28 Jul2011

Gourmet Keso

by Marketman

After I gave that talk at the Gawad Kalinga Social Entrepreneurship Gathering at Ateneo last week, I was pleasantly “ambushed” by budding entrepreneurs with a whole host of products that are now being produced at the “Enchanted Farm” in Bulacan. A long-time reader “filet minion” was the first and most aggressive, but she was also the lady that invited me to speak in the first place… :) She and some families at the farm artisanally produces several types of wonderful gourmet kesos (GK, get it?) such as two types of chevre, kesong puti and feta bottled in extra virgin olive oil…

The Bulacan-made chevre was a PLEASANT revelation. One disc had chopped herbs (which Mrs. MM and I thought was a little “tangy”) but still interesting. But the second disc with pistachio nuts was very nice. Good texture, relatively mild flavor and if you didn’t know it was made just outside Manila, I doubt you would have come close to guessing its origin… Gourmet Keso also had EXCELLENT kesong puti, sold traditionally wrapped in banana leaves. Mrs. MM loves her cheese, and for some childhood reason, loves her kesong puti pan-fried and sandwiched in a hot pan de sal! And she had only good things to say about the kesong puti! The cheese wasn’t too salty and it had a very soft consistency…

Finally, I thought the feta cheese in EVOO was also very good. I must disclose that I did accept the free samples at the Gawad Kalinga talk, but we liked the cheese so much that Mrs. MM and I sought out the Gawad Kalinga table at the Sunday Mercato Centrale market in Fort Bonifacio to buy more cheese… Yum! Brava “filet minion” and your partners at the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm… if this is a taste of some of the interesting products that are/will be produced at the farm, we have lots of good things on their way! filet minion, if you read this, please leave a comment with the prices of each of these products, as I did not keep notes nor did I bother to ask for a receipt with all the products we purchased last Sunday! Also contact information and places you sell the cheese…

The Gawad Kalinga table at Mercato Centrale also features other products like Golden Eggs (more on those soon), handicrafts such as pillowcases and bags made from water hyacinths, etc.

It’s so nice to see young entrepreneurs venturing into new businesses, and doing it with a conscience to boot. These businesses employ folks from the Gawad Kalinga communities and emphasize the use of locally grown or sourced raw materials whenever possible. They are trying to build brands (a very smart move) and are reaching beyond traditional artsy-crafty ideas… Kudos to all of them and I hope readers will support many of their efforts if they like/enjoy the products they bring to market…



  1. cumin says:

    Ooooh nice nice nice! I’m so happy GK has ventured in cheese making and other enterprises, it’s really inspiring to learn about their initiatives from housing to livelihoods, making really tangible impact on people’s lives. Kudos to filet minion and colleagues! I hope there’s an outlet for these cheese products in QC? Years ago, someone from Los Banos used to sell kesong puti with herbs (rosemary, dill, etc) at the Lung Center market on Sundays, but disappeared after a couple of months.

    Jul 28, 2011 | 9:30 pm


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  3. natie says:

    very commendable!

    Jul 28, 2011 | 9:43 pm

  4. millet says:

    bravo! so happy to hear about efforts like this!

    Jul 28, 2011 | 10:26 pm

  5. Lava Bien says:

    Is the olive oil locally produced from locally grown olives? Thanks.

    Jul 28, 2011 | 10:34 pm

  6. atbnorge says:

    I love my chevre. It’s the local brown cheese here (Ski Queen Gjeost in the US). There is something quirky about its taste but it’s one of the loveliest tastes I’ve ever known…We drive hundreds of kilometers and nearly a couple of thousands of meters over sea level, literally, during summer just to buy and taste the artisanal goat’s cheese. One particular cheese here in Norway is the Roldal goat’s cheese with its melt in the mouth quality and unforgettable taste. The price may be high and the altitude where it was developed, but it’s worth it. I love it on waffles; weird but that’s just how it is here…I also remember my father making kesong puti made from goat’s milk (one of his experiments because we had lots of goats in the farm then) but the caldereta was more unforgettable so cheesemaking in the family didn’t catch on…

    KUDOS to filet minion for such lovely spirit and to you MM for helping such entrepreneurs to gain public notice.

