Monday, June 7, 2021

Serendipitous Journeys: Feast and Celebrate at The Fatted Calf Farmhouse Kitchen

"Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate." 


The familiar verse from the bible perfectly describes what one can expect from The Fatted Calf. For chefs Jay Jay and Rhea Castro Sycip, they've seen it all. From volcanic eruptions to the lingering pandemic, the culinary couple behind The Fatted Calf in Silang, Cavite continue to create both inspiring and flavorful stories with every dish served at their farmhouse restaurant. Going back to basics while keeping in step with the times with modern methods and techniques, The Fatted Calf is a deeply personal expression of the couple's culinary journey. Serendipitous in more ways than one, chefs Jay Jay and Rhea's passion project in the south blossoms despite the challenges of the new normal with their unique culinary philosophy using the finest and freshest local ingredients for a comfortingly rustic and wholesome dining experience. Read on for a taste of The Fatted Calf and celebrate with a sumptuous feast south of the metro... 


A leisurely road trip and being outdoors again after the long days of quarantine was a welcome and much-needed change, changing your perspective with a more positive note away from the constant feed on the pandemic. The sweeping changes from the quarantine experience continues to transform our daily routine with the food service sector adapting to emerging consumer habits like dining at home, the rise of the food delivery culture and increased online usage. The lasting impact of the new normal will be felt for years to come, forever changing the culinary landscape. But there are special moments that endure, like a well-executed dish made from the freshest ingredients plated with a whole lot of love that leave lasting impressions. From its scenic location to the wholesome dishes and the welcoming warmth of the couple and their staff, The Fatted Calf weaves a continuous chain of memorable experiences that begins the moment you enter the expansive property.


An Oasis in the South

Located in idyllic upland Silang less than a kilometer away from Tagaytay, The Fatted Calf is the perfect spot to get away from it all within the NCR Plus Bubble. And the extensive menu at the farmhouse kitchen completes the experience, with a wide repertoire of comforting dishes from breakfast and brunch staples to satisfying salads, sandwiches, savory mains and decadent desserts. The Fatted Calf also showcases indulgent creations like the popular Hummingbird Cake and many more from Flour Pot Rum Cakes Manila by Chef Rhea Castro Sycip to cap your feast (for more on Flour Pot Rum Cakes Manila by Chef Rhea, see my previous post, Indulgence Comes Humming Your Way with The Hummingbird Cake from Flour Pot Rum Cakes Manila). Open on Fridays. weekends and holidays, The Fatted Calf PH is more than just a dining destination, it's a welcome respite from the uncertainties of the new normal.


Following the latest health and safety protocols, The Fatted Calf offers al fresco dining options for your peace of mind. And down south, it's the perfect way to enjoy a feast surrounded by lush gardens. It's unique dining experiences like this that we missed during the quarantine, with the simple pleasures often taken for granted before now appreciated with a fresh outlook. 


Pick your own special spot in the garden and enjoy the breeze. Dining al fresco at The Fatted Calf PH fits right in with the socially-distanced new normal. Besides, when was the last time you were outdoors enjoying a meal? 


Seasoned culinary professionals in the hotel industry with a wealth of experience tucked in their belts, chefs Jay Jay and Rhea brings their collective expertise in the kitchen to The Fatted Calf with a warm and personal touch defined by the ingredients they use. Their story reinforces the narrative that no matter what life throws at you, you just need to keep standing up. The opening of The Fatted Calf early last year immediately brought seemingly insurmountable challenges with the eruption of Taal Volcano followed by the on-going pandemic. For many, giving up and closing shop is the easy way out. But Chefs Jay Jay and Rhea are both made from a different mold gaining strength from each other. A year later, The Fatted Calf is open once again as a testament to their indomitable spirit. It's one couple's remarkable culinary journey, and the story is just beginning at The Fatted Calf. 


Have a chat with chefs Jay Jay and Rhea and while at The Fatted Calf, and ask them about the small wooden chair displayed near the entrance. Timing, they say, is everything and the volcanic eruption and on-going pandemic along the way remain hurdles to beat. But the couple's journey leading to The Fatted Calf was already in the works long before. Call it destiny and serendipity, you'll soon learn and appreciate that The Fatted Calf is just where it should be, eruptions and the persistent viral bug notwithstanding. You'll find the story quite inspiring, something we all need in these uncertain times for a better appreciation of food served with a whole lot of love.


The kitchen and staff are made up with former hotel employees led by Chefs Jay Jay and Rhea, and that in itself is yet another colorful element in the story of The Fatted Calf. At the bar, refreshing libations are prepared to kick off your dining experience...


...with a soothing concoction using homemade strawberry jam made from Benguet strawberries, fresh basil picked from their own garden and finished with the effervescent fizz of soda water. 


