San Miguel – beer and more!

The choices for beer brands, specially from smaller, independent craft breweries in California is dizzying.  According to the California Craft Brewers Association, as of 2012, there were 312 independently owned, craft breweries in our state alone!

Nationally, I’ve heard that there are now over 2,000 breweries in the U.S., producing 13,000 different labels of beer.


Beer brand choice was quite simple when I was growing up in the Philippines.

Beer was just beer, no need to say a brand name, simply because there was typically just one beer available for sale in the Philippines.  And that brand was San Miguel Beer.

San Miguel Beer was founded in 1890 as La Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel, a single-product brewery in the Philippines.

It is an iconic Philippine brand, and continues as the #1 beer brand in the Philippines, capturing over 95% of the beer market, and is the #1 brewery in Southeast Asia.

San Miguel has grown, and the brewery — the foundation of its business — is now a subsidiary of the vast San Miguel Corporation (SMC).  SMC is the largest food, beverage and packaging company in the Philippines, with over 100 facilities in the Philippines, China and Southeast Asia.

These days, the San Miguel Corporation’s products range from beer, hard liquor, juices, processed meats, poultry, dairy products, condiments, flour, coffee, animal feeds as well as packaging products.  Their “new business” seems far removed from their core beverage and food products, and are in the areas of:

  • Fuel & Oil
  • infrastructure
  • Power and Energy
  • Mining
  • Telecom
  • Banking

San Miguel was in my radar recently, when I read that the San Miguel Pure Foods Company’s (SMPFC) revenues hit an all time high in 2011.  Excerpt from San Miguel Corporation below:

San Miguel Pure Foods Company Inc. (SMPFC) registered all-time high revenues of P89.6 billion for 2011, up 13% from P79.3 billion in 2010 and driven by increased demand, aggressive distribution expansion, introduction of new products, and higher export sales.

Despite a significant increase in input costs, particularly in its agro-industrial cluster, income from operations increased 4% to P6.1 billion, with significant contributions from its value-added meats, dairy, flour, and coffee businesses.

Profits were boosted mainly by higher volumes, improved efficiencies, a good wheat position, a strong peso, and effective cost reduction across the entire group.

Net income rose to P4.2 billion, up 4% from P4.1 billion in 2010.

Nearly all of SMPFC’s businesses posted significant revenue growth due to higher volumes and favorable selling prices.

Its Value-added business chalked 5% growth in revenue, while its Feeds business posted an 8% revenue growth in commercial feeds.

Revenue growths were also seen across Magnolia Dairy, Magnolia Ice Cream and San Miguel Coffee, which benefited from wider distribution, brand-building initiatives and better selling prices.

For more on this topic, click on the article “SMC more than doubles revenues” from the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation.

Pure Foods was acquired by San Miguel Corporation in May, 2001.

The San Miguel Corporation is huge, and hugely successful…and definitely not the San Miguel known by our parents, or THIS lola (grandmother).

Living in the United States, do you still drink San Miguel — or are there just way too many other beer choices here?

Related posts:

Purple yam or corn and cheese ice cream…anyone?

Have you eaten Filipino style ice cream?  If not, you are missing out on some of the best tasting and most interesting ice cream available to us, right here in the Bay Area!

Magnolia Brand “UBE” Ice Cream, from

When we lived in San Francisco years ago, Mitchell’s Ice Cream on San Jose Avenue (at Guererro and the corner of 29th Street) was the “go to” place for tropical ice cream.

These days, it is still the “go to” tropical ice cream place in SF.  It is quite unusual to see a business with over 1000 Yelp reviews, let alone one with over 2,000 reviews. As of this post date,  Mitchell’s Ice Cream has 2,230 reviews (“in English” out of a total of 2,235 reviews).   And they rate consistently 4.5 out of 5 Yelp stars!  Their tropical ice cream menu consist of:

  • Avocado
  • Buko (baby coconut)
  • Coconut Pineapple
  • Ginger (available November through February only)
  • Green Tea
  • Halo-Halo (buko, langka, ube, pineapple, mongo & sweet beans)
  • Langka (also known as jackfruit, a relative of the fig)
  • Lucuma (a tropical fruit native to Peru)
  • Macapuno (sweet coconut)
  • Mango
  • Tropical Four (banana, guava, mango & pineapple)
  • Ube (purple yam)

They note on their website that the most of the fruit imported for their tropical ice cream line is from the Philippines.

My grandsons like the purple, Filipino ube (pronounced “ou-beh”) — the purple yam ice cream, as well as the coconut or macapuno flavors, made from sweetened young coconut meat.

My grandsons Jun and Gabriel love ube ice cream (and licking frosting off beaters, after their Lola makes cake)!

