It’s back! That sweat-inducing, dizzy spell-causing summer heat that has us all running for the water — or nearest air conditioned space — and seeking out any source of refreshment by way to ice-cold treats.
I have no doubt that we’ll all be enjoying our fair share of shave ice, cold smoothies, fro yo, Banan and what have you this season, but at the moment, I am all about Filipino desserts. After indulging in copious amounts of classic halo-halo with ube (purple yam) ice cream, I’m ready to branch out with a new flavor that is nothing short of bewildering to those who’ve never tried it. I’m talking about Maiz con Queso ice cream, translated from Spanish to mean “corn and cheese.”
That’s right, no typos here, I did say corn and cheese. This popular Filipino flavor combination stems from the Spanish presence in the Philippines, which lasted for 300 years and left an irreversible mark on the country’s cuisine. Though it may sound strange to first-timers, anyone familiar with the dessert instantly can recognize why it’s a hit: The cheese flavor actually blends into the creamy concoction, leaving a subtle hint of salty sharpness that does just the trick to accentuate the corn’s sweetness. Indeed, this is one case where opposites really do attract.
Still can’t picture it? I know the perfect way to try it. Corn and cheese ice cream is deliciously combined with another classic Filipino snack at some of our go-to Ono, You Know hot spots:
MAGNOLIA ICE CREAM & TREATS
In her hometown of Manila, Evangeline Quesada can still remember watching her elders freshly shave blocks of ice by hand to make cool-as-can-be maiz con hielo, a traditional Filipino sweet prepared with corn and ice. At the latest storefront location of her multi-faceted ice cream manufacturing business Magnolia Ice Cream & Treats, Quesada shares that tasty tradition and others with customers young and old, new and familiar.
“It’s nice to see the aunties and the grandparents who would like to share their childhood memories with their grandchildren who were born here,” says Quesada of some of her customer base from the Filipino community.
The sweet shop takes the traditional Maiz con Hielo ($4.99) dessert and turns it into a halo-halo masterpiece by adding corn and cheese ice cream and crispy Corn Flakes to a base of creamed corn, shave ice and sweetened milk. Seeing as halo-halo means “mix-mix,” patrons are encouraged to mix everything together to get the full experience. But first, bite into the uniquely wonderful corn and cheese ice cream on top to truly appreciate its flavor.
Since opening at Kapalama Shopping Center in May, Magnolia has been pleasing customers with an assortment of tropical ice creams — including Avocado, Thai Tea, Mango and Guava flavors — as well as plenty of frosty desserts, classic halo-halo and toppings. In addition to distributing its signature ice cream products, the company has a handful of food court locations, with more shops in the works.
Magnolia Ice Cream & Treats
Kapalama Shopping Center
1210 Dillingham Blvd., Kalihi
MAX’S OF MANILA
When hungry kamaaina are seeking authentic Filipino fare, they head to Max’s of Manila, where a bite of signature fried chicken and a culinary legacy that’s lasted 70 years never leave guests unsatisfied.
With restaurants around the world, Max’s offers two spots to enjoy its cuisine here in Hawaii: Waipahu Shopping Plaza, which has been in business for 10 years, and Costco Iwilei Complex off Dillingham Boulevard, which has been around for six.
When dining at Max’s, the dessert menu is not to be missed. From Leche Flan and Halo Halo, to Buko Pandan and Banana Lumpia, there are many temptations to save room for.
As general manager Maly San Luis explains, Max’s also puts its own spin on classic maiz con hielo. “The traditional drink, dessert and snack is normally known as maiz con hielo — pronounced ‘yelo’ — where it is served with just shave ice. The Max’s version is called Maiz con Quezo ($4.75) because we top the delicious drink off with quezo (cheese and corn) ice cream.”
This icy delight presents a simply scrumptious blend of sweet corn, shave ice and milk. The more the ice cream melts into the glass vessel, the more you can slurp it up like one big milkshake. And I love that this recipe is not overly sweet, so you can easily polish off the entire cup.
San Luis reminds readers that Max’s of Manila offers happy hour Monday through Friday from 2 to 5 p.m., featuring a Marienda menu with $5 snack specials such as chicken rice porridge and tofu with crispy pork belly. And during Dillingham’s happy hour only, drink specials also are available with domestic beer for $2.95, and imported beer, including San Miguel from the Philippines, for $3.95.
Max’s of Manila
801 Dillingham Blvd., Honolulu (and in Waipahu)