Take your beverage out in the garden for that change of scenery after months at home in quarantine. Like all their dishes, it's the fresh, local ingredients that really shines in this beverage with all the rich and all-natural notes to quench your thirst. And when you're using the freshest ingredients, chefs Jay Jay and Rhea keeps their menu simple. You don't need to complicate a meal when you have local ingredients straight from the source as your flavorful base.


The refreshing beverage opens up the palate for the parade of dishes in a memorable four hour lunch at The Fatted Calf starting with their signature breakfast offerings...


Better Breakfasts

Breakfasts are always better at The Fatted Calf. Served from 8:00 am to 11:00 am, the breakfast offerings at The Fatted Calf already has its own loyal customer base including families, weekend warriors and motorcycle enthusiasts. The Banana, Pili, Salted Caramel Waffles (P 295) at The Fatted Calf is an indulgent way to start your day, lightly crisp on the edges with a soft and fluffy finish. The bananas and salted caramel adds an indulgent vibe to breakfast, while the pili nuts provide textural contrasts that will have you going for another bite. 


Nothing like an assortment of fresh berries to start your day, and the Mixed Berries Waffles does exactly that with whipped butter and maple syrup. Dusted with powdered sugar, the waffles get a burst of tartness from the berries followed by the maple syrup for that perfectly smooth finish.


Waffles done exceptionally well with fresh berries, whipped butter and maple syrup. It just doesn't get any better than that. A true dining destination, the breakfast experience is transformed and elevated with the lush gardens as your backdrop at The Fatted Calf.


Having eggs for breakfast takes on a rustic and elegant vibe at The Fatted Calf. Enjoy farm-fresh eggs with toast prepared en cocotte like the Kale Baked Eggs (P 295) with mushrooms, asparagus and kale served with warm and crisp bread. A vegetarian option, the Kale Baked Eggs is light yet satisfying with the richness of the eggs capped by the clean notes of vegetables. 


The Fatted Calf Baked Eggs (P 295) combines the sharp and smoky hints of bacon with arugula, cherry tomatoes and brined kesong puti with local free range eggs for another winning combo. The bold notes of bacon and cherry tomatoes are tempered by the creamy eggs for balanced flavors. 


And the best way to enjoy the baked eggs is to simply dive right in and mop it up with a crisp and crusty slice of toast. A deceptively simple dish yet the flavors from the different ingredients come together for richly layered flavors and textures. From that first bite to the last, the flavors underscore the quality and freshness of the ingredients. It's been said that freshness is flavor, and it resonates with each dish at The Fatted Calf. 


The Fatted Calf PH also offers a tempting selection of Tartine or open-faced sandwiches like the Truffle Scrambled Eggs Tartine (P 410) with creamy free range eggs topped with earthy mushrooms on fresh-baked bread made in the kitchens of The Fatted Calf. The scrambled eggs are light, moist and fluffy for that perfect scramble. The nutty notes of the indulgent truffle add depth with each bite, mellowed out by the eggs. A side salad completes the dish.


The Smoked Salmon Scrambled Eggs (P 410) combines the creamy richness of house-smoked salmon and free range eggs in a seamless blend on fresh-baked bread for a light yet indulgent feast, farmhouse kitchen style. The buttery texture of the salmon with its briny sweetness adds an elegant finish to the tartine. Subtle and delicately nuanced, the flavors gently hugs the palate with each comforting bite.


The Burrata Open-Faced Sandwich (P 475) brings freshness to a plate with a ball of silky smooth local cow's milk cheese laid on patani (when in season) or edamame puree on garden-fresh with crisp rocket on soft crusty bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, lemon and cucumber vinaigrette. It's just layers of pure richness bite after bite. The contrasting flavors of the burrata and vinaigrette pair well for balanced flavors, leaving a lingering richness on the palate.


The Mushroom and Asparagus (P 345) brings the fresh, earthy and subtle woody notes from a variety of mushrooms with a hint of sweetness from the asparagus with each bite. Each tartine at The Fatted Calf offers uniquely distinct flavors. These open faced sandwiches, each one with homemade bread, are just some of the reasons why you should visit The Fatted Calf. 


Salad Days All Day at The Fatted Calf

Any trip down south isn't complete with salads and garden-fresh greens. And The Fatted Calf serves up a variety of salads showcasing the freshest flavors of the south. The salad selection at The Fatted Calf brings crisp and clean notes to the palate with Tagaytay's specialty local produce like the Burrata Salad (P 550) with tart cherry tomatoes, carrots and a medley of crisp greens topped with fresh cow's milk cheese from local farms slathered with nutty Moringa Pesto drizzled with honey garlic vinaigrette...


