14 Jan2013

Farm to Table…

by Marketman


“Farm to Table” is a phrase that is beginning to get a bit of backlash in the West… some food critics and writers claim it’s overdone, that when they go to eat out in the spring they are assaulted with more of the same, take ramps for example, or whatever produce is at its peak at that moment. Bunch of babies. Of course if you ate out every frigging night the chances are you would run into similar specials at good restaurants if the chefs featured what was great in the markets… So choose another dish from the regular menu! Duh.


For me, I LOVE IT when something arrives fresh from the “farm”… It looks different, vibrant, almost still alive. It is proud, fresh and quite inspiring for the cook. And it DOESN’T HAPPEN often enough in Manila. It’s bad enough we aren’t near many farms, but even our weekend markets are made up mostly of middlemen out to make a buck, very few of them the actual growers of the produce they sell (I know several exceptions, and mention them often enough).


These greens speak for themselves. From Gejo’s Malipayon Farms last week, I got some spectacular chard up top. Spectacular. Just the right size for me, greens not too thick and they were wonderful in a bean and sausage soup we made a day or two later. The second photo features a lone gai lan, or Chinese kale… sent as a sample and I told Gejo it looked wonderful, I could have used a kilo of those! Above, bunches of SPECTACULAR spinach. ABSOLUTELY SPECTACULAR.


We also got this incredible looking bunch of lemongrass or tanglad. Just compare that to the ones you find in grocery chillers, the difference is like night and day! These went into a Tom Yum Gung Soup, and were chopped up for some chicken inasal.


Minutes after the delivery was received, I headed into the kitchen to make a wilted spinach salad with some bacon and onions for lunch. It was fantastic!


I also had a bowl of homemade split pea and ham soup, made from leftover ham hocks for the broth. Yum.



  1. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Love this post.Those produce are so fresh>>Farm to table menus here on our resto , are a little overrated..but appreciated since they used local produce,your salad & soup look so yummy..

    Jan 14, 2013 | 11:35 am


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  3. EbbaBlue says:

    My kind of food now… (after the surgery). The top photo reminded me of the chards that I planted last March (in our raised garden), I then went to Pinas and had stayed for a month; the chards grew so beautifully but my husband don’t know how to cook it (for we have not have them before); so when I came back from Pinas around June, it already bolted high and when I tried to stir-fry them, they were bitter.

    Soon, its going to be planting time here again, and I planned to have greens and herbs in my garden.

    Jan 14, 2013 | 12:35 pm

  4. Nacho says:

    I could write a lot about some, so called farmers markets, that are really more like tianges and outdoor eateries. Organizers try to control the items being sold by the farmers in the guise of limiting price wars between sellers, thus effectively limiting variety. If someone organizes a proper farmers market, I would gladly to join. The thing is, most customers also want the mall experience as well, where everything is available, clothes, food, massages and what have you. Then the rainy season comes in, and most farmers do not have much to sell and lose their spots at the market.
    Gejo is a real trooper, for producing what he does, despite all the challenges, though he too does not have a venue to sell his produce. Unless you consider the clandestine meet ups in parking lots where produce and money changes hands…. (the last, I say jokingly off-course!)

    Jan 14, 2013 | 2:08 pm

  5. Skye says:

    May I ask what is the tagalog or scientific name of the spinach above. When I bought seeds of spinach at Manila Seedling, the guy gave me “Kulitis” kasi spinach daw yun but the leaves (even the stalk) of the plant that grew are not the same as the picture above.

    I also have one lemongrass and I have to ask Manang to stop cutting from it for awhile kasi mauubos na. She uses it in tinola, natuwa sya masyado coz for a long time our tinola don’t have tanglad, the malunggay sold here in Manila doesn’t include tanglad unlike in VisMin.