    Jul 28, 2011 | 10:37 pm

  7. underqualified says:

    How often do you travel to and from Manila and Cebu in a week? 0_o

    Jul 28, 2011 | 11:04 pm

  8. joey says:

    Those cheeses sound wonderful! More so for them being local and for a good cause. Will definitely check them out when I am next in Mercato. Thanks for the tip! The organic farmer that delivers to me also started recently making cheese, just a fresh cottage cheese for now, and I am loving it. Loving all these local artisans and so happy to be consuming their products! :)

    Curious to hear about the golden eggs…

    Jul 28, 2011 | 11:31 pm

  9. Gerry says:

    Does the chevre contain pistachios or cashews? The sign in the pictures seem to say cashews. Either way I’ve been very impressed with all these local cheeses that have been coming out, especially the Malagos brand. I hope producers come out with more varieties, especially using carabao milk.

    By the way, is it just me who thinks the carabao milk we used to drink 30 years ago much better? The flavor was much creamier. Today’s milk tastes watered down. I think the hybrid carabaos they use today yield much more milk, but can’t compare in quality to the native breed.

    Jul 29, 2011 | 1:06 am

  10. shiko says:

    ohmigosh feta yes please! the feta i’ve commonly seen at supermarkets is so expensive. and of course any time i can patronize good local produce, i try to (if i can afford it). thanks as usual for bringing your good news, marketman. :)

    Jul 29, 2011 | 2:39 am

  11. Gej says:

    Very nice! Aside from Mercato Centrale, where are these products available (during weekdays)?

    Jul 29, 2011 | 6:37 am

  12. Marketman says:

    Gerry, yes, I agree with you, the carabao’s milk of old was creamier… and yes, the new batch of cheese is with cashews, to increase local content (Tony Meloto’s battle cry), but the batch I tried had pistachios and it was good, not to mention the color flecks contrasting with the chevre. joey, golden eggs up soon… underqualified, in the past few months, more than flight attendants, and I am not even in the country as I write this… :) Lava Bien, unfortunately not, it’s imported.

    Jul 29, 2011 | 6:41 am

  13. Pinksalmonlady says:

    Those cheeses looks very delish! Like Mrs. MM, I love kesong puti on hot pandesal but have not tried it fried. During my childhood years, I remember an old lady from Bulacan used to come over once a week in our neighbourhood to sell fresh veggies, native kakanin, cows milk and kesong puti. My mum always buy from her including kesong puti. Kudos to all local businesses who strive to produce good quality products out of locally grown materials.

    Jul 29, 2011 | 8:59 am

  14. Betchay says:

    It looks like the kesong puti above was made by adding vinegar and not the usual rennet. This is my kind of kesong puti–soft curds and melts in your mouth. Yummy in big hot pandesal! I heat my kesong puti only if it comes straight from the ref but otherwise I like it better at room temperature.

    Jul 29, 2011 | 8:02 pm

  15. corrine says:

    Thanks for the tip. Is Mercato Centrale is open only every Saturday?

    Jul 29, 2011 | 8:07 pm

  16. MP says:

    Another good reason to go home soon. GK is really doing wonderful things for Pinoys.

    Corrine, Mercato is open on Sundays, as well.

    Lava Bien, I’m not sure if we can grow olive trees in the Phil. Maybe this is something GK can try? The olives here in Jordan are wonderful. I will be visiting an olive farm soon so maybe I can get a few seeds and ask the GK farmers to try to grow them. Will do a bit of research on Phil soil compatibility with olive trees…

    Jul 29, 2011 | 8:57 pm

  17. cris l. says:

    my mom loves kesong puti doused with a little flour then pan-fried. she says the flour stops it from melting too much. We get really good kesong puti from CDO, i think they source it from a farm somewhere in bukidnon. One thing i love to eat is pan de sal with kesong puti and minced ilocos longganisa. breakfast of champions!

    Jul 30, 2011 | 2:54 pm

  18. sister says:

    Can’t you correct her spelling?

    Jul 30, 2011 | 5:07 pm

  19. Marketman says:

    Sister, did you mean Keso? It’s the recognized Filipino spelling for cheese.

    Jul 30, 2011 | 5:45 pm

  20. Footloose says:

    Perhaps sister is looking for Kiso? Or maybe even Chess?