Mais Queso Ice Cream by Magnolia Foods. Photo from

And my favorite?  It is the uniquely Filipino, ice cream combination of corn and cheese!  Yes indeed, corn and cheese was my favorite as a little kid, and it still is among my favorite ice cream concoctions now that I am a Lola (grandmother) of two beautiful boys.

I don’t see my favorite Filipino ice cream flavor on Mitchell’s current menu. However, it is easy enough to find at most Asian/Filipino stores.

A popular Filipino brand is  “Magnolia” by Ramar Foods.  Magnolia brand ice cream is made here in the U.S, at Ramar’s Pittsburg, California headquarters.  Magnolia’s ice cream fruits are also sourced from the Philippines, for the most authentic flavors.

Ramar’s Magnolia Ice Cream line features 16 flavors, including a “halo-halo” flavor (see previous post) and my all time favorite, corn and cheese — though they call it the Spanish  “mais queso”.

I know it sounds weird — well perhaps not so weird if you are of a Filipino background — but corn and cheese ice cream is really tasty.

The corn pieces give the creamy ice cream added unique texture and flavors…and combined with slightly tart, orange-colored cheese bits…well, you will just have to trust me and try it.

But, I do understand if that sounds truly too strange for you to venture into the land of tropical ice cream.  So instead, you might just try:

  • Avocado ice cream — avocados have long been eaten as a “sweet” in the Philippines, as in avocado icicles, or ice pops, or the iced-avocado, sugar and milk snacks of our childhood.  And now, I am seeing avocado cheesecake recipes in magazines!  So finally, it seems…..Americans are trying avocado beyond its role as a vegetable, in guacamole or as ingredients for a salad and sandwich.
  • The mango, jackfruit or coconut flavors (like buko or macapuno)
  • The delicious ube — or purple yam.  Thanks to this purple yam, you will see a good share of Filipino snack foods in shades of purple .  Ube is used not only in ice cream, but also sold as a preserve (nothing like purple yam jams!) and stuffed in breads and added to many Filipino rice-based desserts.
  • And if you can’t decide and want to be adventurous, try the “halo-halo” ice cream, which translates to “mix-mix” or “to mix”, and where many ingredients are thrown in the ice cream mix (again, see prior post on halo-halo).

Growing up in the Philippines, I remember buying ice cream from the sorbetes man, scooped fresh, from his colorful push cart.

Jingling bells signaled the arrival of the sorbetes man on our street, and we would pop outside to let him know we would like to buy, and dash back inside to get our money, and favorite drinking glass, bowl, or cup, to contain the ice cream.

I can’t remember if there were even ice cream “cones” sold by sorbetes man back then, only that we would buy whatever scoop quantity we wanted and he would scoop it directly into our chosen containers.

Back inside and spoon in hand, we worked fast to eat our quickly melting ice cream.  Fresh ice cream from your favorite mamang sorbetero — the ice cream man — has to be one of the best snacks to eat on a warm, Philippine afternoon.

We did not know it, but back then, this was a very “green” method of getting a snack or treat, no waste of plastic packaging or paper trash to deal with.

Hmmm…I do wonder….can one still buy ice cream this way in the Philippines?

Related: Lola Jane’s Filipino food posts:

  • Burgers…and Bangus?  Why the bangus fish is often thought of as a Philippine national symbol
  • About ginamos & tuyo…and can you bring in your luggage when traveling to the US
  • About Sinangag, and how much I missed rice while in boot camp in the US Air Force
  • Use of Banana Leaves in Filipino food
  • The Ube, and why Filipinos love purple food!

Halo-Halo: Saveur’s Recipe Comix

Is Filipino food going mainstream, finally?  The March, 2012 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine featured a recipe for the quintessential Filipino national dish, the chicken adobo (also noted by Local Nomad).

And earlier this week, Saveur Magazine’s website featured this halo-halo cartoon recipe (as they note, proof that a recipe does not have to be just words on paper).

Halo-Halo translates to “mix-mix” and is a much-loved, icy, Filipino treat, perfect for the hot Philippine climate, especially in the mid-afternoon.  It is also delicious as a dessert.

The artist for this recipe comix is Toronto-based Michael Deforge.

Halo-Halo is available at Goldilocks and other Filipino restaurants in the Bay Area.

In the Monterey Bay, Lola’s Kusina — not THIS Lola — on 265 Reservation Rd, in Marina (831)384-2600 is a good place to get your halo-halo fix.  My grandsons enjoy their halo-halo topped with their ube (purple yam) ice cream.

For a step-by-step (from scratch) halo-halo recipe, please visit Jun Belen’s blog,  Jun Belen is a Philippine-born, San Francisco-based professional food and cookbook photographer.         I have been a fan since learning about Jun’s Saveur-nominated blog — a collection of his Filipino recipes with narratives, and his absolutely beautiful photographs.

