As a fan of those crazy penguins, I went bonkers like them in that Penguins of Madagascar episode Lost Treasure of the Golden Squirrel that time I learned we were going to USS. That’s Universal Studios Singapore and not the ship in the first Madagascar movie. That would be S. S. Act II. Anyways, I was determined to get pictures of and with the Penguins of Madagascar mascots and some penguins merchandise. Having confirmed from a leaflet that the mascots only make limited appearances, we planned our day on when the Madagascar characters will be performing their dance routine. That caper to get pics and vids went pretty well.
Next stop then was the Penguins Mercantile, the souvenir shop at USS devoted to Madagascar merchandise. Penguins of Madagascar-themed items included kiddie outfits, mugs (no tin mug with fish sticking out that Skipper uses), pins, drinking straws, keychains, picture frames and ref magnets. The limited design options were what held me back from parting away with my cash. I could recall only two (and I have a fairly good memory), one wherein the penguins were balancing on top of each other and the other being the design on the mug and keychain in the photo above. On hindsight, I should have gotten something else other than the mug since I could very well have my preferred picture of the penguins printed on a mug at our local mall. But I’m happy with the keychain and pin since it would be hard to reproduce those or find similar items should the local character shops start rolling out Penguins of Madagascar merchandise now that the movie is out.
The 10 inch tall Rico stuffed toy / plushie, who obviously couldn’t be fitted into a manila envelope, is from a store in a mall in Manila. Check out the mohawk and scar! He’s a steal at just P150 (around $4).Yes. I have a Rico doll, I mean, stuffed toy / plushie. That does not make me Miss Perky. I think I’m more Zookeeper Alice with a Feral!Marlene side. Rico stuffed toy ain’t from USS. When we were there, save for Skipper plushies and pillows in the shape of Skipper’s and Private’s head, most of the penguin stuffed toys / plushies at USS gift shops looked suspiciously like Happy Feet characters and ordinary penguins. But Rico is my fave penguin.
Obviously I will be hitting the local theater this coming weekend for the Penguins of Madagascar movie and scoping out the character shops afterwards. I hope the local McDonald’s follows the US and starts offering movie tie-in Happy Meals. And Nickelodeon Asia gets its act together and shows the whole season three. And Dreamworks comes up with season four. Will settle with one of four for now.
My sister’s friend has recently been to Baguio, considered the Philippines’ summer capital because the temperature there remains bearable during summer, and has brought home a couple of food pasalubongs for us to enjoy.
My favorite among the bunch happens to be the strawberry jam, well, strawberry preserves. The sugar drowns out whatever strawberry flavor there is in the syrup but the whole pieces of the strawberries make up for that. I’d have it with bread or hotcakes but sometimes I would sneak a spoon to the bottle and savor just the sweet fruit. We don’t get enough strawberries here in Bulacan, not as much as mangoes and other fruits anyway. The few that tend to end up in the market are quite costly, fruit and jam alike. Although during the cold months of January and February, strawberries from Baguio do tend to trickle down where we are.
One could get different kinds of peanut brittle in Baguio. Some with whole nuts, some chopped. Some with butter, others just the brown sugar. They come in discs wrapped in plastic or lodged in plastic containers. I prefer the buttery ones with chopped nuts. Primarily because we can easily get the disc-shaped ones that only have brown sugar and whole peanuts from the market.
Now this is a new one for me: ube flavored lengua de gato. I am an absolute fan of plain lengua de gato (See? my love for cats even extends to food. ) that it’s one of the food items I would purchase when I was in grade/high school even if just a small packet would eat up my allowance for the day. I love how it would melt in my mouth and leave behind sweet buttery goodness. Since Baguio is also known for its ube (purple yam) jams and halaya, it’s not surprising they now have ube flavored lengua de gato. Sadly the one we received was not melt-in-your-mouth nor buttery enough for me. The ube taste is there, if just a smidgen.
If you’re planning to get food pasalubongs from Baguio, make sure to check your purchases carefully. Once, we ourselves, were able to purchase a bottle of strawberry preserves with no pieces of strawberries in them. Just strawberry seeds and syrup. Another time, the container we got only had peanut brittle on the sides and bottom. It was hollow. No peanut brittle in the center. The sad part is that there’s no manufacturer’s name and contact details on the labels. Sometimes there’s no list of ingredients used in the products nor expiration date on the label as well. Attention DTI Baguio!
In my part of the world, a lot of us are not averse to eating cooked pig blood. I know there are a lot of people who like betamax or grilled pork blood squares. Myself excluded though. Find them not to my liking as they’re bland on their own. The taste is dependent on the sawsawan or dipping sauce. Now dinuguan is something I would not hesitate to eat often.
Dinuguan or pork blood stew is mainly pig blood, pork and/or offal, vinegar, garlic and finger chili. I prefer ones with pig’s intestines and added coconut cream. Yum. My dad used to make dinuguan right until my mom’s co-teacher who delivered fresh pork to us retired. Mom would tell her if dad will be making dinuguan and she would throw in pig blood for free. My parents are wary of using pig blood obtained from the market least it’s not fresh.
Since then we’ve been dependent on fastfood stores, restos and trusted eateries for our dinuguan fix. Two of those fastfood chains would be Mang Inasal and Goldilocks. Because how food tastes sometimes vary from store to store, I will be talking about the dinuguan served at Mang Inasal EDSA Taft and Goldilocks SM Marilao which I’ve had recently. Mang Inasal’s dinuguan does not have offal, only bite-size pieces of lean pork and not much fat parts. This may be the reason why it’s not oily. There’s a good amount of gravy – smooth and thick even if there’s no coconut cream. It does not have a fishy taste – hindi malangsa. For me, it has the right amount of vinegar. Other people might think it’s a bit sour – sister does. It’s not spicy since the chili is not mixed into the stew. Goldilocks’ also has no offal but has more fat parts than Mang Inasal. I think this is why its gravy is much oilier. The gravy, though slightly thinner than Mang Inasal’s, has chunky parts. It also does not have a fishy taste and is not as sour as Mang Inasal’s. Like Mang Inasal’s, the chili is not chopped into the stew.
Between Mang Inasal and Goldilocks I am picking the former since I don’t like pork fat and I want plenty of gravy to drizzle unto my rice. I like that both fastfood stores have the green finger chili sitting on top of their dinuguan. This allows the customer to decide just how spicy he/she wants his/her stew to be. Mash it well for fiery hell or prick with your fork for a wee bit of a kick.
So how’s about serving dinuguan on Halloween for dinner or for your party? There are a lot of dinuguan recipes on the net or you could just get some from stores. Remember to check your teeth after eating except if that’s really your goal, blackened teeth to compliment your Halloween costume.