    Jan 14, 2013 | 3:29 pm

  6. Marketman says:

    Nacho, you are so right. And I do wish there was a proper farmers market. I still want to visit your farm/greenhouses, you know that right? And if you have ANY produce you would like me to feature, I would love to do it. The same offer goes out to other medium to large growers near Manila, I would love to feature your produce if you sell it and have sufficient supplies. I know some folks I have featured before have ended with lots of restaurant contracts/contacts, lots of new places to sell their stuff, hotels asking about them, etc. It’s my pleasure to facilitate that process. As long as you continue to give me access to your wonderful produce when you are part of the bigwigs… hahaha. :)

    Jan 14, 2013 | 3:30 pm

  7. myra_p says:

    MM, I’ve been trying to get Nacho to grow spaghetti squash and fresh peas or sugar snaps, but his excuse is he doesn’t have seeds :p Anyone out there have seeds to send over? :)

    Jan 14, 2013 | 4:19 pm

  8. Marketman says:

    myra, spaghetti squash, sometimes available from Dizon farms (though i don’t think they grow them, just consolidate them) in the lobby of SM Makati. The same place they sell butternut squash. And yes, fresh peas PLEASE. And if you have pea shoots or pea tendrils, I would love to have some of those too!! I think peas need cooler weather…

    Jan 14, 2013 | 4:24 pm

  9. myra_p says:

    MM, you sure about that? Because I’ve never seen spaghetti squash in the PH, and I’m always at SM. I see the butternut squash though, and I love roasting it to make soup.

    Maybe the fresh peas are more suited to the DownToEarth peeps in Bukidnon? :)

    Jan 14, 2013 | 4:28 pm

  10. Marketman says:

    Myra, did a post on spaghetti squash, two years ago, here. If that’s the squash you mean, a very healthy stringy squash. Yup, they definitely have it once in a while, I had some in my kitchen two months ago. :) If you are really desperate, call up Dizon Farms and I am sure they will let you know when it is available… :)

    Jan 14, 2013 | 4:44 pm

  11. myra_p says:

    Haha, read your old post. Yup, spaghetti squash can be very boring if not cooked properly, but as you stated, it’s a low calorie food that can make a veggie-centric diet a little but more interesting :) Will definitely look for it the next time! I want to make some baked “spaghetti”…

    Jan 14, 2013 | 4:50 pm

  12. odessa says:

    oh how i miss gardening…. in the province i always have veggies planted on our garden rather than flowers. the joy of picking them fresh and cooking them is a sure winner! We have to build a fence around the garden though to avoid having the plants destroyed by free range animals.
    speaking of “kulitis”, the uncultivated variety with a hint of purple hue on it smaller leaves taste much sweeter than the green and large ones.
    malunggay and Tanglad dislike watery soil as per my observation. here in the city i tried planting them on pots but unfortunately dies after a week or two so i gave up…:(

    Jan 14, 2013 | 5:18 pm

  13. Khew says:

    Many so called food critics and food writers are questionable. Enough said. Fancy b*itching about farm-to-table, ultra fresh, negligible carbon footprint produce. Tsk,tsk.

    Jan 14, 2013 | 7:18 pm

  14. Molly Rygg says:

    Nacho- I work at a hotel. We are always looking to support small farmers who have good quality and unusual produce. Please give me you contact information.
    An another note, speaking of local farm products-
    Can anyone reccomend a good brand/supplier of Filipino grown Jasmine rice? Marketman- have you considered doing a post on this? The best rice for plain steamed rice for everyday eating?
    any information would be much appreciated.

    Jan 14, 2013 | 9:24 pm

  15. Gerry says:

    I recently learned that there are 2 varieties of spinach that they sell here. The upland spinach from Baguio has a slimier texture when cooked and the lowland variety which cooks like regular imported spinach. I am partial to the latter since I hate slimy veggies like okra.

    I buy tanglad in the Balintawak market for around P20 for as big a bunch as in the picture above. It’s true that good quality fresh tanglad, as easily evidenced by it’s green leaves and thick firm stalk, has a much brighter flavor than the dried up brown stuff in groceries.

    As for critics, some of them criticize for the lack of anything substantial to say. Kung walang masabi eh di magreklamo para magmukhang matalino.

