Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Cake for an Unconventional Girl

Designing a cake for my little fashionista is not an easy task. Despite Elishah’s firm colour and design choices, creating a “girl’s cake” based on her specifications proved quite a challenge.

If you’ve read my post last year on her you’ll understand that her colour preferences are not conventional. Pink and purple would have been easy but no, not for Yaya (her nick name). We were given black, of course, navy and crimson to play with for her special 7 year celebration. Actually, make that Cherry, my dear wife, not “we”, not “us”, just her, just Cherry’s Cakes, just Cherry to create something wonderful from a limited palette. I’m only the blogger/photographer.

For a time we thought we were heading the “Titanic” direction (as in the movie). For some reason Yaya was completely enchanted by the movie from the first time she saw it. She’s different, what more can I say? She couldn’t get enough of it. Titanic this, Titanic that. Her YouTube favourites were mainly “Titanic” stuff, parodies and all. Our house was filled with various renditions of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” And then she had a sudden change of heart. Thank God for that. I did not know how much longer the rest of the family could go on…

And this is what Cherry came up with after that nautical theme was quickly shot down: a Lollipop cake that is sophisticated and yet girly at the same time. It fits the brief. If you have to imagine what sort of lollipop flavour it would make here’s an idea: black is liquorice, navy is blueberry and crimson is cherry.

Despite her being modest about her abilities Cherry’s handiworks speak for themselves. She’s got her own page if any of you are interested in her designs. Please follow the link to Cherry’s Cakes.

And to my beautiful daughter here are my words of blessings to you:

“May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favour and give you His peace” Numbers 6-24-26. Happy birthday!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sampinit – Philippine Wild Raspberries

Sampinit in bilao

A caveat: There’s not a lot of literature written about sampinit. What I’m posting here is purely from personal experience, what I know, what I’ve seen and what I’ve tasted. Nothing extracted from a “tropical fruit” journal. Wikipedia did not help this time as well. This is all me, purely my thoughts.

P20 worth of Sampinit

When I first posted photos of sampinit on my Facebook page (yes, I have one) a lot of my Filipino friends were pleasantly surprised to know that such a fruit can be found in our native land. I was familiar with it but by no means was it common. It was and remains a rare summer treat. Not widely available and only for a short period of time. That partly explains it being on the pricey side. I used to pick them myself as I could not afford the going “market rate” back in the ‘80s.

Sampinit in bilao

It might be expensive compared to other tropical fruits but once you understand what it takes before they appear in some ale’s banana leaf lined bilao you’ll accept the price as fair if not cheap. I am not aware if attempts have been made to cultivate this precious jewel of the forest. From what I know nothing has changed in how sampinit is harvested. They are sporadically found in Laguna’s rainforest. Some brave souls needed to endure the sweltering summer heat to come up with a kilo of this much loved wild berries. The berry bush, by the way, is surrounded by sharp thorns adding to the tricky nature of collecting them.

Raspberries from the supermarket

Compared to the commercially available raspberries sampinit are a bit smaller and thereby more delicate. The flavour is very similar to the regular raspberry but it is more robustly astringent and tart. They are not genetically modified to become sweeter and plumper to suit the consumer. They have been left as nature intended. I think sampinit would be great in compotes, sauces, pastries and even cakes if you can get a hold of enough of them.

Raspberries from the supermarket

You can devour sampinit straight from the bush but some people prefer to add a bit of salt (yes, you read right, salt!) to bring out more of that berry goodness. They let it stand in the salt for a few minutes which then slowly releases the berry juices. It is a known way of eating sampinit in Laguna. You’ll notice a small jar of salt on the bilao in one of my photos.

They’re about P10 for a shot size glass filled to the brim. I think that amounts to barely 100g of the stuff. I’m kicking myself now for not buying more and made something out of them. On the next trip back home I promise myself not to miss the opportunity…whenever that may be.