I once had a friend with a funny way of eating empanadas: right after buying one, she'd squish it flat. "Why?!" I asked. "To drive out the air," she grinned. And true enough, the empanadas we got often had way too much air in them. But she won't be doing that to Empanada Mas' pies. There's hardly any air in `em; once you get past the crisp, flavorful crust all you see and chew is filling. Rich, flavorful filling.
Cat and I got a boxful at the Pergola Mall branch of Empanada Mas, trying out the Chorizo, Chicken, Ham Cheese and Jalapeno, Tuna, Spinach with Cream Cheese and Pork empanadas, plus the Cream Cheese and Chives, Cheese, Chocolate, and Peanut Butter Fudge empanaditas. First, the crust: I have to say Empanada Mas trains its employees well. The empanadas were fried, but done just right and in very hot oil, leaving hardly any oil in the crust afterward. A hastily-trained cook would likely not wait until the oil was the right temperature, resulting in an oily, soggy empanada. Ours were really crunchy outside. And inside ... I have a feeling if I bought another box to bring home, only half the contents would make it to the house!
Ham & Cheese Jalapeno
Spinach with Cream Cheese
I'd already tried the Cream Cheese & Chives empanaditas before, which was why I got really excited when Cat told me we were shooting Empanada Mas. These little explosions of flavor make a good starter or snack, and you can mix them with the Cheese empanaditas to have a balance of flavors. The Chicken, Pork and Tuna are hearty comfort foods, just like mom used to make (or better - mom could never get her crust like that). The Spinach was a salad you can eat on the go, perfect for the health buff or vegetarian. Spice addict that I am, though, I enjoyed the Chorizo and Ham n Cheese with Jalapeno best. The Chorizo reminds me of a sausage we can only find in Davao, or a milder version of the Vigan longganisa in flavor -- loaded with garlic and pepper, and very fragrant. The Ham n Cheese with Jalapeno is nicely balanced, with just the right amount of the peppers so you can definitely taste the jalapeno but without its overwhelming the ham or cheese.
Chocolate, Cream Cheese & Chives, Cheese, Peanut Butter Fudge
Our hasty lunch -- grabbed on the way to Cat's parlor session for a friend's wedding -- ended on a perfect note with the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fudge empanaditas. What kid wouldn't go crazy for flavors like these? I have to say when it comes to Empanada Mas' dessert empanaditas, I'm definitely still a ten-year-old.