January 13, 2007

Excelente brand ham

Still having a holiday hangover and thinking about one of our favorite Christmas and New Year treats in the Philippines, Excelente brand ham. We usually do an annual trek to Quaipo, one of the busiest places in Manila during the holidays for this special Chinese-style ham. ( Quiapo is also famous for a big annual religious event which happens on the 9th of January, the feastday of the Nazareno, a miraculous image of Christ carrying the cross. ) At the popular Excelente store, hams are available whole, bone-in or boneless or sliced. We like to buy it already sliced by the kilo. There's an option if you prefer it with or without syrup when they weigh it. It's obviously more expensive without the syrup then you get extra syrup in a bag to go. This can be poured on the ham when it's reheated and served later. The extra syrup is my favorite. I usually prefer the ham pan-fried a little bit with the special syrup. Before my aunt migrated to the US with her family, she always went to Quiapo with her friend and would just buy the ham for us. It was important to be in front of the store early morning when it opens since there's always a long line especially during the holidays. Too bad the cost of the ham goes up every year, but it's not that easy to give up the tradition. Best on Christmas morning with hot coffee, warm pan de sal and queso de bola ( aged gouda ), this ham has been a part of our many memorable holiday food traditions and celebrations. I'm looking forward to it on our next visit to the Philippines!

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