    Jan 14, 2013 | 10:04 pm

  16. Marketman says:

    Hi Chef Molly, actually, unless I am mistaken, our MILAGROSA variety of rice is one of our most fragrant local varieties, and it may have played a role somehow in the development of Thai varieties… perhaps even Jasmine. The Philippines has dozens and dozens of types of rice, but you don’t hear much about them. I wrote a post 8 years ago, here, on just two vairieties. I think I have other posts as well, like this one on sticky rice varieties. If your buying office in Manila can get you a few kilos of Milagrosa to try, you might opt to use that instead of Thai Jasmine… Also there are now really interesting dark red, brown and black varieties of rice grown in Mindanao that are certified totally organic… so again I suggest you ask your buyers to look further than just jasmine and a couple of popular choices…

    Jan 14, 2013 | 10:39 pm

  17. Gej says:

    Gerry, I”ve seen at least 4 varieties of spinach here – well five, if one also counts alugbati , which is also called Malabar spinach. Aside from the one featured here, I’ve seen 2) “kulitis”, then 3) another variety (whose more specific name I do not know) with thick but tender, pale-green, “rhombus-like leaves’, that I see at S & R from time to time, and 4) polonchai , which looks like the one above but with longer, crunchy and thin stems. Polonchai is sometimes available in Arranque, with its tender leaves wrapped in chinese newspapers. Oddly, these are all called spinach, yet they look quite different from each other. It’s just the spinach above and polonchai that look similar. I like the one above and polonchai the most, for their taste, texture, and deep-green color when cooked.
    I have yet to know which variety Popeye used.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 12:05 am

  18. EbbaBlue says:

    MM, where can I get local red / brown rice? I preferred it for my special niece’s consumption. Wala silang mabili dyan, so might sound silly, pero nagpapadala pa ako from here (through Balikbayan box), galing sa Thailand, or from Nepal yata yon. Pati nga yung Pirurong, coming pa from here, sending to my relatives in Quezon province.

    Gerry, one time I bought Okra seeds to plant, it yielded not so slimy produce. And I found that if you harvest it early (yung young pa ang bunga nya), hindi siya malagkit. And when cooking, please don’t cut the top and the tail end, cook it whole.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 12:17 am

  19. shiko-chan says:

    So gorgeous!!! The wilted spinach dish looks like something I wanted to try making today (bok choy/Taiwanese pechay stir-fried with shiitake, but alas had to do something else instead) and is giving me cravings at 2:30 AM. I can practically taste that soup in my mouth already–or maybe I’m just hallucinating.

    Thanks for another great post MM. It is one of my continuing disappointments that I, with my household of just one (1) busy working person (i.e. myself haha), can’t participate in any of the few CSA programs now operating in Manila. I’m still hoping they eventually come up with deliveries smaller than the usual 3+ kg.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 2:31 am

  20. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    I’m not too sure about ‘backlash’ as opposed to maybe a sense of self righteousness about farm to table. There’s a new series on PBS called ‘Mind of Chef’. You can Google it and watch full episodes. I’m don’t know exactly which episode, but they do feature a chef who briefly talks about his disdain on farm to table.

    Closer to home, farmers markets are nearby and frequent in Silicon Valley. Depending on where you’re at, the markets feature produce in what is in demand by the locals. For example, a suburb in San Jose will have more Asian produce as opposed to a farmer’s market in Jack London Square in Oakland, where the produce will be more mainstream and command a higher price. I remember one vendor who was literally about to scream at the top of her lungs at a customer who made an attempt to make conversation based on something they saw on the Food Network thinly disguised as first hand knowledge…but that’s another story.

    The funny thing about Silicon Valley is how detached people are from their food sources and how the ‘foodies’ would clamor, rave and demand farm raised and/or organic produce. It wasn’t all that long ago that Silicon Valley was filled with farms and orchards and with many of them having roadside stands where the public could get fresh fruits and vegetables. At the same time, if you know people who worked on the farms and orchards, you could go to the property and help yourself to whatever was on the trees or pull from the ground. It wasn’t all that unusual with Filipino labor being part of the workforce.

