14 Feb2012

Anyone who has read this blog for the past several years knows I have an axe to grind with Valentine’s Day. It is perhaps the largest “rip-off holiday” of the year. Prices of flowers rise 400-600% for about 3-4 days, restaurants often gouge diners with ridiculously overpriced offerings and are swamped with people making for an uncomfortable and expensive evening of gritting one’s teeth in the name of love. Plus the traffic in Manila is horrendous to boot! So you won’t find us out for dinner tonight, we almost always stay home on February 14th. Lavish your soul mate with 5 huge bouquets of roses on five other days of the year, eat out with your significant other on a Tuesday some other week (it’s the slowest day at restaurants typically unless it’s Valentine’s) or better yet, cook a simple but delicious meal at home for a fraction of a restaurant V-Day meal, and spend the difference on a fantastic bottle of champagne or massage for two. Just don’t get fleeced on Valentine’s Day! :)

While we normally have some close friends over for an anti-Valentine Valentine’s Dinner at home, this year we did two meals with close friends over the past weekend and both meals were relatively heart friendly… Laden with vegetables and seafood, the dishes were simple yet special… and featured the recent bounty of local produce from the weekend markets… First up, a patani spread with blanched and peeled patani, blitzed in a food processor with a bit of water the beans were boiled in, good extra-virgin olive oil and some freshly grated parmesan cheese. Here served on a WASA cracker, but better on toast or other crackers. Top this with a bit of fried bacon or pancetta if you prefer…

Next up, a rather involved, but beautiful looking vegetable tart from the Ottolenghi cookbook “Plenty”… roasted vegetables like red and yellow peppers, eggplants, zucchini, sweet potatoes fight for breathing room with ricotta and feta cheeses and an egg and cream binder in a pie crust. It was delicious and visually stunning.

Served alongside the vegetable tart was an heirloom and cherry tomato salad (and beets, added after the photo) on a bed of wild arugula and treviso radicchio.

Guests brought this gorgeous bowl of spaghetti a la vongole (clams) in case some folks couldn’t handle all the veggies in one meal… :)

My plate that evening. It looked so colorful, and had a variety of textures and layers of flavor. The roasted kamote or sweet potato in the tart was a revelation.

We have had several Anti-V V-Dinners with a red theme in the past… rare beef, lobsters or prawns, red salads, red desserts… so some of that crept into our recent weekend meals. For one dinner, simple individual servings of plum crumble, red plum and sugar syrup runneth over…

…if you weren’t minding the caloric intake, we served this with some good vanilla ice cream on the side. :)

I also found these wonderful export quality berries from the Mt. Province for just PHP360 a kilo (got 400+ grams for PHP170 for 14 large berries), so I also made some strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. I know, I know, they seem upside down… but the cook accidentally removed the tops before she realized we were supposed to dip the bottoms… but actually, this mistake meant we got more chocolate onto each berry, and they were also less likely to “cook” or wilt the berry as there was more mass of fruit at the other end. They turned out fine and happily nourished several people, for less than the cost of a Mars bar per person. :)

Here are some other previous Valentine’s related posts to inspire you… Happy Valentine’s Day!

Anti-Valentine’s Dinner, 2006
The Run-up to Valentine’s Day, 2007
Marketman’s Valentine’s Poll, 2008
White Roses en Masse, 2005
Dimasalang Flower Market, Sampaloc Manila, 2005
A Gift of Roses, Version 1, 2005
A Gift of Roses, Version 2, 2005
Hundreds of Blooms for an Anniversary, 2007
Le Jardin de Ville, less traditional flower choices, 2007
Rose and Hydrangea Floral Arrangements for PHP186.66 each, 2007
A Special Ruby Dinner, 2007
Red Roses and Two Dinners, 2008
Roses in the Four Seasons/Jeff Leatham Style, 2008
Small “Tight” Floral Arrangements 101, 2009
Roses and Hydrangeas, 2010
Roses, Roses, Roses, 2010
Flowers for Valentine’s, 2011



  1. Julian says:

    Happy valentines!

    Feb 14, 2012 | 5:53 am


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  3. ka fredo says:

    We’ve already had our date for this week last Sunday and even then the flower prices had already gone up. I still want to send a token of affection on the day itself so I was thinking about what to prepare. Lo and behold, I found inspiration from your strawberries dipped in chocolate. Good thing I visit this site regularly. LOL .I’ll make some today.

    Happy Valentine’s & Anti-Valentine’s day to you MM!

