The produce during rainy season is appalling. That’s the conventional wisdom. Sort of like winter in temperate regions where you rely on rootcrops and imported veggies and fruits. Ever since I moved back to Manila, I have found breadth, quality and price of produce during say July, August and September seriously wanting. But apparently there are exceptions. And brilliant exceptions. Take this delivery from Malipayon Farms I got yesterday, in the midst of rainy season (albeit without major storms nor an excessive amount of rain yet). I was simply stunned by the contents of the bags. I had ordered a few items and Gejo is kind enough to deliver my miniscule orders (he now supplies several well-known restaurants), and I told him to throw in “whatever else” he thinks I should have a look at… So this is the feast for the eyes and the tummy that showed up…
…I laid a selection (this is but half or less of what arrived) on a fresh wooden plank (more on those later, I am trying to dry and create my own wooden platters/planks for presenting food family style at our dining table) in the two photos above. Amazing selection of goodies…
Starting from the “left” of the plank, facing it, are some extremely fresh baby radishes, the greens so crisp they make a wonderful addition to a crudites platter… or have them on bits of toast with butter and salt. In the background, are small young leaves of organic Chinese kale, which I am guessing are young shoots of kailan or gailan. I have never seen or used these before, but I am going to treat them like spinach, and plan to use them in a noodle dish for lunch today. Up front, the tiny lavender/pinkish buds are alugbati flowers. I have featured them before, but honestly I don’t know a good use for them, except as a garnish. Or perhaps as part of soup or stir-fry. To the right, some haricots verts or green beans. They are extremely fresh, but bigger than true haricots so loved in France. But I enjoy them in salads, as a side dish or included in other dishes as well.
Red wine tomatoes that look a bit raw but if you let them ripen a bit more, possess an intense flavor that we love in our household. If I recall correctly, these come from Toscana Farms greenhouses, and there the staff refer to them as chocolocos or some similar name. Probably due to their unusual coloration that isn’t green, nor red. To the right of the photo, some baby carrots, again great in a crudite platter or as a garnish for a dish. Our mini-veggies like these have all the similar visual characteristics as say western equivalents, but sometimes they aren’t as falvorful or sweet, either due to the terroir or soil and perhaps the weather conditions. I was just happy to have them, period. :)
Beside the carrots, are a small bunch of flat leaf parsley. For many years, the arrival of the rainy season meant the departure (temporarily) of flat leaf parsley and wansoy or coriander. This year, I notice, neither of the two have gone scarce. There is wansoy in abundance in markets and they have small and intensely flavor leaves and stems. Thai, Vietnamese and Mexican restaurateurs must be pleased with the herbal state of affairs. Dill, however, is incredibly hard to find in large quantities right now. In the background in the photo above, sprigs of fennel fronds, far more subtle than dill, but a great garnish or herbal addition to dishes like soups, etc. Some cherry tomatoes that need a a day or two more out on the kitchen counter are in the foreground.
In this final shot, to the left, Mexican cucumbers, then a stunning knob of galanggal, a relative of ginger, and used in Thai and Indochinese cooking. Beside that clumps of spectacularly fresh thyme, behind that several branches of fresh curry leaves, and to the right, tiny cherry tomatoes. Phew! Now to figure out things to do with all these goodies over the next few days! Thank you Gejo for the spectacular haul, it’s like a burst of sunshine in the midst of seasonal rains!
Malipayon Farms (formerly Kitchen Herbs Farm)
Please visit them on their facebook page.
And in case you are wondering about the frequent mentions on this blog, I consider Gejo a friend and a great source of produce that I actually cook with. I support small farmers and encourage others with good stuff to bring to market to contact me so I might feature them as well. And I pay for my produce from Malipayon Farms (though Gejo does occasionally throw in an odd veggie or herb every once in a while).