Food gifts to bring to your next get-together
MANILA, Philippines – Food, undeniably, remains a universal love language; a constant among generations, cultures, family, and friends. The key to a man and woman's heart, the solution to bad days, the addition to good days – it is food, in all its glory and form, that remains to be the reliable route of many to happiness, community, and sharing.
And because food is where the heart is, it's easy to understand why Filipino families and friends take their culinary spreads, meals, and food gifts ever so seriously, especially during the holiday season.
If you agree (and I'm pretty sure you do), why not surprise your friends or family (or yourself, no judgment) with one (or more) of the 13 locally-made food brands we've spotted this season?
From ice cream, cookies, cheese dips, spirits, pasta sauces, and even to chips, we're sure you'll find at least one delicious item among our list of home-grown businesses that a loved one would greatly appreciate not just this Christmas, but at any time of the year.
Made with love, given with love, and eaten with love, every get-together will be made extra special with any of these local culinary joys.
1. Pink Bakery by Ange
Big, chewy, soft, freshly-baked cookies are all the rage nowadays, especially now that the warm, cozy holiday season is upon us sweet-crazed binge eaters.
There’s no wondering why, though – chocolate chip cookies are undeniably their own breed of magic, and Pink Bakery By Ange knows this reality by heart; evident in this home bakery's premium, hand-huge version of the highly-demanded sweet treat.
These chocolate chip cookies are freshly-baked upon ordering, so you’re guaranteed warmth, freshness, and the perfect consistency of a soft, gooey, chocolatey interior encased in its chewy exterior.
The big chocolate chunks within the cookie are hard to miss too, especially when they reach that sinfully molten state.
Have a taste of home-baked love with Pink Bakery by Ange's box of 4 (P260), box of 6 (P390), or box of 12 (P780), perfect to bring along on your next barkada get-together, or to just gorge on by yourself (no shame).
Check out Pink Bakery by Ange’s Instagram account to place your orders.
2. Cookie Territory
If you’ve always licked the cookie batter off the bowl as a child, then you'll probably have no problem checking out Cookie Territory's line of delectable cookie dough-based products! Don't worry, they're perfectly safe to eat.
For those who prefer their cookies in its not-yet-baked form, can we really blame you? One of Cookie Territory's tantalizing treats is the Hersheys Cookie-Dough Stuffed Oreos, a best-seller that tastes just as deadly as it sounds. Can you imagine biting into soft cookie dough and chunky chocolate chips, sandwiched by two Oreo cookies?
For a more straightforward approach to cookie dough, Cookie Territory also sells Cookie Dough Cans. Their signature batter is packed in a portable tin can, which makes scooping up spoonfuls of this delicious dough convenient to do on-the-go.
Might we add that the taste of their cookie dough isn’t overly sweet? The flavor is just right, making it (too) easy to reach for an extra serving (or two).
You can check out other sweet offerings or place your orders on Cookie Territory’s Instagram account.
3. Cafe Sito
Now that we're talking about sugar, what's a better accompaniment to a sweet treat than a warm, good 'ol cup of tasty, aromatic brew? Cafe Sito is a passion project born to pay tribute to the owner Monica's late father, Sito, and their shared love for coffee.
From the blends, down to the coffee cans' gorgeously eye-catching packaging designs, Cafe Sito is a personal testament to many things close to her heart – her father's love for life, music, color, as well as to honor the mostly female local farmers from Benguet, whom she directly and ethically sources her beans from.
The two major Cafe Sito special blends are named according to their best uses: Black Coffee and Iced Latte, and are both made of 100% arabica beans.
The Black Coffee blend is full-bodied and strong, packing intense flavor yet a balanced, smooth finish. It’s neither too bright nor too acidic, and is perfect on its own, or as an Americano.
The Iced Latte blend, on the other hand, was specially patterned after Monica’s love for third wave coffee in New York City. It’s not so heavy and strong on the tongue, and its lighter body goes well with a dash of milk, creating a smooth, slightly hazelnut flavor. As suggested, this blend is excellent for those who prefer their coffee as a latte or a cappuccino.
For late-night kwentuhans with friends or relatives, this can of high-quality local beans (and its super pretty packaging) will definitely awaken those sleepy eyes.
4. Loose Brews Craft Teas
If coffee isn’t your thing, tea just might be. Your tita tea time just got an upgrade, because Loose Brews Craft Teas premium range of hand-crafted, artisan loose leaf teas will make you feel all sorts of calm and fancy.
As beautiful as they look, smell, taste, and make you feel, Loose Brews’ extensive, creative line of fresh, all-natural tea brews caters to many benefits and tastebuds.
