Monday, October 12, 2015

A Farm-to-Table Dining Experience at Sisterfields by Cravings

A few hours drive south of Manila takes you to the source of freshness for a unique farm-to-table dining experience...

At Sisterfields, the newest concept restaurant by The Cravings Group, you can experience the fresh and clean flavors of Tagaytay with its sustainable farm-fresh culinary creations. And in one exciting weekend day-trip down south, I get to dine in one of the highest points in Tagaytay with some of the signature dishes of Sisterfields by Cravings.

Before the short drive to Tagaytay, the group converged at Cravings in Katipunan for a light breakfast. I start with The Coffee Beanery's Cafe Latte, thick and creamy with the bold and robust notes of freshly brewed coffee, just what you need before the morning drive up to Tagaytay.

That morning, we also sampled new flavors from the other dining concepts of The Cravings Group, with the refreshing Wild One Lemon Lime and Bitters (L) and the filling All-Meat Sandwich from Epicurious with pastrami, maple-smoked ham, and black forest ham topped with emmental cheese. 

After two hours, we arrived at our destination. Located at Summit Ridge Hotel in Tagaytay, one of the newest developments from the growing Robinsons Hotels and Resorts group, Sisterfields represents the continuing partnership of The Cravings Group with Robinsons Land Corporation and their chain of hotels.  

At the helm of Sisterfields' kitchen is CCA's Executive Chef Dino Florendo (L), tasked with executing the advocacy and vision of The Cravings Group President and founder, Susana "Annie" P. Guerrero's passion for fresh, farm-to-table, sustainable cuisine. A soothing glass of wine kicks off my dining experience at Sisterfields...

...followed by the signature starters of Sisterfields, the Tinapa Spring Rolls with Sweet Chili Sauce (P 145) and Crispy Tawilis with Kaffir Lime Aioli (P 140), both highlighting fresh and local flavors.

The crispy Tinapa Spring Rolls (L) deliver the distinct and smoky notes of the smoked fish, capped by the sharpness of the sweet chili sauce. No trip to Tagaytay would be complete without Tawilis (R), with the mildly sweet notes of the delicately crisp local fish punctuated by the creamy Kaffir Lime Aioli for balanced flavors.

The tasty appetizers were then followed by the Potato, Corn, and Bacon Chowder (P 155), a hearty and comforting soup, deconstructed, with the thick and creamy broth poured separately.

The signature soup is first served with vegetables and a crispy slab of bacon (L), followed by creamy broth (R). The rich and creamy broth brings with it rustic notes, followed by the vegetables and bacon with their own layers of flavors and textures to complete the dish.

"There are a lot of produce in Tagaytay and around the Taal area. And it's undeniably very family-friendly. We have the perfect farm-to-table, family restaurant for the atmosphere of this vacation hotspot," says says Marinela "Badjie" G. Trinidad, CEO of The Cravings Group. Sisterfields anchors its concept on three important tenets: Farm-to-Fork with its organic selection of fruits and vegetables sourced locally in Tagaytay, Pasture-to-Plate with Tagaytay's famous Batangas beef to the iconic Tagaytay tawilis, and Crop-to-Cup with its exclusive and signature ethically produced Di Bella Coffee. And these are highlighted in the next dishes, representing the unique style of Sisterfields elevating comfort food to a whole new and refreshing level with the finest and freshest local ingredients. A colorful Chopped Salad with Green Goddess Dressing (P 320), a rich dressing made with a blend of fresh chives and herbs, perfectly illustrates the culinary concept at Sisterfields. Each bite brings a refreshing crunch, with mildly sweet flavors that can only come from the freshest, organic produce.

Local flavors are once again highlighted in the next salad dish, with the Mango, Kamias, Pajo, and Jicama Salad with Bagoong Balayan Vinaigrette (P 240), combining the distinct flavors of local vegetables and fruits with the sharpness of fermented fish paste. The different layers of contrasting flavors blend seamlessly in this dish, illustrating once more that at Sisterfields, the fresh ingredients are the focus and main star.

