CARMEN’S BEST IS TO ICE CREAM WHAT KOBE BEEF IS TO STEAK– THE HIGHEST GRADE, THE MOST LUXURIOUS, THE MOST COVETED
Philippine Daily Inquirer
4:51 AM | Thursday, February 26th, 2015
When Philippine Airlines asked him last December if he could supply Carmen’s Best Ice Cream, Paco Magsaysay thought, why not? After all, he had previously provided the airline with ice cream for chartered flights when President Benigno Aquino III would be onboard. Carmen’s Best was by then a brand that PAL was familiar with.
In early January, Magsaysay received another call from PAL, this time asking him to supply 280 packs of single-serve ice cream. He then prepared 140 single serves of malted milk flavor and 140 of brown butter almond brittle. Feeling generous, he rounded up the order to 300, adding 20 packs of pistachio ice cream.
Little did he know that his ice cream would be brought onboard the plane that would fly Pope Francis back to Rome after his papal visit to the Philippines—and actually be served to His Holiness. When Magsaysay found out that the Pope had tasted, in fact, finished two servings of Carmen’s Best Ice Cream, Magsaysay was floored.
“Just the idea of the Pope touching the cup of ice cream and eating it!” Magsaysay exclaimed.
But even before Carmen’s Best went onboard the papal plane, some members of the Vatican had already tasted it. A few days earlier, Magsaysay’s cousin, Brother Michael Valenzuela, FSC—who’s on the board of some La Salle schools and is institutional animator at College of St. Benilde—had asked him to supply ice cream to the papal entourage and the Swiss guards who were billeted in Hotel Benilde (owned and operated by De La Salle).
Paco obliged with 30 free pints of his most popular flavors; reports have it that the papal entourage loved the ice cream.
Perhaps no other ice cream deserves such a high honor as to be served to His Holiness. Carmen’s Best, after all, is to ice cream what Kobe beef is to steak—the highest grade, the most luxurious, the most coveted.
Where other brands use UHT processed milk, Carmen’s Best is made only from pure fresh cow’s milk and cream sourced directly from the family’s dairy farm. There’s also no air pumped into it, and no water and chemicals added.
The word tipid (scrimp) is alien to the makers of Carmen’s Best. For vanilla, only the finest vanilla beans from Madagascar are used. The pistachios come from Sicily, the malted milk from England, the chocolate from Switzerland. If the flavor includes almonds, there is sure to be an abundance of almonds in every tub.
The result is ice cream that’s dense and creamy, with no rough edges. Every spoonful has a roundness, like a fluid, well-rehearsed symphony that starts and ends seamlessly.
The brand has certainly come a long way from its humble beginnings in 2011, when Magsaysay first dabbled in ice-cream-making. At first he only wanted to maximize the milk production in the dairy farm of his father, former Senator Jun Magsaysay (son of the late, beloved President Ramon Magsaysay). Using a small ice cream machine, he began with three basic flavors: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. When the ice cream turned out good, he realized he could do something more and began expanding his production and experimenting with other flavors.
Magsaysay’s first customers were his neighbors in Alabang. But word soon spread about this artisanal ice cream that was so lush and velvety it was unlike any other ice cream in the market. To fill customers’ needs, he established pickup points in Alabang and Makati, aside from making customized ice cream for special orders.
To update his skills, in 2013 he took the Ice Cream Short Course in Penn State University—and finished with the top prize, the Keeney Award.
Today, Paco continues to raise the bar in ice cream production. Strict food safety measures are observed, and fresh milk and cream continue to be the prime components that give the ice cream an incredibly rich texture and mouth feel.
Magsaysay says he even monitors the food the cows eat because it affects their milk production. And though he knows he has sufficient milk supply because of his father’s farm, he is honorable enough to pay the proper market rate and keep his payments updated.
From the three basic flavors, Carmen’s Best now comes in 40 flavors that include both the traditional and unconventional: from pistachio almond fudge to baklava; from salted caramel to Brazilian coffee; from cookie dough to Nuts About You, a maple-based ice cream with pecans, walnuts and almonds.
Likewise, from two pickup points, the distribution has expanded to include major supermarkets such as Rustan’s and Puregold. He’s also thinking of exporting to Southeast Asian countries soon.
Not surprisingly, Carmen’s Best has won a number of awards. It has been given Best Choice Artisanal Ice Cream Brand; was overall winner in Our Awesome Planet’s Ultimate Taste Test; and cited in the Manila Survival Guide’s Five Best Artisanal Ice Cream Brands.
Awards and recognition aside, Paco uses Carmen’s Best not just to make the best ice cream in the market but also to continue the Magsaysay legacy of giving to the community and helping others. Since starting operations in 2011, the company has been donating part of its proceeds to the PGH Medical Foundation. Today, its contribution has reached P100,000.
There are people in this country eating too much red meat. They should cut back. There are people eating too many carbs. They should cut back on those. There are also people eating too much fat, and the same advice applies to them, too.
What’s getting harder to justify, though, is a focus on any one nutrient as a culprit for everyone.
I’ve written Upshot articles on how the strong warnings against salt and cholesterol are not well supported by evidence. But it’s possible that no food has been attacked as widely or as loudly in the past few decades as red meat.
