Flashback 42 years ago: my mother woke us from deep slumber at about 4:00 in the morning. Tried as we might to protest, she prevailed and we clumsily got out of bed to dress up. Literally dumping us inside the car, by 5:00 am we were on our way to Lemery, Batangas—where a favorite Lola was waiting for us.
Lola Beray is my Mom’s aunt. A beautiful woman, of curly hair and ready wide smile, she greeted us with a whoop when we arrived at about 7:00. This Lola, I will never forget. Because she did not kiss, she inhaled us! She cupped my face then her nostrils traveled from one cheek to the other cheek, from my forehead to my nose bridge and back to my cheek. If I can only fit it her nose—I would’ve been lodged there, for sure. (And I realized when I had my kids—I would do the same to them.)
Lola Beray would lead us immediately to the dining area at the second floor of her century-old home. There you will see a long table that could fit about 16 people. Laden with breakfast goodies of sliced cheese, eggs sunny side-up, ham, pandesal , embutido and tsokolate eh. Never mind that we were kids, our tsokolate eh was served in demitasse cups, with designs of rose buds and gilded with gold.
You get jolted out of your sleepiness with the smell of crispy pandesal and steaming embutido , and my mouth still wooly from sleep; welcomed the hot, thick chocolate in my mouth. It was always this way, when we would go visit Lola Beray every summer.
I honestly think that this particular food memory of mine is the reason why my love for Tsokolate eh is enduring. I buy and try tablea eager to know the difference from province to province. In my pantry, I have at least 3 kinds—from Davao (my absolute favorite), from Lipa (my ever reliable), from Chinatown (yup-my other staple!). I have tried tableas from Bukidon, and a batirol mix of tsokolate and peanuts from Bulacan. Media noche—our new year’s eve tradition is never, ever complete without Tsokolate Eh, served with grilled ensaymada, slices of quezo de bola and bone-in ham.
I also have a collection of demitasse cups which I use during our Sunday brunches, along with pan de sal and kesong puti.
- 6-8 small tablea about the diameter of a 5 peso coin (or 4-5 medium size), unsweetened
- 1-1 1/4 of water
- Sugar to taste
- Side serving of milk or condensed milk
Over low heat, melt the tablea in water. When it softens, break it up and briskly mix with wire whisk. Serve hot.
KKK tip: You definitely can make this using a regular sauce pot and whisk. But for authenticity get yourself a tsokolatera and batidor. It completes the experience
© 2012, Kitchen Kitchie Koo. All rights reserved.