15 Sep2006


I love the fresh herbs from Zacky’s Farm in Tagaytay. I am always thrilled to round the corner in the chilled produce section at the Rustan’s Grocery Rockwell and find that Zacky’s has had a recent delivery of herbs. That’s usually the case before the weekend. Small portions of herbs are neatly packed in sealed zac2plastic bags and priced from about PHP30 to 60 per packet. You can sometimes get dill, basil, oregano, chives, mint, tarragon, wansoy, Italian parsley, jalapeno peppers, cherry tomatoes, etc. I first started buying from this farm many years ago when they took a stall at the then makeshift market beside the proposed site of the Market!Market! Mall in Fort Bonifacio Taguig. At that time, the table was manned by a very amiable fellow who used to make sure I would get first dibs on any herbs he had that day. Better yet, he would let me order herbs a week in advance, almost certainly ensuring I would have whatever I needed the following weekend, a rare certainty in Manila at the time.

It was a small operation then and they carried just a few items but I religiously purchased 3x more herbs than I needed every time I shopped there just to help them out and encourage them to plant more. zac3Once the Market!Market! Mall opened, they lost their space and they used to sell some of their stuff at one of the vendors in the vegetable section but supply was erratic at best. Then they thankfully got some shelf space at Rustan’s Rockwell and I am grateful every time I see their stuff. It is always fresh, reasonably priced and just the stuff I need. In the past two weeks, I have loaded up on basil, dill, jalapenos, cherry tomatoes, Italian parsley and rosemary. Soon after I started this blog, a mutual acquaintance sent me the cell number of the owner of Zacky’s but I never got around to calling or featuring them at the time. However, I am one of their best customers and highly recommend this source to anyone who cooks with fresh herbs…



  1. corrine says:

    I love herbs! I see dill, rosemary, flat leaf parsely, cherry tomatoes, and jalapeno!! I used to have an herb patch but I wasn’t able to maintain it. May I have the cell no. of Mr. Zacky? Just the guy I am looking for.

    Sep 15, 2006 | 7:07 pm


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  3. Marketman says:

    corrine, I have since lost the number and I’m not sure he takes orders by cell anymore…best to get the stuff at the grocery instead…

    Sep 15, 2006 | 8:05 pm

  4. mita says:

    Thank you for the information, MM. It’s great to know so many herbs are now available in Metro Manila. There are so many food products that could be grown in our country – if only the market could support the farmers. Your post on vanilla beans got me curious, not just about buying Philippine vanilla beans but growing my own once I move back home…if only I could find the plants!

    Sep 16, 2006 | 12:03 am

  5. teny says:

    Marketman: I always watch bobby flay on Tv and often he uses several kinds of chilli peppers aside from jalapeno. Any idea where we can get that here. Although siling labuyo / tabasco often does the trick, I’m just looking for a different flavor for some texmex meals I make for my family

    Sep 16, 2006 | 12:41 am

  6. kaye says:

    i love jalapeno but i usually get them from my sister in vegas, in mexican restaurants although not as fresh as what you have in the photo or a few pieces/slices in my subway sandwich which is really “biten!”.. how do you prepare your jalapenos fresh? do i just buy them fresh and slice them and remove the seeds and it’s ready to eat or do i grill it? thanks!!

    Sep 16, 2006 | 4:28 am

  7. Marketman says:

    mita, you nailed it, the market is so small and unwilling to pay for variety enough to sustain small farmers that grow many different things… teny, a lot of the peppers bobby flay uses are actually DRIED and these can be purchased in the West and brought back and stored in your pantry. However, on the fresh chillies, I have found jalapenos here, habaneros (reputed to be the hottest in the world) which I wrote a post about here, and some versions of thai and other chillies. No, we don’t have the vast majority sweetish hot southwest US peppers that Flay is partial to. Kaye, the bottled and pickled jalapenos you refer to are relatively mild compared to the fresh ones. I just tend to chop them up and add them to dishes that need some heat, like some mussels I did a few weeks ago… Don’t remove the seeds if you want serious heat.

    Sep 16, 2006 | 9:20 am

  8. Naz says:

    You take excellent photos, MM. Are those PS enhanced or straight from the camera no post processing? I have yet to see poorly composed pictures from you. First time for me to find out that jalapenos are available in the Philippines. I must have seen them before in the markets/talipapa but I wasn’t particularly fond of them then or aware of the name. All I knew then were the siling labuyo and the long yellow peppers for paksiw. I was given a recipe on how to prepare (pickle) them and the jalapenos stayed crispy (like the dills). We pick peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and other fruits from a farm in Fairfield during summertime after July 4th. .20 cents/lb for tomatoes and .39 cents/lb the rest of the fruits and veggies you pick. My wife and I, eats steamed okra, eggplants, and succhini with fresh tomatoes with alamang almost everyday since July 4th and that’s no BS. Keep those excellent entries coming for I visit your blog on a daily basis.

