I discovered a Silaynon treasure that I think will keep me going back to this wonderful city time and again. For the simple reason that this treasure can be found only in one place, in one house in Silay.
This small, elegantly designed maroon box hides a confectionary triumph.
The pili squares are mildly nutty, moist, chewy, buttery yet not cloying or oily. A box contains pre-cut 2 inch long bars that have a flaky, thin crust on the bottom.
Surprisingly, the bars are also not too sweet -- something that I cannot say for most of Negros' candies and pastries -- which definitely adds to their delectable taste.
I have had pili mazapan and pili pastries in Bicol -- where it is acclaimed as the regional delicacy but nothing I have tasted in Bicol compares to this Silaynon treat.
You can buy these delicacies from the old Lacson heritage house in Silay City, right along the main road, across a BPI bank branch. Just knock on the green gate and someone will let you in.
We were led up right to the kitchen on the second floor. I saw the tin pans and the ovens that are used in making the pili squares. This huge steel topped table is where the bars are cooled and sliced before they are wrapped in foil and boxed.
This old heavy duty mixer is still in use and has probably churned out millions of pili squares since this delicacy has been around since 1925.
Emma Lacson passed away last year but her daughter continues to make the pili squares from her mother's secret recipe.
The Lacson kitchen is comforting in its homespun simplicity. While we wait for orders, something good is cooking and the smells waft across the room.
Laden with boxes of pili squares (which somehow are never quite enough once you get home and start eating them), we make the long trek down the steep stairs outside the house.
The stairs are quite high and we have to make sure not to trip or slip -- not so much for our safety we joke, but for the safekeeping of the precious bundles of Emma Lacson's Pili Squares.