You would be forgiven if you had mistakenly thought I left the Philippines to hit a fantastic western market resulting in this loot of organic broccolini, baby swiss chard, microgreens, and grass-fed beef. But the better news is that this is all locally grown, and now available at the Salcedo Market on Saturdays and Mercato Centrale on Sundays. Myra P sent me a heads up weeks ago that this wonderful farm in Bukidnon would soon be at the Salcedo market and she was sure I would like what they had to offer. Well, that was an understatement. If I didn’t restrain myself this morning at 8am, I would have purchased nearly everything they had on display (excluding the mesclun, of which they had a lot)!
We didn’t have any plans to entertain this weekend, but following visits to three markets this morning, we hastily called on some friends to join us for a “market menu” this evening… Such calls, are thankfully, always received with eagerness and healthy appetites. But back to “downtoearth vegetables,” the produce line of Earth Flora, Inc. which operates a farm in Bukidnon and which supports neighboring small scale producers and farmers. The produce you see here contains no chemical sprays or fertilizers. I purchased two bunches of baby carrots, at PHP100 a bunch with 500 grams. At PHP200 a kilo, these carrots are pricey, but you can rinse them quickly and eat the entire carrot in two bites. Sweet and delicious.
I also bought a small container of “bull’s blood beet” microgreens because they have a nice flavor and superb color when garnishing dishes. At PHP70, for probably less than 50 grams, these were about the going price for microgreens, and a little goes a really long way. I am so happy that micro, mini and baby greens are becoming much more readily available in Manila, a great sign for avid cooks and chefs.
Their “mesclun” is pretty nice with a wide selection of greens (lollo roasa, romaine, mizuna, tatsoi, baby arugula, etc.), but most of the leaves a little bigger than what “mesclun” is really originally meant to include (small, baby, tiny, fresh leaves). The term has been a bit abused, but despite that slight quibble, it was a nice mixture of salad greens and for 100 grams, PHP100.
I was extremely excited to find broccolini, which after my recent delivery of rapini or broccoli rabe from Gejo at Kitchen Herbs farm, which is a great veggie to blanch, saute with garlic and chillies and a final spritz of lemon. We will be having these for dinner this evening. PHP70 for 350 grams or roughly PHP200 per kilo. I have written about broccolini in an earlier post.
Next up, SPECTACULAR chard. Not the really huge, overgrown almost tough examples that sometimes make it to weekend markets, but younger, softer, vibrant chard perfect for soups of stir fries. Beautiful. PHP70 for this bunch.
Not only did they have the wonderful chard, they had baby swiss chard as well. Great for salads, garnishes, etc. The veggies speak for themselves, don’t they look amazing?
I also got some Italian parsley for PHP70 a bunch, more than I normally pay for the herb, but they were particularly fresh looking. And finally, I went a little crazy with the grass-fed beef, wanting to try several cuts of meat. I had actually gone to see this vendor hoping to find some organic pasture raised pork, but they didn’t have much available, most of it already made into bacon or other smoked pork products.
Their grass-fed beef consist of several types of native cattle. Specifically, their write-ups identify “the native Bali or Banteng and Chinese Yellow Cattle cross-bred with Nellore or Ongole and American Brahman cattle”. The cattle thrive in Mindanao, and in this case, are pasture raised and grass-fed. They warn that the meat is lean and could be tougher than say those overbred for melt-in-your-mouth softness Western meats, but they have character. We shall see in the days ahead.
One thing I must mention, however, is the use of staples to close their paper bags filled with produce. A serious NO-NO in my book. The staples can easily find their way into your greens and cause all manner of problems. I wish they would stop the use of staple wires. But what a great find otherwise. Such wonderful produce. Such interesting folks to talk to. So earnest, so local, so right. Okay, off to the kitchen to use all the terrific finds today… :)
P.S. I noticed in their website that they might actually have frisee, that wonderful lettuce that I have been searching for locally for years. If it is true, I will be in lettuce heaven for a day or two…
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