01 Jul2007

let1

Strolling through the Union Square Market in New York, I am almost always drawn to this purveyor of microgreens that offers several dozen varieties of baby lettuces and leafy vegetables that look so incredibly appetizing. I am a huge salad fan, and let2despite the great improvements in availability of salad greens in Manila, our choices are decades behind where I would hope them to be. So on trips to the West, I quite literally pig out on salad. One could argue that the flavor difference between many smaller greens is hard to distinguish if blindfolded, but I still like the visual beauty of many of these little young leaves with exotic shapes, colors, notably different textures and mouthfeel, ability to grip dressings, and have various degrees of bitterness, pepperiness, crunch, softness, etc. A salad dish filled with several baby greens is just so incredibly appealing to look at.

Since I can’t get many of my favorites in Manila, I go a little wild when in New York. And on this trip to the market, I instinctively reached for some plastic bags and stuffed in some wild baby arugula (different from standard arugula), mache or lamb’s lettuce let5and some baby frisee lettuce. While I know I spotted the prices clearly displayed with the lettuce as $12.00, I think I unconsciously ignored the part that said per ¼ pound…actually, what that then translates to is about $100 per kilo!!! Egads, is right. Even compared with the priciest microgreens I have found in Manila at PHP2,000 per kilo (which now appear to be a bargain), this was utterly EXPENSIVE! I was too embarrassed to back out so for my measly 200+ grams of greens, so I got nailed for over $20! The greens easily made 5 generous salads so I shouldn’t be griping, but I definitely got bamboozled. At those prices, greenhouses in Manila can raise these in AIRCONDITIONED comfort and have staff sing to them, for export to places like HK or Japan…

let4

I find it is best to enjoy these baby greens with a minimum of fuss. Just a really good extra virgin olive oil (perhaps even an unfiltered one) and a squeeze of lemon or some drops of excellent balsamic vinegar. Maybe a few bits of cheese or alett3.JPGcubes of beets… The stuff was so pricey I decided to showcase them here on yet another of my sister’s silver/crystal pieces. It’s not that often that you find glass plates with a rim or edge of spectacular sterling silver in an intricate pattern… these plates date from the 1890’s, and were made in the U.S., during the heyday of glass/silver works. I thought they were just way cool. A pain in the rear to keep clean probably, but amazing in that they have borloloy but aren’t excessive… They were a perfect match for the delicious but grossly overpriced baby salad greens.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Swimgreen says:

    I completely hear you on this…. on baby greens that is. Im about to move to Manila from Sydney and almost everyday i chow down my baby spinach leaves, painfully saying goodbye. Someone grow it already please :) ill bring the seeds.

    Jul 1, 2007 | 7:58 pm

     
  2. Kieran says:

    It’s kinda hard to go back to plain iceberg lettuce salad once you’ve gotten used to mesclun or microgreens. Even on sandwiches, these greens are a much better alternative to the boring iceberg.

    Jul 1, 2007 | 10:20 pm

     
  3. fresh field says:

    MM … drop by the store end of the month … ill make some baby salad greens for you … size 4″ and below. ill try to get hold of some exotic greens to go with it.

    I have been pushing the concept of baby salad greens for years now. unfortunately, only a few restaurants want them because they find it expensive. well at 4″ and below, local farmers are just about to transplant it. But for baby salad green growers, they have to harvest them.

    Jul 1, 2007 | 11:45 pm

     
  4. paolo says:

    If you buy lettuces in Manila and they came from Tagaytay, chances are, they were from my Brother’s farm.

    The farm supplies the major hotel chains there, the airline catering businesses and upscale grocery stores in Manila.

    Jul 2, 2007 | 12:05 am

     
  5. sha says:

    this is what i enjoy most at the marche provencal in antibes I would go there every other day if we are at home port and buy assorted salad

    hooray venice now!!

    Jul 2, 2007 | 12:29 am

     
  6. Myra P. says:

    fresh field, where is your store and how can i get a hold of some baby greens too? :)

    Jul 2, 2007 | 3:00 am

     
  7. fresh field says:

    Myra P. … email me at lettuceentertain@yahoo.com … cheers

    Jul 2, 2007 | 6:49 am

     
  8. Marketman says:

    Myra, I have written about Edwin of Fresh Field before…they have the most wonderful microgreens in Manila, of which you only need a few grams literally to garnish a plate, see links. They also have baby carrots sometimes, roma tomatoes, great romaine, and other greens… a total find. I love their stuff and have mentioned them often… And P.S., don’t they have the most outrageous email address, in the comment above?

    Jul 2, 2007 | 7:54 am

     
  9. Betty Q. says:

    Mesclun practically can be grown even in pots…makes a nice addition to container gardening. It’s what I call “cut and grow back” plant. As soon as they’re about 4 inches high, cut them back to soil level, and you get a second harvest in a few weeks!!! My sister always go back home 3 or 4x a year. E-mail me if you would like to grow them and I shall send a gorgeous seed selection yielding an array of colors and textures. I usually make my own gourmet mix or if you have a preference, don’t hesitate to let me know.

    Jul 2, 2007 | 9:28 am

     
  10. Marketman says:

    Betty Q., gosh, thank you so much for that kind offer. I actually came home from the New York trip with over 20 seed packets with the intention of just that – growing my own. But I have a bit of a black thumb so lets see if I am able to nurture anything to my our salad bowls! :) But thanks for that offer!

    Jul 2, 2007 | 12:51 pm

     
  11. Betty Q. says:

    Hi MM…Here’s a few hints to give you a head start..Lettuce is a cool season vegetable.Here in Vancouver, B.C. I plant them in the spring and again in late fall. So you might NOT want to plant them in the height of summer there or else they will BOLT and sometimes make them bitter. Also , I have two award-winning dressings that I think you might enjoy…a spicy sesame ginger and a raspberry honey vinaigrette. Give me a shout if you want the recipe for those and my pride and joy(next to my husband and two boys) which is my Grand Award winning chocolate cake from 1995 Chocolympics held here in Vancouver.

    Jul 2, 2007 | 1:46 pm

     
  12. Alroy says:

    There’s a huge chunk of people who often wonder how garden shops, greenhouses, and nurseries successfully grow lively, healthy potted plants. The answer is on how and where you plant the seeds.

    Ordinary/plain garden soil is prone to soil-borne diseases, dirt, good and bad microorganisms, even bits of trash. Use Organic Soil / Soilless Potting Mixes to give your seeds the right and fresh start.

    Visit: http://www.soil-less.com (Read “Sowing Seeds in Pots)

    and http://www.greenhearts.com

    Read Article: http://www.mb.com.ph/issues/2007/03/27/AGRI2007032790542.html

    Go natural, Go organic.

    Jul 2, 2007 | 4:19 pm

     
  13. Cumin says:

    I agree, Fresh Field has a brilliant e-mail address. Don’t you sometimes want to put together a list of all these hilarious and occasionally cheesy e-mail addresses?

    Jul 2, 2007 | 4:32 pm

     
  14. Maria Clara says:

    I once asked a farmer why it cost more for baby green salads than a matured lettuce. His answer the extra care they put into from sowing to watering – they use fine sprinkler and just the right amount of water pressure to harvesting until getting it to the market. Just like human babies hence the name – their required special care otherwise the environment and improper handling will ruin them.

    Jul 3, 2007 | 3:54 am

     
  15. Cherrie says:

    My fave is rocket salad. The best !!!

    Jul 29, 2007 | 4:20 am

     
 

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