Millie Locsin Kilayko started Casa Carmela almost a decade ago as a means to preserve the proud heritage of Bacolod, a city known for its home-grown food.

Together with business partners Daniel and Tima Lacson, they aim to share with the rest of the Philippines the talent of Bacolod home-cooks that the Negros region has long been celebrated for.

Casa Carmela uses “traditional old-world heritage recipes” and creates their products in small batches to ensure that each bottle is filled with the highest quality product. But that does not mean that the brand clings to old-fashioned flavors; Kilayko’s adventurousness in taste is reflected in her knack for innovation in the kitchen. In fact, the brand was built on her creative take on the classic piaya, which they made crispy and thin, adding a easy-to-snack-on and extra-flakey appeal.

Pro-tip: dip the hot crispy dilis chips into the tamarind hot sauce to increase both sweetness and spiciness.

And at the 32nd Negros Trade Fair in September-October 2017 in Glorietta, they revealed just how dynamic the brand is. Their piaya are known as must-trys, and the ‘Bacolod-in-a-Bottle’ marinade and dips collection is lauded for making possible home-grilled authentic inasal. But what really won us over are the heat-then-eat bottled squid.

Opt for Squid Sisig for something zesty and thick (perfect on rice); or if you’re trying to keep to a diet, go for the simpler yet no less tasty ‘Sexy Squid’ (named with your health goals in mind). Both come in bottles that you can easily heat over the stove and serve, making lunch-for-one a snap.

The squid sisig and the sexy squid are our favorite heat-and-eat innovations from the Casa Carmela line.

The spicy dilis chips tend towards the saltier side, as opposed to the more commercially available sweet dilis. In Casa Carmela’s version, the fish are flayed, allowing for more surface area to be affected by the spicy-sweet flavoring, and a flatter fish “chip” with a lot of crunch. This shape is also ideal for scooping dips.

And if you’re going for a unique dip, try the tamarind hot sauce. The watery, brown sauce makes for an interesting marinade in itself, can complement existing sauces (upgrade your ketchup!), or works alone as advertised.

Casa Carmela

Proudly Negros region-made snacks, condiments, dishes and marinades.

Spend: PHP 120-350
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