Just like any typical tourist who would want information on recommended places or restaurants when they visit a specific town, I would always rely in getting these valuable information on where to go and eat from my Kapampangan friends. I am sure you ( like me ) would want to have an idea on which food store to visit for pasalubongs.
One of the famous kakanin stores I would hear from my friends was SUSIE'S CUISINE. Lulu, my friend, would enumerate all her favorite kakanins at Susie's, I wanted to try out the kakanins myself and choose which ones I liked best. Since I was in Pampanga for a culinary food tour and Susie's was one of our stops--- I could not wait to get there. I wanted to check out Susie's Cuisine ( known to be the best in Pampango kakanins ) to get of my own picks of some of the favorite kakanins of the Kapampangans cooked the Susie's Cuisine way.
Here are some of the Kakanins she suggested that I buy:
WOW MANI - My friend, Lulu, another Kapampangan, swears by this and buys these greaseless garlic peanuts every time she is in Manila to bring back as " pasalubongs " for her fellow Kapampangan friends in the States. There are 3 kinds of this WOW MANI... they have WOW KASOY and WOW BAWANG... But according to Marie, there are other brand that were also as good... ALLIE's and EDLEYN'S for their greaseless garlic peanuts. You must try these brands of greaseless garlic peanuts when you visit Pampanga.
Another " MUST TRY " is their .... PICHI PICHI... it is really good!! Try to buy them early in the morning. It is so good!!!
MOCHI or MOCHE ( as in Kapampangan )... This is served with coconut milk. This is another best seller in Susie's cuisine. It is mouth-watering and a must try.
One suggestion is that you must know what you want to buy when you go to Susie's Cuisine. There is always a long line of customers at the eatery and if you are on a culinary food tour --- you might not have enough time to get your kakanins. I would also recommend the ube halaya topped with latik, spicy dilis, pastillas de leche which is made from gatas damulag or carabao's milk, leche flan, white puto with salted duck egg as toppings and chicharon - which is made of deep fried salted pork rind.
On our way home to Manila... we had another stop at another famous kakanin store in Pampanga... NATHANIEL'S. It is famous for its Buko Pandan -- a creamy dessert made from a mix of pandan jelly, buko shreds, carabao milk and ice shavings.
Here are some of my recommendations:
Try their Batirul - it is a warm chocolate drink made from cacao bean paste, nut paste and fresh carabao's milk which originated from the Spanish word batidor --- a wooden kitchen utensil used to froth drinks. This batirul is very good with their suman.
They also sell their version of puto pao which is made of soft bread with siopao filling ( usually asado mixture ) topped with rich ebun buro or salted eggs.... It is highly recommended.
Cassava cake ( look for the one with macapuno filling ) and Sansrival -- another MUST TRY!!
Embotido - This is highly recommended.. It is the best embotido I have tasted so far.
Another MUST STOP and TRY is at the CALTEX station right on the NLEX ( that is the first stop after you exit the San Fernando towards Manila).... RAZON'S for their Halo halo and that is the only Razon outlet that sells BALUT... Just outside Razon's you will see a vendor selling Zambales mangoes ( the sweetest mangoes found in Luzon ).
I am definitely coming back to Susie's Cuisine and Nathaniel's. Now I know why Lulu loves their Kapampangan kakanins!!
MANGAN TAMU QENG PAMPANGA!