    Jul 30, 2011 | 6:33 pm

  21. Zita says:

    Hi MM, what is the western counterpart to kesong puti? Since I’m living overseas, I haven’t got a clue what I can use as a substitute. I haven’t seen them in any Filipino stores here. Sadly, haven’t had the chance to eat them when I was there last year for my mum’s funeral either :(

    Jul 30, 2011 | 9:08 pm

  22. Lambchop says:

    I looovvvveeee kesong puti! This post makes me so happy!

    Kesong puti is so hard to find these days, especially the thick, fat and stringly ones that I prefer. I can’t wait to try these when I go to Manila — or if and when these delectable tasties find their way to Cebu (hoping!).

    Thanks for this! :)

    Jul 30, 2011 | 9:40 pm

  23. Matt says:

    Love the organic movement is starting to take shape in the Philippines and also the fact more people are becoming aware of “why” to buy organic foods over commercial goods. I do find it frustrating sometimes explaining things that many people don’t seem to understand, although would love to see Organic baby food starting to take shape here I was at a supermarket yesterday in a guarded sub-section of the grocery store that holds baby milk,tobacco and wines. I came across baby food and odd thing is only one flavour and it was banana! as if there is a shortage of bananas in the Philippines although no doubt organic bananas which haven’t been tainted with pesticides or fertilizers might be a bit harder to find.

    Jul 30, 2011 | 10:05 pm

  24. EJ says:

    Zita, mozzarella di bufala campana is made from the milk of water buffaloes but is less salty than our kesong puti. Maybe you can try it and see if you like it?

    Jul 31, 2011 | 6:37 pm

  25. filet minion says:

    Thank you so much MM for the free advertising and for playing willing victim to the ambush! I’m sorry I only got to read this now after selling in Mercato as I didn’t have internet access in the GK Farm the past few days.

    As for the price list,
    feta in EVOO is P140; kesong puti from carabao’s milk in rattan basket (also made by GK community residents) P80; chevre in garlic and herbs P200; chevre with cashews and truffle salt P250; next week, we will also be selling ricotta P100 for 100g, plain chevre and pasteurized carabao’s milk in sterilized wine bottles.

    And while I’m at it,
    we very much welcome [actually prefer advance] orders/ supply your cheese at your private parties or what not, just give us a 5 day advance notice for the goat cheese and at least 3 days notice for the carabao cheese. You may email gourmet.keso@gmail.com.

    Gej- we are pretty start-up and even a facebook page is a work in progress, so far you can purchase the cheese at Mercato on Sundays. And if you happen to see some french people manning the booth occasionally, they are volunteers/ interns at the GK Enchanted Farm site who happen to love cheese and to help out. But, this is also the perfect opportunity to do another shameless plug that GourmetKeso would be excited to partner with outlets, retailers/ distributors–
    Have some chevre/ goat cheese in your wineshops/bars in lieu of the imported ones (it’s just as good anyway as the French’s)! Sell GK cheese in your delis, use feta/ kesong puti in your salads restos/ [m]hotels and we could even be part of your CSR!

    As MM mentioned, I could get rather aggressive (in my defense, for a good cause:)
    And while I’m at it– anyone interested to visit the GK Enchanted Farm, esp potential social entrepreneurs who might have sustainable livelihood ideas and really want to see to it their enterprise is executed, is most definitely welcome (like MM’s jams that use local produce, if not Zubuchon hint hint).
    While it won’t officially open til October, day trips with Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto to the GK Enchnted Farm in Angat are usually on Wednesdays and Saturdays very early in the morning. If interested, pls contact GK Center for Social Innovation Head Frank Chiu 09175457225, say that there was this pesky kid who posted his number in marketmanila.com and you’re curious. He now trusts anything that emanates from marketmanila.com because MM gave one of the best talks ever!
    Better yet, attend one of the CSI forums Tuesday nights at Ateneo School of Management Room 111 to best gather more info, lest MM block any other uber-verbose shameless plugs I might post.

    Lava Bien and MP– We would love to use locally grown olive oil, do you know where I could get? Pls do have your olives grown in the GK Enchanted Farm! It’s a pilot site that would love to play guinea pig to “why not?!?” ideas.

