I mentioned before how my family would spend summers in Dumaguete with the rest of the clan and it was a time of year we always eagerly awaited. Under one roof, four big families were squeezed in and when we were not at the beach or by the river, we found ways to entertain ourselves in my grandmother's house. My older siblings eventually formed other groups to hang with, made up mostly of cousins (it seems everyone is related to each other over there) who they would go to discos with. Not long after I followed suit. I spent less time in my grandmother's house and more time on the streets with my group.
We did a lot of things together, moved around in our posse of motorcycles and jeeps letting the wind take us where it wanted. We enjoyed the company so much it didn't matter where that day would take us. I especially loved riding on the backseat of a motorcycle cruising along the coast or climbing mountains and chasing sunsets. But mostly we just kind of happily hung around.
Without trying, we formed a daily routine. In the mornings after breakfast, time was dutifully spent playing with the younger cousins,
making a mess helping out in the kitchen, reading, chatting on the front porch with family and restlessly pacing the house. After lunch with the family, usually by 2:30, my 2 cousins and I would stroll out the old wooden gate and head down the boulevard towards Speedmeals - my grand-aunt's cantina which had become our meeting place and hang-out. But first, we would buy packets of my grandmother's peanuts from her restaurant North Pole which was just 2 houses away, stuff them in our pockets and continue along.
Usually we were the first to arrive at Speedmeals but by 3pm, the rest of the gang would show up. Their motorcycles and cars would noisily pull up outside, each arrival announced by a slam of the screen door. For the next few hours we'd be surrounded by laughter and a constant stream of food: flan, spaghetti, burgers, and avocado or mango shakes. Then we'd hop on the bikes and cars and drive to Silliman University to hang out outside Luz Auditorium for a while.
Still the best sans rival I've ever tasted
Before dark, we'd all head back home with a promise to see each other again after dinner. But not before making a quick stop at Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries, my tita's bakeshop which is only two blocks from home. We'd peruse the glass cabinet for whatever would tickle our fancy that day, but more often than not, we'd walk away with either a slice of sans rival or a sylvana wrapped in wax paper or foil which we would put away before we reached home. We were still dependent on our parents for money, so we had 'signing privileges' in all three places. At the end of our vacation, they'd send the bill over for our parents to settle.
Though Speedmeals and North Pole now exist only in our hearts and memories, Sans Rival still remains. What was once a tiny take-out bakeshop by the garage is now a homey and bright cafe that now also served lunch and merienda (afternoon snack). I was impressed with the variety of cakes on display and with the efficient ordering system they had in place, and then pleasantly surprised when I saw Annie, my tita's loyal staff, still behind the counter taking orders. Being the creature of habit that I can sometimes be, I ordered silvanas and sans rival. Yes, both. I can never decide between the two, I love them both equally! Silvanas are the cookie verison of sans rival, both are made with delicious layers of crunchy meringue, rich buttercream and cashews.
Tita Trining Teves-Sagarbarria first opened her shop in Dumaguete in 1977. She always loved to cook and bake for her family and friends and her passion was evident in the cakes and pastries she would create. Her children inherited this passion and helped in the success and expansion of the business. Her daughter Chining now runs and operates Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries in Dumagute. Her son Cholong moved to Manila in 1978 with his wife Mary Anne armed with his moms recipes and took orders from their San Lorenzo village home. This was wonderful news for those of us who lived in Manila! I still recall visiting my cousin and how we would sneak silvanas from the chest freezers and take them up to her room. Because there was a large clamor for their cakes, they expanded with more branches of The House of Silvanas around the city and eventually opened 3 branches in California where they have since taken up residence.
If sans rival or silvanas isn't your thing, try their Brazo de Mercedes or Blitz Torte, cheesecake, Concorde or the amazing Date and Walnut Dacquoise! I loved the Dacquoise so much I bought an entire cake as a present for my cousin on her birthday and brought half a cake to a picnic by the river the next day.
Amazing Date & Walnut Dacquoise
Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries
The House of Silvanas branches in the US:
Daly City: 2055 Gellert Blvd. Ste. 3, Daly City, CA 94015 ; Tel. (650) 878-8700
Carson City, CA: 21822 S. Main St. , Carson City, CA 90745; Tel. (310) 522-4509
For other branches in the Philippines, click here.