OBRERO, Davao City is by itself a labyrinth of some sort. Perhaps the people who are familiar with the nooks and crannies of the place are the University of Southeastern Philippines students, local residents, and the sikad drivers.
And so when looking for a specific house or establishment in Obrero, sikad drivers are of great help. They know the corners of the streets like the back of their hands. We were looking for Alzate Manor Inn as we were told that a local gourmet ice cream brand manufactures their ice cream in a house fronting the inn.
Incidentally, we were also told by the driver that the area is actually a watering hole for students and young adults who pass the time with a bottle of beer or two. But in Alzate St., it was a different kind of thirst we were trying to quench.
Maura Shore Creamery is a young family business which started just end of January 2019. It was started by the youngest in the family, Palanca Awards for Literature awardee Joshua Lim So having the knack and innate interest for cooking. He used to manage a restaurant with friends from De La Salle University in Manila. And when they had to close, Joshua decided to bring with him back to Davao the ice cream recipes he had developed and which their customers learned to love.
He brought with him recipes for Brown Butter Pecan, Milk & Cookies, Revel Bar, Fudge & Cashews in Banana, Earl Grey with Pound Cake, and Vanilla Bean.
In an afternoon chat with his mother Lucy So and his sister Jocy So-Yeung, we learned that Joshua makes sure that ingredients are high quality -- using actual vanilla bean and not extract, using imported pecans. When he stayed home for six months in 2018, he immediately started with a lot of experiments. He shared the recipe to his brother John and two other staff.
When you get to taste their ice cream, any flavor, it is easy to notice the finess and the creaminess and how much thought was put to every flavor. The milk & cookies, for example, achieved the taste of milk when you dunk cookies on it. It has since became children’s favorite.
Earl Grey with Pound Cake is a niche favorite. Not everyone loves it but for people who do, they really really are into it. Perhaps that’s what happens when you go out of the comfort zone, when you go out of the usual.
Lucy shared that their ice creams stay true to their passion of being a premium, gourmet ice cream by putting no extenders, no water, and no preservatives. For flavors with ingredients that can be locally-sourced such as bananas, they get from the region or surrounding places.
The fun doesn’t stop there as Joshua, in those six months, continue with the experimentation.
“He used to experiment with apple and yoghurt. There was a melon-flavored ice cream. We give feedback. There were a lot of experiments. He had a laptop in the kitchen to jot down notes as he goes,” Jocy shared.
Out of these series of experiments came the 7th and the 8th flavors: Mango Float, and Milk Tea with Cheese Foam -- both of which are family and friends’ suggestions.
As Joshua went back to Manila to continue with his writing career (he now writes for a television series), his family in Davao City are totally hands-on with the business. They are seen in food bazaars and on Facebook.
Just recently, they released two new flavors: Coldbrew Coffee and the Chocolate-flavored Cookie Dough. The Coldbrew Coffee is not kidding when it says it’s coffee-flavored. It kicks and plays with your palate, just how a good cup of coffee should.
Ice cream in Davao City is a growing and yet a very humble food industry. People remember Roger Ice Cream, ‘dirty’ Filipino ice cream several generations ago in Ponciano St. But many Dabawenyos when asked of their childhood ice cream experience point out to Merco which was known to offer ice cream and sundaes where family used to frequent after Sunday Mass. It was in the 70s to 90s.
Davao Ice Cream House in Claveria St., from 1987 to the mid-1990s was also another culprit.
Maura Shore Creamery is still a blossoming busines but as early as now they are beginning to tickle the palate of Dabawenyos and let them have a taste of what a gourmet ice cream really is amid this maze-like growing food industry.