    Feb 14, 2012 | 6:33 am

  4. tisay says:

    Happy Valentine’s Day

    Feb 14, 2012 | 6:41 am

  5. Dragon (Melbourne) says:

    Same here MM. My hubbaloo and I have yet to ‘celebrate’, i.e., roses, expensive dinner, gifts – the whole nine yards, Valentines. I gave him his card & perfume (he loves them) this morning and he confessed that he had stopped by the flower shop yesterday afternoon to buy me roses, only to turn around quickly (so that’s why he was home early) as the prices were obscene! I reminded him of the street vendors in Manila, who will make a killing selling ‘cheap’ roses by the roadside. He said he was looking for them yesterday…LOL (NOTE: my hubs is Scottish who lived with me in Manila for 4 years. We are now based in Melbourne Australia.)

    I used to get disappointed to not receive any flowers (even picked from the roadside please!) when I was much younger. Now I get disappointed if I receive expensive flowers for any occasion!

    Happy Valentines to all!

    Feb 14, 2012 | 7:09 am

  6. PITS, MANILA says:

    one time, i celebrated valentine’s day by sending my sons valentine-cards (flaming red, huge cards even), through the post office. stamped and delivered by postmen to their individual schools, in front of classmates and teachers. they didn’t know it was from me … the teachers later relayed that they blushed as they received the card, thinking it was from some girl. and more blushing upon learning where the item came from, hahaha!

    Feb 14, 2012 | 8:14 am

  7. hiddendragon says:

    If it means resulting in a spread like these, please keep on hating Valentine’s, Mr. MM!

    Feb 14, 2012 | 8:59 am

  8. Betchay says:

    Have to catch up reading your 6 latest posts later but for the meantime Happy Hearts day to you and Mrs. MM! :)

    Feb 14, 2012 | 9:30 am

  9. lee says:

    I like patani but rarely see them in markets. WASA crackers are construction materials for light architecture.

    Feb 14, 2012 | 11:46 am

  10. Papa Ethan says:

    I used to be a practitioner in an industry that was responsible for these “manufactured holidays” wherein premeditated manipulation of people’s emotions was the point of the business. These strategically preconceived “hold-ups” included Graduations, Easter, Mothers’/Fathers’ Day, All Souls Day, and of course Christmas. =(

    Feb 14, 2012 | 12:32 pm

  11. Faust says:

    Happy Valentines to you MM

    Feb 14, 2012 | 1:12 pm

  12. 100kpinoy says:

    Happy Heart’s Day MM… and to ALL :)

    Feb 14, 2012 | 3:04 pm

  13. Footloose says:

    I think everything shown is lovely. The vegetable tart is definitely plenty lovely. I usually avoid grilled vegetables because that’s the only way I can guarantee to serve them burnt and raw at the same time. Was the tart baked or the baked crust just filled?

    Feb 14, 2012 | 3:54 pm

  14. Marketman says:

    Footloose, crust was baked emply with pie weights first, then filled and baked again. Veggies for the tart were oven roasted rather than grilled, concentrating flavor and getting rid of moisture. lee, hahaha, construction materials indeed. I should do a WASA house instead of gingerbread one next Christmas…

    Feb 14, 2012 | 4:23 pm

  15. Mari says:

    What better way to spend Valentine’s Day lunch or dinner at Zubuchon! Prices are reasonable,food is great and staff very courteous! And…we get to have chocolate dipped marshmallow hearts at the end! Best Valentine’s date with hubby I ever had!!

    Feb 14, 2012 | 6:06 pm

  16. Marketman says:

    Mari, thanks for dropping by, and my apologies that I wasn’t in town to meet you… but I understand our Manager was there to say hello… and turns out you are related. :) The chocolate marshmallow touch is a holiday weakness of manager and staff… I merely did not comment… hahaha. :)

    Feb 14, 2012 | 6:11 pm

  17. Mari says:

    MM, I knew you wouldn’t be in town when you posted last week that you were here. Yes, your manager was there and very helpful. As for the marshmallows, I know I was told… I just thought I’d put it in to see your comment. =D i am also not a fan of celebrating VD day… but today it happened to be Valentine’s day and we are in Cebu for Zubuchon! All the best and more power to you and your crew!

    Feb 14, 2012 | 9:37 pm

  18. Part Time Homemaker says:

    Happy Valentine’s Day MM and family! This looks so good, the plum crumble got my heart beating a little faster. Hehehe. On the WASA crackers though…I’ve given them a chance several times but I think they are a taste I will never acquire. :) I agree with lee!

    – Georgie

    Feb 14, 2012 | 11:29 pm

  19. joyce says:

    the vegetable tart looks delicious! what a great idea, will try to get a good recipe for it. i agree that restaurants charge horrendous prices during this holiday for so-so food. still i didn’t mind the lavender roses and chocolates i got. it made my week hehe =)

    Feb 17, 2012 | 6:35 pm


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