By ANGELO G. GARCIA
When you think about Mediterranean food, you think of spices, seafood, olive oil, and fresh vegetables. But the cuisine cannot be attributed to just one flavor profile or the use of certain ingredients. The Mediterranean basin is after all surrounded by countries in three different continents—Europe, Asia, and Africa, and these different countries offer various unique flavors to the region.
Mediterranean cuisine can be quite intimidating at first because there are a lot of choices, from the seafood pasta of the Italian coasts to the bold flavors of West Asia. There’s a lot to try.
Israeli businessman David Tweg wants to change that through a new concept called Medley: Modern Mediterranean. It’s a grab-and-go stall that offers Mediterranean food in bowls, wraps, and pizza form. “The word ‘medley’ means a variety of things, so, what we want to do is offer a variety of flavors from a variety of different regions but done in a really authentic kind-of-home-style way,” he says.
David landed in the Philippines in 2016 when he visited his father Michael, who has been living in the country for a few years. His father sells specialty Mediterranean bread and snacks at the Legaspi Sunday Market. Then during a visit to El Nido, Palawan, David decided to stay and open a 24-hour falafel shop on the island.
Then recently, he decided to bring Mediterranean flavors to Metro Manila. He wanted to offer cuisine in an accessible way.
“It’s a brand new concept. It started in the Philippines, for the Philippines. We initially have other concepts in the Philippines, a lot smaller scale than this. We have a falafel shop in El Nido. Palawan and we also have a small market stall in Legaspi Sunday Market. We’ve been serving Mediterranean food within our family for many years. This is the first time we’re doing it large scale and serving a larger market,” he explains.
The grab-and-go shop located at the ground floor of Fully Booked at Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, offers David’s family recipes. The food is packaged in a way that’s not intimidating.
The Falafel Crunch is a bowl of falafel (deep fried chickpea balls) on a bed of beet salad with tabbouleh (Levantine salad made of tomatoes and herbs), fried eggplant, and tahini sauce (ground toasted sesame sauce). There’s also the Beef Kofte wrap (beef kebab with vegetables), a form Filipinos are well familiar with, similar to shawarma wraps but done in an authentic way and using fresh ingredients.
Medley’s food is on the healthier side, and it offers vegetarian and vegan dishes. There are several salad bowls to choose from, like the Guilt-Free Greek salad but customers can also customize their own salad bowls from a variety of fresh ingredients. And to really achieve that distinct Mediterranean flavor, the shop uses fresh ingredients, like fragrant herbs and juicy vegetables.
“The reason we stay healthy is we don’t add any artificial colors, we don’t add any artificial flavors, everything is prepared fresh daily, made to order. We’re really about real fresh food from nature,” David says. “I feel more of the Philippines should enjoy this food. Not only enjoy the flavors but enjoy eating unprocessed, healthy, fresh food in general.”
To do this, Medley works with the best local suppliers. Although the stall doesn’t use 100 percent organic ingredients, it still buys from organic farms.
But for those unfamiliar with Mediterranean cuisine, David suggests that these customers try the seared tuna sashimi salad and the tuna sashimi served with hummus and pita. And of course the pizzas with flavors such as Garden Medley (pesto base, mozzarella, grilled vegetables, corn salad, spinach, and fried eggplant) and The Legaspi (pesto base, mozzarella, beef kofte, spinach, red bell pepper, and Moroccan carrot salad).
“Building Medley’s identity as a health-focused fast-casual restaurant without alienating people who associate healthy eating with blandness or lack of flavor is a true challenge for us,” David says. “We hope to achieve that by offering dishes people can already identify with, just prepared in a healthier, more wholesome way.”
Medley, ground floor Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street, BGC, Taguig City / email@example.com / Facebook/medleymodernmed / Instagram @medleymodernmed