    Speaking of, this also began a sort of micro economy with many Filipino men in the service with their wives working in the burgeoning semi conductor industry in the 70s. Many Silicon Valley company cafeterias and parking lots were spontaneous market places with families buying/selling/trading fresh produce from aforementioned farms and orchards or grown in backyards. Heck, it wasn’t all that unusual to hear a goat in suburbia and then find it slaughtered and then butchered in the garage.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 2:53 am

  21. PITS, MANILA says:

    it has always been a dream — a farm. an ecologically (self-sustaining) farm.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 6:07 am

  22. Fred says:

    Always wanted to have my own plot of land next to the beach (of course). I’d raise in it all manner of good, delicious green stuff. Must be partly due to the “bahay kubo” song we all grew up with. Anyway, at this time, pot to table is the only thing I can afford. Even tomatoes grown from a potted plant and ripened on the vine tastes better than the ones from the supermarket.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 8:33 am

  23. myra_p says:

    Hey shiko-chan, fresh, organic produce in “personal” portions is available daily at Down To Earth. Their office is on Pasay Road. Call to check what’s available, 0916-335-6363.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 10:24 am

  24. shiko-chan says:

    Dear Myra_P, I can’t thank you enough for letting me know. :) Looking through their website now and it’s all so good!! Unfortunately, even their “Regular” size box (3-4 kg) is too much for my limited time and energy and appetite :( Up to 2kg would probably be best for me not to waste anything.

    Anybody want to share? Haha. I live in the Ortigas area ;)

    Jan 15, 2013 | 11:20 am

  25. myra_p says:

    Shiko, good idea, just get one person to share with you! BUT, if you are ever in Makati, you can personally drop by their offices and choose your own produce in individual portions. The organic mesclun box is enough for 2 hearty salads, and I recommend their new product, all-natural canadian bacon :)

    Jan 15, 2013 | 11:42 am

  26. shiko-chan says:

    thanks again Myra_P! you understood me right, Makati is a bit far for someone without private transportation such as myself ;) but yes, i would do that once i get a good opportunity! their website had me craving! and very reasonable prices too! :9

    Jan 15, 2013 | 3:40 pm

  27. Stephen says:

    The phrase “farm to table” is getting a backlash doesn’t stem from diners being bored of the ingredients that’s in season. It is because the phrase in itself is often misleading. Tracing food from farm to table isn’t as easy as it sounds and with many restaurants and food sources claiming the mantra it’s often “smoke and mirrors” as Wylie Dufresne puts it. With so many people claiming it, it’s actually lost it’s meaning.

    Jan 16, 2013 | 11:39 am

  28. Isa says:

    @ebba blue: I’m surprised you have to send red or brown rice home pa! Even SM has that available, I cannot say for sure if they are local but it is definitely available. If you go to other supermarkets like Landmark or Metro the option are even better. I just saw some red sticky rice at Metro in Alabang.

    Jan 16, 2013 | 11:57 am

  29. terrey says:

    i learn so much by just reading the comments! thanks to all!

    Jan 16, 2013 | 12:22 pm

  30. Nacho says:

    MM you are welcome at the farm any time, if you give me a couple of days notice to move my schedule around to make sure I am there, it would be better. But you can just drop by any time, it would only be a 5 minute detour from your regular route to Batangas.
    Chef Molly, thank you for the interest, we already supply many of the better known Hotels and Restaurants in Metro Manila with the help of a few posts from MM. I focus on Tomatoes and Bell Peppers, this is 98% of what I grow in my greenhouses.
    Myra, i really will try growing them I just need the seeds.
    My purpose in joining a farmers market is as a venue to sell my experiments, I grow more than a few different veggies around the outside of our greenhouses. I cannot sell these to my regular clients as I grow very small quantities and cannot assure continuity of supply. As well as selling off my normal range of products when I have an over supply.

    Jan 16, 2013 | 1:11 pm

  31. Marichu says:

    Chef Molly: I’ve been to something called Kannawidan in Vigan, Ilocos Sur and I’ve seen a couple of different black rice varieties (not jasmine, though). They were grown in places in Ilocos Sur I wouldn’t be able to point to on a map. I guess what I’m trying to say is, go to trade shows in the provinces and you’ll find all of these great stuff. They have everything from regional furnitures to ampalaya ice cream. Try it!

    Jan 16, 2013 | 6:46 pm

  32. Catherine Posas says:

    Dizon Farms grows many of the lettuces and exotic vegetables that you find in the supermarkets.

    Jul 22, 2013 | 12:25 pm


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