    Gerry- While I am not familiar of the carabao milk of yesteryear having been born 30yrs ago, I daresay that the carabao’s milk we get from Brgy. Encanto in Angat, Bulacan is pretty darn creamy, if not the creamiest (but I could be biased of course :)

    Atbnorge and cumin- thank you for the kind words! Cumin, if you happen to live in the Commonwealth area, GK enchanted farm has had a Sunday market partnership with Good Shepherd church in Fairview and soon St. Peter’s. Look for the GawadKalinga tarp and you might consider purchasing your veggies there as well, but only our kesong puti is sold there. As for the less devout, hopefully with this review we can supply orders for the QC area.

    Sister, if what seems misspelled is the “filet minion” in what ought to be mignon, I think MM knows that that was my very failed and painfully lame attempt at what I then thought was a clever pun of being a servant/ follower of great steak and yummy food ;) Indeed, it’s been more than half a decade (MM, when said like that, your blog sounds ancient), and I really should have outgrown it by now.

    In case I missed anyone, thank you so much for supporting these endeavors! GK can’t be grateful enough MM for your support/ endorsement (well actually it can be, if we miraculously had Zubuchon in the GK Enchanted Farm. As an aside, Bulacan is known for being swine country, so it can supply all the eat-it-all best pork ever dishes you can concoct) Ok enough of the hardsell for now.

    Jul 31, 2011 | 7:59 pm

  26. james1 says:

    brava, filet minion!!! please announce when your stall will open at st. peter’s and will gladly buy some of your cheese. what time is the sunday market at good shepherd?
    MM, you deserve praise and commendation for promoting local artisans.

    Aug 2, 2011 | 12:40 pm

  27. MP says:

    Hi Filet Minion. I will gather more information about growing olive trees and maybe even info about small-scale olive oil production. I will be home in December and would very much like to do whatever I can to contribute to your noble cause. I will bring seeds (or whatever is used to raise an olive tree) so the GK farmers can try planting them. I used to manage humanitarian/development programs (livelihood support programs but in other countries – sorry) so this is something I am very passionate about. Your efforts are truly commendable.

    Aug 2, 2011 | 10:36 pm

  28. filet minion says:

    That sounds wonderful MP! Can’t wait for you to comeback! Sana this month na!!! This second phase of Gawad Kalinga for social entrprise development after it cultivated social justice in building communities has really been a Tony Meloto vision. And from the few months I’ve known him, it’s pretty scary how infectious he can be.
    Incidentally, some of my suggested taglines/slogans for the GK Enchanted Farm to him is “sowing the seeds of hope” and/or “where good things grow…” And I think your olives from the Holyland will literally represent that.

    James1, the Sunday market at Good Shepherd went on hiatus last week due to lack of transport, but will resume by September which coincides with the launch in St. Peter’s. They usually sell from 7am til noon, in between services. While you’re buying kesong puti, you might want to shop for your veggies there as well. Thanks again so much!

    Aug 3, 2011 | 1:36 am

  29. tygerius says:

    filet minion, we have an olive tree we brought as a seedling from greenhearts in quezon city. it is growing well in our backyard now but according to a seminar we had in greenhearts we are in zone 9 and for olives to bear fruit it has to go through the four seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall. the trees have to go through winter and then will bear fruit in spring. im researching on it too. i would also be happy if your project can produce your own olive oil in the future so everything would be self generated. :)

    Aug 3, 2011 | 8:49 pm

  30. filet minion says:

    tygerius, wow thanks for the info! maybe we can simulate the winter season and put it in the freezer for a few days to bear fruit heehee. or how about growing it in baguio?
    or maybe it might adapt to our climate on its own. i was told the ideal climate for sunflowers is at least 30 degrees less than our tropical weather but they somehow thrive in the GK Enchanted Farm. So hope springs eternal!

    Aug 6, 2011 | 11:07 pm

  31. Zita says:

    Thanks EJ. I’ll see if I can get my hands on them when I get the chance.

    Aug 10, 2011 | 9:01 pm

  32. james1 says:

    the process of extracting extra virgin oil from the olive fruit is a little bit complicated as not properly doing so result in a bitter product. besides, succesfully growing olive trees that bear good fruit depends on the soil (dry and stony) and terrain (sloping). this basic info i learned from the president of the cooperative of olive plantation owners and extra virgin olive oil producers in poggio nativo, a little town in the province of rieti, italy during my recent business trip to rome, italy. i brought home 15 liters of the president’s father-in-law’s produce which has a very distinctive fruity/nutty flavor.

    Aug 12, 2011 | 5:09 pm


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