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
TURKEY PRICE WARNING!!!
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! :(