04 May2010

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Osang’s makes the finest broas I have ever tasted in the Philippines (and yes, I have NOT tasted all of them). And more than just the end result, I think they have one of the most truly ARTISANAL approaches to their baked goods, one of a dying breed of food artisans all across the country. If they would allow me to buy into their operations just to preserve this gem of an institution for generations to come, I would do it without hesitation. And I have never said that on this blog before, so yes, I feel very strongly about Osang’s. Our family has purchased broas from Osang’s for nearly 50 years… My first recollection of entering their storedates back nearly forty years, and I distinctly remember dropping off large empty tin cans on our way to my mother’s ancestral summer home a couple of hours drive away, and a week or so later passing by Osang’s to pick up the cans that were filled with the most amazing broas ever. The broas are made almost exactly the same way they were made nearly half a century ago. And they still taste wonderful.

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Besides taking care of family business in Tagbilaran, my recent overnight trip to Bohol had another purpose. I was there to campaign privately for Mar Roxas and Noynoy Aquino. I visited some 6-7 markets in just a few hours and handed out nearly 2,000 ballers (rubber bracelets, I had no idea what a baller was before this campaign!), lots of aprons, tons of stickers and other campaign paraphernalia. All of these we either purchased from the Aquino campaign headquarters or were sent directly to us from the Roxas campaign headquarters. And no, I was not with the candidates themselves, just doing this on my own initiative, just as we had in Batangas, Palawan, Cebu, Baguio, etc. in recent weeks, hence the frenetic travel schedule.

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So I was thrilled when I asked the daughter (or was it now granddaughter) of Osang who they were supporting in the upcoming elections and they enthusiastically said Aquino/Roxas. I went back to the car to get them one apron and a baller and before I knew it, every single one of their workers had donned the aprons proudly and put on the ballers before going back to work. They were in the middle of broas production run, and I was thrilled to take several photos to detail the process. I have posted just a few of these photos here, so as not to give the entire procedure away… I might save that for part of a book instead. The eggs and sugar are mixed in a specialized mechanized mixer that goes at a slow pace (this is the only change from hand-mixing some 4 decades ago). Flour is then added, the batter is hand mixed to the right consistency and placed manually in large piping bags…

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Each broas is hand piped onto a thin sheet of tin and baked in their wood-fired clay oven. I have done a post on Osang’s oven before, see it here . They also bake their other specialties in this oven, see another post on them here.

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When the cookies are deemed to be done just so, they are removed, dusted with superfine sugar, removed from their pans and carefully laid on buri ribs (the center stems/spines of the large buri palm leaves, like giant ting-tings or coconut leaf ribs) for a second cooking. This is done over a very low charcoal heat. This second drying process is critical to ensuring a crisp cookie. It is similar to the second baking of Italian biscotti. After a few minutes baking on one side, they are turned over. Sometimes they are moved to a very low heat part of the open oven where they dry out further. Then each cookie is brushed to get rid of any browned/burned bits. EACH AND EVERY COOKIE IS HAND BRUSHED!

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This is how they have done it for decades and they haven’t thought to expand their output or switch to modern ovens. They only make so many broas a day, and when that runs out, that’s it. I asked them if they wanted to increase their sales and they smiled politely, sure I was kidding. I then promised I could ensure a steady purchase order of at least 100 bags per week if they guaranteed production, but they demurred. You have to love them. I think the record order they have done for me is a couple hundred bags when we gave these away for Christmas presents one year. And I had to place that order several weeks in advance!

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At PHP100 for a bag that must contain at least 50 pieces, I felt they should be asking at least double for their cookies. But competitors using far more shortcuts and with less impressive broas were undercutting them pricewise. Arrgh, I hope they don’t eventually go out of business as a result…

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Back at home, before reclining on my bamboo chair to write out my list of candidates for next Monday’s election, I happily munch on nearly a dozen Osang’s broas with a glass of ice cold Diet Coke. They go great with hot chocolate as well. Knowing how each and every cookie is lovingly hand made, I appreciate the snack more than you can ever imagine. :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. thelma says:

    those broas look good…but that bamboo rocking chair
    caught my attention, too! where can i buy a chair like
    that?

