Though the past year has been challenging, the holiday season is an opportunity to show support for small Filipino American businesses and restaurants in the community, as well as to deliver some joy to family, friends, coworkers and others on your shopping list.
Purchasing a gift card to your favorite Fil-Am restaurant, which likely has had to minimize operations to takeout and delivery due to stay at home orders, will go a long way in helping keep it afloat, while giving someone on your list a dining experience to enjoy from their homes.
Aside from a prepared meal, several Fil-Am chefs, restaurants and shops are offering edible holiday treats and sets that go beyond the traditional gift basket, and are available regionally or can be shipped nationwide. Here are 12 options to choose from as gathered by the Asian Journal editorial team.
Food-themed gift boxes celebrating Filipino/a artisans
Filipina American sisters Michele and Anna-Marie Josue introduced Para Sa’Yo (“For You” in Tagalog), an online shop selling curated gift sets featuring Filipino/a artists and businesses for anyone on your list. For the nostalgic, the So Filipino ($50) box features staples Fil-Am kids grew up with like Sky Flakes and Jufran banana ketchup. The box also comes with a Vicks Vaporub! For those who start their day with a cup of joe, the But First Kape ($110) set features a pair of porcelain mugs, handwoven abaca coasters, and small-batch, single-origin Philippine light roast Arabica Coffee from Asukar. Sets come with an added greeting card of your choice and can be viewed at shopparasayo.com.
Open up a taste of the Philippines
The Filipino Food Movement has rolled out a collection of some of the best Filipino food products that you can share with your loved ones this holiday season. The “Patikim” boxes come in three types: The Pearl Edition ($160), Gold Edition ($85), and Silver Edition ($60) with an array of items from signature sauces from San Francisco-based restaurant The Sarap Shop to chocolate bars from Oodaalolly, which uses Philippine cacao. Proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit Gawad Kalinga’s Kusina ng Kalinga project, an initiative to end the hunger of Filipino children, and the FFM’s projects for the year. The boxes can be purchased at filipinofoodmovement.org.
Satisfy wanderlust with travel-inspired ice cream flavors
In time for the holidays, SoCal-based Wanderlust Creamery is now shipping pints of their travel-inspired ice cream nationwide. For the ice cream aficionado and jetsetter grounded at home, the over a dozen pint flavor options — from Australian Pavola to Sakura — will transport them on an international palette journey starting at $12 a pop. To get into the holiday spirit, the shop has also introduced seasonal flavors like Christmas Cookies & Sea Salt Cream, Food For the Gods, and Christmas in Tokyo (bittersweet uji matcha ice cream with housemade strawberry “kit kats”). Can’t decide on the individual flavors? The Pilipino Pint Pack comes with five pints inspired by favorite Filipino desserts like brazo de mercedes and sapin sapin. Or there’s the Asian Jet Set pack with six pints that transport you through the continent from the Sticky Rice and Mango to Ube Malted Crunch. Orders, which require a minimum purchase of four pints and arrive at the recipient in an insulated shipping box with dry ice, can be placed at shop.wanderlust.com.
Self-care in beverage form
2020 has been tough on everyone and more than ever, folks are seeking ways to practice self-care safely and conveniently at home. Enter Droplet, a Pinay-founded line of sparkling beverages with real fruit and adaptogens, non-toxic substances derived from plants that help one’s body adapt and regulate the natural ability to respond to stressors.
The “drop” in the brand’s name pays homage to Dalikamata, a clairvoyant and health goddess in Visayan pantheon, who was depicted with thousands of eyes on her body and whose tears would form morning dew drops. According to the legend, drinking the drops had healing effects, such as relieving eye problems. The new beverage company offers the “Next Level You Wellness Kit” ($20, shipping included), a starter set of Droplet’s three flavors: Pretty Balanced (passion fruit, cacao, vanilla bean and rhodiola) for anti-anxiety, energy boasting and skin-hydrating effects; Pretty Balanced (white peach, lemon verbena, moringa and ashwagandha), the go-to for a stress balancer and digestive aid; and Pretty Bright (yuzu, ginger and reishi mushroom) for a reset and mood enhancer.
“The entire idea behind Droplet was our own roots as Filipina Americans and our experiences with herbal medicine,” Celeste Perez, founder and CEO of Droplet, said in an interview with the Asian Journal. The set can be purchased on drinkdroplet.com.
Enjoy a round of sparkling craft cocktails safely at home
Meeting up with friends and partaking in a round (or multiple) of drinks at a bar is an experience that will have to wait until after it’s safe to go out again. But that doesn’t mean you can’t distantly imbibe a flavorful cocktail and reminisce on nightlife from the comfort of your home. Los Angeles-based Vervet has four canned cocktails in a can full of ingredients local to the region and concocted with the city’s diversity in mind, including of course, the Filipino community. Not to miss is the Tiki Tea — a nod to the city’s Filipino bartenders and Tiki culture — with prickly pear vodka, oolong tea, lime, allspice, ginger, clove and vanilla.
