Friday, February 15, 2013

I remember Camembert!

I'm not really a food blogger. I eat in vast consumptions but I don't actually see myself a food critic. I guess it's because of the fact that I don't have a very adventurous palate. Each time there's a new restaurant in town, it would take a loooong time for me to try it out. I tend to stick to familiar flavors and places. I look for food that will speak to me and the taste to leave an unforgettable flavor in my mouth I have no choice but to have it again. It will have to be an epiphany, a learning experience that will shatter my food prejudices.

Well, just last week I had this experience when I was called to a meeting by Mrs. Chari Puentespina (yes, the lady behind the Waling-waling) for a project that I'm doing for the local cacao industry. She advised me to proceed to the Puentespina office in Agdao. I got there and instantly my eyes were glued to the cheese platter that was on the table. Four different cheeses with some garlicky brown bread and fruits awaited us. I knew those were the famous locally-produced Malagos Cheese made by Mrs. Puentespina's daughter-in-law Olive. Ma'am Chari invited us to eat and I didn't wait to be told twice! It was my lucky day!
There was the familiar Kesong Puti made from fresh goat's milk , their award-winning Feta, one hard cheese that's mildly salty (I got so busy eating I forgot to ask, my bad) and the one that inspired me to write this post because it was simply "délicieux" (French for delicious) - the Camembert slightly drizzled with fresh honey. I was sure what it was because of its round shape and powdery white rind (the "skin" of the cheese) and after hours of watching food shows. I asked Ma'am Chari if it was indeed Camembert and she said yes, adding that it was actually her favorite. That was my cue to wet my taste buds for a gastronomic experience one only gets to read in glossy food magazines.
Je t'aime Camembert! I was not able to take a photo because it was all gone when I realized I need to take a pic.                  (photo from
Camembert (kha-mem-beh) is a soft cheese made from fresh cow's milk that's been aged for at "least three weeks" (Wikipedia). It has a rich, buttery flavor and I can compare the creamy texture to that of a leche flan. It laguidly danced on my mouth, the mild flavor of the cheese perfectly blending with the sweetness of the honey. I tried not to make any embarassing "mmmmmm" sound while listening to Mrs. Puentespina, we were in a meeting for crying out loud! I quickly popped a grape after and was pleasantly surprised by the combination of flavor bursting in my palate. I was in cheese heaven!
Kesong Puti

Blue Pepato

Feta cheese
All three photos are from the Malagos Farmhouse website
I also sampled the other cheeses and found the Kesong Puti to be also yummy, too bad there was no hot pandesal. Now I'm no big fan of salty cheeses but the Feta is one of their more famous products (feta is commonly used in salads) which the Cheese Club of the Philippines named Cheese of the Month for September 2006. The taste of good quality milk definitely comes through and with each bite you can hardly believe they are made in Davao. Now I've had a few cheese-y encounters in the past courtesy of my Australian foodie boss in BEAM but the ones I had that afternoon tasted divine. It's definitely not commercialized or overly-processed that all you taste is salt. Obviously, it was made by an artist who understood her product and kept the integrity of ingredients used. In fact, Malagos Cheese are served in flight by Philippine Airlines to business class passengers and more upscale restos in Manila regularly place orders to include in their menu. I candidly told Ma'am Chari to excuse me for eating so much; she smiled approvingly and gave me time to enjoy the spread.

It was in 2004 that Olive Puentespina began making cheeses inspired by the fresh milk harvested from the farm animals her husband Doc Bo who is a VetMed, tends on the family's 12-hectare farm in Malagos, Davao City. Yes, they are the same family that  runs Malagos Garden Resort and Puentespina Orchids and Tropical Farms. Miss Olive attributes the quality of her cheeses to the milk used. Certainly it can't get any fresher than from farm straight to her kitchen! She perfected her cheese recipes and months after put it out on the market. Now, her gourmet artisan cheeses under the brand Malagos Cheese, are sold nationwide in different delis, restaurants, hotels and retail outlets. Aside from the four that I luckily tried, there are more varieties that you can purchase at their sales office in Bolcan Street (at the back of Assumption School), Agdao, Davao City. It won't cost you a fortune because some are sold at 150-250 gram packs.
Did I make your mouth water? To find out more about Malagos Cheese and the prices, you can visit their website at or email Miss Olive at You can also call them at 082-226-4446.

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