Hacienda San Benito in Lipa pioneers Farm to Table Concept

June 03, 2012 Travel

Great news for locavores and those who just want to eat healthy.

Hacienda San Benito in Lipa, Batangas is taking the farm to table concept closer to home. It's a growing trend in the US spurred by belief that purchasing locally produced food directly from the source is more environmentally sound and community minded.

At Hacienda San Benito, they plant, they harvest, they cook and they serve organic produce.

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

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

As soon as we entered the gates, Ricky pointed to us the future location of a visitors' center where guests can book their tours, which pretty soon will include biking and trekking at Mt. Malarayat.  Yey!

Ricky's driver dropped us off Terrazas de Barako, which is the heart of this estate.  We were met here by world renowned Chef Teresa Lobb.  If you want an experience of dining like royalties, this is the place.  Chef Lobb has served royalties from the United Kingdom and Asia and has earned recognition from renowned international gastronomic society Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs.

I was excited to taste what Chef Lobb has prepared for us but we first had business to attend to.  It was really quite difficult to listen to a presentation in this very quaint restaurant, which really calls for peaceful meditations.  There were huge picture windows with white drapes that gave fantastic views of Mt. Malarayat and it allows just enough cool breeze to fill the room.

The concept presented to us by Ricky was really exciting and there were good kapeng barako served to perk us up.

After the presentation, it was time to visit the farm.  It was not exactly to earn our keeps or meals, but to see how this farm to table concept works.  Ricky's adorable children joined us.

Hacienda San Benito has six facents 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.  I didn't exactly grow in the city but I was super delighted to do this. It was teeny weeny scary but fun.  

After the ostrich feeding and picture taking with the other farm animals, Hacienda San Benito's consultant Nev, who has also done work for National Geographic led the tour. He patiently explained to us the process of organic farming.  

We all know organic is healthy and these people, including Ricky are true advocates.  His products, btw, are available in leading supermarkets like Shopwise.  The brand is also Hacienda San Benito.

The tour lasted for more than an hour.  It was very educational.  Ricky's children did most of the asking, which was great actually as they asked very interesting questions.  

After that, we visited the farm's gift shop, chapel and organic pool (non-chlorinated water).


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

Despite too much hype and build up by Ruby, Chef Lobb didn't not only disappoint, she surpassed expectations.

First, it was toasts with galunggong pate.  I want this bottled and brought home.

Then, a basket of fresh bread with malunggay butter.  Ruby especially liked the bread made with caramelized onions.

This is heaven.  Chef Lobb's San Benito Tomato Soup.  Really refreshing, no over promise.

Our main meal was tuna steak and shoestring fries.  I didn't take the other because I don't eat pork but both Tish and Ruby loved the pork belly with crab meat and seaweed salad.

Our dessert was mini hot chocolate fudge and malunggay crusted buko pie, real perfect combination.

Needless to say, lunch was great.

It was time to go home after lunch but of course, I wouldn't without a souvenir shot with Chef Lobb and my baon.  Oh, 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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