19.6.16

(Event) As In Shop with Kalsada


Happy father's day to everyone! We'll be at 59 Mahabagin St (near corner Matimtiman), Teacher's Village East, Quezon City, at As In's little homebase. Kalsada Coffee will be there as well. Ritual stuff, craft beer, coffee, cacao, maybe some bananas, and also pre-loved nice things from As In!

Hang out with us from 3-9PM.

4.6.16

(Food) Dahon ng Anis

I have long been perplexed by references in old rice cake recipes to "dahon ng anis" or anise leaf. This is because true anise leaves are feathery and would fall apart when cooked in kakanin, making for truly weird and unattractive eating. I had always assumed that the recipe-imparters meant "seeds" of the anise plant, and not "leaves".

The lovely dahon ng anis or kalumata tree.


Things began to take a dramatic turn around ten years ago. Upon hiking the wonderful Mt. Malarayat, Lipa, Batangas, I found a tree with fruit that were obviously of the citrus persuasion, but with leaves that smelled curiously of anise and caramel (caramelized anise?). I balled a couple of seedlings up and planted them in my garden and grew them, their identity a mystery for a few years.

One night, I was furiously procrastinating by reading up on essential oils and oleoresins of the Philippines instead of working on a deadline. In my loopy, reality-evading mania, I chanced upon a reference to a plant that was used during the Spanish time to substitute for true anise (Pimpinella anisum) in making anisado liquor.

Turns out, the leaves referred to as dahon ng anis were actually kalumata (Clausena anisum-olens) leaves. Once a common backyard plant, it is now very sporadically propagated and yet still thrives well in low rainforests, though it is on the red list. Traditional uses of the plant include making into tea for morning sickness, boiling into a bath for rheumatism, and stuffing the leaves into pillows to create a calming "soporific" effect. Burning the leaves is said to repel ticks and mosquitoes.

And in food, of course! Those hints of anise that once added subtle complexity to our rice cakes and delicacies are disappearing altogether, save for a few popular snacks. I observe that this family of warm round tastes (also imparted by pandan) is now being replicated by artificial vanilla flavoring. It's quite possible that anise seeds and these leaves were used interchangeably in dishes. I have only found them documented in snacky sweet dishes, specifically in rice cakes, sweetened macapuno, and a specific native fried dough treat called gorgorya.

Our local neighborhood biko, which people love because the grandma making it still uses real anise seeds to flavor it.

We welcome you to try these (now) rare leaves! Clausena anisum-olens is a very aromatic endemic with irresistible flavor. Dunking a few leaves into a chilling pitcher of coconut water is a good way to start getting to know them.

23.1.16

(Hello) What's New?

Hello everyone!

We are happy to say we are fairly settled in our new(ish) store. Here are some changes we will be bringing on shortly:

Cacao and Coffee

We are now offering cacao and coffee in-store under the small venture called Barrios. This is in our store, and just a tiny way for us to share our passion for local coffee and cacao. It is named after Agustin Barrios. And barrios. Get it?

Shop Hours

In February, we are also adjusting our opening hours to 11 AM to 8 PM instead of 12 noon to 9 PM. This makes it easier for us to cater to those who want some morning time in, and also makes it safer for us to get home in this crazy giant megacity. We are also considering opening on Sundays-- this is still a debate among us. Please let us know your thoughts via email!
 
Sale

This coming week, we are putting on sale all our publications, textiles, and alcoholic beverages. Please stop by or check out our Facebook page for announcements. 

Price Increase / Tax Change

On our sixth year in the "legit business" world, we are shifting to a corporation from a sole proprietorship. Not only does this mean we get to make shareholders out of our dearest employees and supporters, it also means that we now have to pay 12% VAT (value-added tax). Previously, we paid a 3% percentage tax. We are raising our prices, probably the first time in three years for most of our products. We are also somewhat adjusting our pricing for bulk goods. Our updated price list will be posted shortly.

Bulk Sales on Pause

We cannot cater to new bulk clients until Friday of the coming week. Existing clients can be serviced! We are adjusting our pricing structure.

Delivery

We are also now primarily delivering via GrabExpress. Please email us for more details-- or if you know of any remaining bicycle messengers around! We will be doing some number-crunching to see if hiring our own dedicated delivery person will be worth it.

Tiangges

We would like to join less "mainstream" tiangges, ie, bazaars in small schools, municipal halls, hobby events, whatnot. Please keep us posted if you know of any!

Thank you for your continued support as we grow our little shop.

