09 Aug2013

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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…

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…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…

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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.

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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. :)

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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.

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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).

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Betchay says:

    Very colorful and very fresh! Looking forward to how you will use this abundance of produce. Surprise us with your great ideas! Am really curious with the Mexican cucumbers…they look like the fruit of the climbing weeds(?)in our garden….like small watermelons!

    MM,make sure your plank is not chemically-treated and food safe. Are you going to cook fish in your plank?

    Aug 10, 2013 | 6:01 pm

     
  2. Marketman says:

    Betchay, no cooking on the plank. I know it was freshly cut, the wood still needs to dry a bit more. And no varnish or any chemicals on it. I will eventually put some food grade mineral oil on it to keep it from totally drying out, but in the tropical humid conditions, the risk of that is probably minimal. Will just use it for buffet or ingredient spreads.

    Aug 10, 2013 | 6:07 pm

     
  3. cherryoyvr says:

    I am so enjoying your summer posts lately, as well your evolving style in floral decor.

    Aug 11, 2013 | 1:36 am

     
  4. Footloose says:

    I imagine living within driving distance of Gejo’s farm can make it a lot more enjoyable and easier to eschew eating animal meat and forsake anything fished out of Manila Bay.

    Those dark tomatoes look like the ones you found in Spain and posted about oh some three years ago.

    Aug 11, 2013 | 4:45 am

     
  5. PITS, MANILA says:

    lucky are those who have access to everything on the photos above … eyeing the galanggal …

    Aug 11, 2013 | 8:44 am

     
  6. JB says:

    Gorgeous!!

    Aug 11, 2013 | 8:50 am

     
  7. Marketman says:

    Footloose, HOW DO you REMEMBER these things? :) Yes, a kumato, at the end of this post of a market in Madrid. They do look similar, I wonder if they are related…

    Aug 11, 2013 | 11:01 am

     
  8. Nacho says:

    Gejo, great job on the produce! I keep on forgetting to order from you, but my culinary skills would not do them justice. Footloose, MM, as it happens the Israeli seed supplier of the red wine tomatoes, tells me he mostly sells this variety to Spanish producers. However, I do not know if they are Kumatos.

    Aug 12, 2013 | 1:41 am

     
  9. Mike says:

    Shouldn’t kangkong be abundant this time of the year? They’re water loving after all. What about seaweeds this time of the year? I remember my Ilocana lola serving ararocep dipped in that delectable Ilocano dip of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, shallots, ginger, and chiles. Or they may have been washed away by typhoons or oil slicks by now. For the non vegan me, are snails and frogs’ legs more available now?

    Aug 12, 2013 | 7:35 am

     
  10. Natie says:

    Stunning selections! Wow!

    Aug 12, 2013 | 10:43 am

     
  11. ami says:

    Was the wooden planks inspired by Jamie Oliver? I regularly watch his 15 Minute Meals show on the TLC channel and he uses chopping boards or pizza boards to serve his food.

    Ahhh no wonder the selection of herbs was abysmal during the weekend. No dill or thyme in sight.

    Aug 13, 2013 | 11:16 am

     
  12. Slightly Epicurean says:

    Such beautiful and colorful produce! I wish I can always stock up on these. My biggest frustration in buying veggies is when I don’t get to use all of them at the time they were fresh. Palaging may natitira.

    Aug 13, 2013 | 9:19 pm

     
  13. herminder khera says:

    Hi there,

    i would like to know if you know any fruit and vegetables suppliers that supply fresh, good and consistent with their supply. Im currently working in a hotel and just moved to Manila, im looking for a good suppliers. If you can provide me with some info, much appreciated. Thank you in advance.

    Aug 28, 2013 | 5:23 pm

     

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