Rapha Valley

A few years ago, I wrote about visiting a parcel of land in Batangas with my parents and dreamed about the possibilities it presented. A recent visit to Rapha Valley, a small organic farm in Negros Occidental, gave me so much inspiration. The owner, Dr. Albert Jo, is a natural healing advocate and also believes in the philosophy of Hippocrates: "Let food be thy medicine." Everything he grows has some healing property. During the tour, he spoke about the anti-inflammatory benefits of yellow turmeric ginger as he plucked out a piece, broke it in half and passed it on to us to experience its texture and smell. He did the same thing with other plants: oregano, lemongrass, rosemary, asparagus, and many others. We went inside a greenhouse where he snipped a few edible flowers for us to taste. He showed us that it was possible to grow lettuce in bags and in bamboo stalks, even in very limited spaces. Ingredients for the lunch that was served after the tour were mostly harvested from his garden. "Always know where and how your food is grown. Better yet, grow it yourself," he advocated.

Porchetta sandwich

Thomas Odermatt, owner of Roli Roti, slicing pork at the San Francisco Farmer's Market.

This morning, T & I had Roli Roti's Porcetta sandwich at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's market for breakfast (well, consider it brunch). Tita S raved about it the last time we got together for a birthday lunch so we decided to give it a try. While waiting in line, a herb covered browned to a crisp pork loin was pulled off the rotisserie. Before, putting the slow cooked and neatly tied meat on the prep surface, one of the servers took an open faced bun and turned it upside down to absorb the pork's drippings from the wooden chopping board. Thomas Odermatt, the owner, was at the prep line talking to his customers while slicing meat. He took the drenched bun and lined it with white meat, followed by the crispy skin and then passed it along the assembly line. By the time I got to the cashier, it was ready. Lightly salted with onions sauteed with a touch of hoisin sauce and topped with arugula, the Porchetta sandwich was a delight! It reminded me of lechon from back home. What a great way to start the spring season!

A gift from Italy

Yesterday, I opened a bottle of Gargiuolo lemon flavored olive oil that P brought back from Italy and tried it with a simple dish- sauteed broccolini. I poured about a tablespoon of the full bodied oil in the heated pan, added some chopped garlic and onions followed by 5 stalks of thinly sliced broccolini. I mixed the ingredients together and covered it to cook for three minutes. Just before the timer went off, I lifted the cover and a cloud of steam released a lemon garlic fragrance in the air. I stirred the broccolini dish one last time before turning off the stove. I added the dish on top of jasmin rice and scraped the last bits of garlic, broccolini and drippings of oil into the bowl. Delicious!

Today, I went to Berkeley Bowl and bought organic basil and a pack of chicken apple smoked sausage. I wanted to try the other bottle, the orange flavored olive oil to make a pasta dish that my brother taught me. We had it for lunch and T gave it a thumbs up. Both dishes came alive just by substituting a key ingredient with a good quality product. Amazing--Thanks P for the gift!