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Top 10 Deli Snacks in the Philippines April 8, 2011

Posted by Alex Sawit in Food & Drink, Reviews.

By Alex Sawit

08 April 2011


Although the word delicatessen is of German origin, it ultimately derives from the Latin delicatus, which very loosely translated means, “Little goodies you can’t stop popping in your mouth!” Hence, “delicacies” are happily found when one steps into a modern deli shop.

People’s expectations of deli food vary, however. In North America, it’s popular to think of a delicatessen as a sandwich shop with menus for sit-down customers (my favorite movie reference is Meg Ryan’s famous “faking it” scene at Katz’s Deli in When Harry Met Sally). In Europe, the deli is a specialty grocery for top quality foodstuffs (curiously, in America they refer to this differently as a “gourmet food store”).

In the Philippines, we basically follow the European meaning: a delicatessen is a store that retails cured meats and cold cuts, sausages, cheeses, gourmet breads and other fine foods that can be served with minimum or no cooking. That’s how we at Cyrano understand deli food and this being a wine shop we want what goes well with wine, which is why our bar chow consists of easy-to-serve snacks for wine lovers to nibble on (like an old-fashioned enoteca, right?).

Alas we can’t have everything on our menu. It’s unfortunate because there are lots of good local products to be found, even from the far corners of the country (let’s thank our Cyrano business partners, Joco and Ric, for finding great stuff from as far away as Cagayan de Oro and Davao). The least we can do is acknowledge those we believe are worth praising to you.

So here is your wine shop’s list of what we feel are the Top 10 Deli Snacks made in the Philippines. Chances are you may have already tried or heard of some of them but please seek out on your own the ones that you haven’t. Remember to enjoy them with our wines!



But Before Our Top 10…A Special Mention

Snobs would think it pedestrian to think so highly of pork rinds but what do they know? Our thanks to Manito de Borja, one of our oldest Cyrano friends and the fattest thin man we’ve ever met, for explaining the sophistication of Chicharittos (only an eating machine like Manito would have lobbied for this as a snack with wine). Try Chicharittos in all flavors with a smooth, dry South African Chenin Blanc and ignore those lobotomized Vegans who cannot fathom the rewards of so much unhealthy goodness.

Chicharottos are available at Rustan’s Supermarket Main Branch, Rustan’s Building, Ayala Avenue, Makati City.






10. Chef Philippe’s Party Breads

Chef Philippe Agnesi, in a moment of candid satisfaction over the caffe latte he was served, told me that our shop makes “very good coffee.” Coming from a French pastry chef with a reputation for being a merciless perfectionist, it was flattering, especially since we aren’t an espresso bar. We now return the compliment. Chef Philippe’s Party Breads are uncompromisingly excellent. They are meals in themselves but are best sliced, as the name implies, as party hors d’oeuvres. Among the savory breads, my favorite is the Mediterranean, a soft brioche that’s a romance of pesto, tomato sauce, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, sun dried tomatoes and black olives, to be enjoyed with a Côtes du Rhone Villages.

Chef Philippe’s Party Breads are available at Chef Philippe Commissary, 2310 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati (visit http://www.chefphilippe.org for details).


9. Zaragoza Sardines

I’ve been a fan of this Pinoy brand for a while and it impresses me that Zaragoza Foods, which is based in Dipolog, is so consistent on such a commercial scale. Well, okay, they’ve had tiny slip ups but these have been rare. Whatever their secret, these sardines are absolutely the best value gourmet treats in the country, especially for gourmands who know what to do with good sardines. Available in Portugese- and Spanish-style in corn oil and in Spanish-style in tomato sauce, these are delectable with good bread and a Southern French Viognier.



Zaragoza Sardines are available at Rustan’s Supermarket Main Branch. Export versions in olive oil are available at S&R Price Mart, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.


8. Dial K For Kitchen Pâté

After pursuing culinary careers in Europe for nearly 20 years, sisters Georgina and Kim Ramos returned to the Philippines to nurture something closer to their hearts. The result is Dial K For Kitchen, a gourmet business that radiates with their cultivated food experiences. Among their products, nothing expresses this as luxuriously as their bestselling pâté. “This has got to be the SMOOTHEST, the absolute CREAMIEST chicken liver pâté you can ever find,” they claim on their blog, “with no gamey aftertaste!” I won’t disagree. Bring some to the shop so you can share it with us when you order a South African Rosé.



Dial K For Kitchen Paté can be ordered at facebook.com/Dial.K.for.Kitchen.


7. Malagos Farmhouse Cheeses

Mrs. Olive Puentespina has been making artisanal cheeses in Davao under the Malagos Farmhouse label for several years now, winning acclaim from local and foreign gourmands who are astounded that Western-style cheeses of such quality can be made in our tropical climate. Her fromage de chèvre (French-style soft goat cheese) is a favorite of European expats, who say it’s indistinguishable from the French import. Pile it on thin crisp bread and pair it with a well-chilled Italian Prosecco. I go for the “peppercorn brie” and “demi-blue Styleton” (that’s what I nicknamed the latter because it reminds me of an extremely mild Stilton), made from cow’s milk, both of which are nice with a creamy Australian Chardonnay.



Malagos Farmhouse Cheeses are available here at Cyrano Wine Shop.


