Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


A   P A M P A N G A



I salivated over the prospect of having a wellness immersion at Abe's Farm last year as I stumbled upon its website for having a spa. I already did enough research how to reach the venue and set the necessary logistics to keep things moving. Unfortunately, it was also the time when my frontal sinusitis started acting up for the worse. Wellness anywhere was not to be had by me. I stopped all my travel plans and concentrated on work and receiving medical attention for six months.

An Excerpt of the Metro Angeles Food Tour 2014

Metro Angeles Food Tour 2014

Another six months would pass after my hospitalization when organizers of an annual food tour event tapped me to participate as a blogger. The event was called Metro Angeles Food Tour 2014 and it was held in Pampanga for three consecutive days with Widus Hotel & Casino as base. I was to enjoy the company of other reputable bloggers from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao which appealed to me. What a nice comeback for someone like me who was on travel hiatus for more than a year!


Fruitful Wait

The other thing that appealed to me was the inclusion of Abe's Farm in the itinerary. Being part of the tour and finally visiting the Magalang lifestyle destination only proved to me that what I craved for had long been mine. I only had to wait a little longer. The bonus with the visit was the core purpose of sampling the various selections of Pampanga-oriented cuisine at the venue's restaurant.

Evolving Estate

Having started as a vacation home of the late writer, artist, and restaurateur Larry J. Cruz and wife Merle, it's also the source of ingredients for some of the LJC Restaurant Group's restaurants. The rich vegetation at the foothills of Mt. Arayat where the resort is nestled enables this organic process to easily happen for Abe's Farm.

The four-hectare property is also the venue for Ifugao-inspired accom-modations called ulog. With access to a swimming pool, guests can dine over Campam-pangan food, get a soothing massage before retiring for the night, and wake up in one of the rustic rooms to a view of lush greenery.

A visit of the nearby E. Aguilar Cruz Museum can be arranged with the resort staff as it's conveniently located within the destination's grounds.

Commencing Lunch

For lunch, my group gathered at the resort's main house where the restaurant is. Filled with natural light, the dining area is divided into rooms that share the rustic ambiance through large open windows. Even the kitchen looked fancy with every cookware put in its proper place whether casually displayed or hung on the traditional rack space.

Paco Fern and Tomato Salad
Bamboo Rice

Sinuteng Baby Squid
Preparing The Palate

With every dish served and ready for feasting, it was difficult where to start. Since I'm familiar with the Capampangan dish called Gising-gising (wake up in English) as a vegetable dish that's meant to awaken one's senses, I sampled it first along with a serving of Abe's Farm's sticky Bamboo Rice. I noticed it to be a departure from how spicy it is served in Manila. The restaurant's version focuses more on the richness of the coconut milk or gata and its green beans.

Chef Aquino and Chef Soliman
The real appetizer, however, was the Paco Fern and Tomato Salad which is normally served in the province with salted eggs and onion. A co-participant who's based in Pampanga shared that the fern can be found in several neighborhood backyards which is why the salad is quite a familiar part of the locals' diet. I just assumed that the vegetable used was blanched and not served raw to avoid ingesting any poisonous substance. Another appetizer was the Sinuteng (or sauteed) Baby Squid which was cooked in olive oil and garlic with the pusit tasting as tender as a seafood custard.

Lola Ising's Adobo
Piniritong Lumpia

My attention veered towards the traditional Crispy Pata called Knockout Knuckles which was dotted with the kitchen's special spicy garlic topping, making the dish colorful and more palatable. The meat was succulent and was well complemented by the crispiness of the pork skin.

More of Abe's Farm

I had the Kare-kare next which had enough meat in the serving of creamy peanut sauce. It was served with a bowl of shrimp paste or bagoong. I seldom linger on a viand that's curry-based as the taste normally stays longer in the palate, but with this version I did not mind getting more than what I normally would.

I also sampled a piece of the Piniritong (fried) Lumpia which my mom would certainly find adorable for being stuffed with fresh vegetables (carrot and turnip). I also remember tearing into a dry or sauceless adobo tagged as Lola Ising's Adobo and the Binukadkad (butterfly-cut) Na Pla-pla, a Capampangan specialty.

I intentionally skipped the Betute or stuffed frog because I was already full and had to leave room for dessert. Friends at the table shared that it tasted like any typical chicken that they've tasted before. I was curious to know what the diet of a typical palakang bukid or frog is in Pampanga but everybody was busy with lunch.

Winding Down With Desserts

Soon, a plate of Turon Saging (banana) and a platter of fresh fruits were served for dessert. Just when I thought that the feast was over, Abe's Farm's Chef Ninoy Aquino and Clark Soliman appeared from the kitchen and enticed us to anticipate the culminating dessert which was called Sikreto Ni Maria (Maria's Secret in English). It was aptly called as such for hiding slices of ripe mango inside a plate of coconut cream. I honestly thought that it would have been better if it was served in a bowl instead.

Knockout Knuckles
Binukadkad Na Pla-pla
The delicious lunch lasted a little more than an hour with still enough time to engage ourselves in a walk tour of the resort facilities. After tasting what Abe's Farm has for good food, I must admit that I'm encouraged to try its spa very soon.

H E L P F U L   L I N K S

Official website of Abe's Farm
Official Facebook fan page
Map to the resort

Abe’s Farm

Address: Barangay Ayala, Magalang, Pampanga, Philippines
Phone: + (02) 506-8140
Mobile: + (0917) 808-5187
Email: info@abesfarm.com.ph

More Photos Below:

Turon Saging

Sikreto Ni Maria


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