When Davaoeños have to go to Metro Manila (because I don’t think we really want to, right?), we are filled with dread. We immediately get stressed thinking about the traffic (sure, we have school zone speed limits now, but at least vehicles are moving); the pollution; the smoking; the alarming crime rate (at least, here there are no random killings, it’s all deliberate, targeting only specific criminals or so I would like to believe). But I think what stresses us most when going to the national capital is the lack of fresh, locally-grown, thoughtfully prepared slow food.
Davaoeños are picky eaters. We are very hard to please. After all, we live in a typhoon-free, fertile land that is the food basket of the Philippines. For us, food should be made of fresh, local, and organic ingredients and it should be affordable, simple and fuss-free. We do not like food we cannot pronounce or dishes that are too complicated to eat. That is why we have our Davao Food Revolution, which encourages people to grow their own food and for farms to go organic. We are also banning junk food in our schools and we are big on nutrition and fitness. We passed an organic agriculture ordinance and banned aerial spraying of pesticides. And, we are proudly a smoke-free city, the first in the country. We take pride in our healthy lifestyle campaign.
Lifestyle feature article on Mindanao Times, February 11, 2014
So I was really happy to discover GREEN PASTURES, the back-to-basics organic restaurant of Chef Robby Goco, who also owns my favorite Greek restaurant, CYMA. It just opened late last year, 2013, at Level 4, East Wing of Shangri-La Plaza in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City. It was highly recommended by my health-conscious, juicing-fanatic childhood friend, Mayie Sencio, so I suggested it to my Tita Avic Alcantara for our dinner date last Sunday, my last night in Manila. We were there at 7pm and there was a long line of people waiting. We were 24thon the waiting list. We decided to just eat at the Italian place next to it while all the time craning our necks longingly looking at the happy customers at Green Pastures.
We weren’t satisfied with our dinner so we decided to check out the fresh juices at GreenPastures. We got a three-melon organic smoothie and an elixir designed “to detoxify” (pineapple, green apple, ginger, mint, Fiji apple). They were so good that Tita Avic told their liquid chef Kalel, that she loves him. We were already full with our rib-eye and pasta dinner but their wait staff are all well-trained and really passionate about the food they serve that we were talked into having their house made ricotta cheese with garlic and caramelized onion on whole wheat sourdough bread plus the heavenly Pinoy Eggs, a five-minute free range duck egg wrapped in homemade longganisa over fern salad (pako). Ah, better than sex!
If they had GreenPastures while I was living in Manila before, I wouldn’t have left. OK, fine, I still would have, but I will not be complaining so much about the food. So thank you, Chef Robby, for this greenpasture, this food paradise, under the depressing smoggy gray Metro Manila skies.
First appeared on Mindanao Times, February 11, 2014