A Chance Visit to the “Mercato Centrale” at BGC


Marketman must have a sixth sense for brewing markets. Or at least “My Favorite Martian” like antennae that lead me to them… I woke up late-ish (for me, 7am) this morning and bummed around the house, checked out our Christmas list, and was shocked at the number of blanks this late in the year (we are pretty good about organizing ourselves for the holidays). So with Mrs. MM and The Teen away, I decided to try and get some shopping done before a late lunch. First stop, The bazaar at White Space on Pasong Tamo, Makati. Now held twice a month through December, on the first and third Sundays of the month from 12noon to early evening, I figured there might be a few unusual gift items on offer. Turns out I got there a little early but managed to see what many of the vendors had on offer… From there, I drove to the outdoor mall at Serendra, in Fort Bonifacio. I have perhaps voluntarily done this only once or twice before, and never really liked to window shop here. After 20 minutes of walking aimlessly about, I noticed some hubbub at a tented area nearby and realized this must be Anton’s (of Our Awesome Planet) new market. Needless to say, that was the end of window shopping and I found myself at Mercato Centrale. Bustling with people, I was there at the tail end of the market that is open Saturdays and Sundays from 6am to noon or so.


With only a handful of folks selling organic produce or ingredients, this was really less of a market than a food bazaar. Similar to the markets in Salcedo and Legazpi villages on Saturdays and Sundays respectively, this market seems to be even more heavily concentrated on prepared foods, pastries, sweets, etc. A veritable cornucopia of dishes/goods on offer. I think its great that there are more and more of these markets opening up, but as a cook, I seek more of the purveyors of ingredients, and not really the prepared dishes. But I recognize I am in the minority. :) Folks are just too harried, busy, clueless to cook their own food these days, so the next best thing is to buy it cooked instead. I went through the airconditioned tent with vendors quickly and identified at least four vendors that deserved closer scrutiny… Gil Carandang of Herbana Farms was there, to cheer on his son who will be managing their organic produce stall. I was also thrilled to find Solraya, a regular reader of this blog, who raises organic chickens and other good stuff up North and she had wonderful organic and free-ranged chickens, pork, duck eggs, chicken sausages, etc. I bought a couple of her chickens and am now pleased I know where to go to get more… There were several purveyors of good rice varieties from up North as well. One table had wonderful rice from the Mt. Province, and another purveyor, a table of the Cabiokid Foundation, had black rice on offer. I bought two kilos of the latter, at PHP45 a kilo, and hope to try it soon. The rice isn’t really “black” – more like greyish brown… Finally, I was thrilled to finally come across a retail location for Kitchen Herbs Farm, which I have been meaning to visit for years but never managed to do so. Gejo, the proprietor, also a reader of this blog I gather, had invited me to his small farm near Tagaytay eons ago. On offer at Kitchen Herbs Farm today was a stunning array of herbs, so nice in fact I am doing a separate post, next. :)


I did buy one item of prepared food, the dehydrated “terra chips” made from kamote (sweet potato) and gabi (taro root) made by Little Miss Oc’s Kitchen. I was looking for something to munch on with drinks or pica-pica or appetizers for the holiday season and was intrigued to see these colorful and tasty chips. The ones on display were a bit “makunat” or chewy but I hoped that was due to our incredibly humid weather. I purchased a bag (pricey at PHP250, but better than having to dehydrate them myself) and tried them at home. Even freshly opened, they were still a tad moist, not quite the bone dry like the original terra chips they were likely patterned after. Nevertheless, I think they make a novel option for your holiday table.


The black rice I purchased came in flimsy paper bags, totally environmentally friendly, but subject to collapse before you ever got home. I hadn’t planned on doing any marketing, or I would have had my handy market basket with me. If you are in search of yet another new place to spend an hour or so on the weekend, check out Mercato Centrale near Serendra next weekend. Now if only there were such a market but just filled with all of the finest local produce purveyors, meats, seafood, etc. purveyors and less cooked food… How to get to that point? Start buying more from intrepid folks and entrepreneurs who brave these weekend markets and sell the goods they raise themselves. Seek out the best, if possible organic, and sustainably raised goods. Be willing to pay a premium. And definitely cook more good food in your own homes! :)

Solraya’s Sunshine Chicken
Phone 0917-847-2639

Cabiokid Foundation
Sta. Rita, Nueva Ecija
Phone 0928-551-3935

Little “Miss” Oc’s Kitchen
Magallanes Village, Makati City
Phone 0917-812-6844


28 Responses

  1. Hi MM,
    I saw you earlier at the Mercato Centrale talking with Ajay. I was starstruck and really wanted to chat with you but my kids were teasing me about being such a fan. Maybe next time at the market :)

  2. Is the marlet on High Street? Or serendra? I walked thru both this morning and didnt see the test, shoot! Next Satuday for sure.

  3. Its good to see that organic farming is getting more popular in Philippines. This is really much better than those cheap, insecticide laden vegetables from china.

