Food courts. And supermarkets. Is it odd that these were my top two touristing highlights in Manila?
Admittedly I'd wanted to ride on a jeepney, but with our hotel within walking distance of Greenhills Shopping Centre in San Juan, there was no need for a jeepney.
I'd been pre-warned about the presence of armed security at shopping centres in Manila. At every public entrance, security personnel stand guard and visually inspect each incoming shopper and their bags. Sometimes metal detectors are used, other times you are briefly patted down. Larger shopping centres have separate queues for males and females, with female security on the female side. Although Westerners tend to only experience a cursory inspection, it's still a somewhat sobering encounter.
Tiangge flea markets
It's easy to get lost inside Greenhills, a sprawling complex that includes air-conditioned shops, a giant supermarket, restaurants and fast food outlets, a movie theatre, chapel and a bustling flea market.
The flea market is a maze of cheap t-shirts, handbags and shoes, the alleyways narrow and crammed with people. Above the tiangge is Cellphone Galore, a mobile phone market chaotic with the chorus of 200 sellers, all spruiking what looked to be the same mobile phones and mobile phone covers. Nearby is the pearl market, endless rows of booths gleaming with pearl necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
Hypermarket at Mall of Asia
I was much more interested in the supermarkets, built on such epic proportions that they are known locally as hypermarkets. I spent hours browsing the aisles at hypermarkets in both Greenhills and the Mall of Asia. This is a magical place where chips take up two-and-a-half aisles, and instant noodles gets its own.
An aisle of instant noodles
Giant tubs of biscuits
I love the idea of buying in bulk, but even I was taken aback by the size of these biscuit tubs. And yet their multi-function storage capabilities were strangely alluring too.
You know how you're always peckish when you've just finished the grocery shopping? Supermarkets in Manila tend to host a row of food stalls selling drinks and snacks on the other side of the registers.
There's usually a large bakery by the entrance/exit too. Here I discovered the joys of ube purple yam and cheese, often together. The ube cake above was dense but soft, not overly strong with ube flavour, but resplendent with grated cheese.
Special ensaymada 78 pesos / AU$1.85
Ensaymada are hugely popular throughout the Philippines, and are a pastry that originated in Majorca, Spain. The local version is made with a brioche dough, slathered with buttercream and strewn with grated Edam cheese.
Ube cheese supreme 85 pesos / AU$2.00
I loved both the cheese and the ube versions, the latter covered with sweet grated ube paste.
Filipino desserts including sapin sapin steamed rice cake, mahas mais coconut pudding,
kutsinta brown rice cake and buko young coconut pie
Ube sponge cake roll and Brazo de Mercede cream-filled log cake
Arce Dairy ice cream
And is there anything more exciting than a chest freezer filled with ice cream? Crazy ice cream?
I'm talking sweet corn, jackfruit, ube purple yam, ube with coconut, avocado, mangosteen, magnolia, durian, vanilla custard, young coconut and lychee, blueberry cheesecake, atis sugar apple, lemon and calamansi lime, plain cheese, and cheddar cheese.
I may, or may not have stood transfixed for several moments.
Cheese ice cream and avocado ice cream
I settled on the cheese ice cream and avocado ice cream, much of it melted by the time I got back to our hotel room. The cheese ice cream tasted more like a cream cheese ice cream, and the avocado ice cream had an odd green tea flavour.
But the best part? Keeping the little metal tins as souvenirs. Tasty and practical. Win/win.
FREEBIE FRIDAY WINNERS
Congratulations to Tegan E and Liliana S - you have each won a gold double pass to MasterChef Live worth $140.
Missed out this time? Don't forget to enter the competitions still open:
> Win 1 of 3 boxes of Christmas cupcakes from Sparkle
(entries close Monday 13 December 2010)
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Manila 2010 - Food courts and pork rinds
Manila 2010 - Suckling pig, Jollibee and sizzling sisig
Manila 2010 - Turtle stew, black chicken soup and a wedding
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11/30/2010 03:07:00 am