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!


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 on Google map 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 "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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


(New) The Basics' Peanut Butter

Obviously, merienda.
Hello internet world! We interrupt this silence to talk about peanut butter.

If you are like me, you often choose not to peanut butter at all versus compromising by eating hotel breakfast peanut butter of the choke-hazard variety (insert memories of Jif). In fact, I prefer the goopy Lily's variety (complete with libreng baso) to those thick, tasteless conglomerate ones. I wish hotels and restaurants serve Lily's, at least.

But anyway, we are now stocking The Basics' Original Muscovado Peanut Butter. We've gotten samples of nut butters over the years, but most of them use palm oil and white sugar, or are made of imported nuts. This jar is pretty much how we would make peanut butter, if we were to make it ourselves (thankfully someone else is concentrating on that, it's not easy).

It's so yummy that around 3/4 of the jar was eaten off the spoon, and not on bread or anything.


Holiday Schedule for 2014

Folks of the internet, behold our holiday schedule! We are quite busy filling orders, and listening to frazzled shoppers unload and freak out about not meeting their gifting deadlines. We say take a break as well, and relax. Don't try to go to all of the parties, and sip a cup of tea beside your beautiful Christmas tree, will you?


(Supplier Visit) Silk Workshop

Bombyx mori at work.

Recently we visited the silk center in Negros Occidental where we source our silk cocoons for facial grooming. It is run by a Japanese lady who also makes marvelous natural dyes and silk products. We are actually looking to carry their wonderful shawls at the shop.They are truly some of the best we've seen so far.

Apparently our climate is perfect for silk production, because we don't need greenhouses to keep the worms warm. The government has been trying to encourage sericulture as an alternative to conventional crop production, and in some places, the people are starting to grow it instead of marijuana (whether that is a good or bad thing, is up to you...).

The silk worms are fed mulberry (Morus alba) leaves. They then spin a cocoon, which is unraveled in hot water and spun into fibers. The pre-unravelled cocoon is what you use for your face, FYI. Here are a few more pictures:

Worm close-up.
Mulberry or Morus alba leaf. The mulberry tree grows super vigorously, almost like a large weed.
Must not let ants eat the worms.


(New) A Ritual Special Project, Mainly Involving Butter

After more than a year of silence on here, we would like to use this blog to introduce the first of our special projects. We have decided to use some of our resources to "incubate" (though we do shudder to use the word for non-egg-related contexts) the development of artisanal, high-quality products suitable for our shelves, and for all shelves clamoring for such things.

We wish to do this by supporting a team of farmers, small producers, and chefs who are happy to develop things from very basic beginnings.We've been around and seen the potential of our land and its produce, but it's gonna take more than our collective efforts as a company.

Our first such project is loosely called "The Butter Project", which we are doing together with chef Jordy Navarra of Black Sheep. The goal is to produce a local butter from pastured (grass-fed) bovines, without artificial colorants and preservatives, beyond food-processor-DIY standards, and something to replace the margarine plaguing our fair islands. Eventually, we hope.

Jordy at a farm together with an actual, partially-black sheep.

Jordy is a talented young man who has put massive effort into bringing Filipino produce into a contemporary dining setting. Black Sheep's signature dish, the Bahay Kubo, actually showcases all the vegetables from the song "Bahay Kubo", which actually gives a rollcall of humble, diversified Filipino garden-farm species. He also bravely serves things that are quite risky because of local diner perception. We applaud him for that, and for many things.

Two prototype butters, for tasting.
Furthermore, his restaurant uses massive amounts of butter (he was one of  those who was really interested during our first butter production runs), so he knows what a good butter tastes like, acts like, behaves like. Last month, we embarked on our first trip with Jordy to Negros Oriental to see the milking process, pasturing process, separation process, and all other processes necessary to get butter.

And the results with one visit were astounding (wait til the coming weeks for even more progress!). After a few days, there was already a secret trick or two developed by Jordy, who donned lab equipment and went where no ordinary person could go (into the dairy lab). His getup and the off-limits nature of the operation left us no choice but to dub the operation "Breaking Butter". Obviously, no meth synthesis was involved. The experience and education was very encouraging for the people running the dairy as well, who were stuck on the confounding question of "Why does ritual want us to make weird-tasting butter?".

A butter tasting at the dairy processing plant. Everyone's first taste of cultured butter.
Tomorrow, we are unveiling the raw cow's milk butter, aged butter (which tastes of a blue-veined cheese), and raw carabao milk butter at Yummy Eats 2014. Come by for a free sample. Remember, these are works in progress. But we feel the quality is getting closer to some of the nicest European butters. Your support will help push us further along to creating the most perfect butter a tropical island can produce.