27 Jun2013


I am often asked where to find this and or that food related item. My posts on that specific matter “Where to Buy?” are amongst the most visited posts of all-time on this blog. Actually, many readers chime in and help me answer questions, and for that, we are all grateful I am sure, and I hope the blog has helped hundreds if not thousands of people seeking out ingredients/food items in Manila and around the country. I sometimes feel like the “Dear Abby” of the grocery/produce world in Manila… and frankly, I get downright crabby when the questions (inane-ish ones at that) come from professional product seekers like buyers for hotels, airlines, etc. who think it is my sole duty to make their lives easier 6 times a day… One idiot even had to gall to write me back incensed that I had featured a produce item that was no longer in season and why couldn’t I make sure this item was available in commercial quantities so his life wouldn’t be hell. Plus, told me I was lying that there were “male” and “female” fennel bulbs… I felt like telling him to stick a few fennel bulbs up where the sun didn’t shine… instead, I emailed him to get off his lazy butt and visit a few markets and source out farmers rather than exercising his fingertips, and cc:ed the executive chef of the snazzy hotel chain, who also happened to be a marketmanila.com reader. Let’s just say I never heard from that overeager buyer again. :) Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to help if I can, but ask nicely and don’t be abusive. So here are some unusual grocery finds from the recent past. Above, several months old, is a bottle of very good concentrated organic chicken broth, with no MSG. Found it at S&R, and now they are out of it. I hope they bring it back sometime soon.


At Rustan’s grocery, they have brought in several items from the Waitrose Group in the U.K., an upscale food grocer/purveyor, and I picked up capers in salt (they are usually sold in a brine here), and a bottle of caperberries for cocktails, appetizers or dishes that might otherwise use capers as well.


I am often in search of a steady supply of Italian “00” flour, often used for pizza dough. Found this at Bacchus Epicerie at Rockwell. So “F”, if you are out there and your new brick oven needs to be used, get some of the flour and go pizza crazy…


Also at Bacchus Epicerie is the De Cecco brand semolina flour, for pasta or bread or even just to give texture to the bottom of your pizza…


…they also had some less common dried pasta shapes, including pennette. And they often have bucatini, the best pasta to have with the sauce amatriciana…


The absence of LIMES in our markets OFTEN drives me nearly mad… I would LOVE to have a steady supplier of limes from anywhere in the world, but more ideally, asian limes like those in Thailand, Vietnam, etc. They shouldn’t be that hard to fly in, they don’t spoil so fast, and they don’t cost much and there shouldn’t be tariffs on Asean fruit. And they are absolutely essential for several dishes from around the region. In desperation, on my last trip to the U.S., I bought several bottles of lime juice to keep in the pantry. They aren’t the real thing, but they are a reasonable substitute when desperate. Btw, S&R sometimes brings in net bags filled with key limes, so I close my eyes at the price and sometimes buy those. Also, if you have VERY GENEROUS and KIND readers like Chef Chris, he goes out of his way to send me dayap from his family’s farm in Tuguegarao whenever it’s in season — and I shamelessly accept the bounty. :) Dayap is in season now, so buy a lot so the vendors start to figure out there is a demand in Manila for this fruit. Please.


At Metro Grocery in Market!Market! today I found some organic agave nectar, a natural sweetener that isn’t EASY to spot in Manila.


From Healthy options, I scored some Masa Harina, for making tortillas. Isa, if you are out there, time to load up on the masa harina and use your tortilla press silly…


An admittedly bizarre and kooky find to feature, some hamburger helper from Metro Grocery at Market!Market!… yes, complete with evil ingredients and preservatives and MSG to boot! This is a totally nostalgic find for me. My college roommate and I relied on hamburger helper every now and again for a hearty home cooked meal of ground beef. It has a special place in my heart, for a time when I lived on less than $50 a week, including toiletries and personal items. :)


Also from Metro and also in a box, some buckwheat pancake mix. I will use them in very small sized pancakes called “blinis” to serve with homemade gravlax or caviar or both. Happy hunting to all of you…



  1. Nina says:

    The Better than Bouillon is also available in Beef Flavor… this brand has been rated as best by Cook’s Country among chicken broth brands.

    Jun 27, 2013 | 7:50 am


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  3. Rona Y says:

    I can attest to your helpfulness, MM! And with the directions you once gave me, I’m sending a family member on another search for the pineapple eye-remover shortly!

    About the Better than Bouillon and Agave, if you happen to be in the US and near a Costco, they have very good prices on both, though the BtB is not the organic one (but they have beef, too!).

    Jun 27, 2013 | 8:28 am

  4. millet says:

    nice post, MM, but i would have loved to read your “get off your lazy butt” letter more ;-) oh my, i can’t imagine how boorish and plain lazy some people can get.

    Jun 27, 2013 | 9:06 am

  5. titashi says:

    thanks for this MM, i appreciate this post : )

    Jun 27, 2013 | 10:09 am

  6. Natie says:

    I’ll be on the lookout for the BTB … That should be Better Than Magic Sarap…

    Jun 27, 2013 | 11:04 am

  7. Risa says:

    MM, I admire your temper actually when new visitors put comments along the lines of, “Hi I am planning to set up a business selling , please send me a recipe,” in the comments section of blog entry about the exact same exact recipe.


