Text & images by Monette Bichsel, Switzerland
Multiple chatters in Tagalog, punctuated with high-pitched laughter, bounced off the high-vaulted ceiling that gives Zum Äusseren Stand its distinct regal air. The smell of grilled adobo wafted through the courtyard walls, signaling that my friend, tita Susan, and I had finally arrived at the Philippine venue at the 2021 Fernweh Festival in Bern. With the cooperation of Filipino owned businesses in Switzerland, the Philippine Embassy Bern delivered its promise of transporting visitors to the Philippines by awakening all five senses. I was drawn, particularly, to taste and smell as one is drawn to halo-halo on a hot, summer day.
The warmest welcome only Pinoys could give greeted me at every booth, followed by a sampler of taste from home.
PhilMango’s carabao mangoes from Davao lived up to its reputation as one of the world’s sweetest. The Pinoy ambrosia was shared by the proprietor, Maria Kristina Stalder, the youngest Swiss-Filipina importer. Not only that, it seemed that majority of the participants in the festival who use mango in their dishes source their ingredient from the newly established brand. (https://www.facebook.com/philmangoph)
Deinalpkaese, an offshoot of Mondalp by siblings Lloyd and Aileen Zumstein, offered a taste of their Cheesus line of products. It is the first alpine cheese produced in mobile cheese dairy that aims to save milk that is otherwise thrown out because of accessibility and transport challenges. A special sort using mangoes from PhilMango was created specifically for the Fernweh Festival. (https://www.deinalpkaese.ch/)
Sagana’s Cattleya Romero-Faude’s warmth is as comforting as the spoonful of yogurt, mango and her signature coconut sweetener sampler. Apart from her original products (https://issuu.com/rawmags/docs/rw_-_2020_10), Cattleya debuted Mount Mayon® Premium Pili Nuts in three flavors – Himalayan Pink Salt, Ecuadorian Cacao and Kyoto Matcha. The sliver of pili nut was as soft as butter, so much so that I had to bring home four packs to share with my husband. ( http://www.sagana.org/)
Terroir (PHL) Coffee debuts at the Fernweh Festival, exclusively distributed in Switzerland by Blaser Café AG. In essence, “terroir” is the taste of a place and reflects the reverence of the land from which the product is harvested. In this case, this kapeng barako draws its flavor from the soil of Alfonso, Cavite, enriched by the nearby Taal volcano. (https://www.blasercafe.ch/en/blog/terroir-coffee)
Pinoy Pride Hotdog by Chef Dennis Lunar, which is available in regular and cheese flavors, is, perhaps, the greatest antidote for homesickness. Every child who grew up in the Philippines have had hotdogs either for breakfast or lunch, or both. Although made in Switzerland, Chef Denn went through great lengths to copy the distinct red and tender hotdogs from the Philippines using all-Swiss ingredients. (https://www.facebook.com/Pinoy-Pride-Hotdog-111189461014694)
Weingärtli’s Erlita Terte recalled her two years learning the delicate craft of producing wine, followed by three years of mixing and matching flavors in order to create “The Ambassador,” a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Bronner. The result is a bubbly pink concoction that is best enjoyed as is or paired with Apero classics. (https://www.xn--weingrtli-z2a.ch/)
Ria’s Best Catering and Party Service brought the Christmas air early at the festival, serving various Filipino sweets such as bibingka, suman and puto bumbong. Turon with lanka and pinoy flavored ice cream were also available for the taking, best washed down with sago and gulaman or buko juice. (http://www.rias-best.com/) Grilled adobo in skewers, my all-time-favorite, arroz caldo, lumpiang gulay and pork chicharon completed the roundup of Filipino flavors at the festival.
Finally, to wash down everything I ate, I took a digestive shot at the Philippine Craft Spirits by Destileria Limtuaco & Co. Inc., the oldest distillery in the Philippines. Brothers Aaron and Clifford, the 6th generation of the family, are on a two-week tour of Europe, introducing various spirits that highlight distinctly Filipino flavors such as mango, kapeng barako, cacao, calamansi and dalandan. (https://www.limtuaco.com/craftspirits.html)