  4. My beef with these weekend markets is that they should start becoming more environment conscious. All those stalls selling pre-cooked food are putting them in plastic bags, styrofoam and plastic microwaveable containers. And now they have air-conditioned tents. Maybe segregate those selling real produce and organic stuff from those selling prepared food and “tax” all those non-biodegradable waste.

  5. Hi, MM!
    I’ll have my little stall (rather, table) of organic vegetables and fruits in Mercato Centrale next Saturday. I’ve been renting an organic farmlet (kasi it’s just a small farm, hehe!) in Tanay, and we’ll be harvesting our loose-leaf lettuce and other veggies this Friday to take to that market on Saturday. Hope you’d drop by again this coming weekend. Don’t forget to bring your market bag.:)

  6. ENYA, will drop by in couple of weeks… Mayk, I agree on the view of too much packaging, but for take-out food, there isn’t much realistic choice (bring your own re-usable containers, paper not styrofoam plates, etc. Again, this is one of the peripheral costs of eating like this… I know I sound like I am preaching, but eating home cooked meals is not only more economical, it’s probably better for the environment. Junb, yes, its good to see folks going BACK to the way we used to do most farming… heidi, sorry, high street technically, I always confuse the two. It’s on an empty lot to the Northeast? of high street… Meg, say hello the next time, I don’t bite… :)

  7. nice, but I don’t get the current penchant for giving italian/french/Mediterranean names to markets, malls, subdivisions and condos. i think we have many beautiful and original names that don’t necessarily sound baduy.

  8. I was also there this morning and one of the more interesting finds I saw was the Capon purveyor. His product was wickedly expensive at 950 per kg, and at above 3kg per bird, that added up to 3k+. The reason for the price was that it took six months to rear, fed along the way with 24kg of corn and milkfed a few days before slaughter. He claims that it is the kobe beef of chicken.

    Taking inspiration from MM’s recent post, the only way to go with this bird would be to truffle it up and roast it.

  9. We spent Sunday morning at the weekend markets too! First to the SIDCOR market in Centris Walk EDSA (more than 500 stalls!), then to Mercato Centrale. Like Meg, I think I saw you there at the herb table Marketman (a little before noon?), but was hesistant to say hi.
    Scored some lovely greens at the mypersonalfarmer table. I’ll try to go back for a more leisurely visit next weekend, spied a lot of interesting desserts that I can’t get out of my head :)

  10. Gerry, I missed the capon purveyor. But I agree, those prices sound astronomical. The Solraya chickens were only PHP200 a kilo, and she said she could bring larger birds up to say 3kilos on request. These were free-ranged chickens as well… michelle, yes, I was there near noon. millet, I completely agree. And in this case, it wasn’t as much a market as a food bazaar. And central in relation to what? Maybe “Tabo-an sa Boni” is just too downscale…hahaha. I jest, of course. Joke only for Visayans. :)

  11. “Tabo-an sa Boni”…NOT! HAHAHA! but come to think of it, tranlated to Cebuano, that would really be “Tabo-an sa Tunga”?!

  12. I understand the Capon purveyor’ price. Being a breeder ourselves. it’s really expensive to raise free-range and organic chickens. We have chickens that really needs 6 months to raise. We believe it’s not about size but the quality.

  13. WEF, I understand your point of view, as I have likewise calculated that if we raised our own free-range, all natural (vegetables, fruit and other good food–no commercial feed) pigs for lechons, free-range and antibiotic and other medicine or chemical free, the cost of a say 15 kilo cooked lechon would be upwards of PHP25,000+ compared with say PHP4500 or so. But at some point, you have worked your way into a VERY, VERY small market of potential buyers. Hence, we don’t offer the PHP25,000+ lechon for sale to the public… Ultimately, there is the law of diminishing returns for most consumers, where the incremental improvement in taste is mitigated by the huge increases in price. I think most informed consumers are certainly willing to pay 50-150% premiums for truly organic produce and ingredients, but very few would go much higher than that in today’s economic environment… It’s great there are folks offering the highest end produce, and they should be content with a very small discerning and well-to-do clientele that can regularly afford to shell out PHP950 a kilo for poultry, when other free-range poultry can be obtained at say PHP200-250 a kilo or thereabouts. Pamora chickens, for example, an early entrant into the free-range category, now command say PHP400 a kilo or so.

  14. I found the place very commercial. It felt like they just crammed as much vendors as they could. The aisles were so narrow that was too crowded to go through. I prefer the atmosphere of Salcedo/Legaspi markets. It was such a disappointment from what I expected. I think they should change what they are advertising about it.

  15. MM, I was also at the airconditioned tent – about 11-ish.. didn’t you think it was too tight? If there were people buying from the booths in front of each other, there wouldn’t be room to walk along the aisle anymore. I was buying some breads from Gerard’s stall and I kept holding my bag to avoid it bumping into his breads or the person walking behind me.

