A Taste of the Philippine Highlands

A couple of weeks ago, we chanced upon a Cordillera trade fair at SM Megamall. Furnitures, fabric, and food…some of the best the highlands had to offer was at that event…I could almost smell Baguio as I walked along the different booths at the Megatrade hall.

What made the event special for me was our reunion with the best coffee I ever tasted…Kalinga (kah-ling-gah) Brew. It was back in 2006 when we first attended our Cordillera trade fair. My husband and I just started dating back then, and as new couples go,we discovered that we shared the same passion for coffee. And what cemented that special day was that first sip of Kalinga Brew.

Kalinga Brew, Unoy, Stevia sachets, a wood carving, and a musical instrument called kubing

We met the owner of Kalinga Brew, Ms. Antuza Refalda, back in 2005. She’s an amazing woman. What I remember most about her was her optimism and how easy it was to talk to her. She talked about the coffee farmers back home. About how she struggled to market this product, and how difficult it was to ensure the freshness and quality of the coffee beans…we had a long but happy conversation while we waited for the percolator to be ready. This coffee is nothing like Starbucks. The aroma is much sweeter, and the coffee is rich and really smooth.

After four years, I was really excited to see Ms. Antuza again. Unfortunately, she was in another trade fair and wasn’t with the group in Megamall. I liked the new packaging of the product, and while talking to the staff of Nor-ref food products, we learned about the success of Kalinga Brew at the China Expo last November 2009. I was really happy for her! Another great product Ms. Antuza markets is the Kape de Motit or the Kopi luwak/Civet coffee. I forgot how much she sells the product, but I’ve been meaning to buy one from her.

Aside from the coffee, one thing we were really excited was UNOY. We love champorado or chocolate-flavored rice porridge. But the great thing with this organic rice blend is it doesn’t need any chocolate. A cup of this UNOY rice would give you roughly 15 cups of porridge. It’s magic I tell you!

With the weather getting cold, we look forward to the holidays ala highlands style. Sipping our Kalinga coffee and having unoy for breakfast with some tuyo or dried salted fish.

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