On our final morning in Manila, The Astronomer and I visited the Salcedo Community Market, while Nina checked out a historical part of the city called Intramuros and Cathy visited a pimped-out Chinese cemetery.
Here’s a bit about the market from an article written by Robyn Eckhardt:
When it comes to the cuisines of southeast Asia, the Philippines is better known for balut (half-hatched duck eggs) and the local fast-food franchise Jollibee than any major gourmet experience. But spend a Saturday morning at Salcedo Community Market in Manila’s business district and you’ll be wondering why the cuisine of this archipelago nation has been overlooked for so long.
Close to 140 stalls set up each week in a shaded carpark, ready to take its customers – bejeweled socialites, shopping list-toting housewives, families, ex-pats and nearby call-center workers just off the night shift – on a gastronomic tour of the Philippines. Whether you’re in search of rare seasonal produce or pre-prepared specialties from the provinces, a leisurely approach is recommended. Devote a few hours to grazing the market’s aisles, people-watching, and sharing sit-down fare at the market’s undercover communal tables.
It was too early in the morning for blackened fish, but they smelled excellent.
An array of Pinoy desserts. Due to the employment of similar ingredients including coconut, banana, rice flour, taro and sesame seeds, I thought that Pinoy treats tasted very similar to Vietnamese ones. I really liked the abundance of free samples at the market. I felt like I was at Costco.
The Astronomer was hooked on these mango cookies after one sample. Even though they cost a pretty peso, he splurged and bought a box. The taste and texture of these cookies were reminiscent of Fig Newtons, but more mango and not so much fig. Duh.
Organic produce! Man, this stand brought be back to the days when I used to live in Oakland, California and shopped at the farmer’s market under the overpass on Lakeshore. Manila, I am totally impressed.
The Astronomer and I tried a sample of the curry ice cream. It was definitely more sweet than spicy, and not addictive enough to procure an entire scoop. In my mind, only Capogiro can get away with flavors this funky.
I don’t know about you, but this reeks of fake wagyu to me. Turning precious wagyu into shawarma filling and dousing it with a creamy sauce is a travesty (and a big ‘ol waste). I think that the only proper way to eat waygu is unadorned and rare like at Alinea in Chicago.
After circling the market once to see what was available, The Astronomer and I started chowing down. The Astronomer’s first pick of the day was a tuna empanada. I personally would have gone for chorizo, but he rationed that the tuna would probably taste better cold.
I started the day with some Sweedish meatballs drenched in gravy. Clearly, I was in a strange mood. They were larger than golf balls and and meaty as heck, but not spectacular in any way.
Next, The Astronomer purchased a vegetable ukoy or fritter. It would have tasted loads better hot out of the fryer, but the soy and vinegar sauce saved it.
I indulged in some pritson next, which was comprised of roasted piglet and fresh cumber spears wrapped in a crepe-like pancake with hoisin sauce. Really, really good. I like how the Filipinos have no qualms about animal carcases. In fact, it was the sight of the whole animal that attracted me to this stand.
A huge jackfruit. I placed my Nalgene next to it to really get the sense of its enormity.
Next, The Astronomer and I shared some lechon baca—beef lechon. Once again, a whole animal carcass was present and it didn’t seem to faze anyone. I like that! After we placed our order, one of the people running the stand approached the roasting cow and cut us off a bit. Talk about fresh meat.
Mmm…carne! The meat was ridiculously tender. Slow roasting over charcoal does wonders.
And lastly, a little something sweet called piaya—round wheat flour flat breads filled with smoky muscovado sugar and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Great flaky texture and not too sweet. A delightful conclusion to our market excursion.