06 Nov2008


For some reason, out of 52 weeks of a normal year, I was asked to play local host to TWO television food show hosts quite literally, back to back. The day BEFORE I left for Cebu to roast pigs for Anthony Bourdain, I took Bobby Chinn of World Cafe Asia on a tour of a weekend market and invited him to our home later the same day for a merienda buffet! If I have learned anything from years of entertaining, it is that you want your food or buffet to literally pop out at the guests… and that requires color, different heights, textures, etc. I am not very good at it. And I idolize Margarita Fores whose buffets are always so inventive, clever and visually stunning. But I do know that flowers and assorted plant like materials always seem to help. So here are three arrangements that I had for the merienda… First up, a stunning arrangement of ornamental kale (similar to cabbage plants) paired with some plant flower buds (not coconut). I got these at the stall of Myra P., a reader, at the Salcedo market and they looked terrific in a simple glass vase. Our chocolate labrador is in the photo, sunbathing and oblivious to the floral arrangement, but she told me later it was nice…


Next up, when at a loss, use MASSES of two-toned roses in silver buckets, gravy boats, etc. It looks intense, bright, lively and young… compared to stuffier arrangements with greens and bits of baby’s breath…


And finally, on the experimental side, three branches of “fox face” or “mickey mouse” fruits that are placed in tall glass vases without water and are really more of an “architectural accent” if that makes any sense at all. These were inside the house, which was off limits to filming, so you won’t see this bizarre arrangement on the show in a few months… Stay tuned for more on the Chinn shoot… :)



  1. diday says:

    MM. You’ve done it again, very artistic!!

    Nov 6, 2008 | 8:27 am


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  3. Honey says:

    I love your style in arranging flowers! Always so classic, and colorful. MM, may I know if you used a floral foam inside the silver buckets? I find it hard to create the rounded top look. I usually end up with arrangements that look “flat”.

    Nov 6, 2008 | 8:32 am

  4. zena says:

    So that’s what they’re called, fox face/mickey mouse fruits… What opportunities, MM. Bobby Chinn day/s before Anthony Bourdain. You are so lucky but equally deserving as you certainly are more than up to the task. Remember your old survey if one would rather be born lucky/handsome/smart etc? Then I guess “lucky” leaves them all in the dust!

    Nov 6, 2008 | 8:48 am

  5. Hershey says:

    I’m a fan of Bobby Chinn and I enjoy watching his show a lot. He’s a pretty funny guy. I’d love to hear some more details about your time hanging out with him.

    Nov 6, 2008 | 9:15 am

  6. Michelle says:

    They do the silver buckets/ pitchers with a single type of flower at my mom’s home. It’s always so nice to see. I don’t know why I don’t do it at my home. Hmmm.

    Nov 6, 2008 | 9:36 am

  7. CecileJ says:

    Honey: just a tip – I arrange the flowers in a “rounded ” bouquet and tie them up (Use green flower tape so it doesn’t show up if you use a clear vase) before I put them in a vase. No need to use floral foam. I don’t know if MM does the same or he does them “free hand”.

    MM, very nice! I’ve used flower buds before but they tend to fall off the stems after a while.

    Nov 6, 2008 | 9:42 am

  8. sherra says:

    Bobby and Tony seemed to be traveling to one place at the same time or is it just coincidence? There’s one episode of “No Reservations” (Singapore) were the two of them explored the lion city’s culinary world.

    Nov 6, 2008 | 9:48 am

  9. chinkee says:

    I can’t make floral arrangements to save my life! These are great but simple tips, though…:-)

    Nov 6, 2008 | 10:01 am

  10. Grace says:


    Nov 6, 2008 | 11:50 am

  11. nancy says:

    The kale is stunning, it just adds a rustic feeling. Does it easily wilt? I’d like to try using it.

    Nov 6, 2008 | 1:46 pm

  12. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    WOW!!! So MM, Is Thomas Keller coming to visit you soon too?

    Nov 6, 2008 | 1:53 pm

  13. cumin says:

    Very elegant. I loved the roses’ splash of colour, and also the kale — if I were there, I’d’ve rubbed the petals to check if it was real, just like… :-)

    Nov 6, 2008 | 4:41 pm

  14. zena says:

    Cumin, i remember that post! It was at a school event for the teen and this celebrity did just that. =)

    Nov 6, 2008 | 6:20 pm

  15. ECC says:

    Hi MM! The flower arrangements in your first and third photos above are similar to Ikebana styles. I think you would enjoy learning the Japanese art of flower arrangement. I took Ikebana classes for 2 years when we lived in Tokyo. I tried to take it up again here in Houston but cannot find a good sensei.

    Nov 6, 2008 | 10:06 pm

  16. corrine says:

    I saw you and Bobby Chin that weekend at the Salcedo Mkt. Wondering if I got caught on camera…hahaha! Did you know that Bobby used to work as a trader in Wall Street? He’s really funny and cool guy.

