19 Oct2011

Puentespina Orchids & Tropical Plants, Inc. That’s the only name you need to remember this Halloween. The holidays are looming like the first wave of a massive tsunami. We are so behind on the planning this year due to work with the restaurants, travel and other commitments that I feel a bit stressed. We planned a “hybrid” Canadian-American Thanksgiving dinner for this weekend and next weekend is an annual gathering of staff, their families (with kids!) for the trick-or-treating Halloween celebration in our area… so I wanted to spruce the house up a bit. My go-to favorite at this time of year? Puentespina’s main “warehouse” at the Manila Seedling Bank in Quezon City.

I can’t believe I left my camera at home. Once I got to Puentespina, I spied a large selection of decorative (though edible apparently) gourds in all sorts of weird shapes and color combinations. I have featured these gourds before, here, here and here. To one side of their area was a place set-up as you would see in any rural farm-stand set-up in North America selling pumpkins, with straw scarecrows, some of them dressed, and wheelbarrows filled with hay and lots of different pumpkins. Except that you are in the heart of Quezon City. Dried branches of curly willow and orchid roots in range of brown and sandy colors together with all the orange and greens provide more materiel for your holiday needs.

Inside their walk-in chillers, my jaw dropped momentarily! Not only were there hundreds of regular jack-o-lantern type pumpkins ranging from 3-8 kilos or so on the shelves, but they also had JUMBO pumpkins, ranging from say 10-30 kilos in size. So okay, not SUPER GIGANTIC JUMBO pumpkins like this one I wrote about before, but pretty darned big for here. Grown down in Davao in the pleasant climate in the foothills with verdant soil, I was inspired and tried to pick out a couple of pumpkins that weren’t too bruised, nicked or marked from their lengthy truck ride and ship passage to Manila…

I couldn’t resist the scarecrows and purchased two of those as well. Will use them outdoors on Halloween night, along with the pumpkins that hopefully I will have time to hollow out and carve. At any rate, most kids haven’t really seen the basis for all the plastic pumpkins in the malls these days, so it will be good to have these live specimens for them to take in… Then again, I may have to keep a close eye on the pumpkins, lest any restless teenagers think to go smashing them… :)

The scarecrows will be guarding a couple of large antique apothecary jars that I found at an antique dealer last year (for just PHP400 each!) — so even the thought that they held or displayed animal parts suspended liquid has been set aside — that are being filled with candy for the kids. Of the pumpkins I got this morning, the largest is roughly 13.5 kilos, the other approximately 11.5 kilos and the smallest one roughly 4 kilos. No white ones, like this one I found at SM a few years back…

If you would like to take your kids to pick out an authentic pumpkin (or a fantastic selection of flowers) from Puentespina’s chiller (admittedly getting it from a field is much more appealing), here is the information:

Giant pumpkins, from 6-30 kilos per piece, at PHP80 per kilo.
Decorative Gourds, 5-6 pieces per kilo, PHP180 per kilo. Can’t figure out why they were charging so much for these, almost the same price as S&R, which buy from Puentespina wholesale. But these are still a deal, as you only need a few to bring holiday cheer to your desk or table, so you need not spend an arm and a leg…
Regular sized pumpkins, from 3-5 kilos per piece, at PHP120 per kilo.

Puentespina Orchids & Tropical Plants, Inc.
Manila Seedling Bank
T 9242730
F 9241271


On a related holiday note, you may wish to read the following if you are in the market for a turkey or two this holiday season. First issue, no large turkeys available, I have looked in five or six locations in Metro-Manila, to no avail at all. I wanted at least a 20-23 pound turkey and they are nowhere to be found. What’s out there are just what I like to call “turkettes” at roughly 5-6 kilos or 11-12 pounds or so, just double the size of a jumbo magnolia chicken for goodness sakes! On the bright side, I suppose that allows me to cook two turkeys at the same time, with slightly different preparations.

