Don’t Leave Batangas Without These Pasalubong

Batangas goes beyond barako.

IMAGE Jasper Castro

Batangas might just be a short ride away from the city, but everything about it looks, feels, tastes worlds away. The air is cooler, the bulalo is better, and there's so much nature to see. Whether it's a day trip, a weekend, or a long vacation, Batangas is an easy, quick, and affordable option.

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Aug 24, 2015

You might, however, be forgetting to bring home the best Batangas has to offer.

Batangas, surrounded by beaches and fertile land, is home to some premium local ingredients you shouldn't miss out on. These are the food finds you shouldn't just buy as a souvenir, but stock-up on for your kitchen. Here's a list accessible food finds if you're in the Lipa area.

Lorna del Rio proudly holds a 20-year old bottle of their honey.
Photo by Jasper Castro

First things first, don't leave Batangas without visiting this honey bee farm!

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At Golden Clover Honey Bee Farm, you won't just get access to fresh honey, you'll also get a crash course on what makes good honey. You get to see honey harvested before your eyes, assuring you that this stuff is real and fresh! Nothing less can be expected because this farm is at the heart of Batangas' bee capital, Balete.

Husband and wife team Edgardo and Lorna del Rio have been harvesting and selling their delicious honey for 20 years now. They even have proof: one bottle of honey from their first batch, sealed, and complete with the original, vintage label. Unlike the lightly coloured translucent honey, this unintentionally "aged" honey has turned a deep amber color much like what you see at grocery stores. Unlike your typical grocery store "honey", however, time has done this honey no wrong. The honey remains as one homogenous liquid, a sign that it has absolutely no additives.

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The shop is located right beside the farm!
Photo by Courtesy of Golden Clover Honey Bee Farm

1 Fresh Honey

Golden Clover's authentic honey isn't widely available in the metro so you need to take this chance. You can buy their fresh honey at several different sizes. Their prices range from the largest 1-lliter bottle at P900 to the smallest 150-ml bottle at P150.

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You won't believe how good this is.
Photo by Jasper Castro

2 Fresh Honeycomb

That's not the only amazing find at this shop, though. If you call in ahead, you can also buy their fresh honeycomb for P550/kg. Only sold when it's freshly harvested, you really need to call ahead if you want to buy this delicious treat. When you step into their shop and they give you a tour, they will let you sample the fresh honeycomb, too.

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Fresh honeycomb is a treat like no other. The all-natural honey structure made of edible beeswax softly crumbles and melts at the warm temperature of your mouth, releasing capsules of sweet, as-fresh-as-you-can-get, deeply flavoured honey.

If you buy honeycomb, make sure to store it in an airtight container, at room temperature. It's not advisable to refrigerate. Don't worry! One of the benefits of real, pure honey is that it doesn't go bad and it's not supposed to attract a hoard of ants. A stray ant or two may find its way, but that's easily manageable.

Change up your vinegar.
Photo by Courtesy of Golden Clover Honey Bee Farm

3 Honey Cider Vinegar

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Every 30-35 days, they harvest around 3 kilos of honey. Part of that harvest is then fermented for 3-4 months to churn out another amazing ingredient: honey cider vinegar. It's a deliciously tart vinegar that retains a depth of flavor, including a touch of sweetness. We recommend it as a dipping sauce, used as the acidic component for desserts, or for your vinaigrettes.

You can also buy the honey cider vinegar in different sizes: from the biggest 1-liter bottle at P250, to the smallest 250-ml bottle at P65.

Golden Clover Honey Bee Farm is located at 424 Bulacnin, Lipa City, Batangas. You may contact them at (0927) 542-0541 or visit their Facebook page.

Make sure to visit their local markets!

At the local markets, you can easily find the rest of our best finds. You can find many of these open-air markets by the roadside or along main roads so you can easily pass by them when you're on your way back home.

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The best use of bagoong balayan? Pinakbet!
Photo by Riell Santos

4 Bagoong Balayan

Because Batangas is surrounded by lots of bodies of water, they're able to farm a lot of anchovies. The freshness of the harvest of anchovies is what gives Bagoong Balayan its edge. Unlike your typical bagoong, this version is almost like patis, because of how smooth it is.

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Chef Paul Poblador of Plum, particularly recommends this as the Batangas ingredient you must absolutely have. He says, "the saltiness was on point; and there was a hint of pungent sweetness as well."

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Apr 9, 2015

This merienda is perfect for sharing.
Photo by Jasper Castro

5 Sumang Magkayakap

Two pieces of scrumptious suman are wrapped in an embrace, hence the name, "sumang magkayakap." They're an earthy, sticky, semi-sweet, sticky rice kakanin that comes with toasted desiccated coconut and a thick, rich coco sugar sauce.

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Get them in the morning because there's a reason they run out fast.

Tanauan City actually holds a Sumang Magkayap Festival every March 10. Suman recipes compete at this festival and the winner's gained reputation lets them distribute their suman everywhere in Batangas. Hence, when you're buying sumang magkayakap from a distributor, it's most likely, literally, a winner.

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Then, of course, don't forget the breakfast classics we all know about!

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We love ourselves some tsokolate for breakfast.

6 Tablea

Tablea isn't just chocolate. It makes for the perfect chocolate drink, or a rich champorado for several reasons. Tablea is not refined chocolate-meaning it's processed much less. The roasted ground cocoa seeds are also usually mixed with nuts that help amplify that full-bodied, chocolate flavor.

If you want the full tsokolate experience, we recommend you also buy a batidor. It's a a wooden beater that is twirled in the chocolate mixture to aerate and thicken the chocolate.

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The hallmark of good coffee is that it doesn't need to be dressed up. Barako is good as is.
Photo by Pexels

7 Barako Coffee

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It would be a mortal sin to leave out barako from your trip to Batangas. Strong, flavorful, and delicious-it's best as is or with a little sugar. Buy the whole beans and you can store it for a long time in an airtight container.

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Eat like a Batangueño!

Whether it's tsokolate or barako, Batangueños love pouring their hot, bittersweet drink into their white rice. It gives the perfect flavor to contrast with salty dishes like tuyo or tapa, or it balances out the flavor bomb that is longganisa. It's also a great hack when it comes to quickly giving moisture and heat back to rice that's not freshly cooked.

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