    May 4, 2010 | 6:11 am

     
  2. natie says:

    wow–those broas look very good indeed! and yes, Thelma–the bamboo chair caght my attention too..

    thanks for the post, MM–may we have a peaceful election, and may the best candidates win.

    May 4, 2010 | 6:54 am

     
  3. Angela says:

    I’ve had Osang’s broas and they are indeed very good. The presentation you have (crystal bowl) makes them look even more delicious!

    May 4, 2010 | 7:28 am

     
  4. Mari says:

    Broas… yummy. I am glad I can still keep my sane mind on my diet when reading your blog… =D

    But thanks again for the post. I will definitely refer back to your blog when we trek the south on our trip back. Of course first stop will be Cebu and the famous Zubuchon!

    May 4, 2010 | 7:28 am

     
  5. kitchen says:

    Wow Awesome post! I adore those broas, and the bakers it seems they give a special attention to ingredients and the process. truely artisan. i have to go there.

    May 4, 2010 | 7:43 am

     
  6. Marketman says:

    thelma and natie, it’s a common shape of chair from Java, Indonesia. We bought it while stationed there and shipped it home when we moved back to Manila. It couldn’t have cost more than $50, I think. :)

    May 4, 2010 | 8:24 am

     
  7. ingrid says:

    yummy broas!
    MM, do you think it will hold well for tiramisu?

    May 4, 2010 | 8:33 am

     
  8. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    Osang’s is truly the epitome of artisan pastry. Am glad they are back into production after a short-break last December.

    @ingrid. Tried using Osang’s for tiramisu, but it disintegrated. Its too delicate

    May 4, 2010 | 8:43 am

     
  9. Bubt says:

    we bought lots of broas at Osangs last 2009 and while waiting for our orders, they opened a canister full of broas but they are broken or out of shape(did not pass their QA) and we ate all of those for free. We were able to taste unlimited broas during that visit..

    May 4, 2010 | 8:46 am

     
  10. denise says:

    hmmm…I remember when we would drip each broas with super thick Ovaltine, coz if you dip it in, it would be too soggy, but those were usually bought from Shamrock or some other pasalubong place in Cebu

    May 4, 2010 | 8:51 am

     
  11. junb says:

    Yes…We should at least document all these artisinal produce and put it in a tablet and burried into the deep internet dungeon for the future generation to discover :)

    May 4, 2010 | 8:54 am

     
  12. linda says:

    MM, is that a Delicious magazine underneath your broas? That’s my favourite food magazine ! I wish I could buy those broas here, they look soooooooo good!

    May 4, 2010 | 8:58 am

     
  13. romwell says:

    from the picture it seems that they haven’t made up their mind on who to vote for vice president in the coming elections.

    May 4, 2010 | 9:07 am

     
  14. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    MM, you missed the sugar-coater baker (not wearing mar’s apron)!…hehehehe

    May 4, 2010 | 9:12 am

     
  15. Marketman says:

    romwell, hahaha. linda, actually I think it was an Australian Vogue Entertaining & Travel, and below it probably a Delicious… I hit the jackpot at a second hand book store in Baguio last week and bought 14 food magazines from last year at just PHP70+ or so each. That’s a real bargain as magazines in Manila such as VE&T cost some PHP700+ per issue for current ones! Ingrid, these are a bit delicate for tiramisu…

    May 4, 2010 | 9:14 am

     
  16. Marketman says:

    Artisan, that photo taken before I even asked who they were voting for and got them all aprons! :)

    May 4, 2010 | 9:14 am

     
  17. sister says:

    OMG, Osang’s staff is still using the covers of Jacob’s crackers for tin pans! Same as they did 50 years ago. At least now they have a mechanized mixer instead if the wooden paddle and wooden bowl of your manipulated by two women squatting on the floor. Still yummy- the best in the world.