23.10.15

(Supplier Visit) Batangas Salt

If you grew up in the ParaƱaque area and/or have been alive for more than three decades, you are probably familiar with the sight of vast and flat irasan (salt beds). Our saltmaking style, in contrast to the Ilocano coast's "cooked salt" and the Boholano coconut husk method, has sprawling salt beds lined with shards of clay pots (rumor has it that they now make new "shards" specifically for salt beds, with demand for clay pots being on the decline for a tiny bit of time now). The saltwater is basically evaporated off by the sun and wind.

Shards of clay pots tamped to make salt bed floors.
Last April, upon the suggestion (and general directions) of a good friend, we found ourselves in the salt farm of a new supplier in Batangas. These and other producers are an integral part of the dried and fermented fish industries of the region.

There is a tendency to romanticize saltmaking--we envision the leisurely raking the beds in by workers in rustic straw hats, while a refreshing breeze furthers evaporation, leaving soft, billowy crystals. But it is truly backbreaking work under the brutal heat of the sun. And with industrial or consolidated salt taking over the palengkes (it is becoming more common to find Mindoro salt in Cebu), saltmaking is becoming a less profitable venture in many places. Salt farms are dwindling, except perhaps in Pangasinan and Mindoro.

Salt being collected in baskets.
The Batangas salt is very earthy, a salt-next-door. I have childhood memories of picking salt out of my eyebrows after swimming in Nasugbu. The high salinity of Batangas water results in a VERY salty salt. Our Batangas salt is perhaps the saltiest one we've ever carried. It still has mineral notes, but is very boldly salty, like-a-Hagibis-song-is-masculine salty. Perhaps the perfect salt for a preservation project, or for cooking.

Varied elevation allows gravity to distribute saltwater from the ocean throughout the beds.
Slippers of storage staff need to be tacked onto wooden planks to avoid wounded feet.
More slippers.

13.10.15

Getting to the Shop

Time to talk a bit more about how to get to the shop! Recent "carmageddon" incidents have led us to ponder: how can we, as a small shop, reduce car use, in our own little way? Thus, we decided to post specific directions to our shop, so that you can see how easy it is to bus, train, and walk or to us. You can also go car-less and hitch with anyone going to Greenbelt! Remember to bring a heavy-duty bag (or wheeled stroller) if you are stocking up!


THE LANGUAGES INTERNATIONALE BUILDING

One of the reasons we chose our new location is its accessibility to our customers, regardless of transport type. Some people (with and without cars) really struggled with our old location.

We can be found on the second floor of the Pamana-Languages Internationale Building (click here to see building photo). The fact that Languages Internationale is the oldest language school in the country--that would explain the extraneous letter E, which was apparently in fashion at some point-- gives you an idea of the type of "architecture" to look for.

We are two lots away from the Makati Ave. gate of San Lorenzo. On the ground floor of our building are PNB, Mav, Villarica, Cebuana Lhuiller, Diane Optical, and Fuji (which is closing out soon).

SAKAY.PH DIRECTIONS

Click here to search for directions from your place, or continue to read below for some directions in prose.

FROM GREENBELT 

Many people walk to us whenever they find themselves in Greenbelt. We often advise people (especially those with larger cars, as our basement parking is very narrow) to park in Greenbelt. In between Greenbelt 3 (the Greenbelt building that has Diesel, Firma, and etc.) and Arnaiz Avenue or Pasay Road is the New World Hotel. Now, if you are coming from Greenbelt, you can walk along Makati Avenue, past New World Hotel, to reach us. It is a 2-5 minute walk, depending on how fast you walk.

COMING FROM THE NORTH: AYALA MRT OR AYALA BUS STOP

The Ayala MRT Station SM Exit and bus "terminal" (along EDSA) is a few blocks from our store. From the terminal, walk towards Arnaiz Ave. (anyone can point you in the direction). Once you get to Arnaiz Ave., turn right and you may walk to our shop along the road. You will pass Isshin, Fairmont, and Raffles. You will cross Makati Ave. and the San Lorenzo gate. After Hotel Celeste (the former Mars Disco, for those who remember) on your left, there is an empty lot. Next to that lot is our building.


COMING FROM THE SOUTH: AYALA MRT OR AYALA BUS STOP

You may follow same directions as above but please note (especially if you are coming via bus) that you are getting down in opposite side of EDSA. You will have to use the MRT pedestrian overpass to get to our side of EDSA. Don't ask us why pedestrian life is so cumbersome in Metro Manila.

COMING FROM ELSEWHERE

Please check this out. It is a lovely website with commuting directions for all sorts of places. This is their Glorietta link. We are only a few minutes' walk from Glorietta.

SPECIAL MENTION: UBER

Uber is still car-based, but it is so convenient that it has made us rethink automobile ownership. Renting a car only when you need it versus buying one reduces your environmental footprint (think not only gas but energy and chemicals used to make and transport the car). "Languages Internationale" (again, remember the superfluous letter E) is perfectly searchable on the Uber app.