So who has ever spent time at a health farm? If it is something you enjoy, let me recommend The Farm at San Benito. This heavenly spot, tucked away amongst lush, green, jungle-wrapped hills, only a ninety minute drive from Makati. The grounds are picture perfect, as manicured as a tropical Disneyland with peacocks, ducks and geese lazing around deep ponds and swimming pools, or drifting aimlessly across thick green lawns. Walking paths wind past twenty four cottages and suites camouflaged by trees and thick shrubbery, and venture into hidden nooks and crannies where you can relax and meditate beside quiet pools and man-made waterfalls. Over one thousand feet above sea level, The Farm is bordered by 50 acres of organic coconut plantation, and the climate is delicious after the oppressive humidity of the city. Yet I don't go for the spas but for the food, as The Farm has a wonderful in-house restaurant: “Alive!”
Alive! feels like a tree house, light and spacious amongst the tree tops. The menu is vegan and mostly raw, and the philosophy is holistic – a new slant on the gourmand’s old adage, “you are what you eat.” In the kitchens at The Farm, they create meals in the belief that body and mind will suffer from a diet based on processed food and genetically modified ingredients, but that raw food can provide a positive outlook on life as well as the health benefits of increased energy, clearer skin, improved appearance, and a stronger immune system.
The culinary creativity is mind-boggling to someone whose dread of health farms and limited imagination had created a lunch consisting of a bowl of nuts and birdseed, lettuce and raw carrot. Instead, the chefs use real magic to transform raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits and flowers into indescribably tasty and beautifully presented meals. With a large portfolio of recipes and a large vegetable garden a stone’s throw from the kitchen, the results include a five course set menu that changes daily. What is more, these experienced vegan chefs are quite happy to share a selection of their recipes in a beautiful cookbook: Raw.
‘Specially designed dehydrators… give raw foods a variety of textures resembling cooked foods, without destroying the nutritional properties and enzymes of the foods.’ Their attitude has won them numerous awards and many fans. And much to my delight, The Farm is realistic about such a diet, explaining that they do not recommend total abstinence from cooked food, but suggest 30% cooked, 70% raw, and their recipes follow suit.
So we sat down to a five course set menu.
A Vegetable Napoleon that defies description, but introduced me to an entirely new concept in food preparation, was followed by a bright and refreshing cold tomato and galangal soup.
The delectable Som Tam Salad is low in calories and high in fibre, with the common Asian preference for combining sweet, sour, hot and salty in a zesty dish of green papaya and lime, chili, fish sauce and honey.
A creamy coconut milk and vegetable curry served with potato crusted tofu and brown rice, this dish varies with the seasons. Wrapped in potato noodles and deep fried in olive oil, the tofu is a fascinating combination of firm tofu and crunchy potato.
The Bounty bar ice-cream, takes you into a different universe for desserts. Fresh coconut ice-cream topped with a thick layer of dark chocolate almost had me levitating with delight. On which note, I have nothing left to add...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled within the Philippines’ Batangas hinterland, The Farm is likened to health nirvana. Choose between pool, garden or jungle-style accommodation before sampling our fresh, award-winning gourmet menu.Practice sunrise/sunset salutations at our lakeside amphitheatre or hit our well-equipped ‘jungle gym’. Our specialists administer complementary and integrative medical therapy within a serene environment and first-class facilities.We don’t do boot camps or subscribe to deprivation. Retreat to The Farm for nourishment and rejuvenation. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Farm At San Benito Hotel Lipa City
- Farm At San Benito Batangas
- The Farm At San Benito Lipa City, Batangas, Philippines