    May 4, 2010 | 9:20 am

     
  18. iya says:

    love the picture! they all look so happy! and i will be equally happy if i get my hands on those broas! :)

    May 4, 2010 | 3:33 pm

     
  19. Quillene says:

    MM. I love those aprons… may stowaway ka pa ba diyan I can trade with a small donation to the feeding program? ;)

    May 4, 2010 | 4:23 pm

     
  20. Marketman says:

    Quillene, sorry naubos na ang lahat. It was almost a mini-riot in one market when we ran out! Photos on that up soon! :)

    May 4, 2010 | 4:25 pm

     
  21. bearhug0127 says:

    MM, when is that book you mentioned coming out?

    Do they sell these broas in Manila? Where?

    And how does one get a baller?

    May 4, 2010 | 5:16 pm

     
  22. Bubut says:

    @bearhug0127, those broas are not available in Manila. you cant also find those in the supermarkets in Bohol. you really need to visit them at their factory at the back of Baclayon church.
    those baller are just give aways by private supporters of noy-mar. i got mine from my boss. i think they are also for sale in some national bookstore.

    May 4, 2010 | 6:13 pm

     
  23. bearhug0127 says:

    @Bubut, thanks for the info. guess i have to wait till i can come home and visit Baclayon to get a taste of those heavenly broas.

    May 4, 2010 | 6:19 pm

     
  24. Acer_M says:

    I have read MM’s previous post re Osang’s broas way back before we went to Bohol. When we got there, I immediately asked our tour guide to drop us at Osang’s to buy their famous broas and pastel. Their broas taste heavenly with the right amount of sugar while their pastel just have too little filling but what is nice is that their ube filling has a hint of a smoke flavor and the custard filling has a lemony taste. I agree, Osang’s has the most amazing broas! :D

    May 4, 2010 | 8:26 pm

     
  25. millet says:

    i looove osang’s. now i understand why it’s not sold anywhere else but bohol. osang’s crewn looks natty in those aprons.

    May 4, 2010 | 10:15 pm

     
  26. chinky says:

    where cam they be found in Bohol?

    May 4, 2010 | 10:45 pm

     
  27. kim says:

    my ate uses broas for sansrival and it tastes heavenly … what more if she tries osang’s ? you can probably convince them, MM, to expand the business … probably supply to cebu or manila for a start … ???

    May 5, 2010 | 3:43 am

     
  28. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    Broas + Coke (ice cold) = Good

    May 5, 2010 | 5:19 am

     
  29. jean says:

    My late father was the executive judge assigned to the Regional Trial Court in Tagbilaran in the 80s. He’d come home to Manila for one weekend a month and frequently brought us Osang’s broas among other pasalubong. Only the broas stand out in my memory. Yes, they were good then. I’m glad they still are!

    May 5, 2010 | 6:47 am

     
  30. kakusina says:

    we usually get broas from panaderia de molo. wonder how these would compare with osang’s broas? good post. really, so many young people nowadays know next to nothing about our wonderful food and the wonderful people who produce it. hard to build warm memories around fast food outlets. what a good idea–a book based on your blog with contributions from people like betty q. my suggestion is proceeds go to the feed the kids program. if you go through with it, count me in as a volunteer.

    May 5, 2010 | 7:37 am

     
  31. Footloose says:

    It would be lamentable indeed if this traditional broas producer yield to faster, mechanized or otherwise corner-cutting producers. The first to go would be the smoky flavor when they shift to gas fired ovens. Then the rich unique taste will vanish when battery fed layer eggs replace farm fresh ones. The situation is truly scary, the wave of consumers whose only consideration is low price greatly outnumber the trickle of thoughtful ones who value product quality and craftsmanship. Ensaimada production went through exactly the same decline and industrialization, that’s why some of us are still seeking our ideal version of it. Consumers coming a little later won’t miss the difference.