If you and your girl friends are looking to unwind, the light and fragrant Beauty Sleep Tea (P550), which, as you may have guessed, can help with that, as well as even aid your troubled ZZZs. Made with the calming classics of chamomile, lavender, lavender, rose, lemongrass, and lemon, you're one warm, delicious cup closer to some well-deserved inner peace and some quality shut-eye.
For the alcohol aficionados in your group, Loose Brews also takes pride it in its unique, alcohol-inspired collection. Mixing the best of both tea and cocktail worlds is the Gin & Tonic Brew and the Coffee Amaretto Brew (P650), which I tried. Amazingly, this rooibos-based tea does taste like a smooth, lightly sweet, coffee cocktail, accentuated by yummy notes of almond. Plus, it’s caffeine (and alcohol) free!
For fans of black tea ala English Breakfast, the Vida Magica Brew (P650) from their Spanish collection is a whimsical blue and pink dream to look at and sip on. Black tea is mixed with sunflowers, roses, and cornflowers, making for a flavorful, fragrant cup of afternoon tea.
Lastly, for those not so keen on fragrant, flowery teas, and wish to opt for a more candy-like option, the Creamy Caramel Brew (P550), a is a good choice for dessert-lovers. This black tea combines butterscotch, vanilla, and calendula together to form a medley of smooth and sweet proportions.
Best way to enjoy this tea with friends? With a handy glass tea infuser set (P695), which also makes for a great gift, by the way.
5. Auro Chocolate
What about some premium chocolate to pair your hot afternoon drink with? Auro Chocolate, an award-winning single-origin, bean-to-bar, organic chocolate line hailing from the lush forests of Davao, is a delicious tribute to Filipino heritage, farmers, and their craft.
Everything Auro is made of 100% Filipino-origin cocoa, and boasts of fine, premium ingredients, taste, and gold-inspired packaging.
No matter the variation of chocolates they offer – from milk, dark, white, to even choco bars flavored with banana chips, coffee, and cacao nibs – Auro Chocolate never fails to up their cacao game.
Their silky 42% Milk Chocolate bar is a chocoholic's dream come true, bearing that signature creamy taste of a quality choco bar, sans any excess sweetness nor the processed, extra-sugary flavor other candy bars possess.
For dark chocolate lovers, their best-selling and yes, award-winning, 64% Dark Chocolate bar exceeds expectations. It packs just the right amount of bitter and sweet, making for a rich, earthy snack bursting with authentic cacao flavor.
Other variants include the 55% Dark Chocolate bar, which lays perfectly in between the flavor profie of the Milk Chocolate and 64% Dark Chocolate bar. The 77% Dark Chocolate bar, on the other hand, is rightfully reserved for those wholly committed to that distinctly intense, full-bodied taste of raw, dark cacao.
Hosting a get-together at home or attending one soon? If you're panicking due to time constraints and possibly, your lack of cooking skills, no shame. That's why ready-to-eat, home-cooked food delivery businesses like Mama V Delicious exist: to help you out!
With a mission to keep her mother's personal recipes alive, Tina V, Chief Deliciousness Officer, made sure that Mama V Delicious would not only offer convenience and ease to hungry customers, but also the same heartwarming quality of a perfectly home-cooked meal, especially as the busy holiday season is upon stressed hosts and reunion planners.
Guaranteed crowd-pleasers like their best-selling, ready-to-eat Bacon Carbonara (P1,200) is sold by the kilo in a box. An A+ choice for both adults and kids alike, it's everything a great carbonara should be – cheesy, creamy, rich, and topped with chunky bacon bits. This ginormous tupperware can easily satisfy 6-8 hungry tummies.
For the same price and weight is their Garlic Sotanghon, a welcome garlicky addition to any Pinoy feast.
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Enjoy dinner with the family with every bite of the Garlic Sotanghon, made extra delicious with its savory garlic flavor! Delivered straight to your doorstep 3 to 5 days after receiving confirmation of payment for your order, so place your order TODAY to get 25% OFF its original price! See the form in our bio!
Ready-to-fry food options are also available, such as Pinoy breakfast favorites like the well-seasoned Daing Na Bangus (P800 for 4 servings) and tender Salty/Spicy/Sweet Angus Beef Tapa (P1,000 for 10 servings).
Snacks like Chicharon Bulaklak (P1000 for 8 servings), and Crispy Kropek (P550 for 8 servings) are also good choices for pulutan offerings.
