Sunday, September 05, 2010
Been A Long Time...
... and I should have written about Smileys Chocolate Covered Mint Cookies and all my Unimart finds and experiences since my family moved to Greenhills area and I officially stopped being QC Girl :( and became San Juan woman with all the baggage that comes with it (read: living in Ejercito territory where constituents are greeted during New Year's by a banner over at City Hall proclaiming greetings from, and I quote, "President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, First Lady Gia Ejercito, and Mayor JV Ejercito". Emphasis on First Lady. Snort.). Somehow, though, life has a way of taking you away from what's important (like food) by distracting you with such trivialities as work, family obligations, and research required for what used to be a for-fun-Ph.D. but is now the Holy Grail of my life as a beleaguered doctoral candidate. But I don't like to complain.
So instead I will just wax, albeit belatedly, about the glorious, cheap, finds and steals that trusty, crusty, old Unimart has been offering its equally crusty, old, Chinoy and Kastilaloy (my sister's term for Castilian Pinoys) merchant community.
1) Arbitrary Sales of imported chips, candies, and choccies. We've been doing grocery shopping at Unimart for almost two years now and have, on numerous occasions, enjoyed imported chips, candies, and chocolate at reduced prices. There seems to be no reason for these sales, perhaps other than that the products are nearing their best-before date. Although, the sales happen so arbitrarily and ostensibly without schedule that I sometimes doubt it's about inventory clearance. Anyway, it matters not why, only that I get to enjoy Cheetos Puffs, Cheetos Crunchy Jalapeno, Butter Fingers Crisps, and Kraft Caramel Candies, etc. at 20% off. Not bad for a grocery store that doesn't seem to have a budget for cleaning its grimy exterior and replacing the signage. Good thing I'm not finicky.
2) Democratic pricing. The price range for many products sold at Unimart is unbelievably wide, from lowest of the low end options to high end stuff. This is great for shopping within a specified budget. It also allows you to buy, on a regular basis, those products that would normally be relegated to your "for special occasions" buys. My favorite "chourmet" (that's my word for cheap gourmet) buys are EVOO and red wine vinegar (Capri brand is the cheapest so far and, frankly, not so bad, good for everyday cooking and my twice-a-week hair conditioning; followed by Dona Elena and Bertolli's) and pasta (Balducci is a good, cheap, brand; also, San Remo for its vegeroni). Clara Ole has cheap, but tasty, spaghetti sauces. I've tried 3 variants so far and they all work particularly the Italian Style and Three Cheese sauces. Del Monte also has a new Tomato Cream sauce that I've used for making a ham and cheese quesadilla. (Although, it's easy to make your own tomato cream sauce. Just combine your favorite marinara/tomato/spaghetti sauce and all purpose cream, et voila! Tomato cream.).
3) Swift Black Label Corned Beef. This is our new, cheaper, alternative to Purefoods Corned Beef since our original alternative, Argentina Gold Label, disappeared from Unimart's shelves. The Swift Black Label tastes just like the Argentina Gold and is cheaper than Purefoods by around 3-5 pesos I think (which translates to a lot if you buy 6-8 cans at a time).
4) Smileys Chocolate Covered Mint Cookies. I made this happy discovery at Unimart. At only around 31 pesos for a box of 8 cookies, it's a really tasty, economical, find. The strawberry option is not at all tasty like the mint one, so to me, it's not worth the price. Only the mint cookies are worth the price. I introduced my good friend, Lin, to Smileys and she and her boys are now even bigger fans. Prior to these cookies appearing on the shelves of other grocery stores, I used to buy her 2 boxes at a time for her Smileys fix.
5) Frozen meats and the deli section. You can find Santi's and other brands of cold cuts and sausages at Unimart's frozen meats section. My favorites are the lyoners, hungarian and garlic sausages, and pepperoni. I pair gourmet sausages with cheap CDO or King Sue brand bacon for my meat pasta. It's always good to pair ordinary with gourmet quality because if you go too cheap with your ingredients, your final product might taste just that, cheap.
6) Kastilaloy before you at the counter. This is neither a find nor a steal. Rather, it's a quirk of the Unimart shopping experience, an immensely enjoyable quirk. My sister and I, one time, were behind this big-boned, Castilian grandma. We knew she was Castilian not because she had the aquiline nose and high brow, but because she was speaking in a mix of Spanish and Castilian-accented English and, hilariously, paying with a check with the amounts written in Spanish. So instead of writing on her check "18,000.00 pesos" or "Eighteen Thousand only" (she bought a lot of stuff; I think I saw 1 gallon bottles of some kind of liquor), she wrote "18.000,00" (because as we know, the Spanish write their numbers with the dot and comma interchanged) and "Dieciocho Mil".
Only in Unimart. This would never have happened in Shopwise.