    May 5, 2010 | 11:22 am

     
  32. Gej says:

    Great post.
    Something must be done about these artisanal enterprises. And not just the artisanal food enterprises. Most are struggling, even as tehy have spent almost all their lives creating products that are truly unique and Filipino.
    I was very happy to bump into a photo exhibit in Greenbelt 5 yesterday. The theme is “Artisans” . The high profile photographers include Jaime Zobel de Ayala, among others. It’s ongoing, although I am not sure until when.
    It was a relatively small but well-appreciated high profile gesture for these photographers to pay tribute to named and unnamed men and women who, in a very real way, preserve Filipino culture with their lives. I hope many take the cue from them.

    May 5, 2010 | 4:10 pm

     
  33. Brian Asis says:

    It would be a shame that they could not increase their production and export it. Too bad I was not able to drop by Osang’s while I was at Bohol but now At least I have a reason to go back!

    May 7, 2010 | 5:34 pm

     
  34. dragon says:

    Cat’s out of the bag MM – when’s the book due to come out??? Before December for the feeding program? ;-)

    May 8, 2010 | 7:28 pm

     
  35. Marketman says:

    Dragon, no cat in the bag. I have been meaning to write a book for years, have never gotten around to it. I would have to reduce MM posts to one a week instead of 10 to have enough time to even draft a book… :)

    May 9, 2010 | 2:46 pm

     
  36. dHomemaker in the Kitchen says:

    i agree.. i am originally from Baclayon and i know just how delicious Osang’s broas are! my family has been buying their broas since my Mama was still in her teenage years, with my Lola, a friend of the owner, where they got the name. =) everytime i get to visit home, i never fail to go there to get a few hundreds to bring back to Manila.

    just to share, there is also this one family-operated shop – Israel’s, which is also in Baclayon. They sell basically the same products, broas which is also a hit, the ones you can find in the Supermarkets in Tagbilaran City. I also found out a few years ago, together with local delicacies Calamay and Caycay, were sold in a convenient store in Better Living in Bicutan. Maybe a Boholano owner. This, by the way, is the commercial type.

    but i would still go for Osang’s. definitely so much better than any other broas I tasted! yum!=)

    May 10, 2010 | 11:28 am

     
  37. chu says:

    yap….I’ll miss Baclayon broas…it’s yummy…try 2 look for it..it’s in the back of Baclayon Church…

    May 20, 2010 | 3:09 pm

     
  38. maria says:

    my sister and her husband visited bohol and came home with broas – very good! my apos could not get enough of them. the two packs we were given were gone in a jiffy.

    for your information – the broas were packed in a brown paper bag but they were crispy and
    just so when we got them. i share this because some broas i bought somewhere else were no longer crispy when we opened the can.

    are osang’s broas available in manila?

    Jul 22, 2010 | 6:50 am

     
  39. Marketman says:

    maria, the broas were still crisp due to their cooking process… a double baking that gets the wafer as crisp as possible. To my knowledge, they are not for sale in Manila, and do not produce in commercial quantities other than for their in-house shop.

    Jul 22, 2010 | 7:20 am

     
  40. Carlos says:

    I have just had 2 dozen little lady fingers from Osang’s. One of my agents is from Tagbilaran and i had told her about Osang’s. She went once and there was none, had to return next day for the 5 bags on order. I luckily had one of them. Incomparable to any other broas whether from Iloilo or Laguna, Crisp, light and airy . . Its a consistent flavor throughout the cookie and although it crumbles, the whole cookies barely leave crumbs.Thank you Market Man, tag that as another of the 1000 things to taste before leaving this mortal coil.

    Sep 3, 2010 | 11:58 am

     
  41. jhaz says:

    Sigh…. I missed buying Osang’s broas when my family and I went there for a vacation last week. :c :c :c

    Oct 15, 2010 | 10:00 am

     
 

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