19 Jul2012

If you haven’t been to Bacchus Epicerie lately, it’s definitely time for a visit. The store has lots of new arrivals and they always have such a wonderful selection of gourmet food and kitchen items. I am disclosing up front that the owners of Bacchus have been family friends for decades, and I went to high school with one of them, and Mrs. MM went to college with one of them… But friends or not, they have a stunning selection of wine and food so I am more than happy to give the public a head’s up every now and again. I first featured Bacchus (at the Shangrila) in February of 2005, and have done several posts on the company since… First up at Bacchus Epicerie, Rockwell? Some wonderful smoked salmon from New Zealand. Price range? PHP2,500 per kilo and slightly more for smaller packages. Some toasted bagels, a shmear of cream cheese and some of this smoked salmon…heaven. :)

Their glass-fronted freezers were jampacked with premium New Zealand lamb. Meaty foreshanks looked perfect for a slow braised dish. The also had racks of lamb, boneless shoulders and boneless legs of lamb. Price range from PHP730-1,380 a kilo, depending on the cut.

Every single week I get one or two email inquiries about extra-virgin olive oil, and where I get mine. If I don’t still have a stash of cloudy, first pressed oils from Italy courtesy of sister, our travels or other sources, my go-to source is definitely Bacchus Epicerie in Manila for top quality extra-virgin olive oils. I am just finishing off a bottle I got a few weeks ago and it is just world’s apart from grocery labels. If you want to accentuate the freshness of a few spectacular ingredients in a salad, use the finest olive oil and good vinegar… Bacchus Epicerie sells both. I noticed several shelves of De Cecco Extra-Virgin olive oil in the store (a brand I have yet to try) but the owners assure me it is very, very good. And their recommendations have always been good ones…

They also carry a large selection of De Cecco dried pastas, one of my favorites, and I am particularly thankful that they carry Bucatini, a thick noodle with a hole in the middle that is somewhat infuriating to eat, but the only perfect match for a sauce a la matriciana.

I purchased a couple of cans of De Ceddo pomodori as well, as I am eternally on the lookout for good canned tomatoes. I know many of you might think a canned tomato is a canned tomato… but I would disagree, there are some really good canned tomatoes, and almost inevitably, I find they are typically Italian brands that have the highest marks…

I was thrilled to see the shelves well stocked with canned goodies from the Spanish purveyor “Cuca” — and these canned mussels are delicious. I know it sounds a bit bizarre to be eating canned mussels, but with a crusty piece of toast, these extremely flavorful morsels are delicious. On our last trip to Spain, several dozen cans of Cuca made it home in our luggage… Now I can just get them at the mall…

For the several dozen readers who have emailed me about paprika and squid ink for paella, here they are. On the left, colorful tins of spectacular paprika (sweet and hot in stock) for PHP220 each or so. And to the right of the photo, packets or sachets of black squid ink for your black paellas.

I was very intrigued by the canned pasteurized Italian butter, in 500gram tins. I wonder how this compares with the “Bruun” or canned New Zealand butters in terms of flavor and fat content. I promised myself that I would try this soon, but resisted the temptation to get it right then and there.

Some soft spreads flavored with truffle and cheese and mushrooms look like the ultimate no-brainer appetizer for the busy workaholics amongst you. Just spread them on a some bread or crackers and voila! They seemed quite reasonably priced at PHP290 as well.

Tins and tins of Compagnie Coloniale black teas were on one shelf of the store… this French tea has been around for more than a century and a half! I love how some of the gourmet french brands withstand the test of time, and are passed down from generation to generation. We have an antique poster of a Compagnie Colonial advertisement from the early 20th century and it features a Chinese eunuch holding a cup of tea… VERY politically incorrect visual these days, I suspect. :)

Boxes of Compagnie Coloniale green teas have recently joined the line up at Bacchus Epicerie. A brief detour for a Marketman pet peeve… Can’t stores put their (fairly unattractive) price stickers UNDER the box or product? I can’t stand it when they stick it in a prominent part of the box, ruining the aesthetics, and making it hard if you plan to give the item as a gift. It’s so much better if they hide the sticker in a uniform location, like under the item. C&A, that’s constructive criticism for you guys… and your displays would look much better as a result. :)

Bacchus continues to carry that wonderful line of knives by MAC, a Japanese brand…

…and in the past year or less, have brought in Global knives as well. I love my Global knife and am thrilled that you can buy them here now… though you have to save for months to get one. But for a cook, a great knife, properly sharpened, is their finest tool.

