfully surprised these were so good. And so we tried to find packs of these and found them whenever we traveled abroad. Only recently have we found these at a local supermarket and surprisingly this happened to be the neighborhood grocery store. Well, they had them on their shelves for some time but very recently, we haven't seen the small packs of Brookside variants. Nowadays, we get our regular supply from S&R, which has lots of items you won't generally find in regular supermarkets.

Dark chocolate covered processed acai and blueberry
Detailed information on the back
The processed fruits are actually more complicated as the ingredients show
Nutrition facts - somethings that need to be considered before indulging in these sweets
The information on the package does not state the % of cocoa for the dark chocolate used for these sweets. I do know that chocolate and fruit go very well together. Our preference for dark chocolate, which is semi-sweet or on the bitter side, and the "healthy" association of acai berries is just too good to pass up and our friends similarly enjoying this treat is proof for us that it is a hit.
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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Home made mango sorbet

We did not expect to have so many mangoes from our tree considering it looked depressed when we moved in to our new home last March. We are actually overwhelmed with the blessings from the tree, which we call an ent - borrowing from the term used for "tree herder" in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Last week, our kasambahay experimented on making ice cream using the mangoes. The initial version was a bit sour as some of the not so ripe fruits dominated the ingredients. Last weekend though, they had a breakthrough by adding more milk and some sugar to finally come up with real good home made ice cream. It didn't have the typical ingredients from the leading commercial brands or those found in typical sorbetes you can buy from the roaming carts but I can vouch for it being rich in taste and having all natural ingredients. The Clairvoyant was impressed with the concoction and we'll definitely work on improving the consistency of the sorbet. We already look forward to the next mango harvest!

Home made mango sorbet from the fruits of our tree.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Our mango tree

We like to tell people that we are very happy to have a mature mango tree in our new home. The tree seems to be an old one judging from its trunk. When we first saw it in November 2012, it looked gaunt and missing some branches (likely from natural causes like typhoons) and our contractor actually asked us if we wanted to get rid of it. We decided against cutting the tree as mangoes are strongly linked with our families. The Clairvoyant's family on her mother's side comes from Zambales and have had mango trees in their lands for as far back as they could remember. On my father's side in Iloilo we also have had mango trees in our lands. It was a "no-brainer" to have our own mango tree.

The mango tree the first time we saw it back in November 2012.
Our mango tree - photo taken last April 12, 2014 with its branches decorated with lichen and mangoes ripening everywhere. We poured a bottle of water we got from Dauis Church in Bohol in 2012 and afterwards, the tree seem to have come to life, rewarding us with lots of fruits.
Orchids and other plants now adorn our old mango tree
Among the orchids are sanggumay, which is an indigenous specie that's popular with its large flowers. Ours were given by close friends and already have buds hanging. My mother is also growing sanggumay in her garden and has told us that she will give us a few for our garden.
The harvest from our kalabaw mango tree - ripe and green mangoes just the way we like them.
Our mango tree now stands as a sentinel for our home. We like to think of it as an ent (ref. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings) guarding us from unwanted elements and that it comes alive when we are asleep to keep watch of other trees and plants in our home.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Summer treats

Hot days have heralded the arrival of April and we can look forward to more of these hot and humid days ahead after what seemed to be a relatively cool March. While there have been no alarms yet regarding water levels in reservoirs in Luzon, it is expected that somewhere, sometime there will be a water shortage. This is likely due to a bad water supply management considering all the water we usually get during the wet season.

The summer months of April and May, however, are the best times to go out and enjoy the outdoors. The beaches are sure to be full of people and expect many to flock to the cooler cities of Baguio and Tagaytay to get some respite from the heat. Ice cream and halu-halo will be very popular but summer is usually the time for fruits including natural coolers in watermelon (pakwan), cantaloupe (melon), and honeydew. We, of course, enjoy traditional favorites in mangoes, bananas and kaimito, which is currently in season. We are thankful that we can enjoy such treats during the summer months.

Ripe mangoes, lakatan and latundan bananas, and kaimito

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Leftovers and New Year's Day meals

It's the day after New Year's and I'm sure there are still a lot of leftovers at many people's homes much like the food left after Christmas Day. In our case, there's still some including the round-shaped fruits though I won't call the fruits leftovers. As usual, we had grilled food for media noche as well as some wine. This year we didn't have pasta for media noche, opting for lumpia and leftover Christmas ham in addition to grilled tuna, chicken and hotdogs. The new thing was that we happened upon this Israeli wine at a nearby supermarket before Christmas that we decided to try out, even laughing that the pedigree for the wine went back to Bibilical times. We forgot to bring the bottle to my in-laws' home for Christmas lunch. The bottle ended up as part of dinner at a friend's home as the Clairvoyant brought it as her contribution for their informal reunion in preparation for their High School Homecoming later this January. It turned out to be a good bottle of Emerald Riesling, a semi dry white wine, of 2009 vintage that was bottled by Carmel Zion/Askalon apparently just before it was sold by the original owners.