...or the Mushroom Salad (P 420) which includes pickled Shimeji mushrooms, candied Shiitake and seared Oyster Mushrooms dressed with a nutty honey garlic vinaigrette. You can experience each distinct note from the various ingredients just the way a fresh salad should be and not just a mash-up. After all, it's the ingredients that shine at The Fatted Calf. 


The Vegan Glow Salad (P 420) with naturally-farmed Tagaytay mixed greens tossed with asparagus, zucchini, raisins, grapes, oranges, spice-roasted squash, pumpkin seeds and quinoa drizzled with a sweet and tart maple sesame black vinaigrette is another tasty option at The Fatted Calf with layers of sweet notes from the vegetables and fruits in a refreshing blend. The fresh fruits add bright and zesty flavors to the salad for that refreshing summer feel. All the salad servings are large and perfect for sharing with family. Or a healthy and full meal for one.


Connecting the Past with the Present Through Comfort Food 

A good dish triggers a fond memory, a place or time and Chefs Jay Jay and Rhea draw inspiration from hearty childhood favorites with their Breakfast Rice Bowls recreated at The Fatted Calf. Comforting and nostalgic, starting your day with familiar local flavors gets you in the groove from that first bite. Chefs Jay Jay and Rhea pull out the classics with their Breakfast Rice Bowls...


...starting with the Beef Pares Bowl (P 390). The popular beef dish takes you back to memorable childhood summers with fork-tender and savory local grass-fed beef kicked up with chili oil on rice with fluffy scrambled eggs, crispy garlic and pickled vegetables. The tender beef and tendon just melts in your mouth finished with a familiar sweetness. It's breakfast with a solid savory kick. 


More local flavors warm the palate with the Chicken Adobo (P 325) with juicy free range chicken leg quarter, boiled eggs, crispy garlic, rice and pickled vegetables. The rich yet delicate notes of chicken are enhanced by the garlic, vinegar and soy hints of adobo for that homestyle vibe. Pair that with rice, crispy garlic and pickled vegetables and you've got a real breakfast. 


Chef Jay Jay recalls his trips to Thailand with his own take with the Bangkok Breakfast Bowl (P 375) featuring richly seasoned ground pork, Thai Yellow Curry, kaffir and lemongrass rice topped with fried egg. The vibrant notes of curry, kaffir and lemongrass spins a colorful weave of flavors that's refreshingly different from the usual breakfast fare. And that's what makes The Fatted Calf special, their wide and extensive menu allows you to explore and discover new flavor experiences.   


If you wish to continue to roll with Asian flavors, Chefs Jay Jay and Rhea have something fresh from the steamer. The Pork Belly Bao (P 375) with savory slabs of pork belly draped with sweet and mildly salty hoisin-peanut sauce topped with Asian coleslaw and fresh cucumbers on homemade Mantou delights the palate with a flavorful burst. From the hoisin-peanut sauce and tart coleslaw rounded out by the unctuous richness of the pork belly and the soft bun, the Asian-inspired dish is another tasty option in their repertoire of dishes. With everything made from scratch down to the soft mantou bun using the finest ingredients, the flavors just pop with each bite. 


One Pork Belly Bun just isn't enough, order up another steamer. That's the first round. Chefs Jay Jay and Rhea served even more dishes from their extensive menu for the second round...


Here's the beef

And they have burgers too, from the classic to playfully inventive variants offering bold flavors. The Sriracha Chicken Sandwich (P 425) features a juicy free-range chicken fillet draped in spiced butter topped with coleslaw on soft house-made buns served with a side of crispy potato wedges. The textural contrasts from the crisp and juicy chicken and the pronounced heat from the spiced butter and the fresh coleslaw all merge in one savory bite. The distinct notes blend together well without overpowering the other for balanced flavors.


The Asian-inspired Thai Beef Burger (P 510) offers a unique burger spin with the rich notes of Thai Yellow Curry adding a distinct layer of flavor to the savory fresh cut local grass-fed beef made even richer with a slab of local Kesong Puti on a pillow-soft house-made bun. The sharp hints of curry lingers on the palate while the creamy and not too vinegary local cottage cheese just rounds it out smoothly. It's one of many creative expressions of the couple's culinary style of no-borders cuisine, lavishly executed by chefs Jay Jay and Rhea.


The Fatted Calf Cheeseburger (P 490) is their homage to the classic with hand-cranked, fresh cut local grass-fed beef draped in cheese with lettuce, tomato and onions finished with a generous slather of thousand island dressing on soft house-made buns. The little details in creating the burger, from hand-cranked and fresh cut local beef to the fresh medley of lettuce, tomato and onions on buns baked in-house just delivers much fuller and rounder flavors. 


Slow Food Still Rules

Chef Jay Jay and Rhea believe that good things come to those who wait. From the tedious sourcing of local seed-to-table ingredients to slow cooking to bring out all the flavors, nothing is rushed at The Fatted Calf. It's at the very core of their culinary philosophy. And it shines in the next two dishes...


