My family never goes to U.P. Los Baños without dropping by DTRI (Dairy Training and Research Institute), buying milk and cheese and, often, having a picnic on the football field of the campus. When it was too hot or when there wasn’t much time, we’d park under our kapok tree and drink milk there as though offering a toast of some kind to the old gnarled tree. Life’s simple pleasures can be very gratifying.
DTRI does not have commercial outlets— you have to go directly to the one and only store in the UPLB campus. And not all products are available every day of the year. We”?ve experienced feeling disappointed because, after a long drive from Antipolo, we”?d reach DTRI only to be told that kesong puti or ice cream or milk was not available.
About two weeks ago, we were in Tagaytay with my husband’s balikbayan brothers and their families, visiting from Chicago and Beirut, respectively. We were just passing through Tagaytay, really, as we were on our way back to Metro Manila from Batangas. We had snacks at Carlo’s Pizza, took photos and made plans for later. We’d go to Chinatown then hang out at the New World Hotel (where the balikbayans from Chicago were billeted). It was their last weekend in the country, we wouldn’t see each other again for a couple of years and we were just making the most of our time together.
Driving from Batangas to Tagaytay earlier, I had noticed the “Mr. Moo fresh milk”? signs but never suggested stopping to check them out. I”?m a DTRI loyalist, remember, and nothing but nothing would satisfy me but DTRI products. But the balikbayans from Chicago were curious. After leaving Carlo’s Pizza, we stopped at a Mr. Moo’s outlet, the balikbayans alighted from their cars and, pretty soon, there were plastic cups half-filled with milk going around. I was offered one, I sipped the milk and, well”? I got out of the car.
I joined the balikbayans in checking out the list of products “? kesong puti, ricotta cheese, herbed cheese in olive oil, yogurt (in six flavors), pastillas (in five flavors), chocolate milk, strawberry milk, cow”?s milk, carabao”?s milk, soya milk, non-fat milk”? oh, my goodness. I wanted to try them all. I asked my daughters what they wanted, my seventeen-year-old, Sam, asked for ice cream but there was none. Alex, 16, got out of the car too, checked the list of products and said she wanted yogurt.
But I worried about spoilage. We didn’t expect to be home for at least another five or six hours. We didn’t bring an ice chest either because buying fresh food wasn’t on the agenda. So, I asked the Mr. Moo’s people how long the milk, yogurt and cheese would last without refrigeration. They told me they could pack everything in plastic bags with ice, at no extra charge, and they would stay good for six to eight hours.
I ordered two bottles of carabao’s milk, three pieces of kesong puti, three single-serve tubs each of blueberry and strawberry yogurt (total price was a little over six hundred pesos). How they were packed was pretty neat. Everything was wrapped in plastic bags, the bags were placed inside larger bags lined with old newspapers and tube ice was poured in. And the Mr. Moo people weren’t lying. The ice has not completely melted by the time we got home some five hours later.
The following morning, it was time to sample the kesong puti and yogurt. Unlike commercial white cheese one usually finds in supermarkets, this was banana leaf-wrapped kesong puti with the texture of the kesong puti from my childhood. Soft and creamy, it was the perfect filling for pan de sal. And unlike commercial fruit-flavored yogurt, Mr. Moo’s yogurt is unsweetened making it more friendly for those who are watching their sugar intake. I had sampled the carabao’s milk the night before and it was just as delicious as my first impression.
Mr. Moo’s products are produced by the Katipunan ng Kooperatiba ng Maggagatas and the Gen. Trias Dairy raisers under the supervision of the U.P. Philippine Carabao Center.