Marketman must have a sixth sense for brewing markets. Or at least “My Favorite Martian” like antennae that lead me to them… I woke up late-ish (for me, 7am) this morning and bummed around the house, checked out our Christmas list, and was shocked at the number of blanks this late in the year (we are pretty good about organizing ourselves for the holidays). So with Mrs. MM and The Teen away, I decided to try and get some shopping done before a late lunch. First stop, The bazaar at White Space on Pasong Tamo, Makati. Now held twice a month through December, on the first and third Sundays of the month from 12noon to early evening, I figured there might be a few unusual gift items on offer. Turns out I got there a little early but managed to see what many of the vendors had on offer… From there, I drove to the outdoor mall at Serendra, in Fort Bonifacio. I have perhaps voluntarily done this only once or twice before, and never really liked to window shop here. After 20 minutes of walking aimlessly about, I noticed some hubbub at a tented area nearby and realized this must be Anton’s (of Our Awesome Planet) new market. Needless to say, that was the end of window shopping and I found myself at Mercato Centrale. Bustling with people, I was there at the tail end of the market that is open Saturdays and Sundays from 6am to noon or so.
With only a handful of folks selling organic produce or ingredients, this was really less of a market than a food bazaar. Similar to the markets in Salcedo and Legazpi villages on Saturdays and Sundays respectively, this market seems to be even more heavily concentrated on prepared foods, pastries, sweets, etc. A veritable cornucopia of dishes/goods on offer. I think its great that there are more and more of these markets opening up, but as a cook, I seek more of the purveyors of ingredients, and not really the prepared dishes. But I recognize I am in the minority. :) Folks are just too harried, busy, clueless to cook their own food these days, so the next best thing is to buy it cooked instead. I went through the airconditioned tent with vendors quickly and identified at least four vendors that deserved closer scrutiny… Gil Carandang of Herbana Farms was there, to cheer on his son who will be managing their organic produce stall. I was also thrilled to find Solraya, a regular reader of this blog, who raises organic chickens and other good stuff up North and she had wonderful organic and free-ranged chickens, pork, duck eggs, chicken sausages, etc. I bought a couple of her chickens and am now pleased I know where to go to get more… There were several purveyors of good rice varieties from up North as well. One table had wonderful rice from the Mt. Province, and another purveyor, a table of the Cabiokid Foundation, had black rice on offer. I bought two kilos of the latter, at PHP45 a kilo, and hope to try it soon. The rice isn’t really “black” – more like greyish brown… Finally, I was thrilled to finally come across a retail location for Kitchen Herbs Farm, which I have been meaning to visit for years but never managed to do so. Gejo, the proprietor, also a reader of this blog I gather, had invited me to his small farm near Tagaytay eons ago. On offer at Kitchen Herbs Farm today was a stunning array of herbs, so nice in fact I am doing a separate post, next. :)
I did buy one item of prepared food, the dehydrated “terra chips” made from kamote (sweet potato) and gabi (taro root) made by Little Miss Oc’s Kitchen. I was looking for something to munch on with drinks or pica-pica or appetizers for the holiday season and was intrigued to see these colorful and tasty chips. The ones on display were a bit “makunat” or chewy but I hoped that was due to our incredibly humid weather. I purchased a bag (pricey at PHP250, but better than having to dehydrate them myself) and tried them at home. Even freshly opened, they were still a tad moist, not quite the bone dry like the original terra chips they were likely patterned after. Nevertheless, I think they make a novel option for your holiday table.
The black rice I purchased came in flimsy paper bags, totally environmentally friendly, but subject to collapse before you ever got home. I hadn’t planned on doing any marketing, or I would have had my handy market basket with me. If you are in search of yet another new place to spend an hour or so on the weekend, check out Mercato Centrale near Serendra next weekend. Now if only there were such a market but just filled with all of the finest local produce purveyors, meats, seafood, etc. purveyors and less cooked food… How to get to that point? Start buying more from intrepid folks and entrepreneurs who brave these weekend markets and sell the goods they raise themselves. Seek out the best, if possible organic, and sustainably raised goods. Be willing to pay a premium. And definitely cook more good food in your own homes! :)
Solraya’s Sunshine Chicken
Sta. Rita, Nueva Ecija
Little “Miss” Oc’s Kitchen
Magallanes Village, Makati City