As with other bad guys in the food wars, the warnings against red meat are louder and more forceful than they need to be.
Americans are more overweight and obese than they pretty much have ever been. There’s also no question that we are eating more meat than in previous eras. But we’ve actually been reducing our red meat consumption for the last decade or so. This hasn’t resulted in a huge decrease in obesity rates or deaths from cardiovascular disease.
The same reports also show that we eat significantly more fruits and vegetables today than we did decades ago. We also eat more grains and sweeteners.
This is the real problem: We eat more calories than we need. But in much of our discussion about diet, we seek a singular nutritional guilty party. We also tend to cast everyone in the same light as “eating too much.”
I have seen many people point to a study from last year that found that increased protein intake was associated with large increases in mortality rates from all diseases, with high increases in the chance of death from cancer or diabetes. A close examination of the manuscript, though, tells a different story.
This was a cohort study of people followed through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or Nhanes. It found that there were no associations between protein consumption and death from all causes or cardiovascular disease or cancer individually when all participants over age 50 were considered. It did detect a statistically significant association between the consumption of protein and diabetes mortality, but the researchers cautioned that the number of people in the analysis was so small that any results should be taken with caution.
The scary findings from two paragraphs up are from a subanalysis that looked at people only 50 to 65. But if you look at people over 65, the opposite was true. High protein was associated with lower levels of all-cause and cancer-specific mortality. If you truly believe that this study proves what people say, then we should advise people over the age of 65 to eat more meat. No one advises that.
Further, this study defined people in the “high protein” group as those eating 20 percent or more of their calories from protein. When the Department of Agriculture recommends that Americans get 10 to 35 percent of their calories from protein, 20 percent should not be considered high.
If I wanted to cherry-pick studies myself, I might point you to this 2013 study that used the same Nhanes data to conclude that meat consumption is not associated with mortality at all.
Let’s avoid cherry-picking, though. A 2013 meta-analysis of meat-diet studies, including those above, found that people in the highest consumption group of all red meat had a 29 percent relative increase in all-cause mortality compared with those in the lowest consumption group. But most of this was driven by processed red meats, like bacon, sausage or salami.
Epidemiologic evidence can take us only so far. As I’ve written before, those types of studies can be flawed. Nothing illustrates this better than a classic 2012 systematic review that pretty much showed that everything we eat is associated with both higher and lower rates of cancer.
We really do need randomized controlled trials to answer these questions. They do exist, but with respect to effects on lipid levels such as cholesterol and triglycerides. A meta-analysis examining eight trials found that beef versus poultry and fish consumption didn’t change cholesterol or triglyceride levels significantly.
All of this misses the bigger point, though. It’s important to understand what “too much” really is. People in the highest consumption group of red meat had one to two servings a day. The people in the lowest group had about two servings per week. If you’re eating multiple servings of red meat a day, then, yes, you might want to cut back. I would wager that most people reading this aren’t eating that much. If you eat a couple of servings a week, then you’re most likely doing fine.
All the warnings appear to have made a difference in our eating habits. Americans are eating less red meat today than any time since the 1970s. Doctors’ recommendations haven’t been ignored. We’re also doing a bit better in our consumption of vegetables. Our consumption of carbohydrates, like grains and sugar, however, has been on the rise. This is, in part, a result of our obsession with avoiding fats and red meat.
Over the last few decades, Americans have changed their eating habits. The consumption of red meat has decreased as the consumption of grains has sharply increased.
Consumption per capita, in ounces per day. Sweeteners include sugar, corn sweeteners, honey and syrup. Other meat includes poultry, fish and shellfish.
We’re eating too many calories, but not necessarily in the same way. Reducing what we’re eating too much of in a balanced manner would seem like the most sensible approach.
Last fall, a meta-analysis of brand-name diet programs was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study compared the results from both the individual diets themselves and three classes, which included low-carbohydrate (like Atkins), moderate macronutrient (Weight Watchers) and low-fat (Ornish). All of the diets led to reduced caloric intake, and all of them led to weight loss at six months and, to a lesser extent, at 12 months. There was no clear winner, nor any clear loser.
Where does that leave us? It’s hard to find a take-home message better than this: The best diet is the one that you’re likely to keep. What isn’t helpful is picking a nutritional culprit of bad health and proclaiming that everyone else is eating wrong. There’s remarkably little evidence that that’s true anytime anyone does it.
Aaron E. Carroll is a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine. He blogs on health research and policy at The Incidental Economist, and you can follow him on Twitter at @aaronecarroll.
I?ll just go and say it: Our local restaurant scene has grown to ginormous proportions over the last few years. And while there are those who scratch their heads at why this is so, it's also no surprise, really, seeing that we?re a nation of voracious eaters. While we are deeply in love with mom?s cooking, restaurants are where the game is at these days, and for many reasons. It transports us to another continent, and we can pretend our passport accumulates stamps as we munch on chili-flecked Asian street food, or rich, hand-cranked pasta from Roma. It gives us opportunity to try what the new breed of chefs are up to?stuff we can?t or won?t make at home. Or it simply fills our belly with food we crave. Like graphic design was back in the day, the food scene is where all the buzz is. It?s both a skill AND an art, practiced by many.