Hello (H)alo-Halo #atozchallenge

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet with the theme ‘Food Memories‘.


Halo-halo is a layered dessert consisting of shaved ice, evaporated milk, ice cream, and variety of different mix-ins. These mix-ins range from sweetened red beans, sweetened white beans, sweetened coconut strings, gelatins, and fruits such as jackfruit, plantains, and lychee.

A more elegant version of the halo-halo I had

Writing these posts about my food memories, it’s hit home how closely I connect food with the places I had that particular food. I mean, I sort of had that knowledge previously, which is the reason I decided on this theme for the challenge, but that knowledge had always just played along the periphery of my mind. Now, it’s more concrete.

Today, I’m remembering the time I tried my first halo-halo in a restaurant located in the Tagaytay highlands. I’d spent several days at the client’s factory in Cavite, and on my last day, the factory manager informed me that he’d instructed two of his staff to take me to a nearby tourist attraction – Tagaytay, to have a ‘snack’, Filipino code (I learned then) for ‘lots and lots of food’. I mentioned that they didn’t have to go out of their way to do that and that I was perfectly fine with being by myself at the hotel until it was time to leave for the airport. Of course, I was overruled and that’s how I found myself on the way to Tagaytay.

I was brought to a restaurant that overlooked the wonderfully scenic Taal Lake. It was still early in the day, and to be honest, I wasn’t up to the Filipino equivalent of a ‘snack’. The wonderful folks who were with me, suggested I try the halo-halo, reportedly, it was the signature dessert of the restaurant we were in. When it arrived, I thought it looked similar to an ais kacang (bean ice). After my first taste of it, I realised that the shaved ice part of the dessert was where the similarities ended. This shaved ice dish was more unctuous and definitely had lots of different add-ins that I wouldn’t find in an ais kacang, like the yam ice cream topping. I devoured the entire concoction and was left feeling satiated. No lunch for me, after that.

Taken in 2009, I was trying not to look scared after learning that the Taal volcano is the second most active volcano in the Philippines

Every time I hear the word halo-halo, I remember that time in the highlands, eating this dessert, having simple conversations, enjoying the view. That was a good day.

Have you ever tried a shaved ice dessert?