I’ve bought Theo & Philo artisan chocolates three times in the last month alone.  My family and I end up enjoying it before I even think of taking photographs.  The Green Mango & Salt bar above is the remaining bar in my stash.  It’s my favorite flavor:  unique and very Filipino in taste.  The pretty packaging proclaims: “By the Philippines, For the Philippines, Of the Philippines.”  What’s not to like?

I found out about Theo & Philo from my friend and neighbor Karlo, via Google+.  He recommended I get it from Echo Store in Podium, which sells sustainable, eco-friendly, proudly-Filipino products.  Now I am a sucker for quality local products – I comb trade fairs for products like this.  The website says the cacao is from Davao and the sugar, from Bacolod.  I just HAD to try it.

On my first purchase, I chose Dark Chocolate and Labuyo (chili) flavors.  The Dark Chocolate was of very high quality.  It had depth, and a delicious, bittersweet flavor.  The following day we tried the Labuyo.  It was Dark Chocolate with an appealing, spicy end note which everyone (with the exception of my 6yo niece) enjoyed.  Apparently it’s one of the bestsellers in the Theo & Philo lineup of flavors.  On my second purchase a week later, I got Milk Chocolate and Green Mango & Salt.  I’m not a very big fan of generic milk chocolates per se, but was glad that this version had a high cacao content and wasn’t very sweet.  The Green Mango & Salt was a happy surprise.  There were dried bits of green mango interspersed with occasional rock salt crystals in a Dark Chocolate matrix.  I loved the contrast in flavors and textures!  On my third purchase a couple of weeks later, I bought TWO Green Mango & Salt bars, and one flavored with Barako coffee.  Embedded in the Dark Chocolate were crushed bits of roasted Barako (Liberica) coffee beans.  Crunchy-gritty, with the full flavor of coffee.  Another winner!

They make wonderful gifts, don’t they?  Christmas is coming and I’m already thinking of who to give them to.  I’ve posted about them on Facebook and by now a number of my friends have tried them too.  I’ve already given some balikbayan friends a selection of flavors.  In fact, I’m looking for Calamansi and Ginger for my next purchase.  Echo Store doesn’t always carry all the flavors (it depends on the delivery, and of course some flavors are more popular than others), but you will be able to find them in these stores.  Each bar is PhP 95, and so worth it.

I’m so happy with such a quality product – it’s definitely worth our support.


I’m not affiliated with Echo Store, but am a regular customer.


Previous: Every Exhibit Has A Story

After the Ayala Museum, we all proceeded to Max Brenner in Greenbelt 3 for pastry and some special hot chocolate. How special? Roland and Ma’am Odette had the Venezuela Dark, I had the Trinidad White, while Ricky and Ma’am Letty had this utterly luxurious and exotic Ecuador chocolate with orchid oil. Almond selected a restorative peppermint tea.

They have this white porcelain earless cup with a pointed lip from which you are encouraged to sip. All the chocolate drinks had these tiny globules of yummy fat floating on top like you’d see in chocolate eh. Ricky let me taste some of the Ecuador, which struck me as only faintly sweet upon first touching the tongue. The sweetness developed in the middle of your mouth, and later I detected the faint perfume of orchid oil (vanilla, identifies the Max Brenner website) which had a long finish in the back of the tongue. Not to everyone’s taste, but definitely to mine! (Note to self: order it next time.) My Trinidad White was yummy, but a bit too rich for me. It brought back all childhood Christmases past,with its dairy velvety-ness and buttery richness laving all over my tongue. I guess the best way to enjoy it would be to take a long sip, let it fill the mouth and senses, before swallowing slowly. And in between, sips of lifesaving water.

We also shared a fancy brownie. I have no idea what it was called since we promptly pounced on it, and in true Pinoy fashion, ping-ponged the last bite around the plate.

The first time I went to Max Brenner it was with the Justice League (the everyday heroines in my barkada) for the newly engaged Tim’s birthday two years ago. We’d had dinner somewhere else and decided to have dessert. Almond very cleverly arranged a surprise entry by Tim’s then-fiancee Eric, home early for Christmas via Hong Kong red-eye. We had a chocolate fondue, which I enjoyed but was not much impressed by. I think I was too busy laughing at Tim’s expression of incredulous joy when she saw Eric.

My estimation of the place has risen since then, after this visit. In my opinion this quality of hot chocolate shouldn’t be downed like it were Swiss Miss and you were in pajamas. First of all, it’s pricey (one could have a full meal for the price of one cup of gourmet hot choco), but I think what we’d ordered was well worth it. I’d been avoiding Max Brenner when it first opened precisely because I feared it would be the sort of place pretentious people like to casually brag about having been to (read: I can afford high-end chocolate! Also read: Been there, done that, now let’s haul my fashionable deconstructed jeans-clad ass off to the next hot new happening place!).

Now that the fashion panic has abated and the place has established itself, it’s actually attracting people in search of chocolate adventure. I think if I’m flush with a little cash and in need of some chocolate therapy, or just planning to celebrate with TDM, it’s a great place to go to. Once in a while.