    Nov 6, 2008 | 10:16 pm

  17. EbbaMyra says:

    ECC what is sensei (sorry ha, di ko alam). But I am here in Houston too, and many times I buy my floral at Hongkong Mkt at Bellaire. Many times too I frequent the shops at Medical Center in Fannin. What I do is bargain for those flowers that are left over from their decor, ok pa rin naman sila, especially those ones that I don’t know the names. I will buy in bulk and play it in the house. And since you don’t get to choose, I mean they give it to you in bunches, eh mura lang ang price. I like plants and flowers that are different looking. Nice nice job MM. I do use ornamental cabbage and mini “sili” plant in my arrangement. Basically combining live potted plant with fresh cut flower. Where is Myra P’s store in Market? I will have my hipag go there.

    Nov 6, 2008 | 10:26 pm

  18. Babing says:

    EbbaMyra: Sensei is Japanese for teacher.=)

    MM, I really admire your creativity, be it in the kitchen or with flower arrangement, photography, etc. You’re really lucky & blessed to experience being with Anthony Bourdain & Bobby Chinn.;D

    Nov 6, 2008 | 10:44 pm

  19. betty q. says:

    Sensei….a master or teacher or guru?

    Nov 7, 2008 | 12:02 am

  20. Honey says:

    CecileJ: Thanks for the tip! I will try your suggestion. =)

    Would anybody know where to buy or how to make a flower “antibiotic”? I heard they use this to kill the microganisms that lurks in the vase. Thanks!

    Nov 7, 2008 | 1:37 am

  21. betty q. says:

    Honey…Sister also had a tip on how to create the rounded look (I forgot which post now she had it on!). Thanks, Sister for that wonderful tip…If you didn’t get the chance to read it Honey, she said tie flowers into bundles of three’s. Then when you have them all bundled up, pick one bundle and just keep on going until you have the circumference you’re after…Did I miss anything else , Sister? It sure made my life easier using her method!!!!

    For flower antibiotic…would washing the vase in a weak solution of bleach and water do? I know that I have to wash the pots I prepare to start transplanting my seedlings before I go ahead and transplant them.

    Nov 7, 2008 | 1:59 am

  22. ECC says:

    Hi EbbaMyra! A sensei is a teacher or a master of say, an art form. In this case I was referring to an Ikebana master.

    Nov 7, 2008 | 2:24 am

  23. Onie says:

    learned something new again today…thanks!

    betty q, been trying to get hold of you. sent you an email :)

    Nov 7, 2008 | 2:45 am

  24. natie says:

    gorgeous! lovely,MM!!

    Nov 7, 2008 | 4:27 am

  25. Honey says:

    Betty Q: Thanks a lot! I will look for Sister’s post. I am getting excited. I’m crossing my fingers, I hope to finally achieve that rounded look.

    I’ve been using bleach for cleaning vases too. But there’s this another thing that florists’ use… argh, i’ve read it somewhere, just can’t remember where exactly. hehe. they crush a pill(?), mix it with something(?)… those are my only clues! =)

    Thanks again!

    Nov 7, 2008 | 8:01 am

  26. mcp says:

    what a lovely rose arrangement!

    Nov 7, 2008 | 8:14 am

  27. betty q. says:

    Honey….it’s on the Sept 28, 2008 post …Roses in the Four Season’s (?) post. …

    Nov 7, 2008 | 9:28 am

  28. wil-b says:

    well. . . MM has great taste. . . ;)

    Nov 7, 2008 | 9:50 am

  29. Angela says:

    MM, nice job on the flowers! You might want to check out arrangements by Nicolai Bergmann. He’s a well known florist in Tokyo. I used to frequent his boutique in Ropponggi and admire all the arrangements. They were very pricey. . .

    Here is his website if you are interested: http://www.nicolaibergmann.com/

    Honey: I think it is either Tylenol or aspirin that florists crush and dilute with water.

    Nov 7, 2008 | 2:52 pm

  30. Honey says:

    Betty Q; Thanks again! You are so helpful. =)

    Angela: So that’s the magic pill! Would you know the ratio? I’ve checked out the link you shared about Nicolai, and he is good. Thanks!

    Nov 7, 2008 | 6:05 pm

  31. Marketman says:

    Hi Everybody, I am back but bushed… let me see if I can work my way back to respond to most of the emails…

    Honey et al, the stuff you seek is commercially referred to as floral food, with brand names such as floralife or chrysal clear. They are essentially made up of bacteria growth inhibitors, as well as “food” for the cut flowers. Since they are not food products per se, their packaging does NOT list their base ingredients. I use these all the time and they do make a difference. I buy them wholesale at the NY flower market shops or you can probably iinquire on-line about outlets. If you don’t have floral life, some suggest a drop of clorox to keep the water “clear” or to inhibit bacteria growth that then makes the flowers wilt faster… others put aspirin, a touch of seven-up, etc. If you don’t have any of these, simply CHANGE the water in the vase daily and cut a little from the ends of the flower stems to ensure maximum life.