You may wish to get a Global “starter set”, with Chef’s knife and two other smaller knives. At PHP9,400, it’s a major investment but they are fantastic knives.



  1. Toping says:

    Jul 19, 2012 | 11:54 am


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  3. scott says:

    Having lived in Japan for 4 years and recently moved to the Philippines I am still kicking myself in the rear for not getting a good set of Knives! One of the best brands on the market today…

    Jul 19, 2012 | 12:07 pm

  4. Irene says:

    Avocado slices are a good complement to smoked salmon and cream cheese.

    Jul 19, 2012 | 12:27 pm

  5. adam says:

    All looks fantastic! Have been crazily pickling in the last few weeks and been playing with different kinds of olive oils. Perhaps a wander in there over the weekend with plastic card in hand is called for…..

    Price stickers? Drive me absolutely mad. Nearly every purchase here, especially for gifts is ruined by having a sticker on it that is not easily removed and either leaves a sticky mess or, worse, tears off the original packaging. Even relatively expensive books, toys, box sets of glasses and so on are horribly messed up when trying to remove these. The daft thing is that there are price stickers available that do ‘peel off’ they are just a bit more expensive for the retailers to purchase. Can vaguely understand some of the big supermarkets not wanting to add to the bottom line on grocery items but why Toy Kingdom, Powerbooks, Rustans etc etc continue to use these cheap ones baffles me. We bought some fairly pricey books recently as presents and the covers just looked awful after we had tried to scrape the damn things off.
    Just seen the way down from my pedestal now :)

    Jul 19, 2012 | 12:30 pm

  6. Zerho says:

    Wow there’s a huge price difference between the imported salmon in the store versus the one in GenSan. I wonder if they deliver.

    Jul 19, 2012 | 1:44 pm

  7. Marketman says:

    Toping, OMG, I had no idea. At least the salmon is FROM New Zealand, but smoked and packed here! I always knew we have good locally canned tuna, canned for lots of European brands… but now, Salmon, wow! I make my own gravlax, so I am aware of the price mark-up, but that is a real revelation, thanks! I also recently noticed Philipps lump crab meat packed in the Philippines, probably Bantayan island Cebu, for export to the U.S. then back in containers to be sold at S&R for upwards of PHP1,500+ per kilo…

    Jul 19, 2012 | 2:20 pm

  8. josephine says:

    I couldn’t live without my Global knives but I was wondering if you could get them in Manila and now I know! They are expensive but should last a lifetime, especially if you invest in a Japanese ‘water-sharpener’ which keeps them in excellent condition. La Dalia is superb paprika, but I wonder how much it is there? Landing in the Phils next week… MM do they sell paella rice? I am planning to go buy some today, but if it’s there i won’t bother.

    Jul 19, 2012 | 2:27 pm

  9. Marketman says:

    Josephine, La Dalla was PHP2240 or USD5 per can, not far off the prices in Europe…

    Jul 19, 2012 | 2:30 pm

  10. Monique says:

    Hi MM,
    So sorry…this is so off from the topic but I just want you to know that my friend finally arrived from Cebu. And she got me your frozen lechon from your branch in the airport. She got a lot and they already tried it. She got for her mom and her sister. And they all loved it!!!! She gave me my loot yesterday and we’ll be having them for dinner tonight. I can’t wait…..I’m on a diet right now but will definitely eat a lot tonight. Yum, yum, yum……..

