A few weeks after we returned from our South African Safari mid-2014, I was speaking with Gejo Jimenez of Malipayon Farms when he dropped by to make a delivery of greens, and I mentioned that I had noticed so many pea shoots used as a garnish on snazzy dishes in Cape Town. I asked why we didn’t have it as it must be pretty easy to grow, and he promised to look into it. Tom Yao are another stage of pea sprouts as well, but much “younger” and they are on offer in several groceries, so a few days older version couldn’t be so complicated…
…so fast forward a few months and Gejo dropped by the house again, this time bearing some of his first few pea tendrils, lovingly grown from very expensive peas. They were fantastic, redolent with the flavor of peas, just a bit stronger than those grown in cooler climates. I was amazed and just tickled pink to have them just fresh off the farm. I immediately asked him if I could write about them, but he asked that I defer until he had a steady crop, so he might have a headstart on competitors and be the first to offer it to his restaurant clients. I agreed, then promptly forgot to ever do the post.
But if you had sharp eyes, you might have caught the pea tenrils on this appetizer plate I put out last Christmas, with bone marrow, tripe and oxtail marmalade. A guest or two commented on the pea tendril salad, and I just smiled and said I had a “special source”… so competitive, these dinners. I am KIDDING. I had made Gejo promise to supply me with pea tendrils for the holiday dinners, in exchange for raising the idea with him. But I paid for this order.
The next day, for a chef’s
nibble (SANDWICH) I put lots of leftover crabmeat with mayo onto a section of french bread and topped it generously with the pea tendrils. It was delicious. But what was really amazing is that an idea just months before, taken up and run with by Gejo, had yielded a bit more choice in the local produce scene. I have since spotted the tendrils in various restaurants in Manila and send Mrs. MM knowing looks about the likely source… Thanks Gejo for growing this stuff, and if I find anything else that is of interest, I will let you know!
This kind of collaboration is something that makes maintaining this blog so incredibly rewarding. And it is not necessarily “commercial free”. Gejo sells this stuff now, but I was pleased to help bring the idea to market in my little way, without any gain intended. And it’s my pleasure to inadvertently make the blog a venue for restaurateurs to discover the produce so he can grow more and sell more. You cannot imagine how many purchasers for restaurants, hotels, airlines, etc. contact me per month with the most (often) ridiculous requests, I now ignore most of the idiotic ones, but help others when I can. Several chefs have also mentioned they find new stuff on the “pages” of this blog, so I am happy to be medium…
The more I see what different folks “in the know” put on their blogs, or more recently, instagram accounts, which I discovered late, the more I realize so many recommendations or “mentions” are tainted with a commercial aspect that is possibly unsavory. No one mentions if they were paid to mention an item, or if it was given or eaten for free, etc. As a good discerning friend said to us lately about a peer, “have you seen xxxxx’s blog/instagram account, has he/she sold out or what? It’s so blatantly filled with xxxxx…” Once you sell out, it’s almost impossible to back pedal. Impossible. :(