    Jun 27, 2013 | 12:34 pm

  8. Liz says:

    Healthy Options also carries Better Than Bouillon :)

    Jun 27, 2013 | 12:36 pm

  9. ami says:

    MM, I shake my head whenever I see comments from first time readers who assume that you’re a seller of whatever produce you were featuring that day and ask you if you can be their supplier for it. Though equally bad are those that run along the lines of “I’m a student of X university doing thesis/research on Y topic and would like to get in touch with you on how you’re able to grow/retail Z product”.

    Nigella Lawson seems to be fond of those plastic lime-shaped “lime juice” and have used it for her cooking shows.

    Jun 27, 2013 | 1:37 pm

  10. Footloose says:

    @Ami, Nigella Lawson seems to be fond of those plastic lime-shaped “lime juice” and have used it for her cooking shows.

    Probably the reason why her husband tried to strangle her the other day in public and with a few witnesses. Other than that, the constant cooing must have finally gotten on his nerve too.

    Jun 27, 2013 | 3:06 pm

  11. Marketman says:

    Footloose, I burst out laughing at your comment, and I was sitting in the middle of the office… Of course, the wringing of the neck incident was not a laughing matter, but revenge is best served cold. She should have just put a little eye-mo or eye drops in his soup a few days later and he would have suffered incredible LBM… ami, you are right, I have helped many students with serious research, from those in local universities to doctoral students in Poland and Mexico, but 95% of the inquiries are from kids who basically want me to do their homework… I manage to keep my cool for most of them, except that one student from UPLosBanos and her chili request years back. Risa, yes, those comments can truly grate like fingernails on a blackboard. I usually just send a message that if you have to ask for the recipe, I probably wouldn’t buy their products… :) Several folks have written to say they miss the rants, and I have to admit I am trying to “lose it” less these days, but I just don’t write about the most outrageous things that I have come across in recent months…

    Jun 27, 2013 | 4:37 pm

  12. Dee says:

    Also saw that buillon in Market Market before, though Im not sure if they still carry it. Also, I saw some OO flour in Rustans Rockwell but I forgot what brand. Might be cheaper than Bacchus :) Real Lime/Real Lemon is available in Market Market too! Sometimes SnR carries them too but sporadic.

    Jun 27, 2013 | 7:19 pm

  13. Connie C says:

    Footloose: We don’t really know what happened, but regardless, though no great fan of Nigella, she has my sympathies, her cooing and lime juice in plastic notwithstanding.

    Jun 27, 2013 | 7:28 pm

  14. Connie C says:

    Off topic MM , but a follow -up on the ivory scandal involving a prominent Cebu clergyman among others featured in an earlier National Geographic article. The Philippine action is worthy to be emulated by other countries with big appetite for ivory and something we can all be proud about:


    Jun 27, 2013 | 7:38 pm

  15. Chas says:

    Keep an eye out for Better Than Bouillon lobster base.

    Jun 27, 2013 | 11:39 pm

  16. Footloose says:

    I condemn too any form of abuse no matter whether deserved or not so I am sorry if I offended anyone’s sensibility with my apparently insensitive speculation. My source of intense wonder though is, very visible rich people no longer practice self-control and circumspection in public?

    BTW, am also revolted by racism so I am somewhat relieved that Paula Deen is not only eating humble pie of late but also being served her just deserts.

    Jun 28, 2013 | 12:45 am

  17. marilen says:

    Love – this peek at the interesting and delectable stuff in your pantry .

    Jun 28, 2013 | 4:44 am

  18. Footloose says:

    Totally off topic @ConnieC, thanks for the link. Don’t know how a loyal fan of the NGM could have missed that. Found an issue featuring the Canadian Rockies, Alberta (of the dreaded tar sands notoriety) in my lolo’s study oh eons ago, pointed to it and said “that’s where I wanna go.” That’s how I ended up Canada.

    The nexus of ivory and the Philippines has a long history. In the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries there was a brisk trade in santos carved by chinese artisans from fossil ivory working in both Manila and China mediated through the Manila port for transport to Europe via Mexico. Quite a few of them remained locally, N.S. del Santissimo Rosario de la Naval de Manila, is a notable example. Market Man posted an ivory figure of the crucified Christ hereabouts a few years back. The bulk was exported out of the country. There is a sensitive and beautifully executed example of a madonna and child that ended in the Victoria & Albert and a whole slough of them in Tepozotlán, Mexico, in the museum dedicated to the viceregal period. Worth a detour for cultured Filipinos traveling in Mexico even for this alone and the gleaming guilt main altar.

    Jun 28, 2013 | 10:53 am

  19. Raph says:

    Maybe I should send you some dayap if its in season, our lolo grows several dayap trees in Ilocos Norte and we always have too much of the stuff that we don’t know what to do with it anymore.

