Food Gifts/Baskets…


We love all of the edible gifts that arrive at our home, particularly in the run up to Christmas. Over the course of the year, we have received fabulous oils, different kinds of salt, chillis of the painful sort, chocolates, nuts, fruits, jams, jellies, marmalades, meats, hams, incredible varieties of sweets, etc. from friends and family who increasingly know that food will always be appreciated in our home. I particulalry like home-cooked specialties, when family favorites are shared with others. In the past few weeks, we have gotten terrific espasol, lengua de gato, biscotti, curries, chocolates, food for the gods, brownies, wine, cakes, etc. But I must say, I was completely and utterly shocked and delighted to find this basket of vegetables and herbs and goat cheese when I returned home yesterday from a totally futile visit to the mall to try and do some Santa shopping… Sent over by M, who had just returned from a trip to Italy, it was chock full of produce that is typically unavailable here in Manila. Even before I started this blog, my hand carry and luggage contents were notorious amongst our friends, who couldn’t believe the food that I would drag back from different parts of the world or local provincial sorties. So M is a kindred spirit, in that I can see cases of these stunning vegetables checked into a plane, knowing that there would be grateful recipients of this wonderful bounty in tropical Manila…


The basket contained several wonderful artichokes, thick asparagus, foot long sprigs of parsley, sage, thyme, small tomatoes on the vine, haricots verts, stunning radicchio, goat cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves, radishes, etc. Mrs. MM and I quickly decided to cancel dinner plans out with friends, and instead invited them over for a simple grilled steak and salmon dinner, served using as many of these vegetables and herbs as possible. The menu was done on the fly, with perhaps only an hour to prepare! First, we had some boiled artichokes served with butter and lemon… delicious! Then we had a salad of radicchio (which was barely bitter but nicely bracing), romaine, asparagus and tomatoes with a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. I popped one of the tomatoes into my mouth and it was stunningly sweet. And I mean kind of SUGAR sweet. Gosh, and they MUST have been greenhouse raised, yet they were still amazing. I marinated some tenderloin steaks in olive oil, chopped fresh rosemary and salt and pepper and grilled them to medium-rare. For a couple of salmon steaks, we grilled them and served them with a capsicum and mayonnaise sauce. And for dessert, we served the goat cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves with some of my homemade kalamansi marmalade and melba toasts. The dinner was EXCELLENT. And so unplanned. Thank you M, for the fantastic produce basket… Thank you to all our other friends for the wonderful food items you have sent over this holiday season, I am pounds heavier as I type this…


Salad ingredients washed, dried (asparagus cooked first) and placed in a bowl. Sprinkle olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper. Let the veggies speak for themselves. Yum.


Lousy photo of steaks, but they tasted terrific and simply brushed with olive oil, chopped rosemary, salt and pepper…


Some salmon for fish lovers, served with a mayonnaise and red pepper sauce (no photo of the sauce, but it looked a bit thousand-islandish..)


The cheese was pungent and EXCELLENT.


23 Responses

  1. Wow!It’s not even Noche Buena yet and you’re having a feast already! I wonder what’s on the menu for Christmas Eve :)

  2. Wow! You have a wonderful friend in M. It’s easy to get something off the duty free stores for pasalubong. To do all this, M must love you both very much.

  3. my guess is that this basket came from one of your favorite chefs/cooks/food people. i would have done the same if i have received something like this. just a simple dish bursting with complex natural flavors…

  4. wow! m really loves you. btw i just recieved my order of majestic ham and this year is the best ever that they is less salty as to the past years. xmas ham and bread is yummy, i think it’s the salt that blends well with bread.

  5. The veggie basket looks stunning and you used them all the same night with your creative talent and impromptu skills. Way to go MM!

  6. wow, i can only dream of those sweet-tasting tomatoes. I saw a bunched-like cherry tomatoes on a Food Network show before and I was wondering if it was really as sweet as they described it to be. Only MM and his testimonies could make me believe so…you got good friends, lucky you.

  7. Looks absolutely delicious- there is nothing like fresh Italian ingredients for a good salad! Speaking of which, I am a big rucola salad eater- bit of olive oil, salt and onions (I like it plain). Where is the best place to buy rucola in Manila? The ones I have come across are usually a bit bland in taste.

  8. how on earth did your friend manage to sneak it? i was sorely tempted to smuggle unpasteurized cheese from france to new york but chickened out at the last minute for fear that they might take away my green card if caught.

  9. the food looks so great! where do you buy your steak and salmon? was it frozen? how can you prepare it in an hour?

  10. What a beautiful Christmas gift! Your friend knows you well. He/she is so creative, its inspiring! There were some wonderful looking radishes in the market last Saturday but one would be hard pressed to find tomatoes or radicchio like that here.
    You probably have one already but just wanted to share with you (and your readers) ,I was able to buy a beautiful wooden carving board from Salcedo market with the grooves around the edges to catch the juices from the meat. Makes for a nice presentation when serving grilled steak/other meat and vegetables!

  11. alicia, is your board made of sampaloc wood? xiao li, our guests brought the tenderloin steaks (chilled, S&R) and salmon steaks (defrosted, Santis) as their part of the dinner. I cooked them and did the veggies…gemma, I find you don’t need to sneak food in. I have openly borught in crates of fruit, veggies, veal in coolers, etc. and customs has never given me grief…

  12. i can see sage too…cant wait to get back to europe in few months.. anyhoo wont be able to do my daily marketmanila read. bahamas calling for 5 weeks. merry christmas.

  13. Ashamed to say I can’t remember or tell from its grain. It has a dark swirl similar to those found in kamagong but its definitely not kamagong. If I remember correctly ,its either sampaloc or acacia but will have to ask them again this weekend.

  14. Your radicchio trevisano looks gorgeous! Next time try the radicchio chioggia, and let us know which one you prefer ;-)

  15. Jade186, the thinner longer and apparently milder treviso was absolutely delicious. I think I definitely prefer it to the more commonly availabe chiogga… I was thinking of grilling these for a salad but opted to serve them fresh instead… alicia, most likely sampaloc…it’s much harder than acacia. Shalimar, have a great Christmas in the Bahamas!

  16. Hi! Mr. MM, I’ve now become a fan of everything you write. You experiment with all the food I love to eat, but did not know how to cook. Thank you.



Subscribe To Updates

No spam, only notifications about new blog posts.