A Very Green Start of the Year

Summer Citrus Salad from The Urban Farm

Pantone may have announced Serenity and Rose Quartz as Color of the Year 2016, but mine started out with a lot of green. Green for hope and vitality.  Green for organic culinary exploits.  Green for attempts in Urban Gardening. 

I invited my college bestie, Tricia for a coffee date that turned into dinner. Squeezing in our social life in between motherhood, weekend errands and our kids' sacred nap time, such changes are inevitable.  I think if there's one thing I learned about being a Mom, it's "flexibility".   Grateful for the change that led to a new discovery, she took me to one of her favorite culinary spots, The Urban Farm. 

The Urban Farm
"From Farm to Table" 

An organic restaurant located along President's Avenue in BF Homes Paranaque City, South of Manila. The cheerful guard opened the door and warmly greeted us "Happy New Year" at the entrance leading us to a welcoming  and vibrant interior of mixed green, neutral tones and wood interspersed with thought provoking quotes written on the walls. The ambience brought freshness that made us look forward to our meal.   A white teapot of hot herbal tea was served to us,  along with matching dainty white tea cups while we were reading our menus.  

We ended up ordering their signature Summer Citrus Salad to share.  Mixed greens, mandarin oranges, cherry tomatoes topped with calamari and alfalfa sprouts with vinaigrette dressing.  It was a guiltless treat after the festive season. Contrary to my initial impression, it ended up to be reasonably priced due to its well-sized serving. 

Tricia ordered Grilled Blue Marlin for her daughter, while I couldn't resist a comfort foodie. Yes, a good ol' Fried Chicken but there's nothing ordinary about it.  The chicken was un-mistakenly fresh, tender and moist on the inside with perfectly crispy and well-seasoned coating. It was served with a delicious nutty flavored gravy, veggies and sweet potato fries.  Yes that's right, Sweet potatoes! 

The main course selections were plentiful and there were interesting smoothie concoctions that we ought to try next time.  

Tricia, her daughter and I had a lovely dinner that stretched till 10pm. I will definitely return and invite my husband and friends for them to try.

The Urban Farm
Address:  #4 President's Avenue Corner Adelfa Street, Tahanan Village, 
                Bgy. BF Homes, Paranaque City, Philippines
Tel No:   +632 823-8495
Opening Hours:  11AM - 10 PM
Web: The Urban Farm Facebook Page
Instagram: @theurbanfarmph
Twitter: @theurbanfarmph

From South of Manila, I traveled to North with my sister, Anne and her husband at 7AM the next morning.  My sister frequently shops here on Sunday mornings. Lucky for her, this is walking distance from her apartment. 

The Centris Sunday Market
Its original name is actually "SIDCOR Market" at the vacant lot next to Centris Mall along EDSA in Quezon City. It is open from 4AM to 2PM every Sunday.  Personally, I think Centris Sunday Market sounds easier to remember. 

The huge tarp tents revealed massive stalls selling breakfasts perfect for joggers, dresses, locally made products, organic produce, fresh seafood, fresh meat, herbs, gardening plants, gardening pots and anything and everything about landscaping.  In the Philippines, especially in the city, it's quite a challenge to purchase potted herbs that will not handicap your wallet. Quezon City and the north is the destination for reasonably priced plants and herbs.

Local Products. If you're wondering what's at the bottom, they're crispy pork rinds.
Fresh produce
Dried fish and seafood
Went crazy shopping for fresh veggies here, but beware of the prices. Don't hesitate to haggle.
The reason I came here was to buy organic compost, soil, seeds and potted herbs to grow a small herb farm in our front yard.  I have been searching a lot of items in the south, but not one gardening shop sold herbs.

Like a kid, I excitedly perused the aisles.  I  jumped with glee.  I even forgot to take photos of the gardening stalls  when I found out they're selling herb pots of basil, arugula, oregano, parsley, dill and etc. equivalent to 3 potted plants of your choice for PHP 100 (USD $2)  1  sack of organic soil was PHP 80(USD $ 1.70) and 1 sack of organic gardening compost costs PHP 100 (USD $ 2).  Each packet of seeds averages at PHP 50 (USD $1) and gardening pots of different sizes were cheap. There were also grafted trees, flowering  and ornamental plants.  They were sold like pancakes.

Organic Produce
-The earlier you're there the better.
-For herb pots shoppers 6AM-8AM is the best time to shop before you run out of herbs.
-Bring a trolley and /or a backpack
-Some frequent shoppers were loaded with sunscreen and umbrellas
-Don't hesitate to ask for help when carrying them to your car and a small tip will be greatly     appreciated

How to Get There:

If you're taking the train, Take the MRT Northbound and get off at Quezon Ave. Station right after Cubao on your right. You'll spot Centris Mall up ahead. It's just right after McDonald's.

I hitched a ride with my sister to get there but I had to take a cab to go home. That was a far journey. Since it's on Sundays, there is no traffic, hence it's stress-free.

The Herb Garden

My Hotelier sister, Leika sent these outdoor dining photos to me taken at a restaurant in Greenbelt that served as our inspiration. The convenience in growing your own for cooking with herbs available at your fingertips whenever you need them that eliminates wastage is our family's dream.

This holiday season whenever all of my siblings were at my mother's home, we cultivated the soil and painstakingly removed all of the gravel that was dumped in our once densely forested looking front yard.  We managed to get rid of the unproductive shrubs in order to gain planting space.

Mint in pots, parsley, basil, arugula and oregano
We planted Citronella. Spot the difference. Which one is Citronella and Lemongrass here?
Seed nursery for future vegetables and tomatoes
Bay Leaf to be replanted in another area  and Dill

Avocado Tree in the making.
Mind you, I am a beginner at gardening. I'm learning along the way.  It's a work in progress. The change is wonderful. We set up a wooden bench in front where we sit in the morning enjoying a cup of coffee surrounded by these herbs. May they flourish and grow.

How did you start the year?
Wishing you a fruitful week!
Love & light,

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  1. Tropical green markets always have such cornucopia of visual and taste delight! Is pork rind the same as pork crackling?

    1. Hi Dezzy, yes they're the same. This particular one, which we also call chicharon is pure crunchy pork skin that is airy, but there are also crispy pork rind cracklings available that are more compact with both fat and meat.

  2. Some greens to start the New Year with, why not?! I admire you for taking up gardening, I mean, hard as I might, I couldn't grow a plant much more, maintain one. I had a succulent plant given to my by a friend and it died huhuhu...

    Anyway, one of the things that I promised myself this year is to eat more veggies and fruits. I indulged last holiday so I have to do extra work. I love Filipino food, the sad thing is, most of the dishes that we have are not healthy.

    1. Hello Marge, yes I do agree, the best Filipino food are the fatty ones, haha..liempo , lechon and bagnet. There's this bar nearby that I love going to just for their papel de liempo and sizzling bulalo. So far since we've moved to the Philippines, we've started and kept it a tradition to be vegetarians during the weekdays while indulging in meat mostly on weekends except for few dinner occasions with friends. It started partly for budget reasons that grew into a habit. All the best to eating more veggies and fruits. That's a great goal this year.