    Sep 16, 2006 | 9:31 am

  9. Marketman says:

    Naz, you flatter Marketman. I consider myself a horrible photographer. And that’s coming from a family of serious photobugs with equipment up the wazoo. I have a very basic camera and I just shoot tons of pictures (16,000+ at last count) from which I hope to choose just one or two pictures. I do sometimes sharpen a photo with my adobe photoshop but that’s about it for fiddling with the things… Gosh, I miss being near a U.S. farm in July and August, such abundance and good prices! See today’s post on erratic supplies and pricing in the third world!

    Sep 16, 2006 | 10:52 am

  10. CWID says:

    Over here, the chilis that are available do not seem to compare with our siling labuyo. The jalapenos are good for some chili flavor but it does not provide much heat, imho.

    Sep 16, 2006 | 3:48 pm

  11. Naz says:

    I have read most if not all of your recent posts and I am totally amazed with the quality of your photos. I just wish I could come close. It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer. You set up your subjects well.

    Yes, you can’t beat the prices of produce here especially when you have to pick them yourselves.

    Sep 17, 2006 | 3:25 am

  12. gonzo says:

    I find that Zacky’s jalapenos do not taste quite like those grown in north america. also sometimes the heat level varies, even within the same batch. I’ve eaten one of the Zacky’s chillies like a capsicum–straight out of the pack, crunchy but virtually no heat at all, then the next turns out to be a real mouth burner.

    Compared to our two types (labuyo and pangsigang) there are hundreds of chilli varieties in Mexico (and lately more varieties can now be found in the US) and they are eaten not just for the heat but for the flavour nuances– certain chillies to go with certain recipes. Habaneros for instance are searingly hot but also have a fruity sweetish taste. Then there are all the dried chillies, anchos, guajillos etc and the wonderfully smoky chipotle (which is just a jalapeno dried and smoked, but with a completely different flavour).

    If only we could have a local source of exotic chillies i would be a very happy chillihead!

    And for those into tv celebrity chefs, when it comes to mexican food, forget the poseur Bobby Flay; the real deal is Chicago-based chef Rick Bayless, owner of the Frontera Grill and Topolobampo restaurants, who really knows his mexican cooking, way beyond the usual gludgy Americanized Tex-Mex combo plates.

    Of course, if you want real Mex, the best is to skip all the gringo chefs altogether and go to an ethnic Mexican cook’s home. Most Filipinos (and indeed most non-Mexicans) have no idea of genuine Mexican cooking– the richness, variety, sophistication and exotic flavours of an ancient cuisine that has as little to do with Taco Bell as Chow King has with authentic Chinese food. There’s really only one way to find out about mexican food and chillies really–that’s right — visit the country.

    Sep 18, 2006 | 5:41 pm

  13. Ed Samaniego says:

    Thank you so much for your mention! We sell through Rustan’s Shangri-la, Rockwell and Makati. I can be contacted at 09175286942. Thanks again for your support and we’ll try to widen our varieties further.

    Sep 18, 2006 | 7:58 pm

  14. Marketman says:

    Ed, thanks for the contact number. I really do appreciate the fact that you bring so many herbs to the grocery for my and other consumers convenience. Many thanks. Gonzo, yes, the heat of all peppers grown here is erratic. It must have something to do with soil, weather, etc. because even the bird’s eye chillies vary so much in heat quotient.

    Sep 18, 2006 | 8:58 pm

  15. Nel says:

    Good to know that there’s mint in Rustan’s… I shop at Shopwise and can’t seem to find that one herb… been craving for Mojitos for quite a while… =)

    Sep 20, 2006 | 10:21 am

  16. jhen giron says:

    can i have the address and contact number of Zacky’s Farm. We need it for our current project.. thanks a lot Ãœ

    Apr 16, 2007 | 10:25 am

  17. Marketman says:

    jhen, sorry, I don’t have the address or contact number.

    Apr 16, 2007 | 11:34 am

  18. Corinna N says:

    Heat in chili peppers, due to capsaicin content, varies from one specimen to the other. Even jalapenos can have different degrees of ‘burn’ coming from the same plant and this variation in heat can occur even in peppers grown in the US. The only way to really tell how hot a pepper will be is to go by the way each specimen tastes. This, from my uncle who was an excellent Mexican chef who had a restaurant in California,(even if he was Filipino).

    May 31, 2008 | 1:24 am

  19. Jake C. Areopagita says:

    I’m so glad that there’s one guy like Mr. Ed Samaniego (Zacky”s Farm) who ventures into planting different herbs and making it available in the market for people like us who love to cook at home. I hope he’ll continue to supply Rustans regularly with the rare ones particularly Kaffir Lime leaves, Galanggal, capsicums, etc. So, lets all support his farm.

    Recently I bought a small Kaffir plant at the Manila seedling bank but I’m not too happy with it since I find the one supplied to Rustans more aromatic and has a significant effect on my Thai recipes.

    Keep it up Mr. Ed Samaniego !

    Mar 22, 2009 | 8:47 am


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