The Osso Buco (P 670 good for 1-2 persons) is a mouthwatering main dish with sous vide local grass-fed beef shank simmered for hours in farm fresh tomato sauce infused with wine and fresh herbs served with Gremolata and Sweet Potato Puree. The beef shank almost melts with the thick sauce infusing it with a rustic richness, flavors that can only come from cooking low and slow. 


The hearty Italian dish which literally translates to "bone with a hole" referring to the bone marrow is rich and hearty, delivering bold yet fresh and clean flavors. The Fatted Calf's version is perfection recreated, gently simmered for hours the old-fashioned way for full and unrestrained flavors. The side of gremolata, a seasoned mix of minced parsley, lemon zest and and minced garlic complements the richness of the dish with its contrasting bright notes. The pureed sweet potato makes it a country style feast. 


A glimpse at the open kitchen reveals yet another course about to be served fresh from the oven...


Romanced by the flame for ten hours, the impressive Whole Roasted Leg of Beef (P 2,100) highlights local grass-fed beef shank lavishly pampered with aromatic spices and herbs laid on roasted vegetables. It's a special dish, and advanced orders are recommended due to its limited availability. Think of it as your reward from the long but leisurely road trip to The Fatted Calf.


The massive Whole Roasted Leg of Beef just falls-off-the-bone, easily carved with a fork. Pour some Rum Jus over the tender beef and one bite lays on pure and honest beef flavors to the palate. The juicy beef capped by a lightly crisp outer crust delivers all the beefy notes you love, and then some. Many dining establishments have at least one or two specialty dishes that sets them apart from the rest. At The Fatted Calf, this is one of those dishes. From breakfast, sandwiches and salads to savory mains, chefs Jay Jay and Rhea are defined by the dishes they serve using the finest and freshest local produce at their own farmhouse kitchen. 

Other savory options at The Fatted Calf PH include the Black Onyx Striploin Steak (P 2,200), Fresh Catch of the Day (P 680) with sustainably caught fish hand-picked from the seaport, Half-Roast Chicken (P 570) and Braised Pork Belly (P 450). But that's just one part of the The Fatted Calf story...

Indulgence by Flour Pot Rum Cakes Manila

Chef Rhea Castro Sycip adds her own story to The Fatted Calf with Flour Pot Rum Cakes Manila and her specialty cakes. Known for her Hummingbird Cake, Chef Rhea dives deeper into premium local ingredients through farmers and suppliers in creating her decadent masterpieces. That day at The Fatted Calf, Chef Rhea presented her own take on real indulgence with her Strawberry Glazed Donut, the classic Mocha Cake, the deep and dark Tablea Cake using chocolate from Davao...  


...the sinfully moist Tres Leches with fresh strawberries and cream, the dense Ube Cake and the tart and creamy Strawberry Shortcake for a parade of pure uninhibited pleasure. The ubiquitous donut is transformed with fresh strawberries while the Tablea Cake is pure chocolate bliss. The Tres Leches is creamy indulgence in a slice while the Ube Cake and Strawberry Shortcake round out your cheat day options. Coffee with your Mocha Cake? Absolutely. 

Like their savory dishes, the mouthwatering desserts bring real flavors to the palate from the premium local ingredients. The flavors are delicate yet richer with a rounded depth and not overly sweet for a memorable dessert experience (for more on Flour Pot Rum Cakes Manila, see my post Indulgence Comes Humming Your Way with The Hummingbird Cake from Flour Pot Rum Cakes Manila from two years back). And that's how you cap your feast at The Fatted Calf. 

Like their extensive menu and desserts, Chefs Jay Jay and Rhea complement each other seamlessly. It's this tightly woven bond that carried them through the challenges of the past and current year, from a volcanic eruption to the on-going pandemic. And each day makes them stronger as the kitchen fires up to delight more visitors coming from both near and far. 


A nostalgic wooden chair from childhood, a date night from many years ago that led them to the very same spot where The Fatted Calf now stands and volumes of intertwined stories, chefs Jay Jay and Rhea's serendipitous culinary journey continues with many more chapters yet to unfold. Now you can enjoy their stories, experienced and retold with their extensive menu, one dish and bite at a time at The Fatted Calf...

The Fatted Calf PH is located at 23 Vito Belarmino Street, Bucal, Silang, Cavite. Call 0917 789 2352 for reservations. You can also visit their FB Page at https://www.facebook.com/fattedcalfph/ and IG Feed at @thefattedcalf_ph for more information and updates. Reservations are highly recommended due to limited tables. 

For more on the indulgent creations of Flour Pot Rum Cakes Manila, visit their FB Page at https://www.facebook.com/flourpotmanila/.

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