But wait, don’t forget to check prices, as the same exact turkey can cost you as much as 40% more in the same general vicinity! Take this price comparison for Butterball turkeys, all roughly 5-6 kilos in size, at four different locations: Metro Grocery – PHP240/kilo (small sizes and they only had a few and they looked old, as in last year’s) S&R – PHP245/kilo Landmark – PHP250/kilo Cash & Carry – PHP240 kilo and get this, RUSTAN’s MAKATI, 100 meters from Landmark, at a whopping PHP345/kilo, or 38% more expensive for exactly the same product! Yipes.

And just to make sure we weren’t dreaming, here is the comparison for Maple Leaf brand frozen ducks: PHP396/kilo at Landmark, and PHP525/kilo at Rustan’s or 33% more expensive! If you bought a 6-kilo turkey at Landmark it would be PHP1,500 but at Rustan’s PHP2,070 — the PHP570 difference would cover the cost of 2-3 side dishes for goodness sakes… :) Finally, average turkey prices in the U.S. for butterball, maybe some PHP100 a kilo! :(



  1. betty q. says:

    it is a good time to use your vacuum packed dried wild mushrooms. Give the Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding a try instead of stuffing. You will not be disappointed! I added about 2 handfuls of shredded 4 cheeses.

    Oct 19, 2011 | 2:04 pm


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  3. Marketman says:

    Bettyq, that sounds like a good idea for the stuffing! I have been saving the bounty… :)

    Oct 19, 2011 | 2:24 pm

  4. Mimi says:

    I just bought a 5 kg frozen turkey for S$35. Will make it inasal flavour for a Pinoy twist.

    Oct 19, 2011 | 5:46 pm

  5. millet says:

    very nice! love the scarecrows, but am bowled over by how beautiful your dining table is everytime i see it in your pictures.

    Oct 19, 2011 | 7:01 pm

  6. jane says:

    Hi there!!!

    I read today that the trendy colors for Halloween 2011 are black and white…its so scarrrrrrrrrrryyyyyy


    Oct 19, 2011 | 8:11 pm

  7. natie says:

    LOVELY decor!!!! as always, MM!

    Oct 19, 2011 | 8:59 pm

  8. T says:

    how wonderful that there’s a place like that in QC! and love your authentic halloween decor! we just visited an awesome farm with all sorts of pumpkins; i liked their winged gourds best.

    Oct 19, 2011 | 9:14 pm

  9. Betchay says:

    Love the variety of gourds…and the pumpkins….cant wait what ghoulish creature you will carve out from them! Just be careful you don’t cut your fingers off! :)
    Got a small turkey in the freezer too for Halloween so BettyQ what’s the recipe for that wild mushroom bread pudding, please?Can I use shitake,oyster,button mushrooms instead? Thanks!

    Oct 20, 2011 | 7:37 am

  10. kikas_head says:

    Did you check Unimart for a giant turkey? They have them although I am not sure of the weight… I think the reason most of the turkeys are smaller here is because ovens tend to be smaller also.

    Oct 20, 2011 | 8:54 am

  11. sister says:

    In Greenwich, NY, near Saratoga, is a 25 lb. turkey with my name tag around his neck. Destined for our Thanksgiving dinner, which we hope you will partake of, he is spending his remaining time pastured with the rest of the flock earmarked for Blue Hill. How’s that for pedigree?

    Oct 20, 2011 | 9:03 am

  12. betty q. says:

    Betchay…just google it but I tweaked it. Instead of using challah, I used my frozen croissants (I usually buy day-old just for this purpose and it is a lot cheaper then freeze them). For the custard base, I used 4 eggs, 2 cups of whipping cream or half and half., then added some chicken stock up to 2 cups. I must have used about 8 croissants (large size), cut into fairly large cubes. First pala, saute about 6 cups of mushrooms keeping in mind they will exude a lot of water so they will wilt a bit….in garlic, caramelized sweet onions (LOTS OF IT!) parsley, salt and pepper…use herbs like pinch of thyme or sage(didn’t have sage at home). Saute in high heat so it will not steam and you will not have a lot of mushroom liquid. We like a lot of mushrooms! Then lastly, add a touch of cream cheese. Before I added the cream cheese, my son kept on taking samples by the spoonfuls and topping a slice of baguette and sprinkled with the cheese blend and put it under the broiler. Believe or not, by the end of the night, I had no more sauteed mushrooms to add to the pudding the next day. I had to make another batch the next morning!

