Hacienda San Benito in Lipa pioneers Farm to Table Concept

June 03, 2012 Travel

Exciting news for locavores and health-conscious eaters!

Hacienda San Benito in Lipa, Batangas, is bringing the farm-to-table concept closer to home, a growing trend in the US driven by the belief that purchasing locally produced food directly from the source is more environmentally sustainable and community-minded.

At Hacienda San Benito, they take the concept to heart—they plant, harvest, cook, and serve organic produce.

Recently, owner Ricky Ocampo gave us a preview. Mr. Ocampo is one of RubyComm-K.Austria's clients. RubyComm-K.Austria is a PR firm co-owned by Ms. Ruby Villavicencio-Paurom, who organized this trip along with me, Ricky's kids, and our writer, Tish.

Hacienda San Benito is nestled at the foothills of Mt. Malarayat in Lipa, Batangas.

Upon entering the gates, Ricky eagerly pointed out the future location of a visitors' center, where guests can book tours that will soon include biking and trekking at Mt. Malarayat—exciting news!

Ricky's driver dropped us off at Terrazas de Barako, the heart of this estate, where we were welcomed by the world-renowned Chef Teresa Lobb. If you're seeking a dining experience fit for royalty, this is the place. Chef Lobb, recognized by the renowned international gastronomic society Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, has served royalty from the United Kingdom and Asia.

Although I was eager to taste Chef Lobb's creations, we first had some business to attend to. Listening to a presentation in this quaint restaurant, which calls for peaceful meditations, was a bit challenging. Huge picture windows with white drapes framed fantastic views of Mt. Malarayat, allowing just enough cool breeze to fill the room.

Ricky presented an exciting concept, and to perk us up, there was excellent kapeng barako served.

After the presentation, it was time to visit the farm—not to earn our keep or meals, but to witness firsthand how the farm-to-table concept works. Ricky's adorable children joined us on this adventure.

Hacienda San Benito incorporates six facets of eco-farming: aquaculture (koi hotel, koi showroom, tilapia lake, and tilapia run), organic farming, entomology (apiary, honey bee), animal husbandry (milking goats, milking cows, ostrich, free-range pig, free-range chicken, sheep, carabao, horse stable, and free-range duck), coffee plantation, and vineyard.

Our first stop was ostrich feeding. Despite not growing up in the city, I was super delighted to try this. It was a tad bit scary but incredibly fun. 

After the ostrich feeding and capturing moments with the other farm animals, our tour guide Nev, a consultant for Hacienda San Benito who has also worked with National Geographic, took the lead. Patiently, he explained the intricacies of the organic farming process.

The advocates for organic produce, including Ricky, emphasize its health benefits. Notably, Hacienda San Benito's organic products, available under the brand name Hacienda San Benito, can be found in leading supermarkets such as Shopwise.

The tour extended for more than an hour, proving to be highly educational. Ricky's children took the lead in asking questions, and their inquiries were quite interesting, adding to the overall experience.

Following the tour, we explored the farm's gift shop, chapel, and the organic pool, featuring non-chlorinated water.


Then, it was time for the main event.  Lunch by Chef Lobb.

Despite the considerable hype and buildup by Ruby, Chef Lobb not only met expectations but surpassed them.

The dining experience commenced with toasts featuring galunggong pate—a dish so delightful that I wished it could be bottled and brought home.

Following that, a basket of fresh bread accompanied by malunggay butter was served. Ruby particularly enjoyed the bread infused with caramelized onions.

This is heavenly—Chef Lobb's San Benito Tomato Soup. It's truly refreshing, delivering exactly what it promises without any exaggeration.

For our main course, I opted for the tuna steak and shoestring fries. While I didn't try the pork belly with crab meat and seaweed salad (as I don't eat pork), both Tish and Ruby thoroughly enjoyed it.

For dessert, we savored mini hot chocolate fudge and malunggay-crusted buko pie—a truly perfect combination.

Needless to say, lunch was fantastic. As we prepared to leave after the meal, I couldn't resist getting a souvenir shot with Chef Lobb and my take-home treats. She reminds me so much of my grandmother, and I really wanted to hug her.

For more information about Hacienda San Benito and Terrazas de Barako, visit www.haciendasanbenito.com and www.terrazasdebarako.com.  

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