Bulacan is famous for fireworks (Bocaue has a whole street dedicated to selling paputok galore) and pastillas de leche and probably other toothsome delights. 3 friends and I headed North yesterday for a day trip of lunch and sightseeing, and found a few delights to share with those who stayed at home.
We ate home made quesong puti (the local ricotta/cottage cheese, made from carabao milk), a local longganisa (our hosts then gave us one kilo each which made the ride home, er, aromatic to say the least), and discovered a hidden pastillas/espasol vendor that made it all worthwhile.
Aling Auring's store is along the Maharlika Highway connecting the North Luzon Expressway (exit Sta. Rita) and the northern provinces. We were heading back to Manila and the directions given were a bit odd, but there was time and energy enough to do a bit of seek and find. We were told "look for Sevillas, then you should see St. Paul College on the right. There will be a tall column and that is where Aling Auring's is." We saw Sevillas, not one but three stalls, but not a hair of St. Paul's College. Which made us think that the column wasn't going to pop up, but just as we were thinking bad thoughts about the people who gave us directions, I caught sight of a wooden board with ALING AURING'S crudely written on it, with the movies at a local cinema listed below. We backtracked and parked in the empty lot, and peered cautiously at the dark and rather sinister looking store front. No one was there to serve, and the counter looked stocked with black plastic bags. Not quite the look of a famous dessert seller.
We walked in and after calling out to the back, a man came forward blinking and looking like we had roused him from his nap. He confirmed this was indeed Aling Auring's and yes, they sold pastillas de leche and espasol (a sticky rice dessert). We asked for a sample, but no go, so I bought a box to see if it was worth it. It was indeed! Longer than the pastillas de leche you find in commercial places in the city, and made of carabao milk, the milk candies melted in our mouths, bringing us back to childhood goodness. Size alone was enough to make us plunk our money down for 14 boxes of the stuff.
Another buyer walked in while we were waiting for our order to be released and she kindly let us try her sample of espasol. It was quite a revelation. Unlike the espasol in Laguna, Aling Auring has a finely ground paste of rice mixed with brown sugar and what tasted like ginger, steamed and cut into balls. It looked like gnocchi, browner, and sweet. The flour covering wasn't overpowering, it gave a gentle texture without choking you as the sticky rice went down the throat.
Aling Auring's pastillas de leche sells at P90 (or less than US$2.00) for 30 pieces; and the espasol is P75 a box. It was hard to figure out how many pieces of espasol came with the box, but the two layers were densely packed.
As for directions, if you're coming from Manila, you'll barely catch Aling Auring's on the left side of the road, but look out for the Rotary Club sign and there is a tall cell tower on the right side of the road, opposite to the store. If you're heading back to Manila it will be on your right and it is after all the other Sevilla's stores (which sells pastillas, and other Bulacan delicacies). I believe we were in the town of San Miguel, but I will double check and edit if otherwise.