    Use whatever mushrooms you have. After they have cooled down, you can throw everything together ….taste it first and then throw everything in a 9 by 13 casserole dish. I also added 2 handfuls of 4 cheese Italiano blend. It tastes better served at room temp. and even COLD!

    Oct 20, 2011 | 9:04 am

  13. Guada says:

    Very very nice MM. How I wish Puentespina has a branch in Makati or Alabang.

    Oct 20, 2011 | 9:10 am

  14. betty q. says:

    Betchay…I forgot to tell you about the BACON! If you can find double-smoked, use that. I use Tiroler bacon…soooooooooooooo good! I buy a 1 inch chunk and cut them to pieces and saute it first to render the fat and then add the garlic, etc.

    Oct 20, 2011 | 9:11 am

  15. millet says:

    bettyq, am salivating just reading the recipe. MM, am in cebu now and was planning to ask if you would be here at this time as i intended to bring you some very fresh straw mushrooms. however, i realized i will be staying in mactan the whole time and would not have time at all to go to downtown cebu, so I ditched the plan. next time. are there straw mushrooms at all in cebu? because they are abundant in davao, and i don’t seem to have seen any in manila.

    Oct 20, 2011 | 9:55 am

  16. Marketman says:

    millet, I have seen them in Manila, fresh and delicious, but rarely available… but thanks for the thought. And what? No lechon? If you manage a trip into the city, check out our “pork ribs sinigang” that is my current favorite… it’s a special dish, hasn’t made it onto the regular menu yet… Guada, they do have a branch in Makati, Ground Floor, Colbella Arcade, No 910 Pasay Road (Arnaiz Ave) T8132190 but they won’t have the breadth of selection as the QC branch. But you can order and pick up in Makati… bettyq, you have to try my imbento bread pudding that I made once with old ensaimada, it was yummy. :)

    Oct 20, 2011 | 4:01 pm

  17. Rex P says:

    Hi Guada. We have a small shop in Makati. Ground floor 910 Colbella Arcade Pasay Road. Tel. 8435303, 8132190. Same building as Ralph’s wine & Love Garden, infront of the residences. It’s called waling flowers. Thank you for supporting your local farmer.

    Oct 20, 2011 | 8:01 pm

  18. millet says:

    MM, i know, no lechon! and food at the hotel is crummy,,,only the thought of the heavy traffic prevents me from hopping into a taxi and heading straight to One Mango! i have visions of dinuguan and crispy pata and chicharon…and ribs sinigang pa gyud! aaargghh! will definitely pick up some chicharon at the airport, that’s the only pasalubong i’m bringing back.

    Oct 20, 2011 | 9:33 pm

  19. betty q. says:

    Oh…I forgot about your ensaimada pudding! THANK YOU for reminding me! In our household, whenever I make ensaymadas, no matter how many dozens I make, we have NO leftovers! It’s as if neighbours and my nephews can smell them where they are!

    But every year around this time of the year, my SIL and some friends give me Panettone…just like a few weeks ago, a neighbour gave me panettone as a token of gratitude for teaching her how to make Candied Salmon to take back home to Davao. That panettone will be in a bread pudding for the boys just wiped out the Apple Pies! Anyone wishing to make your own Apple Pies, try it with Ambrosia apples. I know they are “eating” type of apples. But I like intoxicating apple perfume from Ambrosia apples plus they hold their shape well though they are soft and do not turn to mush after baking. Furthermore, the apple is sweet so I do not need to add much sugar. The lemon juice added to the filling balances out the sweetness together with the pinch of salt. I have a longtime friend who went to Europe to head the pastry dept. of Hyatt in Belgrade. When he came back in the late 90’s, he opened his own pastry shop. I got a call MM from him asking me how to make my APPLE PIE! I could not believe my ears!!!! Needless to say, I showed him how to do it but my jaw dropped when he refused to add salt…not even a pinch! All his baked goods from muffins to cakes are saltless! What is it about Europeans not wanting to add salt to their baked goods or is it just a few European pastry chefs? My neighbour is European (from Austria)…same thing…his baked goods lack something!