    Jul 19, 2012 | 2:32 pm

  11. Marketman says:

    Monique, enjoy it. My favorite way to reheat frozen lechon is to defrost it slowly in the fridge. Then into a fairly large kawali or frying pan, add some oil and let it get really hot. Salt a portion of the lechon meat with sea salt (not the large rock salt, crush that if necessary) and FLASY FRY in the hot oil for just a few seconds so it is slightly caramelized and the meat still a bit tender. Alternatively, you can re-heat the meat in the oven. The best way to crisp up the skin again is to fry it briefly and let it cool a bitt to get crisp before eating… Thanks for trying Zubuchon and so happy your friend enjoyed her purchase! :)

    Jul 19, 2012 | 2:35 pm

  12. cindy says:

    reading articles such as this is bad for me, now my friends will think i’m getting weirder when i add those kitchen knives in my xmas or bday wish list haha!

    Jul 19, 2012 | 2:56 pm

  13. JE says:

    Just to butt in on the price tag thing, most bookstores used to have the price tags stuck directly on the cover/jacket, and those tags were ones that were a pain to remove, what more when those tags age. Removing those tags almost equated to defacing your book’s back cover. Same thing with those security/barcode tags that deter theft; so irritating if they stuck it on the inside back cover.

    Now, they seem to have wised up and either moved to the tags that are more convenient to remove, or resorted to sticking the tags on the plastic wrap/cover they put on the books.

    Jul 19, 2012 | 3:28 pm

  14. wendy darling says:

    ooh, nice shiny things! now the real (Global) thing is finally (!) available in town.
    @cindy – my family and friends used to think it was strange I had this thing for knives, too

    I’m getting the paprika just for the interesting looking can ;)
    and even more loose tea (sigh) …

    I think I know where I’m going to be this weekend

    Jul 19, 2012 | 3:29 pm

  15. wendy darling says:

    Speaking of barcodes and price tags:
    Most product barcodes should be unique, so if the store is set-up with a barcode scanner, the price can just be a label on the shelf.

    (I can bend your ears off on how moving to a barcode-based inventory/accounting/cashiering operation ultimately benefits everyone, but this is MM’s (mostly) foodie blog, so that wouldn’t be polite. Uh yeah, I do supply chains too, aside from sustainability and protecting defenseless trees)

    Oopsie – sorry about the serial posting, MM

    Jul 19, 2012 | 3:37 pm

  16. jakespeed says:

    I tried the De Cecco linguine for my vongole and loved it. The other brand that I like is Barilla. Also an Italian brand.

    Jul 19, 2012 | 5:16 pm

  17. ohinuj says:

    I agree with you about the canned tomatoes. Some are really good while others are plain sour! This I learned at the expense of one of my minestrone. Better get the Italian brands versus the Thai ones.

    Jul 19, 2012 | 5:20 pm

  18. gensanite says:

    @Toping: no friggin’ way!!! really?! and from my hometown to boot… good to know that players in the fishing industry in gensan are also processing value-added products aside from tuna… tuna stocks are at a dangerously low level in the high seas, and other value-added fish sources can be major market players… so happy for gensan with this news… bon appetit!!!

    @MM: same pet peeve on the price tags/labels in the packaging of products… hope they put the labels in a more discreet part of the box, or put up “price talkers” in the shelves…

    Jul 19, 2012 | 5:57 pm

  19. dhanggit says:

    yay! new zealand lamb the best! I’m heading to Bacchus now :-)

    Jul 19, 2012 | 9:10 pm

  20. Laura says:

    I guess I will never stop dreaming about owning a set of Global knives but I’ve since found a cheaper but good quality alternative with Victorinox brand priced @ around $20+ for the chef knife. Very good reviews from Cook’s Illustrated & works great for everyday slicing, dicing etc. I love stores like this, thanks!

    Jul 19, 2012 | 9:26 pm

  21. Lei says:

    anthony bourdain gave a shout-out to global knives in his no reservations book. now i know how they look like ;)

    Jul 19, 2012 | 9:40 pm

  22. millet says:

    oh my…leave me here and come back for me next year! but then, how would i get to cook everything if i didn’t go home?

    Jul 19, 2012 | 10:38 pm

  23. Vanessa says:

    I agree with you totally, Marketman: Italy seems to produce some of the better quality canned tomatoes out there. The tomatoes tend to be much more flavourful, at times outdoing even the fresh ones I get at the bio store.

    Jul 19, 2012 | 11:34 pm

  24. nina says:

    Agree with Laura, Victorinox is very good, excellent buy… love it bec. it’s also light.

