Episode 62: A Tale of Two Dinners (Part 2)

January 12, 6:00pm, Sunday. Some of my college blockmates agreed to meet up over dinner, partly to bond, and partly to welcome Jelou, a fellow classmate who arrived from Canada for a vacation. Well, they always spend time together, but I digress; tonight, we’re having a reunion.

The place agreed upon was Green Pastures, located at the fourth floor of the EDSA Shangri-La East Wing. Green Pastures is the restaurant of Cyma’s Chef Robby Goco. It opened just around August last year, and is now one of the most successful restaurants in Metro Manila.

Green Pastures was filled with customers when I arrived. Of course I was prudent enough to secure a reservation. It felt painful to see how many patrons are in the restaurant, but they have a perfectly good reason to enjoy the place.

The restaurant takes pride of its organic, locally sourced, all-natural, farm-to-table cuisine. To drive home that point, it features an open kitchen setup where you can see how the food is prepared. There’s also a farmhouse-themed vertical garden.  The menu also seems to change every season. This means everything is guaranteed to be farm-fresh.

After picking up Jelou at the ground floor, we met up with Nina, a former reporter, and her husband at Green Pastures. Amer, now a teacher in Baguio, caught up with us a bit later. In the end, there were only five of us having dinner; we were expecting more of our blockmates to come.

We had to wait for a while to get seated, and a bit longer before our food arrived. That’s because, as I see it, almost everything’s made fresh and from scratch. The prevailing joke was that maybe they had to harvest the vegetables and butcher a few animals on the spot. Nevertheless, the servers, busy as they are, were accommodating and patient with us, which made the long wait more bearable.

First on the table was the January Salad, a salad with fermented tea leaves, a variety of seeds and herbs, tomatoes, and river shrimps. It’s supposedly a cleansing dish that will help detoxify our stomachs.

Next was the All’Amatriciana, pasta made with house-made passato, pancetta, red onions, pecorino, and buccatini.

Then came Roast Organic Chicken, plain and simple roast chicken on a bed of asparagus.

We also had a side order of lightly fried potato fries with cheese and a creamy garlicky dip.

For drinks, Jelou ordered a glass of Iced Tea with Organic Honey. Mine was a variation – GP Style Iced Tea, blended with ginger, apples, pears, and honey. The waiter said the GP Style Iced Tea also has cleansing properties, so I’m supposed to feel uneasy in the stomach anytime soon (I got home just in time, if you know what I mean).

For dessert, we tried out the Milkeggshoney, organic white honeycomb topped with citrusy-sweet curd and Greek yogurt. It’s sweet, creamy, and crunchy, but then you have to have a bit of everything in a spoonful to get its full flavor.

Green Pastures has a lot of other healthy yet interesting dishes in the menu; such as the artisanal cheese, organic pork and beef and vegetarian burgers, other variations of their pasta, and duck-based dishes like the “Duck You!” (a set meal of duck fat fries, duck skin chicharon, and duck confit). Duck fat is kinda healthy and all, but for someone like me whose cholesterol level is on catastrophic levels, well… I’ll have to reconsider.

They also have organic coffee (some of which are from the Cordilleras, smoothies, and elixirs made from fresh fruits and vegetables.

It’s not surprising that Green Pastures is a popular restaurant. It provides a great breather from the usual heavy, filling restaurant fare. In a time when “healthy living” also means dining healthy and sensibly, organic foods are at the forefront most of the time. Fresh meat, seafood, and produce have been the best choice for those who would like to fill themselves up with taking in too much oil and preservatives.

Come to think of it though, healthy dining becomes a norm every January, or at least a few weeks after Christmas and New Year, when we’ve had enough of alcohol, meat, and other heavy holiday fare. This must be why organic food, like gym memberships, becomes a hot item around this time. Here’s hoping it’s not the case.

As for me, who fattened myself with the world-wide raid at Spiral, I’ll have to be on the lookout for places like Green Pastures. I gotta remind myself often to eat less and sensibly, and get something healthy to keep my body in fit shape.

After everyone took their leave and went home, I sent a quick message to Jelou, asking her how she’s doing. I was really glad to see her, after all.

Jelou said she’ll stay with her folks for a while, and then stay again in Manila for a few days before leaving for Canada again. I replied (non-verbatim), “We should call for out other blockmates and go out again. Even if it ends up with just the two of us going out, it will surely be fine.”

To this day, she never texted back. (Cue canned laughter, extend by five, cue clapping, cross-fade to Sting’s “Everybody Laughed But You”)

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