Yesterday I woke up to the sound of rain and wind hitting the trees that stood outside my bedroom window. Sometime in the night I turned down the electric fan and covered myself with a blanket for the first time in weeks. This is what I love most about the monsoon season: waking up to a cool morning, clouds over the sky, and that sound of rain. Plus, it was a Sunday so it’s one of the mornings where I get to stay in bed later than I do during the weekdays.
And as I made my way to the ground floor, the un-mistakable aroma of chocolate wafted through my nose. I knew that breakfast would be a delight. My anticipation was such that immediately after my short morning ritual, I went straight to the kitchen, to the pot atop the stove and ladled a bowl-full of champorado for myself. On the dining table, milk awaited, along with with some still-warm pan de sal, scrambled eggs and spanish sardines. In our family, we do not pair champorado with dried salted fish. Instead, we eat it with spanish sardines wrapped in warm pan de sal.
My mother does not use powdered cocoa for champorado. She used to–at least, until she discovered tablea. It makes for a richer champorado, in terms of flavor and texture. Cocoa grows in many provinces in the Philippines and therefore it’s easy to conclude that each province/ region has its own way of processing cocoa into tablea. My aunt in Bulacan likes to make her own, from cocoa trees in their sizable backyard farm.
In my travels I have bought home tablea from many provinces. But the one I like most comes from Iloilo. I have a friend who hails from Iloilo and whenever she travels to her home province, she knows that the only pasalubong I want is a roll of tablea. The tablea from Iloilo looks dry but when cooked, it imparts quite a strong chocolate flavor that belies it somewhat pale color. It doesn’t blend as smoothly but I love it that there are some bits of cocoa in my champorado. Its rich taste reminds me of dark chocolate.
In terms of color, I find that the tablea from Batangas (my second favorite) has the richest color. The brown is so deep it is borders on black. I also like that some tablea from Batangas are shaped into balls instead of disks (like the ones from Good Shepherd). When turned into champorado, the chocolate flavor carries some notes of mocha.
My third favorite is the tablea from Cotabato, though I rarely get them these days. The ones from Kablon Farms are the best for me. The chocolate flavor is rich enough but not overpowering. It also blends smoothly in the champorado.
I was so into eating and enjoying my bowl of champorado that I failed to take any photo. Champorado, 1; Food Pornographer, 0.