6. Chef Cyrille’s Pork Rillette

I’m going to take flak for this because not every Cyrano friend is a fan of Chef Cyrille Soenen’s rillette (our adorable but painfully fussy Cyrano friend, Georgina, derides it by saying it tastes like canned corned beef in fat…ouch!). Many agree, however, that it’s like lechon you can serve with a butter knife and to me this stuff is bursting with flavor. Rillette is meat, often pork, cooked in its own rendered fat and reduced to a spread. Other rillettes can be like fine paste but Chef Cyrille makes a rustic style whose flaky texture I prefer, especially on flat bread. Try it with a Southern French Syrah and then decide if this is the best rillette in town.



Chef Cyrille’s Pork Rillette can be ordered from Cyrille Soenen Restaurants, Inc. (visit http://www.restaurantcicou.com for details).


5. Säntis Chorizo

I order this in advance at Säntis Forbes because they can run out as quickly as it arrives. Säntis Delicatessen has been selling beer sticks for years but something clicked last Christmas season when customers in the affluent neighborhood developed a liking for this Spanish-style, dry-cured sausage (so it’s technically not a chorizo but a salchichón). Suddenly, folks were loading them in gift baskets and hoarding them for their pantries. Its chewy tenderness and mildly sour, mildly spicy meaty flavor make it so versatile, allowing you add it to anything from fresh salads to different pastas. I like slicing it into rounds as a snack, preferably paired with a red like a Spanish Tempranillo.



Säntis Chorizo is available at Säntis Delicatessen, WIC Building 7431 Yakal Street, San Antonio Village, Makati.


4. H-Cuisine’s Frozen Microwavable Takeaways

Chef Hannah Herrera gets great reviews for her catering service, H-Cuisine, and folks who visit her stall at the Salcedo market can’t get enough of H-Cuisine’s famous slow-roasted Angus beef belly. There’s also marrow-filled ossobuco and rich callos and a whole lot more. Here’s the kicker: H-Cuisine also offers these items as frozen takeaways that are awesome after proper reheating (folks at the shop were surprised at how yummy they turned out after microwaving). Nothing beats food fresh from the kitchen but this shows what’s possible if you know the tricks of reheating (Chef Hannah includes precise instructions with the frozen products). Try the beef belly, ossobuco and callos at the shop “pica-pica style” with a smooth Aussie Cabernet Sauvignon.



H-Cuisine’s Frozen Microwavable Takeaways are available at the H-Cuisine stall in Salcedo Market, every Saturday at Salcedo Park, Leviste Street, Salcedo Village, Makati.


3. Donau Deli Sausages

Anyone who knows anything about charcuterie would be foolish to dispute that Donau Deli makes the best sausages and cold cuts in town. Founded by Chef Roland Sager and his wife Marietta, Donau is so reputable that they regularly produce sausages and cold cuts for other delicatessens, who then proudly package them as their own (shame on Mickey’s Delicatessen for not giving credit where credit and more are due). They make a wide variety of classic German-style sausages but ironically my favorite is the fully cooked Polish-style Kielbasa, a glorious meld of lean and fat with the right sweet smoky flavor, all nice with a Chilean Pinot Noir.



Donau Deli Sausages can be purchased at Donau Deli, 7904 Lawaan Street, San Antonio Village, Makati (for inquiries, call 899-6810 or send an e-mail to donaudeli@yahoo.com).


2. SLERS Pastrami

I must confess that I had misgivings after I tasted a new batch recently only to find that the product was a bit underwhelming. It was very good, mind you, just not as impressive as what I’m accustomed to because the SLERS Pastrami that I know and love is unassailably delicious. I wasn’t fond of pastrami until I tried SLERS. What an epiphany! SLERS breaks away from the popular style of American pastrami by making something truly ebullient – it’s more tender and juicy and much more flavorful, with more of the natural sweetness of the beef coming through (even our Teutonic Cyrano friend, Thilo, who is always on the lookout for products for the German Club, called this the best pastrami he’s tasted). SLERS is a small family-run business making high-quality meat products in Cagayan de Oro, so the brand isn’t visible in Makati’s premiere supermarkets. But all their products are top notch and I’m envious that the folks in CDO have this for their daily sandwich satisfaction. In the end, the new batches I’ve tasted are probably just rarities of inconsistency, so future ones should be perfect again, especially when paired with a good South African Côtes du Rhone-style red blend.



SLERS Pastrami is available here at Cyrano Wine Shop.


1. Feng Wei Wee Smoked Duck

Of all those honored in our Top Ten list, our No. 1 has an unbeatable “wow factor” thanks to a winning combination of lip-smacking goodness and impeccable consistency. Feng Wei Wee Taiwan Cuisine in Quezon City is a no-frills eatery that is guarded by its Chinese patrons (even those who live out of the way insist on coming here rather than to the more convenient branch in Green Hills). Forget the cafeteria-style setting; if you’re no snob, this deceptively inexpensive place will rock your world. The bonus was recognizing a snack that pairs with wine. Their smoked duck breast elevates you to a state of bliss, especially when harmonized with the light sauce accompanying it. Serve it as cold hors d’oeuvres, slicing it thinly to show off the wonderful layer of duck fat against the meat, to be enjoyed at leisure with a superb Chilean Carménère.



Feng Wei Wee Smoked Duck is available at Feng Wei Wee Taiwan Cuisine, No.82 Banawe Street corner Samat Street, SMH, Quezon City.





1. Kristine P. Tesoro - July 13, 2011

Write some Alex. Don’t waste the brilliance.

2. Kristine P. Tesoro - July 13, 2011

As usual, I type too fast… i meant Write some MORE. Haha!

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