Saturday, October 16, 2021

Drive South and Savor the New Romana Inspired Menu of The Dining Room at Gourmet Farms

As quarantine restrictions are gradually eased, hit the road and experience the rustic Italian Menu of The Dining Room at Gourmet Farms...

The roads to your favorite destinations beckon once again as the economy slowly and cautiously opens up after a prolonged quarantine due to the pandemic. Down south, one of the country's pioneering and premier dining destinations welcomes diners back after more than a year with a sumptuous Romana-inspired menu using the freshest and finest ingredients harvested straight from their farms. Step inside The Dining Room or why not enjoy the outdoors and indulge in a festive Italian feast al fresco surrounded by lush and verdant greens at Gourmet Farms?

Time To Hit The Road, Jack

The quarantine experience continues to change and transform the culinary landscape with new consumer habits emerging to define a challenging new normal such as dining at home, the rise of the food delivery culture and increased online usage. Familiar and popular destinations as well as the usual dining out experience were temporarily placed on hold to curb the spread of the pandemic, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. And just in time too. Leaving the city after months at home in quarantine is a liberating and much needed break from the daily barrage of the pandemic on social media feeds. And the first on the list for that long leisurely drive is Gourmet Farms (for more on The Dining Room at Gourmet Farms, see my post, Freshest. Finest. First. A Day at Gourmet Farms...from two years ago).

Al Fresco Dining Is The New Normal

Taking it outdoors is the new normal. The sweeping impact of the pandemic is wide and far-reaching with face masks, face shields and social distancing now a part of the daily routine. For most dining establishments operating with a limited capacity, offering al fresco dining is now an alternative in tune with the times. The Dining Room at Gourmet Farms takes al fresco dining to a whole new level...

...transforming one portion at the expansive property exclusively for outdoor dining complete with a bar and socially-distanced tables under a canopy. More than just an extension of The Dining Room at Gourmet Farms, the new al fresco area offers a unique dining experience. It's also the best setting for a sumptuous lunch or a soothing cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Where Farm-To-Table And Bean-To-Cup All Began

The story of Gourmet Farms is often linked and associated with the origins of the farm-to-table and organic movement as well the local bean-to-cup coffee culture. The very first company to export local coffee beans and the first to offer local roasted coffee on a commercial scale, innovation has been part of the DNA of Gourmet Farms. Since the late eighties, Gourmet Farms began planting the seeds for a culinary revolution starting with their farm-fresh lettuce, herbs, indigenous herbal teas and salad dressings being the first and largest organic growers in the country. Farm-to-table and bean-to-cup began right here long before the terms were understood and popularized locally.  

And it's just fitting to start your Gourmet Farms experience with a soothing cup of freshly brewed coffee the minute you arrive at the place where it all began. The long and colorful story of Gourmet Farms is retold and enjoyed with each sip, opening up the palate... you sit back and immerse yourself in the wide open space of the al fresco area at The Dining Room. A gentle breeze accompanies each sip and after the long days of quarantine at home, being out in the open is a cool change. It's moments like these that's best enjoyed with a refreshing brew.

If you're looking for a bolder yet smooth cup of coffee, the Barako con Leche with local coffee beans and a splash of creamy milk should do the trick (for more on the local coffee culture at Gourmet Farms, see my post, Masterfully Roasted: The Coffee Culture and Gourmet Farms from 2019).

And that's just the start of many flavorful experiences at The Dining Room of Gourmet Farms...

A refreshing drink kicks off your dining experience at the al fresco area of The Dining Room. The blend of lemonade, basil and mint brings fresh, sweet and tart notes to the palate before the Romana-inspired feast...

The Man In The Kitchen

The story of Gourmet Farms unfolds with the lavish offerings made from the freshest ingredients, many harvested just a few hours earlier and prepared by Chef Ico Molera. For ten years, Chef Ico infused his own personal spin on rustic Italian flavors with the farm's bountiful produce as his pantry. The Dining Room's Mediterranean and Italian theme is perfectly complimented by the abundance of fresh ingredients sourced directly from the farm. That means bold, unrestrained yet clean flavors in every dish. The best way to start your feast at The Dining Room? Fresh greens and vegetables with a variety of homemade dressings at the Salad Bar, of course...

Salad Days Rediscovered

From its humble beginnings as a roadside diner back in the eighties, the fresh selection of salads and dressings has been an enduring feature of the Gourmet Farms experience. The process in creating that customized bowl of pure freshness begins with the crisp organic Lollo Rossa, Green Ice and Romaine lettuce and Arugula to an assortment of vegetables like onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, mushrooms and so much more. Then, there's the wide array of homemade salad dressings from Sicilian to Blue Cheese, Ceasar's to Mango Vinaigrette and Thousand Island to Balsamic Vinaigrette. Gourmet Farms also offers their specialty dips, dressings and sauces, over twenty variants, in bottles and jars at their Deli. As you prepare your game plan for the perfect salad at The Dining Room, let your eyes wander for another kind of feast...

Feed The Eyes Before The Palate

Inside The Dining Room, the stunning pieces by Lisa Capito captivates the senses with its splash of vibrant colors to nourish the mind and soul. The various pieces reflect a distinct and deeply personal artistic style harnessing both movement and bright hues in a seamless weave like the visually alluring play on colors with The Vanilla Dune 1...   

...or the subdued yet elegant flow of contrasting tints with the Eury Phaessa...

...and the calming Edge of the Ocean. The art pieces combine with the fresh flavors of The Dining Room for a virtual feast of the senses unique to the Gourmet Farms experience. The pieces are also on sale for art collectors.  

The freshness and crisp textures of the greens are announced by an audible crunch followed by the silky smooth and creamy finish of the dressing. The Salad Bar at The Dining Room also allows you to be creative, so go ahead and mix a variety of dressings on the side. The Sicilian Dressing and Mango Vinaigrette combine for a flavorful pairing. The opening act in a lavish al fresco feast gets into gear as the dishes from the new menu are served... 

A Taste of Roman Holidays At The Dining Room

Chef Ico Molera starts our Roman-inspired feast with a pair of savory dishes after the Bread Basket served with Balsamic Vinegar with the Wings alla Cacio e Pepe (P 375), a unique spin with crisp and juicy wings draped in Pecorino cheese and pepper. The delicate notes of the chicken are layered by the distinct sharpness of the Pecorino and pepper for a flavorful burst... 

...while the Nona's Meatballs (P 340) brings comfortingly familiar flavors to the table. Juicy and savory simmered in a thick and tart tomato sauce, the meatballs pack rich flavors with subtle hints of garlic. The homestyle goodness of the aptly named Nona's Meatballs brings back the sumptuous flavors of everyone's favorite grandmother. Freshness and bold flavors become a recurring theme at The Dining Room.

The tartness of the tomatoes tempers the savory richness of the meatballs for that balanced finish, and going for that one last meatball becomes a race so better order another bowl to defuse any tension on the table. 

Chef Ico adds his own inventive spin to risotto using local adlai with the Al Nero Con Uovo (P 380), a smooth risotto in squid ink with calamari, rosemary and egg... 

...and the Zucca con Salsiccia (P 390) with pumpkin, sage and Italian Sausage. Masterfully executed, the consistency and flavors come through with each spoonful delivering layers of richness. The large grains of adlai are soft and fluffy, smoothened by the thick sauce and rich notes from the squid ink and pumpkin for a tasty risotto duo.  

No Italian feast is complete without pasta, and Chef Ico presents two traditional dishes with the Carbonara (P 370) made with guanciale or Italian style cured pork, eggs and Pecorino cheese...

...and Vongole (P 380) with the briny sweetness of plump clams on linguine draped in olive oil and parsley. The Carbonara follows a traditional yet simple recipe with the eggs and Pecorino for that flavorful base punctuated by the savory sharpness of the guanciale while the Vongole brings fresh flavors rounded out by the olive oil for depth and the minty hints of parsley. The Dining Room offers eleven pasta dishes in their menu, and these are just some of the must-try variants.

The Branzino Alla Griglia (P 1,500 good for 2-4) features a whole grilled local seabass from Batangas served with Salsa Verde. It's an impressive dish, perfect for sharing for a memorable road trip and dining experience. The fresh, clean and mildly sweet notes of the fish with just a whisper of smoky hints are complimented by a fresh squeeze of the lightly grilled lemon and the vibrant flavors of the Salsa Verde. It's fresh flavors like this that make the long drive worthwhile.  

One of the bestselling dishes at The Dining Room of Gourmet Farms is the Porchetta (P 550), a savory pork roll from the farm's very own native black pigs stuffed with fresh herbs and spices. The thick slab, from the lightly crisp outer layer to the tender and juicy pork deliver rich yet clean flavors. A squeeze of lemon cuts the richness while the herb sauce brings fresh and intense nutty notes with each bite. 

Crisp and juicy with a delicate sweetness, the crackling and juicy pork deliver textural contrasts followed by that savory punch. The specialty Porchetta is also the base for their equally famous Porchetta Sandwich with pickled vegetables (see more from my previous post at Freshest. Finest. First. A Day at Gourmet Farms...). This, and the new menu, are just some of the reasons to drive down south to Gourmet Farms.

Save room for the pizza selections of The Dining Room. With fifteen tempting pizza creations to choose from like Pizza Rosse or Red Pizza to Pizza Bianche or White Pizza, it's always a good idea to order more than just one. The Frutti di Mare (P 580) is a seriously loaded pizza with assorted seafood and fresh arugula on a rustic crust slathered with thick Pomodoro sauce. 

The fresh and sweet briny hints of succulent seafood including shrimps, calamari and kani gives this pizza a light yet flavorful finish pairing well with the crisp and sharp flavors of the fresh arugula. The savory Pomodoro completes the flavors with its bold notes. 

Each slice and bite delivers both textural contrasts and distinct flavors coming together without overwhelming the other in a balanced and savory pizza. It's a refreshing seafood option for your pizza craving capped by fresh ingredients in true Gourmet Farms style.

Prosciutto, shrimps, zucchini and blue cheese combine for another pizza creation at The Dining Room. The new Gourmet Pizza is a lavish pizza with its tasty blend of generous toppings. The indulgent notes of prosciutto and shrimps conspire with the fresh zucchini and blue cheese for a colorful weave of flavors.  

The prosciutto brings its familiar salty hints complimented by the sweetness of the shrimps and zucchini while the blue cheese adds depth with its creamy flavors. The blue cheese doesn't punch through as you'd expect, instead it gently seduces the palate with its creamy texture and flavor.

The prosciutto and shrimp with cucumber combo is tasty as is, add some blue cheese and this pizza just takes your palate on a wild flavorful ride. It's a worthy addition to The Dining Room's repertoire of pizza creations.

If you're still hungry, let Chef Ico indulge you with the Pancetta alla Griglia (P 500), a slab of pork belly served with Roman Garlic Spread. The charred grill marks brings smoky hints to balance the richness of the pork but the fresh toppings of pickled red onions cuts through to cleanse the palate perfectly. From salads to tasty starters, pizza and pasta, risotto and savory mains, The Dining Room's new menu is like a welcome back party to remember. And more... 

Afternoon Brews and Dessert

What began with a soothing cup of coffee culminates with another cup. After all, you're at Gourmet Farms where it all started. Like properly placed bookends, a good cup of coffee is the only way to end your Gourmet Farms experience.  

The specialty Hazelnut Blend with its bold flavors and fragrant aroma just hits all the right spots for that memorable drive down south in the new normal. Though things are drastically different, some things remain comfortingly familiar. Like a good cup of coffee. 

Pair your coffee with some indulgent dessert, like the Tiramisu alla Minute (P 280) with coffee-dipped lady finger topped with creamy mascarpone prepared a la minute

A bold espresso completes the dessert. It's the little touches like this that completes the day at Gourmet Farms. 

The new normal is here to stay, and precautionary measures like face masks, face shields and social distancing will be part of the daily routine. Al fresco dining is the new normal, and The Dining Room at Gourmet Farms keeps in step with the times with its spacious open air area and all the latest health and safety protocols in place.

Maybe you just need to drive down south, leave the city and the constant barrage on the pandemic on the social media feed. Maybe it's time to enjoy the great outdoors, feast your eyes on the lush gardens and art pieces of Lisa Capito and enjoy Roman-inspired flavors al fresco at The Dining Room of Gourmet Farms. The new menu and al fresco dining option are just some of the reasons to hit the road once more and head down south in this new normal. 

Gourmet Farms is located at Brgy. Buho, Silang, Cavite. For orders and inquiries, call +632 843-8335 and +632 920-903-1346. You can also email at Follow Gourmet Farms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @gourmetfarmsph and the hashtags #GourmetFarmsPH, #BestoftheBrewed, #ILoveMyGF and #Gourmet Farms.

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