When Nico from DowntoEarth emailed to say they had the first harvest of chioggia beets that were grown in Bukidnon at the markets this weekend, I reserved a kilo or so. I LOVE chioggia beets. Sweeter, seemingly “lighter” and less earthy that the usual deep burgundy beets, chioggias are perfect for salads and not only delicious, but visually stunning as well. They are an heirloom variety from Italy, near Venice, according to this interesting post.
Organically raised, the beets were on the small side (which I like), but also pockmarked in several cases by aggressive earth dwellers… :)
I am always so thrilled when an ingredient or type of produce I have enjoyed elsewhere on the planet, proves to be a potential crop for local growers. Native produce is fantastic, but these occasional “imports” add variety to the selection as well.
Chioggias are known for their unusual pattern of concentric circles of deep burgundy and white, see some stunning photos here and here. The ones I got had the classic circles, but not as prominent as those in the linked photos. I was very happy nonetheless.
Here are the chioggias baked, peeled and sliced, ready for a simply dressing of good vinegar a pinch of sugar if you like and some salt and pepper just before serving.
The chioggias were the star of this plate of market goodies for lunch yesterday, Saturday. Some asparagus, beets, roasted red bell peppers, and three dips (eggplant, tomato and lentils) purchased from the Moroccan table at Salcedo market. At PHP300 a kilo, the beets were pricey, but considering they are highly unusual, and fully organic, I thought the price was a fair exchange.
P.S. Have vegetable vendors at Salcedo market ever heard of the phrase price gouging? Besides DowntoEarth and Herbana Farms, I RARELY and only when DESPERATE buy any more produce at Salcedo market, their prices border on unconscionable! Take for example a couple of items I inquired about yesterday… nice thick asparagus at PHP1,300!! a kilo at Salcedo market, but I bought nearly the exact same quality of asparagus at PHP300 a kilo at Fresh Fields in Market!Market! the day before! And cherry tomatoes, probably greenhouse grown at PHP400 a kilo at Salcedo Market and PHP200 or less a kilo at the FTI Saturday market. Fennel and bell peppers at Salcedo can be 100-150% more than FTI, and other more basic veggies are likewise outrageously marked-up. And fruit, egads, don’t get me started on that. Is the price of convenience really that high? When Bangkok Santol sells for PHP50 at other markets, the same santol is PHP100 a kilo at Salcedo. Avocados, jackfruit and imported fruits have massive premiums as well. And NO, NO, NO to folks who claim they sell Sagada oranges when they aren’t Sagada oranges unless there is a town in China named Sagada! Frankly, that is a real turn-off and while I agree that buyers must beware, and if they are dumb enough not to care about prices, then everyone should be happy. But I think market organizers should really look into this. If not for a few specialty growers and some cooked goods, I rarely spend much of our food budget at the Salcedo market any more… They probably take the prize for the MOST OVERPRICED MARKET IN THE PHILIPPINES.