I visited the FTI AANI Market at Taguig on Saturday and was terribly dismayed by the quality of produce on offer. Like I said in my post for the Salcedo market, this is close to the worst month for greens… the end of an extremely hot summer that has wilted just about everything, the start of the rainy season that rots everything and those factors combined with school starting (so everyone’s pocketbooks are strained and are buying less at the markets) makes for a very depressing market landscape. I was going to write on the FTI AANI Weekend market but decided to put it off for another day when it has better stuff…wouldn’t want to get you all so excited and you make a visit only to find mediocre offerings. At any rate, in a fit of Marketman madness, we decided on short order to jump into the car and drive up to Baguio for a dose of cooler weather and to see if there really was a dearth of veggies on offer from the bountiful North. So, here goes… a spell of Marketmanila in Baguio for the next couple of days. First The Good: the Baguio market is as good as ever with wonderful produce, fruit and even rice and legume selections. There was a noticeable reduction in choices due to the end of the tourist season and weather related farm output but most of the stuff on offer still looked very fresh. I spied great looking watercress, zucchinis, avocados, peppers, etc. Prices were way below astronomical Manila levels but you do have to bargain as some of the locals try to take you for a ride.
Next, The Bad: we had a very disappointing meal at Cafe by the Ruins. We went back there (as we have on all previous trips) to get a nice dose of Pinikpikan which was just not right this time around. The soup (in photo) felt all jumbled up without the clarity and verve of all previous visits. The combination of abused free range chickens that are first grilled before being added to the soup pot combined with salt pork, watercress, ginger, celery, blueberries?, and other greens is usually very good but this was definitely not – it almost tasted muddy in a way. We also ordered longanissang hubad (“naked” sausage that should have put its clothes back on), spicy bangus that looked like it had been on a South Beach diet and made my tongue itchy to boot, mechado that didn’t look like mechado and a lumpia that did not thrill. Worse, the prices seemed to have escalated so we ended up with a highly unsatisfying meal at a relatively high cost. Surly waitstaff to exacerbate the unpleasant experience and an appalling toilet that has sunk further into the “I don’t think so category”. That’s the last time I am going there until a trusted source tells me it has returned to its old glory.
The Ugly: day old chicks that are skewered by threes, slathered with orange food coloring and barbecued and eaten in their entirety were a new discovery when walking around Burnham Park after the horrible meal at Cafe by the Ruins. I am told that I must be a street food novice as this “delicacy” is on offer across the archipelago. I was not thrilled with the thought of munching on the young brains of these poor chicks. Frankly, I refused to taste them. I am not that adventurous. But yes, I do eat frogs legs, have tasted alligator, enjoy fish roe and seriously fermented cabbage with chili (kimchi)! Different strokes for different folks, but for me these “day olds” were wickedly ugly!