Wine and grilled food for media noche, and puto, fruits and native chocolate for the morning after
It's the simple breakfast of puto (steamed rice cake) and tsokolate that I miss from vacations in Iloilo from when I was a child. It's simple for most people now but for me it's unique in a way due to the sentimental value that I put into such memories that hopefully I can still recreate. The puto manapla in the photo above was a pasalubong from my father who went home to his hometown in Iloilo recently. It is popular in the Visayas and we regularly get these in Iloilo and Negros for breakfast or merienda. It's very good with coffee or chocolate.
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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Simple pleasures in Bangkok

My recent trip to Bangkok afforded me some opportunities to take some photos of street vendors and the various foods they sell. Many of these like barbecues and fruits are quite similar to the street food being sold here in the Philippines. However, I noticed some stalls selling full meals as well as popular Thai food like Tom Yum and their version of spring rolls. The street food are very popular among the Thai and many tourists may be found also enjoying the food. It is said that one cannot claim to have been to Bangkok and not sampled and enjoyed their street food.

Various barbecues sold by vendors along Silom near the National Stadium Station of the BTS Skytrain. Street food is very popular in Thailand and is quite safe. Many are pretty much similar to street food being sold in other countries in Southeast Asia. There are also fruits and drinks for sale at these stalls or stands and you can have a full meal out of the variety being sold here.
Mangoes and sticky rice are among my favorites and is popular throughout Southeast Asia. I enjoyed versions of this combination when we lived in Singapore and when once we traveled to Malaysia. Of course, suman (sticky rice) and mangga (mango) are a favorite merienda (snack) or panghimagas (dessert) in the Philippines. In fact, in the city where I live, celebrated every summer is the Sumaka Festival. Sumaka stands for suman, mangga, and kasoy (cashew), for which the city is well known for, and which visitors often get as pasalubong (souvenir or present from a trip) when they go home.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Backyard grown atis

Atis or sweet sop remains as my favorite fruit and so I was very happy to learn that the atis tree at my parents' home bore a lot of fruits and these were not ruined by the rains last month. Knowing how I loved atis, my mother sent us a lot of what they were able to pick from the tree. And so I had atis to end my meals for almost two weeks prior to my trip to Japan. The Clairvoyant isn't so keen on atis so she generously gave me her part of the "harvest."

Ripe atis is an enjoyable treat after meals

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Fruit treats

The Philippines is blessed with so many varieties of fruits and there's so many to choose from all year round. I recall a time when the market was not saturated with imported fruits like apples and pears from China, grapes from the US, kiwis from New Zealand. Mostly, you would find local favorites like mangoes, bananas, papaya, pineapple, chico, atis, kaimito, lanzones, suha, watermelon, canteloupe, rambutan, durian, langka and guyabano. Many of these fruits are exported and are well-known around the world, especially our bananas, which you can probably buy in many if not most supermarkets abroad. I was particular with the "Product of the Philippines" tag or sticker on bananas when I was residing in Japan and Singapore. 

When traveling around the country, I make it a point to eat fruits, especially those in season and ones you can easily buy in the place we are staying. Many of these are sold along the roadside and are cheaper than those you can buy at a grocery store in Metro Manila. In fact, if I had the time and baggage allowance, I would often purchase fruits while on trips to the Visayas and Mindanao. I don't know how many boxes of mangoes, pomelos and mangosteen I have purchased during trips to Iloilo and Davao, or the pineapples we have bought when traveling to Tagaytay.

On a recent trip to Mindoro, my first one, we were treated by our hosts with rambutan, lanzones, durian and marang. While I have tasted the latter two, I can say I am not really a fan of these fruits, which people say have an acquired taste. That is, they are not really for everyone. Needless to say, I like rambutan and definitely lanzones so I just had to have some for take home.

