My sister and brother-in-law were going to the Mercato Centrale weekend market at Bonifacio Global City, and invited me to join them. It was my first time to visit Mercato, I heard it was similar to the Salcedo and Legaspi markets, only in tents. We were very excited.
Joy found some organic sweet corn that she wanted to try. At the same stall a guy was selling a gigantic sunflower head full of seeds. I had never seen one before up close. The heads were going for PhP500 each, and he’d sold 3 heads already. We were looking for fresh mint for tabbouleh, a Lebanese bulghur wheat salad, but there wasn’t any available. A few tables further down I found some fair trade coffee beans, a “Red Cherry Blend” from Mt. Apo, and got some of that (the name refers to coffee beans picked at the height of ripeness). I’ve been trying different coffees from all over the country for some time now, so I couldn’t resist. Next was a table selling bangus pate in different versions – Asian, Mediterranean and Pinoy. Joy got a pack of 3 to give as a birthday gift. Then we met Vicky of Comida Rica, who sold melba toast, salad dressings and dips. I got a spinach cheese dip to go with the crusty No Knead Bread we bake every other week. When we mentioned we baked our own bread, Vicky said she wanted to try it at home, and exchanged emails with Joy. From her we got a tip that we could get different kinds of flour wholesale at Sweetcraft in Mandaluyong. We decided we’d go there after shopping.
At the next tent Tristan decided to buy a pair of buy one-take one sausage sandwiches. He had the Schublig and special hotdog sandwiches, which he claimed were the best he’s had in a long time. Joy met a Moroccan lady selling tagine clay cookware and various Moroccan dishes. She bought zalouk, a spicy eggplant salad flavored with paprika and other spices. Next to that table there was an importer of nuts – walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, even dried fruits. Joy bought a package of assorted nuts, and I found myself a pack of lavender tea. I use lavender tea for relaxation and to help me sleep when I’m under the weather. The last place I was able to find lavender tea was at Bizu in Greenhills, and since I ran out I haven’t had a chance to buy some more, until now. As we walked along we came across a frozen yoghurt seller, who urged us to try their mango, black sesame and green tea flavors. We discovered their office was near our house, and thought we’d order from them the next time we have a children’s party. Their frozen yoghurt still had that tangy tartness I love so much and which seems to be missing from some over-processed brands in the malls. On our way out of the tent I paused to buy some tinapa (smoked fish) and Vigan longganisa (Ilocano sausages) for next week’s breakfasts. Then we discovered some absolutely delicious spinach and cheese empanadas! We bought enough for the entire family’s merienda.
There were tables for cooked food, organic grains and vegetables, baked goods, organic body care and household cleaning products. We were a bit disappointed that our chef friend Elena wasn’t around selling her artisanal breads, but we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Having blowers fanning air all around us in the tents made the experience a pleasure. (In this heat I can’t imagine going to Salcedo market, which is open air.) On Sundays and during the night markets there is a different set of vendors. One day we will return and have lunch at the “food court” area, where the stalls were groaning with delicious food, some of which were exotic or were international dishes. These weekend markets aren’t really places for bargains, but rather places to find new and interesting (and mostly organic) products, for which a certain premium must be paid. Visiting Mercato is a treat, as opposed to going to the way less expensive fresh market weekly. Of course we’re going back, there’s always something new to try another time.
Once we got back to the car, we immediately called Sweetcraft for directions to their outlet along Boni Ave. in Mandaluyong. It is across the street from Rizal Technological University. The wholesale prices of their flours saved us money and parking fees. They carry everything from flours to baking chocolate to whipping cream to nuts to every baking/confectionery ingredient you can think of. We were lucky to have been referred by Vicky, who claimed that Sweetcraft ingredients were at a lower price than at Baker’s Depot and similar baking supply shops. We’re excited to be baking again middle of this week. Sweetcraft is at 373 Boni Ave., Mandaluyong City, tel nos. 532-1595, 532-6289, 571-8008, 571-7858, email firstname.lastname@example.org.