Some believe that with convenience comes compromised quality, especially with food. However, Native Gourmet proves quite the opposite.
Known for their wide line of canned, locally-made, preservative-free Filipino items (fish, condiments, tablea, you name it), quick, delicious dishes made with Native Gourmet is as easy as opening its lid.
Need to whip up a 5-minute pasta? No worries – their Taba ng Talangka crab paste, made with hints of garlic and lemongrass, will do just the trick.
Flavorful as crab fat is, all your noodles need are a few scoops of this Pinoy pantry staple to take it up that sinful notch. Feel free to add their savory Adobong Tahong bathed in garlic oil to the mix, too. How's that for an impressive, on-the-fly pasta recipe?
They’ve also got ready-to-eat Gourmet Tuyo in mildly spicy corn oil, perfect to top your Christmas champorado with or to just enjoy with hot rice. Their Gourmet Tinapa (smoked fish flakes) is also an excellent tasty mix-in to your rice bowl, kamatis, sibuyas, and red egg included. Both can also be turned into a pasta dish!
And for chilly Simbang Gabi mornings or late-night cap-offs, how about warming up with a cup of freshly-made, all-natural, finely-roasted Chocolate Tablea in your hands?
With no MSG, no preservatives, and no artificial flavorings, these easy-to-bring, ready-to-consume jars of reliable Pinoy goodness is as (almost) guilt-free as it is delicious. Check out Native Gourmet's Instagram account for their other offerings and for placing of orders.
9. In a Nutshell
Sweet dreams are made of cheese, and I can attest to this. As a passionate cheese-lover, I was both curious and excited to hear about the concept of "vegan cheese". Little did I know that In A Nutshell would be changing the cheese game for me, thanks to their line of vegan, dairy-free cheeses!
I'm no vegan, but In A Nutshell's game-changing, gourmet delights are definitely up to par with regular cheeses. These plant-based cheeses are traditionally hand-made, cruelty-free, and are intelligently made with either cashew, tofu, or soy, yet still bearing that distinctly creamy, tangy, and soft quality of a good ‘ol cheese.
This multi-purpose culinary blessing can be enjoyed in a variety of ways – on pizza, sandwiches, burgers, with cold cuts, or as the best accompaniment to some bread or crackers.
The Non-Traditional Cheddar, a tangy ode to the a slightly sharp medium cheddar, deserves a shout-out, as I personally may be turning to this healthier version instead of the regular store-bought cheddar. Their soft Scarborough cheese, which definitely does the garlicky, herby, and creamy Boursin cheese justice, is also a notable favorite.
Other perfectly-crafted products is the Cashew Cream Cheese, Pepper Jack (for those looking for a kick of spice), the creamy Mozzarella, and their aged British cheese, the F Stop Hopped, whose slightly bitter, sharp taste makes it a great pairing with cold beer.
In a nutshell, the business' owners love both food and animals equally. Therefore, their cruelty-free, plant-based vision was born, much to the joy of many vegans and non-vegans alike. Plus, they donate a portion of their sales to local animal welfare groups and charities every quarter!
How dip is your love for Serbesa's homemade line of dips and spreads? Try their best-selling merry-making must-haves, and you may be able to give an answer soon after.
Always a welcome, fuss-free appetizer to bring and share at any gathering, dips provide a variety of flavors and textures that can be enjoyed with just one simple spread on a biscuit. Serbesa Manila creates just this – a line of home-made, preservative-free, and additive-free spreads to add to your cold cut platters, have with wine, or to just enjoy on its own.
Their Rosemary and Lemon Hummus (P350) mimics to a T the creamy, smooth, and slightly grainy consistency of a good hummus, flavored Italian style, with tangy lemon notes and fresh rosemary.
The Roasted Eggplant Dip (P350) also tastes exactly as it is named, just made silkier and more speadable.
The best-selling Jalapeno Lime and Cheese Dip (P350) is a favorite among spice-lovers, surprising gourmands with actual bits of jalapeno peppers mixed in with the spread's thick cream cheese base.
Lastly, the Spicy Pear Chutney's (P350) recognizable flavoring of fragrant star anise makes this chunky relish an interesting side to a deli board.
You can place your orders via Serbesa's Instagram account.
11. Gypsy Rose
And what's a deli platter without a chilled glass of rosé by its side? Gypsy Rosé, a pretty-in-pink spirit that's tastes as light and delicate as it looks, is a girls' night out (or in) essential, best for this month's season of reunions, gatherings, and parties galore.