And if you have a favorite Bay Area halo-halo spot, please comment and share.

Do you think one day, Filipino food will be as common — and as readily available — as Chinese or Thai food here in the U.S.?

International Women’s Day 2012

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. Some countries celebrate IWD as a national holiday, including China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria.

Here in the U.S., the month of March is designated as Women’s History Month.

To learn more about International Women’s Day — which celebrated its 100th year in 2011 — click here to visit the website,

Locally, the Monterey Bay Chapter of the United Nations Association is hosting an International Women’s Day potluck dinner on Friday, March 9th.  Details below and on the UNA Monterey Bay Chapter website.

Topic is “What would the world be like with more women leaders?”

Location: Unitarian Universalist Church of the Monterey Peninsula, 490 Aguajito Road, Carmel, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm

The speaker is Ms. Rebecca Costa – Author of “The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction”

Everyone is encouraged to bring an international dish to share, and to wear international or ethnic clothing.  Admission is free!

Click on here to join the BIG INEQUALITY DEBATE

Most of us have not heard of International Women’s Day….and may ask, is this really necessary?

Yes it is!

With the recent tirade by Rush Limbaugh (why are people listening to this VILE person?) after law student Sandra Fluke testified before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on contraception….with the violence and atrocities against women that we continue to hear about in war-torn areas of Africa…..and the inequities that women STILL endure in many parts of the world…yes, this attention is necessary.

And though it is now 2012, unfortunately, there is still much work and understanding needed to make women truly equal to men, in our modern world.

Filipino Foodie Event in San Franciso Saturday, January 21: Kulinarya 2012

If you are a foodie and live in the Bay Area — or just interested in learning more about Philippine cuisine — make plans to go to the 2nd Annual Kulinarya event this Saturday, January 21st in San Francisco.

Kulinarya is the Filipino term for “cuisine” or “culinary”.  The event will feature cooking competitions and food tastings from Philippine food companies, local Filipino restaurants, and gourmet food trucks.   Admission is free, and food sampling tickets will be available for sale on site or in advance (details on advance ticket purchase at the end of this post).

Part of the proceeds will benefit the Typhoon Sendong relief efforts.

The event will take place from 3:00 to 8:00 PM, at Carnelian by the Bay, One Ferry Plaza, behind the Ferry Building.

Schedule and more delicious details on the official website (and the place to get your food tickets in advance).

My favorite Philippine nut — the pili — is featured in a pili nut cook-off.  The pili nut is now among the country’s most important food product export.  If you have not had pili nuts — this is a good opportunity to sample this delicious nut, which tastes something like a cross between macadamia and almonds.

Best Stollen Ever (Monterey Bay…and beyond!)

Usually eaten during the Christmas season, Stollen is a German loaf shaped bread containing dried or candied fruit, nuts and spices.

If you want to eat the best Stollen in the Monterey Bay area (and beyond), check out Big Sur Bakery’s version.

Big Sur Bakery’s Stollen

Maybe it is the oak fired wood oven, or the magic that baker Michelle Rizzolo infuses along with the best ingredients available.

Even those who don’t think they like preserved fruits in their breads are converted.  It is truly one of the most delicious breads we have ever eaten!

Big Sur Bakery – 47540 California 1, Big Sur, CA  93920
Phone: 831.667.0520

Bakery opens daily at 8 am
Brunch: Sat & Sun 10:30 am to 2:30 pm
Lunch: Tue – Fri 11 am to 2:30 pm
Dinner: Tue – Sun 5:30 pm to close

You can also order on-line through the bakery’s website at  Their description below:

Stollen, the classic holiday bread dates back to the days of the Saxon Royal Court and is a German holiday tradition. At the Big Sur Bakery we bake our Stollen in our oak fired wood oven. Imagine the scent of the butter, nuts and rum combined with the distinct taste and unique flavor that only the Big Sur Bakery can offer.

Place your order online and we will do all the hard work to deliver your Stollen right to your front door. Order your Stollen and in a few short days you can enjoy the smell and taste of this classic holiday bread.

stollen big sur bakery

Best ever stollen! Photo via Big Sur Bakery Shop Pages (click on photo to link to their website)

If you want to make Big Sur Bakery’s stollen at home, here is a link to Michelle Rizzolo’s article about this German holiday treat on the — A Baked Bundle of Joy.  Excerpt:

Some say my passion for improving my recipe borders on obsession; I continue to add new candied fruits, grind all my own spices, and relentlessly re-tweak the process. I extend my already overbooked days, always believing that these loaves deserve it. Every holiday season, stollen is my gift to my friends and the patrons of Big Sur Bakery.

Recipe is from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook: A Year in the Life of a Restaurant, William Morrow An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2009)