    Angela, thank you for that website. Will definitely visit it. bettyq, thanks for “holding down the fort” and answering some of the reader questions! :) EbbaMyra, Myra’s stall is across from the fish guy and beside the sampaloc and other wood products stall. corrine, yes, we even talked about some stocks for the portfolio I bought for marketmanila illustration purposes… ECC, my mom was a huge Ikebana fan… but I have never taken any classes nor would I ever aspire to the Japanese aesthetic… it is just too brilliant. cumin and zena, you mean Lucy’s husband? :) Artisan, if Thomas Keller ever came to the Philippines, I would feed him everything raw and at it’s peak. Nothing cooked. I would die and go to food heaven if that ever occurred… nancy, the kale last several days… chinkee, it really doesn’t take any skill at all. Just try taking out a vase and plonking some blooms into it with water. sherra, I think it was total coincidence their being in Manila at the same time. Michelle, you wouldn’t be related to Marga would you? She was several years ahead of me in high school… :) Hershey, more on the Chinn shoot soon… Honey, I DID use floral foam to get the shape that I really wanted…

    Nov 7, 2008 | 6:44 pm

  32. Bubut says:

    wow MM, nice floral arrangements. I was able to catch Bobby Chinn at Fullybooked last Oct 31 that i even need to go undertime from my work just to attend to his cooking demo. Im excited to see your post on Bobby Chinn.

    Nov 7, 2008 | 7:01 pm

  33. ECC says:

    Hi Angela! I wished I knew of Nicolai Bergmann. I used to frequent U. Goto Florists on Roppongi and admire their dazzling window displays.

    Nov 7, 2008 | 10:34 pm

  34. betty q. says:


    Sister…..APPLE PIE SENSEI!!!!

    HA, LEE!!! beat you to it!!!….hahaha

    Nov 8, 2008 | 2:00 am

  35. Maria Clara says:

    Go Betty go! Nice arrangements go well with any occasions!

    Nov 8, 2008 | 3:17 am

  36. dad says:


    betty q., you also rock! anyway, when is the merienda get-together?

    Nov 8, 2008 | 5:21 am

  37. natie says:

    and bettyq is the sensie of it all…?

    Nov 8, 2008 | 7:03 am

  38. ECC says:

    betty q. … you are very SENSEIBLE!

    Nov 8, 2008 | 10:46 am

  39. Tuesdayy says:

    betty q…SENSEISIONAL!

    Nov 8, 2008 | 12:42 pm

  40. betty q. says:

    Here’s 1 for you..Lee!….sensei desarapen de cuchillo de almasen(?)…!!!

    Hey Dad!…send me an e-mail:mymudcake@hotmail.com or phone 604-5523875…best time is at night after 7 p.m…just heard from Onie…anyone else? How does Dec. 6 or Dec 13 sound?

    Nov 8, 2008 | 3:39 pm

  41. betty q. says:

    …sorry Lee…scrap it! it’s MALI!!! for the life of me I cannot remember how it begins….sen-sen or pen -pen?

    Nov 8, 2008 | 4:03 pm

  42. edee says:

    bett q.,it’s pen-pen de sarapen, my child loves that song :)

    Nov 8, 2008 | 6:33 pm

  43. edee says:

    hey maria clara welcome back!

    Nov 8, 2008 | 6:38 pm

  44. betty q. says:

    Maraming Salamat, Edee!!!!

    Nov 9, 2008 | 12:02 am

  45. dad says:

    hi betty, i sent you an email. marketman, sorry for taking over your blog, you know, marketmanila fans just want to have their own EB too. so guys from vancouver and nearby areas, make some noise and join us.

    Nov 9, 2008 | 5:47 am

  46. Queen B says:

    Oooooh… merienda buffet! looking forward to reading what’s on the buffet! I’m sure it will be fabulous! MM at World Cafe Asia with Bobby Chinn! I love watching his show, he’s so funny and enthusiastic about the food.

    Beautiful flower arrangements! gives me ideas for the upcoming parties here at home! thanks MM for sharing!

    Nov 9, 2008 | 8:09 am

  47. lee says:

    hi betty q! sensei fits you well :)

    Nov 9, 2008 | 11:20 pm

  48. betty q. says:

    …Ah, SENSEI LEE …the HUMOUR SENSEI!!!! When I go back there, I hope you will find me worthy to be taught by the KENKOY SENSEI of all….

    Nov 10, 2008 | 8:41 am

  49. Blaise says:

    …three branches of “fox face” or “mickey mouse” fruits…

    So that’s what it is called. I always refer to it as Winnie The Pooh Plant :)

    Dec 24, 2008 | 10:20 am

  50. el_jefe says:

    SOSHALAN! HEHHE! galng ng MM!!!

    Oct 31, 2009 | 8:15 pm

  51. Patricia says:

    Just worked with some kale as well! Love your blog, hope you visit mine too http://annapatriciadesigns.blogspot.com/!

    Jul 28, 2010 | 11:52 am


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