Rambutan and lanzones from Mindoro
Durian, marang and papaya
Marang looks like guyabano or large version of atis once the skin is peeled.
It is unfortunate that while many of these fruits are in abundance, they cannot reach Manila cheaply and transport costs alone bring up the prices so they can be quite expensive compared to the provinces of their origin. This poses as a major challenge to producers and government should exert more effort towards more efficient but less expensive transport of fruits as well as vegetables if the objective is to achieve fair prices and food security throughout the country. Hopefully, that can be realized within our lifetimes and soon enough!
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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mango float for Easter

The Clairvoyant made some mango float last Thursday that we could enjoy on Easter weekend. The recipe is not so complicated and the ingredients are easy to get. Fresh mangoes are available throughout the year but are very much in season this March and April so we were able to get good mangoes that are just right in terms of sweetness and sourness. Cream and condensed milk are also readily available from the supermarket or even in convenience stores. Graham crackers, which would serve as the layers for what would look like a cake are also available from the grocery. We have a few Pyrex trays at home that we use for various dishes so we just took a couple out of storage and prepared them for use for the do-it-yourself dessert. I took a few photos of the final product that we sampled today after almost 48 hours in the freezer.

Fresh from the fridge freezer - the mango float was placed in the freezer for best results in integration of the ingredients.
The first slice of mango float for the taste test.
Success! The mango float tastes great and the layers of graham, mangoes and cream/condensed milk mix is seen in the photo.
I can say that the mango float is ready for Easter Sunday and won't probably last beyond Sunday if we let everyone indulge in dessert tomorrow.
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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Star apple season

You know the kaimito or star apple is in season when you see vendors suddenly sprouting along the stretch of Katipunan Ave just behind the University of the Philippines campus. Most of the fruits are harvested from trees in the Old Balara area where, fortunately, residents have not chopped down or killed the trees. I assume that they realized that the trees would provide them some livelihood when the fruits were in season, and that they helped make the environment more pleasant in the area. There are also many kaimito trees in the UP Diliman campus and I have seen some people harvesting the fruits from the trees lining the Magsaysay Avenue in front of the student dormitories.

Vendors lining up along Katipunan selling kaimito or star apple. Behind the fence is the UP Diliman College of Science Complex
The green variety is white inside
The violet or purple ones are the same color inside
I prefer the green ones as the edible parts are usually more compared with the violet variety. This is mainly based on my experience buying the fruit plus the advise my mother gave me from years of also getting the fruit for our family's consumption. I would like to think that I eat a lot of kaimito than the average person. I love the fruit and its availability near my office makes it easy for me to get a few kilograms for our home quite often during its season. I also purchase a few kilos for my parents, parents-in-law and siblings.

Kaimitos are sold at PhP 50 pesos per kilogram, which is quite cheap considering they sell for PhP 60-90 per kilogram in the market. I've been told that there are those who come to Katipunan to purchase a lot of the fruits from the vendors there (namamakyaw) to sell elsewhere. I have not seen kaimito being sold at supermarkets so I assume that you can only get these from the markets or roadside stalls like the ones along Katipunan. Fortunately for me, I can purchase kaimito as I leave my office at UP to go home.

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

First kaimito of 2013

I have fond memories of my mother bringing home my favorite fruits after her Sunday trips to the market. Among the most anticipated for me are my favorites - star apple (kaimito), sweet sop (atis) and mangoes (mangga), which are typically seasonal fruits. The months from February to June usually had us enjoying (and indulging) in fruits whether we are at our home in Cainta or on vacation in Iloilo. Today, I still look for the same fruits we enjoyed before and when I do find good ones at the supermarket, the market, along the roadside stalls (including informal ones), and on trips, I try to purchase not just for our consumption but for my parents, in-laws and siblings as well.

I chanced upon some enterprising people selling what appears to be the first pickings of kaimito from Old Balara along Katipunan Avenue as I turned from the University yesterday. On impulse, I pulled over behind a vehicle stopped in front of the roadside stall whose driver was also purchasing star apples. As I wasn't sure yet if the fruit was already ripe and good and had no time to get out of the vehicle to inspect the fruits so I just asked for 2 kilograms of what I saw were large pieces of kaimito. I assumed that the vendor was trustworthy and that she wouldn't give me damaged (bugbog) fruit. My trust was rewarded as we enjoyed our first kaimito for the year and I'm sure we'll be enjoying more in the following weeks.

Kaimito or star apple from Old Balara
We'll pass by Katipunan again this weekend to check if there are kaimito we could purchase to bring to my parents' and in-laws' homes. I'm sure they will also enjoy these fruits from the old kaimito trees in Old Balara, which have been preserved by residents there, probably appreciating their potential for income when the fruit is in season.
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