204 - Hello Halo Halo!
By Mary Luz Mejia
My Filipino friends tell me that they enjoy comforting home-cooked food the most even when offerings from all over the world abound in the GTA. When they can’t get their favourite dishes at Mom or Grandma’s place, they head to a cozy little nook like Halo Halo World Café in Mississauga. Marci Blando-Peters, the warm-hearted owner of the combination take-out and Filipino grocery mart offers made-from-scratch fare at prices that’ll keep your pocketbook as happy as your palate.
I met the affable Marci, her husband and two boys on a sweltering summer’s day last year. Before I could even blink, a party pack of lumpia- or Philippine egg rolls arrived, hot out of the fryer. Crisp, perfectly seasoned and stuffed with either shredded veggies or ground pork - I was snacking on them all day with abandon.
If you prefer the year-round favourite sinigang soup, you’re in for a brimming bowl of a treat. Marci makes hers using the tender and delicately flavoured milkfish (or bangus as it’s also known), fresh veggies - including tomato and onion, and tamarind to give the soup its distinct and nuanced sour note. Think of it as a more exotic, Filipino version of a French Bouillabaisse, if you will; perfect for any seafood lovers out there.
Each visit to Marci’s ends with her insisting on preparing a Halo Halo to go. It’s the national dessert of the Philippines. She grates ice on the spot, adding evaporated milk, jackfruit slivers in syrup, coloured coconut meat (called macapuno in Tagalog), and a healthy dollop of bright purple ube sweet yam ice cream into a substantial cup. Halo Halo (or Mix Mix) is a frosty treat that you can either love (like most Filipinos) or leave. I thought it was great fun and was delighted to step out of Marci’s cool shop and into the muggy summertime afternoon with a refreshing treat to keep me as cool as sitting under palm tree. Now if only I could find the palm trees closer to home!
Halo Halo World Café
2385 Burnhamthorpe Road West
Photo Credits: Mary Luz Mejia
Published April 18, 2007