Gypsy Rosé Diamant (P995) is the brand's best-selling sparkling Bordeaux rosé wine. The sweet grape blend bubbles effervescently as it is opened, but when poured, settles into its calm, gorgeously whimsical state. Take a whiff and it smells just like a good rosé should – fruity, sweet, and refreshing. Take a sip and the creamy, bright, and addictive taste will draw you in, guaranteed.
For those who don't identify as a serious wine savant, but need a good, safe place to start, this dreamy drink is perfect. Its crisp, lightly tart and sweet taste makes this a prime, go-to choice for a barkada of non-wine connoisseurs looking to enjoy a good, light-hearted drink. Its pretty packaging and lovely color is a definite added bonus. Have it frozen too, if you'd like!
You can check out Gypsy Rose's Instagram account to order.
12. Crackle Snacks
Skipping the fancy food and drink? If all you're clamoring for is a tub of good 'ol potato chips to curb that carb craving, Crackles is the locally-made line of freshly-made potato chips made just for you and your group of friends.
Proudly kettle-cooked and hand-made in the Philippines with 100% premium ingredients, either of the three best-selling Crackle Snacks (P100 - P280) variants would do just well as a gift, a party contribution, or a junk food haul for yourself. Might I add that their colorful, new package designs are a sight for sore eyes?
The Salted Egg Chips remains a reliable go-to snack, especially for those still hung up on the salted egg craze. The chips are crisp, thinly-sliced, and well-coated in the creamy, slighty spicy and sweet coating of the crowd-favorite salted egg chip.
However, if that still isn't sinful enough for you, maybe the rich Salted Egg Chicharon would suffice? Made 100% from pork, the chicharon pieces are huge and crunchy, each one bursting with salted egg with every bite. Surprisingly, the saltiness and richness you'd expect from combining fried pork rinds with rich salted egg doesn't come off as overpowering.
Last but not the least is the Bicol Express variant, on its way to becoming a popular people-pleaser. A personal favorite, this unique breed of potato chips' flavor hits your tongue a few seconds after the first bite; that's when the mind-blowing taste similarity to the traditional Bicol Express shines. I'm still amazed at how the distinct taste of creamy gata and sili spice is perfectly condensed in one flavorful chip.
You can order your bag or tub of chips from Crackle Snacks on their Instagram account.
13. Papa Diddi's
As we sugar-crazed eaters know by heart, a meal is hardly ever complete without a good dessert cap-off, especially if that sweet treat is called ice cream.
Papa Diddi's, your favorite neighborhood sorbetes maker, is a locally-made ice cream business of a family who has dedicated their homegrown line of sorbetes to their father's expertise with the Filipino-loved craft. Their flavors are unique, hand-crafted, and reminiscent of Filipino favorites, making each spoonful from every pint a heartwarming ode to tradition, family, and culture.
No matter the uniqueness of their ice cream flavors, none is ever too sweet; there's no umay factor here. It's good to note too that everything is locally sourced from local farms, markets, and gardens, done to perfectly capture the Filipino soul.
For the holidays, Papa Diddi's has released 6 signature flavors that are guaranteed to evoke nostaglic feels.
There's the Tablea Filipino (P325), a spin on the classic hot choco drink, accurately transformed into a cold, creamy consistency. The homey smell of warm tablea cooking on the stove is reflected in the taste of this ice cream; plus, it has actual bits of tablea chocolate within the base.
The Brazo De Mercedez uncannily tastes like the signature Spanish-Filipino dessert, surprising customers with bits of the dessert's fluffy meringue and egg yolk custard in the ice cream.
The Quezo De Bola is a tribute to the well-loved keso ice cream of Filipinos, but elevated in terms of flavor. The Noche Buena staple turned ice cream is a tad sweet, followed by a salty, "cheesy" aftertaste – think a good salted caramel ice cream.
The Dark Chocolate with Ginger Cookie is a recommened choice for dark chocolate lovers who wouldn't mind the texture of crumbs in their ice cream, care of the crushed gingerbread cookies on top. Of course, only local, world-class Malagos chocolate is used for this pint.
The signature Filipino Buko Pandan dessert has also not been forgotten, making a sweet appearance, complete with bits of buko pandan's green gulaman and strips of fresh coconut.
A noteworthy shout-out goes to an all-time Papa Diddi's best-selling flavor, the Tres Leches, which is a trio of 3 different kinds of milk: carabao, coconut, and condensed. A sweet, creamy medley of fresh milk, this has become a favorite among both kids and adults alike. Perfect to contribute to your next family get-together!
Check out Papa Diddi's other best flavors on their Instagram account and order your pints through there. – Rappler.com