    Jul 19, 2012 | 11:48 pm

  25. Chris says:

    @ those who hate the mess the stickers leave, you can buy “goo gone” from office supply stores. Just apply it on the sticker, let it soak through and the sticker will peel off cleanly.

    Jul 20, 2012 | 1:50 am

  26. sunflowii says:

    those PESKY STICKERS/PRICE TAGS are probably a cheap anti-theft device in the sense that people can’t easily switch them with a cheaper price tag while at the store, before paying.

    Jul 20, 2012 | 2:24 am

  27. natzsm says:

    I simply ask the sales clerks to kindly remove the stickers from the item or get me one that doesn’t have the bar code attached yet. I do have to bring the one without the tag and another one with the tag to the cashier BUT it is more convenient than having to peel off the tags when I get I home.

    Jul 20, 2012 | 6:52 am

  28. PITS, MANILA says:

    oooooh! bacchus epicerie — happy place, MM! don’t they carry le creuset cast iron pots and pans anymore? it amuses me that purchases from this happy place end up under lock and key once brought home … :)

    Jul 20, 2012 | 7:38 am

  29. MP says:

    MM, I was in Madrid late last year and got myself a few tin cans of paprika (La Dahlia and other brands). I am very surprised (but really pleased) to know that it is priced so reasonably (by Bacchus). If I convert the euro cost, a can in Bacchus comes out a couple of pesos more only (yup, P2!!). Wow, how they were able to sell it at P220 is a wonder… but most welcome!

    Jul 20, 2012 | 2:23 pm

  30. Katrina says:

    I want that Crema di Parmiggiano Tartufo!!! Yes, at P290, that’s reasonably priced, so I’ll head off to Rockwell for that soonest!

    Jul 20, 2012 | 5:55 pm

  31. quiapo says:

    A popular alternative to smoked salmon here in Australia is smoked ocean trout. This is fresh water rainbow trout raised at sea, growing to a large size, about 3 kg, rather like our freshwater bangus which at sea becomes the large banak.
    The flavour is similar to smoked salmon, with a firmer texture and less oily. My wife does not like smoked salmon but enjoys smoked trout, which is served in a similar manner. I find both fish delicious.

    Jul 21, 2012 | 4:58 pm

  32. Rob says:

    “Josephine, La Dalla was PHP2240 or USD5 per can, not far off the prices in Europe…”

    Shouldn’t this be PHP224? Here in California, I’ve bought La Dalia Pimentón de la Vera for USD8.90 + tax for a 2 pack (70g/2.5oz each). This was €3.50 each (inc. tax) during my last trip to Barcelona. A little goes a long way, a VERY small pinch on a fried egg served with sinangag, longganisa, and atsara is one of life’s delights.

    Jul 23, 2012 | 4:32 am

  33. nick salas says:

    Pricing is not too bad. We have the same salmon available at our local supermarket here in Auckalnd with exactly the same packaging and smoke salmon SHAVINGS cost NZD85 per kilo. At NZD = PHP32 that works out to PHP2,720.00. And shavings is trimmings from when they finished packing all the good bits. So grab it is cheap. Bagel and smoke salmon and cream cheese – that’s what I am having for morning snack.

    Jul 27, 2012 | 7:55 pm

  34. Paula Nicholls says:

    I have done my last shopping at Bacchus Epicerie!! Terrible customer service today!! My husband bought a bottle of moderately expensive wine this week, opened it and it was off/corked.. took it into Bacchus Power Plant and they were most unhelpful and even with receipt refused to exchange it – I was not bothered about having my money back, I wanted a bottle of wine we could actually drink!! There must be some trading laws around this? If you sell something that is undrinkable the least you can do to keep your customers happy is to A. apologize and B. Offer them a subsitute/exchange, there is something in the saying that “the customer is always right” and if you want your expats to come back to your store you need to keep them happy! I actually left the bottle at the shop, the assistant offered it back to me! Again insult! Why would I want to carry around a bottle of wine that is undrinkable all day?? Not good and poor service in my opinion.. over rated!

    Aug 16, 2012 | 4:35 pm


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