Thursday, January 21, 2016

At The Source of Carmen's Best's Freshness at Real Fresh Dairy Farm

The freshest, all natural milk. It's what makes Carmen Best Ice Cream special, the way ice cream should be...

...and in one memorable day trip, I get a rare chance to visit the very source of Carmen's Best's near legendary creamy freshness at the Real Fresh Dairy Farm and Laguna Creamery Processing Plant located in Bay, Laguna.

The wide, sprawling landscape presents ideal conditions for yielding high-quality milk, providing more than enough grazing for the farm's 264 dairy cows from New Zealand. And this is where great ice cream begins...

It's a chain of complex and delicate links masterfully orchestrated by the farm's staff that ensures the high quality of milk used in every batch of Carmen's Best Ice Cream. More than any other ingredient, it's the milk that makes the ice cream. Real, pure, natural, and fresh milk. And nothing less.

At the farm's processing plant, we get a rare peek behind the complex and numerous steps with each batch of fresh milk collected from the dairy cows at 4am and 4pm daily.

Paco Magsaysay (L), Carmen's Best's founder and owner personally toured the group around the farm's facilities along with his staff. After Paco's father, Ramon Magsaysay Jr. left the senate back in 2007, they set up their own dairy farm. And with the dairy farm, Paco Magsaysay conceived the idea for making ice cream. 

And not just any ice cream, but real ice cream made from 100% fresh cow's milk and cream delivered daily at dawn from the farm. From there, the volume of ice cream depends on the amount of fresh milk, since Carmen's Best uses no prepared mixes, artificial flavorings, coloring, or thickeners. What sets Carmen's Best Ice Cream apart from the others is the use of pure, natural, and fresh milk as the base to give it a distinct velvety smooth texture that UHT (ultra high temperature processed milk) or powdered milk cannot replicate.

And the source of the fresh milk comes directly from the farm's 264 dairy cows. The grass-fed cows feed continuously until their next milking cycle in the afternoon. At the other end, young cows are housed separately in the same idyllic conditions.

Based on the acidity level of the milk, each batch is selected for use in ice cream, bottled fresh milk, or cheeses. At the end of the tour, we sampled some of the farm's fresh cheeses, including their signature Kesong Puti (R). Firm yet soft to the bite, with clean and fresh flavors that's indulgently creamy. 

One bite of the Kesong Puti makes it immediately clear how real fresh milk makes the difference. And this is confirmed with a sip of the farm's fresh milk, produced under Real Fresh Dairy Farm's Holly label. The fresh milk is creamy with a mild sweetness coating your mouth, noticeably richer than the usual commercially available milk products.

The farm produces four fresh milk variants under the Holly label, including Full Cream, Low Fat, Chocolate, and Low Fat Yoghurt. The Low Fat variant is equally creamy, with the same rich mouth feel and subtle sweetness, proving once again that real fresh milk makes all the difference. The Low Fat Yoghurt is also a personal favorite, with its mild sour notes tempered by a whisper of sweetness for fresh and balanced flavors. And this is the source of Carmen's Best Ice Cream's velvety smooth creaminess, with the freshest, all-natural milk from the farm.

With the family's dairy farm, it seemed only natural for Paco Magsaysay to pursue his hobby and create his own ice cream. From the time he bought his first ice cream maker to the time he finished Penn State's Ice Cream Short Course and earning the top prize with The Keeney Award, what started with small batches of ice cream for family and friends turned into a successful small business. And he's more than ready to raise the bar on how premium ice cream should taste. For Paco Magsaysay, the secret to amazing ice cream is quite simple. Absolutely no compromises. Quality means taking no easy short cuts, and getting no substitutes for the finest ingredients. And that remains at the very core of Carmen's Best Ice Cream's passion and philosophy, experienced and enjoyed with each pint of ice cream displaying its label. And it all begins with real, fresh milk.

After the farm tour, Paco Magsaysay led the group to Dalcielo for lunch located inside UP Los Banos, just a short drive from Paco Magsaysay's farm. Dalcielo is known for using the freshest, locally sourced ingredients for its wide variety of dishes. 

And there's no better way to cap a hearty and sumptuous lunch than with a few pints of Carmen's Best Ice Cream (for more on Carmen's Best Ice Cream, check out my previous posts here and here). Carmen's Best Ice Cream comes only in small tubs, since only small batches are produced in the classic handcrafted and old-fashioned way.

No air, no added water, no additives, no mass-producing, just good old-fashioned craftsmanship with the finest ingredients available, including real, fresh milk from the family's dairy farm. And it just doesn't get better than that. Like they say, the proof is in the pudding. A trio of Carmen's Best's all-time bestsellers should settle the matter with just one bite. A spoonful of Carmen's Best Ice Cream's Malted Milk (P 370 Pint/P 98-100ml) takes you back in time to carefree summers with Horlicks, Maltesers, and chocolate. The nutty and buttery notes of roasted pistachios bursts with each bite of Carmen's Best Ice Cream's Pistachio (P 420 Pint/P 110-100ml). And still the leading favorite in terms of volume, Carmen's Best Ice Cream's Salted Caramel (P 370 Pint/P 98-100ml), the one that started it all. The visit to the dairy farm just put everything in perspective, giving you a better appreciation of why each pint of Carmen's Best Ice Cream is just so indulgently rich and dense yet velvety smooth.

With a growing portfolio of flavors, you can't help but notice some of their witty names, like He's Not Worth It (P 420 Pint/P 110-100ml), with a rich dark chocolate base infused with Oreo cookies, pecan, walnuts, and indulgent swirls of thick caramel fudge. You won't stand a chance against this little tub with your girlfriend...

Then, there's the new Secret Breakfast (P 420 Pint/P 110-100ml) with cereal spiked with whiskey, my kind of breakfast in a pint. And if you're flying Business Class via PAL to the US, Canada, London, and Japan, you can enjoy Salted Caramel, Rocky Road and Malted Milk for a flavorful upgrade. The young brand is definitely on the rise, with real, fresh milk driving it a notch higher above the rest.

For more information on Carmen's Best, visit their website at or call (+632) 809-2042 or +63917-567-BEST (2378).

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