Sunday, June 8, 2014

Flavors of Pampanga: A Day at Abe's Farm

Classic Capampangan and Filipino dishes in a rustic setting...this is one foodie road trip that's worth the drive. A mere two hour drive from Manila, the narrow roads lead you deep inside the town of Magalang, Pampanga. 

Unilever Food Solutions recently hosted a trip to Abe's Farm for the launch of its online videos on emerging food trends (see my post on Unilever Food Solutions' insightful food trends here at, and Abe's Farm was just the perfect setting to illustrate some of the key trends in the local food scene.

The ancestral home of Larry J. Cruz, the man behind the LJC group of restaurants including Cafe Adriatico, Cafe Havana, Larry's Cafe and Bar, Fely J, and Lorenzo's Way, is the centerpiece of the idyllic Abe's Farm...and the perfect place for a unique dining experience.
Nestled on a lush and sprawling property, Abe's Farm offers scenic views, transporting you back to simpler times. Inside, one can find rustic wooden furniture adding to the unique charm of Abe's Farm. Traditional cuisine in an ancestral home, Abe's Farm is one of those special places combining local flavors in a traditional setting.

After a long drive, a cold towel and a refreshing drink welcomes you to Abe's Farm. Immediately, one can sense this isn't just a restaurant. The vibe of the place is almost like dining in your favorite grand aunt's place, making you feel at home.

On the table, a serving of freshly fried and popped chicharon with a spicy vinegar dip gets you right in the groove.

Burong Mangga (P 105), or pickled green mangoes are then served. Sweet, tart and sour, just the right notes to contrast with the richness of the chicharon.

A sampling platter of Pampanga's classic favorites, with a refreshing Pako Fern and Tomato Salad, crispy Chicharon Bulaklak, the original spicy Pampanga Sisig, and the unique Betute, or deep-fried stuffed frog, begins your culinary experience at Abe's Farm. Each distinct dish combines for a medley of authentic regional flavors, allowing you a taste of Pampanga, all in one dish.

Sinigang na Bangus sa Bayabas (P 395), tender milkfish fillet in sweet and sour tamarind-flavored broth with pureed guava fruit, sinigang with a local twist. Different, hearty and comforting, despite the summer heat.

Binukadkad na Pla-Pla (P 395), crispy, deep fried whole tilapia served with buro, or fermented rice. You've probably seen fried tilapia with the distinct butterfly cut hundreds of times, and it's still pretty cool. And tastes good too.

Bamboo Rice (P 250), mountain rice with shrimps, wood ear mushrooms, and bamboo shoots cooked in a bamboo shell. A simple rice dish, elegantly transformed with the bamboo shell adding to an already unique experience at Abe's Farm.

Inihaw na Baboy, served with a spicy vinegar dip and atsara, or pickled vegetables, completes your feast. No local feast is complete without any grilled pork.

Next, traditional vegetable dishes are then served, starting with the Bicol Express (P 265), spicy and creamy vegetables cooked in coconut milk...

...Pinakbet Capampangan (P 265), garden fresh vegetables simmered in shrimp paste, fresh and clean flavors...

...Laing (P 265), taro leaves cooked in coconut milk and topped with smoked fish flakes to complete the vegetable side dishes. Fresh, local ingredients for fresh, local flavors.

Then, the heavy-hitters arrived. Knock-Out Knuckles (P 595), crispy pata topped with spicy chili and garlic, just the way they serve it in many of the LJC restaurants. The juicy pork, crisp crackling, crunchy garlic and spicy chili all combine for familiar and comforting flavors.

Kare-Kare (P 595), ox-tail and trip stewed in a rich and thick peanut sauce with fresh vegetables with a side of bagoong. Extra rice? Absolutely.

For dessert, go for Abe's Farm's signature Sikreto ni Maria (P 165), rich and creamy ice cream on suman and fresh mangoes, topped with shaved panutsa, and a perfect ending to an epic feast of local flavors. Food is finally a destination, and Abe's Farm is definitely one of those cool road trip worthy foodie expeditions.

Abe's Farm is located at 98 Livestock Village, Barangay Ayala, Magalang, Pampanga or call 0917-808-5187, 506-8140, and 506-8141 for inquiries.

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