You know something is good when there are a lot of imitationsâ€¦ so there must be something really good about the Good Shepherd brand of delicacies in Baguio and other locations around the Philippines as the markets and other tourist traps are chock-full of Good Shepherd wannabeesâ€¦ I wasnâ€™t consciously keeping track but noticed the same kind of plastic containers and similar labels with brands like Shepherd Shepherd, R&B Shepherd, Mother Shepherd, Little Shepherd and Sheep Shepherd (doesnâ€™t a shepherd herd sheep or do sheep herd shepherds? Heeheehee). I made a special trip to the Good Shepherd base outside Baguio (beyond the Mines View site) to see what the original purveyor of peanut brittle and other goodies had to offer. I had not been there in over 30 years and was kicking myself as they really do have some of the yummiest peanut brittle I have ever tasted. Finely chopped peanuts in a delicious wafer thin caramel and flavored with just a touch of butter that is cut and expertly packed into cylindrical plastic bottles and sell for PHP95 for 500gramsâ€¦ what a deal!
Despite a clear notice on their simple label that they hold a Philippine Patent 59642 for their peanut brittle, there are legions of similar bottles and brands of peanut brittle. I always root for the original so I never buy any other brand (particularly if they have done nothing to differentiate themselves). I am actually surprised that the nuns donâ€™t engage some wicked intellectual property rights lawyer to get all the competitors to at least change their packaging and make sure they havenâ€™t used the same recipe! At any rate, this stuff is delicious and addictive. I cannot imagine a soul who has visited Baguio and who has not at least tasted (if not fallen in love with) this peanut brittle. The â€œstoreâ€ at the convent or training center also had its famous ube jam on offer. This is some of the best jam I have tasted (and I have tasted a LOT considering my ancestors from the ube island of Bohol) â€“ it is smooth, lighter than most, sweet but not overly so, and brilliantly lavender in color. They vehemently state that they use no artificial food coloring but I really am wondering about this (see future post on ube jam to follow soon). The jam is sold warm and the bottles still uncapped. Then they give you this spiel about waiting before you seal it and refrigerating it as soon as possible. Needless to say, there are hundreds of cars circling Baguio sightseeing with open jars of ube jam in their back seats!
Good Shepherd has broadened their product line and also offer guava and mango jams, cashew brittle, cashew nuts, peanuts, guyabano and sampaloc candies, pickles and pickle relishes, orange marmalade, strawberry juice, etc. The place is so simply appointed but so efficiently set-up. There are clear product postings and price lists out front, order forms, and an assembly line pick-up and cashier station inside. They must have the ultimate efficiency consultant…you know who I mean. They also have a great view of the mines view area without any of the hawkers. Skip Mines View the next time you are in Baguio and head straight to the Good Shepherd compound. And if you manage to leave without bags full of goodies then you have the self-control to join the convent or a nearby seminary!