    Jun 28, 2013 | 7:32 pm

  20. corrine says:

    It’s very disappointing to be offered lemon (the green ones from Baguio) when I’m looking for dayap. Some even insist that they are dayaps. Now, I realize how fortunate we were when my mom had a beautiful dayap tree that bore fruits for many years. The dayaps in the market in recent years are rather small and not as juicy. Sad, sad… I love key lime pie!

    Jun 28, 2013 | 11:24 pm

  21. Isa says:

    I just found farina tipo “00” and farina for pizza at landmark supermarket in makati. The brand was “molini Pizzuti”

    Jun 29, 2013 | 12:54 am

  22. Ruth T. says:

    Best price for the Better than bouillon jar is at Costco. Oh, it also comes in a liquid concentrate(less sodium daw.) Let me know if you need some more, I can include some in my next Balikbayan box as well as that green lime bottle.

    Jun 29, 2013 | 10:29 am

  23. Slightly Epicurean says:

    Thanks for consistently sharing MM! The ingredient I usually look for is Ghirardelli’s dark chocolate chips for baking that were always available in S&R years ago. My blue ribbon chocolate chip cookies were a hit because if these chocolate chips. Sadly, it’s no longer available and the other chocolate chips doesn’t taste the same. I have to make bilin pa every time my sister travels to Atlanta. I also hope that some Trader Joe’s products can be made locally available like their wasabi mayo.

    Jun 30, 2013 | 5:35 am

  24. Irene says:

    Oh, I missed the chicken broth… Have you been to the SM Aura supermarket? Friends have said they have a Wholefoods type section which I’m planning to explore one of these days.

    Jun 30, 2013 | 11:37 am

  25. EbbaBlue says:

    I just bought that same Agave nectar you have posted, substitute ko sa white sugar because of being close to be a diabetic. Madala ko kaya sa Pinas when I go this November? Same with masa harina, kasi may bitbit akong tortilla press.

    Jul 1, 2013 | 10:12 am

  26. Ruth T. says:

    @EbbaBlue, I don’t see any problem bringing your food products home to Pinas. Basta pa-simple lang. Just check everything in. My sister just went home to the Phil from visiting me here in Texas and we literally checked in a cooler(placed inside a big box) with 50 lbs of frozen smoked brisket, frozen smoked turkey breasts, beef ribs, my homemade langgonisa, and about 10 doz. of corn and flour tortillas. All the meats were still frozen when they got home. Pag nag- declare ka sa customs, just specify as cooked foods.

    Jul 1, 2013 | 5:30 pm

  27. EbbaBlue says:

    Thanks Ruth T. Gusto ko nga dalhin cooked crawfish, hahha and fresh tomatillo.
    Store bought ba yung mga smoked meat mo? I was thinking bringing smoked sausages from Hickory Farms

    Jul 2, 2013 | 5:50 am

  28. Rene says:

    Hi MM.. I admire you more when you wrote off the lazy a..hole from the hotel chain….. he he he… Thanks as always for all the useful info..

    Jul 2, 2013 | 7:33 am

  29. joey @ 80 breakfasts says:

    Finding out about new products, produce, and vendors is really one of my favorite things about your site :) I’ve spotted 00 flour in Rustans too sometimes, although not De Cecco…

    Love Bacchus Epicerie!! Also a great source of Valrhona chocolates and nice hefty oxtail :)

    Jul 2, 2013 | 1:55 pm

  30. Ruth T. says:

    @EbbaBlue: I am not sure about the crawfish because they are highly persihable. If some delays happen and they thaw, they may stink your luggage. The meats( briskets) I sent home were smoked in my backyard smoker then portioned in containers, ziplocked, wrapped in newspapers then frozen. The ribs were vacuum packed frozen same as the homemade langgonisa. If you will bring HIckory farms products, no need to freeze.

    Jul 3, 2013 | 4:01 pm

  31. EbbaBlue says:

    Ruth, thanks for additional info.
    The Hickory Farms product are from their franchised restaurant; they are smoked at the site, so I will have to pack them myself. My vacuum sealer I left it in Pinas, and I used them to seal dried kalamias which I bring back here to Texas.

    Jul 3, 2013 | 11:02 pm

  32. rye says:

    my father used to grow something similar to dayap which we called “suha”. he uses them for his kinilaw. would those be the same?

    Jul 6, 2013 | 1:13 pm

  33. Christina Gosteli says:

    MM I have 120 Thai limes that sprouted from seed, about a foot tall now & will be moved to soil. Will let you know when they bear fruit. For now I’m also searching for a Dayap supplier. If anyone is selling please contact me. Thanks! 09177392367

    Jul 10, 2013 | 5:26 pm

  34. lally says:

    I want to sell binatog. where can i buy binatog.

    Aug 10, 2013 | 8:52 am

  35. B. Aly says:

    I have been buying “Better Than Bouillon” at Costco’s for a few years. I have found it in their stores in Hawai’i and in Iowa, so I guess it is a staple on their shelves. I never realized it could be difficult to find it. I forgot what other products taste like since I have been using it for the past four years. I am enjoying your blog site..thanks for sharing. Mahalo Pono!

    Oct 21, 2013 | 9:57 pm


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