  16. I had just finished watching a feature of this market on my Pinoy Cable Channel today, and was wondering if you already know about this place. Hahaha, I should have known better. Well, I am so glad that these kinds of market are springing up and getting recognition there in Pinas. Although, alot of wet market still exist in most barangay, because of the crowd and surroundings, most people shop at “”malls market”.

  17. Do you know that they are raising organic, though not free range pigs and chickens up north? And they are fed grass to make them more economical.

  18. OMG. I am thrilled at the idea that I have the chance to bump into you in Mercato, MM! I’ll be selling stuff in Mercato. Unfortunately, it’s not one you’d buy, but would be thrilled if you could drop by just so I can talk to you!!! I am forever grateful to you not just for the learnings I get from your blog, but reading your blog helped me survive my pregnancy! I had gestational diabetes so a lot of food were banned for a number of months, but reading your blog helped me “taste” the food and stopped the cravings. Oh I will watch out for you, MM!

  19. Mayk and Millet, the name and air-conditioning were probably cooked up by the same pretentious mindset. Rather than go to MC this weekend, I decided to check out the Luzon fair at Megamall and was I glad. I bought everything from mountain brown rice and walis, sweet kamote and garlicky taro chips, longanisa and atchara, to coasters, placemats, chopping board, decor, etc. The mall has central air-conditioning but, yes, I brought my own eco bags.

  20. Pamora was the producer of the P950 capons. Even at its price, I would still be interested in tasting it at least once.

  21. Hi MarketMan and everyone following this blog. My name is Tina and I am the farm owner and the one managing the Pamora Farm, Inc., and the better half of the French man who was at the Mercato Centrale last Sunday for the opening of this new market place. I would just like to clarify the Php950 per kilo of Capon versus Php200 per kilo of free-range chicken. I guess you are not comparing the same product, not the same apple :) Capon is grown for 6 months while free-range chicken (roaster) are grown, in the case of Pamora Farm, 81 days minimum following the French Label Rouge standards.

    @Gerry… Pamora Capon are being served at Restaurant Çiçou at Hotel Celeste… Better to invite around 10 of your friends to savour the “Kobe Chicken”…mmmm…. :)

    I cannot speak for the products of others but that of Pamora Farm’s. I am personally the one who operates our cockerels to become Capons. I was trained in France to Capon 1,000 cockerels a day :) One thing for sure, someone who miss’ the Capon process “properly”, those two mini balls will grow back, thus it is not a real Capon anymore… How to know it? One way is the comb… Please refer to our blogspot….

    I welcome you all to visit our farm… Far…Yes, but worth the visit to see for yourselves how organically our processes are on ranging/raising our free-range chicken…. To top it all, Pamora Farm have its own Poultry Dressing Plant, duly registered by the National Meat Inspection Services (NMIS) with Accreditation Nº. PDP-732 “AA” and GMP Certified, that just recently upgraded to a modern European Standard equipments in a 425 square meters building and exclusively operating, dressing “only” Pamora’s free-range chicken. We do not toll dress in plants where the commercial chickens were also being processed :)

    Pamora Farm produces free-range chicken for over 10 years now and 8 years in Santis Deli Shops, Terry Selection…. :)

  22. Tina, thanks for that. I have purchased and enjoyed many Pamora chickens in the past. As with all high-end food, it is really up to the consumers to decide how much they would be willing to pay for the actual/perceived taste difference and provenance of the food item… hence those who shell out the bucks for true Kobe, wannabee Kobe and regular beef. It’s good the you have capons on offer, albeit at a high price. Considering that one can (usually) get pretty good capons from D’Artagnan online in the U.S. (now sold out after Thanksgiving probably), or even organic capons at Citarella in NY or online for say $6 a pound or PHP580 a kilo, I don’t think my comment above that PHP950 a kilo for a locally grown organic capon sounding “astronomical” was rash. Of course, lugging or airfreighting the birds is another story. But then again I have brought back coolers of meat as luggage… And as I have also done with pork before, blind taste tests of the cooked end product should provide the ultimate measure of the quality/price value equation between various types of the same meat…

  23. Hi Marketman, I totally agree with you that its up to consumer to decide how much they would be willing to pay. Although, as a concern producer of healthy produce, I would say that it is a social obligation of any producer to educate the consumer on what they are paying for. As we advocate organic agriculture, natural farming, free-range methods and the likes, let us not consider only the taste but to understand the quality that comes with every product produced, especially whenever it is labeled as such :) As with your previous posted “astronomical” one, no harm done as it is your independent comment, and its not rash at all :)
    I agree that price should be equated as per the quality, and that is what we do for the last 10 years :)
    Oh by the way, my hubby Gerard said he have meet you yesterday at Mercato Centrale, unfortunately I wasn’t there :) I hope to meet you in the near future :) Ciao! Ciao!

  24. Hi Marketman. My sister brought a bag of Terra sweet potato chips from the States which I love! Would you happen to know of any store that carries them here in Manila? I would love to be able to buy some more. Yum! :)

  25. Clara, a couple of years ago, Rustan’s used to have Terra blue potato chips and other varieties. I am not sure if they still carry them…

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