This is a preview of things to come in my month-long run up to Christmas, my absolute favorite holiday of the year. November has been like a series of whirling dervish derbies so my posts have been a tad erratic. If you are wondering why I have done several posts on non-Filipino food recently, itâ€™s because I actually do eat these dishes and have photos stacked up on my computer but have not caught up on the write-upsâ€¦ this blog was meant to chronicle where I get food/produce, what is in season, what I do with it, and how I actually cook and eat it. Itâ€™s also because I hope to give you an overload of all things â€œlocalâ€ in the month before Christmas and shortly thereafter. In response to a Christmas post I put out several weeks ago that got the most comments in the history of this blog, I have been madly preparing for my holiday special behind the scenesâ€¦ this is to be my Christmas gift to all of you faithful (and often lurking) readers of Market Manila. And it will all commence with a post on our fantastic parol or farol in response to a poignant email request from a Filipina living abroad who has always wanted to have one hanging in her American home but never knew how to make itâ€¦
Marketman gets serious and will discuss the â€œBattle of the Ballsâ€ â€“ last week I purchased every different kind of Queso de Bola I could find (just out and fresh in the groceries!) to really put them to the test and tasteâ€¦ I also included several original Edam cheeses including some aged ones to figure out where QdB hails from, how it might have gotten its particularly salty bent and muse why it is in fact, so popular around the holidaysâ€¦ The physical attributes of the balls, the heft, indentations, color, texture, taste, slice-ability, shred-ability, melt-ability, aroma, etc. will all be touched upon with a bit of tongue-in-cheek. I am also working on a â€œBattle of the Thighs, ahem, I mean Hamsâ€ which combined with the cheese is giving me serious salt overload.
Holiday snacks, sweets and baked goods are also on the menu. I have tested and re-tested at least 6 different commercial ensaimadas including those several people categorically state are â€˜the best in townâ€ and I will be ruthless in my reviews. I also spent at least 20 man-hours in the kitchen trying to perfect my own ensaimada (pain in the rear!) based on a brilliant recipe that my sister works with but which needs to be localized again (different flour, atmospheric humidity, quality of butter, etc.). It isnâ€™t what most of you expect but I like it and it is Marketmanâ€™s ideal ensaimadaâ€¦ Egg yolk overload is also in the works and I have baked over 15 leche flans in the search for something really memorable for you guys to make and bring to a holiday gatheringâ€¦ cow, carabao, or momâ€™s milk (I jest, I jest), dayap, lemon, light or dark caramel â€“ you never knew there could be so many permutations!
Not Filipino at all but a major tradition in our household is the annual gingerbread â€œhouseâ€ â€“ I will hopefully (if I find it) share my recipe for Gingerbread that is adjusted for tropical conditions. We have made one in our home every year since my daughter was born and it is truly a family tradition that is memorable, delicious, stunning and aromatic. Nothing like the smell of spices combined with kilos and kilos of candies to really burn a food memory into your brain… In the past, Marketman and family have made log cabins, working carousels, castles, barns, city blocks, houses, St Basilâ€™s Cathedral in Moscow â€“ all in gingerbread! If you have young kids in your home, you may want to adopt this wonderful tradition!
The holidays wouldnâ€™t be complete without the plants, foliage, flowers, berries, mistletoe (oops, imported) and tree so I will try to cover at least some of these. I have identified the source of the most beautiful poinsettias available in Manila, where to buy live (I have never used artificial, but understand why others do) Christmas trees (grown in Batangas or Washington State!), and how to make the most stunning floral centerpieces and arrangements. And fear notâ€¦ in the works are posts on some or all of the following: bibingka, puto bumbong, suman, pastillas, lechon, etc. So gear up for the holidays and look out for the Market Manila 2005 Holiday Special!