Then, the mains were served. The menu of elevated comfort food at Sisterfields was created by Chef Noel dela Rama, an acclaimed New York-based personal chef who earned his Culinary Arts degree at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America as well as a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from The French Culinary Institute in Soho, New York City. Chef Noel dela Rama is currently a visiting chef and instructor at CCA, Manila. A staunch farm-to-table advocate himself, Chef Noel dela Rama's thoughtfully curated menu for Sisterfields is perfectly aligned and consistent with the new dining concept's advocacy. Simple, well-cooked, straight-forward dining with a premium on freshness and quality, like the slow-cooked Cerveza Negra Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs with Garlic Mashed Potatoes (P 550).

The fork-tender local beef is easily picked apart without even using a knife. Sous-vide? Nope. At Sisterfields, only traditional cooking methods are practiced, and good old-fashioned slow-cooking still rules. And with slow-cooking, the blend of rich flavors seem to be more concentrated and vibrant, coming all together in this elegant yet comforting dish. This, and the cool breeze of Tagaytay, just perfect (for more on Summit Ridge Tagaytay, check out my post on my other blog here).

More comforting classics are served, including the crisp and juicy Southern Fried Chicken with Pan Gravy (P 575) served with homemade chive biscuit. The crisp outer layer contrasts with the tender juicy chicken, releasing a burst of richly seasoned flavors. The side of coleslaw and homemade chive biscuit complete the flavors.

Executive Chef Dino Florendo and his culinary team of CCA chefs then served the last signature main dish, the impressive Sticky BBQ Baby Back Ribs with Coleslaw (P 450), with tender, fall-off-the-bone pork served with homemade biscuits and vegetables. As with all the dishes at Sisterfields, only traditional cooking methods are practiced. Fork-tender and fall-off-the-bone, Sisterfields' Sticky BBQ Baby Back Ribs should satisfy any hefty appetite, and just perfect after the uphill drive to Tagaytay.

For dessert, indulge in some homemade ice cream, like Ube Macapuno, Pineapple Tarragon, and Kapeng Barako flavors, the indulgent Tres Leches Cake, or the Leche Flan on a Spoon. At Sisterfields, the menu is adjusted depending on the season and quality of harvest, ensuring you always get the best, hand-picked local ingredients for the freshest flavors.  

After a leisurely lunch at Sisterfields, Christine S. Bautista, Marketing Communications Manager for The Cravings Group (L) led us to the herb garden, Annie's Garden. At the site, seedlings of fresh herbs dotted the patch with vibrant splashes of bright green against the dark and rich soil.  

Annie's Garden is yet another representation of  Susana "Annie" P. Guerrero's green lifestyle advocacy as an environmentally responsible institution. And this goes beyond the garden, with Sisterfields at the forefront in sourcing local ingredients through ethical farming and teaching the values of eco-sustainable practices for the future generation.

Back inside Sisterfields, a freshly brewed cup of Di Bella Coffee is served, along with the signature baked pastries and sweets for a light afternoon snack. Sisterfields also offers an extensive line of packaged snacks, including its indulgent Double Chocolate Cookie Shards (L) and equally flavorful Malted Cookie Shards.     

CCA Executive Chef Dino Florendo then goes into action with a late afternoon cooking demo inside Sisterfields' spacious dining area, assisted by his young team of culinary students from CCA. That afternoon, Executive Chef Dino Florendo prepared a rustic and homestyle pasta dish with fresh ingredients...

...the rich and flavorful Penne Longganiza with Arugula. As with all of Sisterfields' signature dishes, you can expect fresh flavors even from the simplest dishes, as the fresh and premium ingredients sourced locally provide all the flavors.

Ready to experience a unique farm-to-table dining experience with the freshest, cleanest flavors? Head up to Tagaytay and go straight to the source of freshness, at Sisterfields by Cravings in Summit Ridge Hotel. Just leave it to the talented and skilled culinary team of Sisterfields to delight your senses with the freshest local produce for an all-new dining experience.  

Sisterfields by Cravings is located at Summit Ridge Hotel, Km. 58 General Aguinaldo Highway, Maharlika West, Tagaytay City or call 240-6888 for more information and inquiries.

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