    Oct 20, 2011 | 10:56 pm

  20. betty q. says:

    Looking at all those pumpkins, here is something you might want to try if you haven’t already…I was watching this cooking show today where Iron Chef Michael Symon made a beet ravioli if it was his last meal on earth. I thought that pumpkin/squash would make a great substitute so as to use all those pumpkins…besides pumpkin soup, pumpkin okoy, pumpkin bread, pumpkin gnocci, etc. I would roast the pumpkin too. INstead of goat cheese, I will use cream cheese or boursin or better yet… mascarpone. Instead of parmesan, I will use smoked gruyere. I will also use beet filling and spinach filling done like spanakopita with caramelized onions and roasted peppers. Instead of the usual wonton wrappers he used, I will use those shanghai dumpling wrappers (a lot sturdier than ordinary wonton wrappers).

    I think those 3 colors…red, yellow and green … on a white plate will be stunning and more Christmassy and served with sage or tarragon beurre blanc. But one twist I will do is make burnt butter sauce and have this dish on Boxing Day!

    Happy HYbrid Thanksgiving, MM!

    Oct 21, 2011 | 5:02 am

  21. Betchay says:

    Thank you very much BettyQ. I will try this when I do my turkey this halloween. I am sure this will be very delicious!

    Oct 21, 2011 | 7:55 am

  22. Alicia says:

    love those scarecrows.
    Thanks for the heads up on the turkey. Have always found decent size butterballs there. Will let you know if it’s worth the trip? Haven’t noticed if they have the fresh cranberries yet at s&r. Can’t believe it’s the holiday season once again!

    Oct 21, 2011 | 10:29 am

  23. Pebs says:

    Marketman, about a month ago we bought a couple of 10k Butterball turkeys from Unimart. I believe they cost around P240/kilo.

    Oct 21, 2011 | 10:34 am

  24. Guada says:

    Thanks MM. Hi rex. Will call your Makati shop soon..

    Oct 21, 2011 | 9:40 pm

  25. rl says:

    Hi! I was just going through your back posts on Halloween for some inspiration and I noticed these swirly lollipops (PHP4 each) you featured a few years back. Seems like something that would be a hit with the kids this year! I am very interested in sourcing some to give away for our Halloween celebration… would you be so kind as to share with me the contact details of the vendor? Thanks so much.

    Oct 22, 2011 | 9:14 pm

  26. Marketman says:

    rl, I got the lollipops at Shoemart, in their candy section outside the cash registers… That was a few years ago, not sure if they still sell them, but they were locally made…

    Oct 22, 2011 | 9:26 pm

  27. Fards says:

    bettyq, I see chanterelles at Costco here in Bellingham. Would that be the same as the wild ones you pick? Can I use that for the bread pudding?

    Oct 27, 2011 | 7:11 am

  28. jules winnfield says:

    Hi mm. Just to clarify the turkey prices you got over at s&r. They dont sell it by the kilo, they sell it per piece. The weight is between 5 to 6 kilos, but it is priced P1,149.95 each. That is roughly P209 per kilo only.

    Nov 9, 2011 | 12:54 pm

  29. Marketman says:

    jules, thanks for that clarification, that makes them the cheapest then. I think Mrs. MM got those prices at S&R, possibly dividing wrong? Or could the prices have come down since then?

    Nov 9, 2011 | 4:00 pm

  30. JEN says:

    do Puentespina sell them year-round? thanks!

    Jul 13, 2013 | 1:51 am


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