“People are home, but they still want to drink well…It’s nice to crack open a bottle of wine or beer, but it’s really such a limited experience and we want to bring something complex and that tastes like it was made in front of you,” Alex Rosenblum, who is half Filipino and one of the Vervet co-founders, told the Asian Journal. The cocktails, which start at $5.99 a can, be purchased at select stores in the Los Angeles area or can be delivered/shipped to your gift recipient online at drinkvervet.com.
Artisanal chocolates that taste as beautiful as they look
Giving chocolate as a gift is never a bad idea, but instead of the usual big-name brands, turn to a small batch purveyor that molds and designs each piece by hand. Romeo Chocolates, based in Long Beach, California, offers nationwide shipping on perfectly boxed and wrapped gift sets featuring its truffles with a flavor range from Tanduay rum to Calamansi Mojito. Have someone on your list who considers chocolate a main food group? The shop offers a subscription gift box starting at $48 with a mix of fine chocolates and local fine goods each month. Orders can be placed at Romeochocolates.com.
Spread kindness with an assorted box of cookies
In the midst of the pandemic, we saw dozens of examples of Fil-Ams starting businesses from home, whether it’s mask-making or desserts with Filipino flavors. Young Filipina Americans Malia and Kailani started Conscious Kid Cookies from their own kitchen to “change the world through sharing kindness through cookies.” Now their venture operates out of a commercial kitchen, and cookies can be shipped nationwide by ordering at consciouskidscookies.com. Cookie flavors range from the classic chocolate chip to Filipino-inspired like pandan, and can be purchased individually or in boxes by the dozen, starting at $36. Ten percent of the proceeds benefit No Kids Hungry.
Cook a full Filipino dish with sauces from a jar
For the individual who wants to make classic Filipino dishes while in a time crunch, a new Fil-Am business is making it easier with a line of bottled simmer sauces. Fila Manila’s Variety Pack ($29) features three sauces — Adobo, Kare Kare, and Caldereta — which are gluten-free and have no added sugar or artificial colors. All the home chef has to do is add water, protein and veggies of choice and the jar of sauce and simmer until cooked. Orders ship free nationwide at filamanila.com.
A surprise to satisfy Pinoy snack cravings while giving back
Recreate the pasalubong experience by sending a box of beloved snacks and ingredients to someone who needs to satisfy their appetite for Pinoy flavors. E-commerce site Filiflavors.com offers the “sopresa” (surprise) box filled with sweet and savory items. For a limited offer, use the code PR10OFF until 12/18/2020 to receive 10% off your Filiflavors order. Additionally, for the holiday season, a free pack of Filipino Spaghetti Sauce will be included in your order.
“Filiflavors aims to provide you with the most convenient and delightful experience to get a taste of what the Philippines has to offer,” said Bianca Trinidad, Filiflavors founder and owner. A percentage of each sale is donated to San Francisco-based nonprofit Support for Families of Children with Disabilities.
Insta-worthy pancakes for Christmas morning
Noche Buena on Christmas Eve is considered the staple feast in Filipino tradition, featuring a feast from ham to rice-based desserts. But what about for Christmas morning after opening gifts? Though Ninong’s Cafe in Northridge, CA closed its doors recently, their photogenic ube pancakes can be made at home with the Breakfast Regalo ($48.50) in partnership with Bakersfield’s Umaga Coffee. The set comes with a 12 oz bag of Single Sourced Bokod Arabica Medium Dark Roast (either beans or grounds); the pancake mix, which only requires water to cook; two jars of Ninong’s Ube Cookie Butter which would pair perfectly with the pancake stack or on anything else; and a Maligayang Pasko greeting card from Manila Oriental. The special can be purchased at umagacoffee.com.
Butters for pan de sal and more
For those who want to get creative with what to put inside of a pan de sal, Chef Barb Batiste of Big Boi offers a Filipino Butter Jar Sampler ($40), which comes in a set of three butters — Ube, Ensaymada, and Buko Pandan. Slather them on pancakes, waffles, and anything else you can think of. Orders for nationwide shipping can be placed at www.shopbigboi.com.
Lumpia delivered to your door
Those in the greater Los Angeles/Orange County area can fry Petite Peso’s lumpia and enjoy them from the comfort of their homes. The Downtown LA-based restaurant is offering frozen lumpia, either pork or impossible meat straight to the gift recipient’s door in the Southern California region starting at 25 pieces for $20. Orders can be placed at pesogoods.com.