H E A L T H Y
L U N C H
McArthur Highway that covers a long stretch of the province of Tarlac is famous for a lot of pasalubong centers and a local seafood restaurant. Also, somewhere down that path once stood an organic restaurant that has since settled at Romulo Highway as its base where its organic farm stands. The dining venue is called Good Earth Garden Cafe (GEGC) and it's in the same sprawling Sotero property owned by couples Rogelio and Rowena where the farm called Good Earth Farms and Foods is.
I recently traveled to Tarlac with a few friends for an adventure in the Mount Pinatubo lahar trail via an ATV ride of the Capas ATV Adventure. The trip was also an adventure in organic gustatory delights, something that my friend and contributing photographer, Josua Chan, was giddy about because he's into healthy treats. We headed to Barangay Carangian for lunch on a convoy of hired tricycles from our Microtel Inn & Suites By Wyndham-Luisita hotel base. It was the first day of my 2-day "I Love Tarlac!" Blog Series Tour.
Family-run Farm and Restaurant
Run by the Sotero family, including Rowena's daughter, Eunice, GEGC was not immediately noticeable from the highway when we arrived at the location. There was a signage that I anticipated to see for our necessary stop but it was the massive presence of the nearby Iglesia Ni Kristo worship place that I relied on for the trip's landmark.
The entrance to the dining venue was a narrow but charming trellis-cum-walkway topped with a green-colored see-through roofing for natural light. There was an assemblage of plants and a rustic al fresco dining setup along the walkway. Outside at lunch time the heat was painstaking. On our way to the main entrance, though, cool breeze was everywhere. The whole setup was carefully shaded and the freely loitering livestock added extra charm to the venue.
Medley of Organic Orders
As our orders of the Malunggay Pasta, Tilapia Spring Rolls, Tanglad Chicken and Tofu Sisig were being prepared, I hied off to what seemed to be the backyard. I merely followed a gaggle or a trio of geese to end up at the property's farm. Eunice followed suit and assisted me while I was on my own tour of the place. She shared that the farm's currently in the state of being organized as the clan's matriarch recently passed away.
Quick Farm Tour
She showed me around. The teenager was proud to share that her favorite organic produce at the farm is the katuray which is normally tossed in a salad mix or used as part of the sinigang dish. In her case, she eats it raw. Since the farm is still yet to be fully organized, vegetable rows are yet to find their way in the thick of the setup.
As we walked around, she showed me varieties of plants that they've been growing like basil, oregano, ginura (good for diabetes), chives, ginseng, gotu kola (good for nervous disorders), tanglad (good for high cholesterol and high blood), the mosquito-repellent citronella, viola (leaves best for salad; flowers good for insomnia) and sambong (good for kidney problems). They also have baboy ramo which they use for sisig.
I returned to the dining venue for a refreshing drink of tanglad (lemongrass with ginger). My group requested for more ice cubes as the drink is best tasted cold. It went down well with the first order of Malunggay Pasta. The blend of malunggay leaves, parmesan cheese, and spices complemented well with the generous amount of extra virgin olive oil tossed in the mix.
I also had filling slices of the Saluyot Pizza which Rowena decided to include in the taste test session, along with the Malunggay Pizza (malunggay flakes, tuna bits and cheese). Also known as moringa, malunggay has healthy amounts of anti-cancer compounds.
|Tilapia Spring Rolls|
The best of the roster of deliciousness served that day was the appetizing Tilapia Spring Roll. I had more than two of those as I couldn't get over the tasty combination of fresh balu leaves and fried tilapia fillet. I reckon that since the delectable shebang was marinated in tanglad juice, eating it was thirst-quenching at the same time. Truly, it was a refreshing taste in the mouth. I learned later on that balu weed is good for urinary tract problems and dysentery. Plus, since it's a seasonal dish, I had to make sure that the flavor lasted in my mouth.
|With Contributing Photographer Josua Chan|
To return the good favor of a delicious lunch, I bought the restaurant's best-selling Tomato and Tuyo Pasta as pasalubong for a dear friend waiting for me at the ATV site in Capas. Rowena even had me and my friends take home some of her bottled organic produce like the Tomato Vinegar and the tanglad drink.
My friend and I agreed that the difference of having organic food for a meal is in the gut. The tasty experience did not make us feel bloated like whenever we would feast over fast food stuff.
Photography by Josua Chan and Karl Ace
Good Earth Garden Cafe
Address: Carangian, Romulo Highway, Tarlac City, Tarlac, Philippines
Phone: 0917-278-9237/ 0915-405-3998
Hours of Operation
Mon-Sat: 10:00am-7:00 pm
Check out my "I Love Tarlac!" Blog Series Tour posts:
+ Capas ATV Adventure: Tarlac's Mount Pinatubo Lahar Destination
+ Microtel By Wyndham-Luisita
+ JSJ Goat Farm: A Refreshing Tarlac Discovery
+ Chap's Diner: Dining In Tarlac's Kart City
More Photos Below: