You wouldn’t think a 95% vegan would come away from a 24-hour stay at The Farm feeling so refreshed, rejuvenated, and revitalised as I did… but I did!! The Farm at San Benito is a spa resort about an hour and a half south of Manila, and their mantra is “Nurture Yourself from Within.” They specialise in world class spa treatments… and their restaurant serves vegan food, most of which is grown in their own organic gardens. Mark and I spent the weekend there to celebrate our anniversary.
We were surrounded by beauty & tranquility our entire stay, and the beautiful food only enhanced our experience. After check-in, we enjoyed a gorgeous lunch in their open-air restaurant. We shared an appetiser of fresh spring rolls topped with sun-dried tomatoes and sprouts, with pili nuts, vegan pesto, and a rich almond butter dipping sauce.
I followed up with a raw main course that turned out to be the highlight of my culinary experience: walnut onion flatbread topped with veggies, pineapple, and cheese made out of cashews. Who knew that was possible?? I didn’t! But now that I do, I have something fun to experiment with! I was also inspired by the fact that this bread had been made without high-temperature baking, leaving it with a rich, chewy texture that paired perfectly with the veggies & cheese toppings. I wanted to give Mark a bite, but it was so good I selfishly kept it all to myself…
Of course, because we’re on vacation, we have to have dessert after lunch… we chose this chocolate pecan cake. This doesn’t look vegan, hey? The base was made with pecans & dates, followed by a layer of vegan chocolate ganache, then another layer with dates, coconut, & more pecans. Sooo delicious, folks! It was super-sweet, though, and halfway through I hit my AST (acute sugar threshold), at which point the bridge of my nose starts to sweat & I have to stop eating. Not lying, this really happens to me. It’s my automatic cut-off switch.
Later in the afternoon we did a circuit workout in the gym to build up an appetite for dinner because I was so full from lunch I thought I’d never eat again. The gym was small but well-equipped with every fun thing you can imagine: heavy ropes, a giant tire, weighted medicine balls, TRX cables, low bars to jump over, and even a heavy bag for boxing! I had a blast designing a circuit course for us, and I have to say I think we effectively burned off lunch!
After our workout we had a massage… it truly was world-class… ahhh…
And then dinner… The heavy rain made me feel really chilly, so I wanted something warm. I started with this pumpkin & apple soup. It was served in a cute little bread basket, which I didn’t eat, but it looks great!
My main course was a grilled veggie stack with a balsamic chili dipping sauce. It was fabulous- warm and marinated perfectly. I realised halfway thorough that my meal was all veggies! So we felt free to order a couple of desserts. We shared a chocolate cake slice with vegan vanilla ice cream, and also a tropical dessert of thin coconut crackers with mango & vanilla ice cream. Unfortunately I forgot to take any pictures of the desserts…
I was very worried that at a vegan, holistic place like this, I wouldn’t be able to fulfil my coffee addiction in the morning! But I didn’t need to fret because The Farm serves up delicious, organic coffee in the French press… super strong, super good (with almond milk creamer, perfect!)
Our breakfast began with a giant fresh fruit platter. I suspect the fruits are grown on premises as well. I polished off my whole platter as well as Mark’s papaya because he is not a fan.
After that we were served some cereal that consisted of granola mixed with some puffed millet, served with some coconut milk to top it. It was sort of meh, but I ate it all anyway… hungry! But I like my homemade granola better.
This was followed by a plate of vegan French toast. I have mostly avoided trying this dish, because isn’t the whole point of french toast eggs?? You know what I’m saying! There is plenty of great vegan food out there without having to go head to head with an age-old, non-vegan food that is based on a non-vegan ingredient. But I have to say this was pretty good, especially with the sauce, which I think was blended dates. Yum!
I didn’t think I would be hungry for lunch after all this food, but I was… so we ate again before the drive home. We shared this pomelo salad and it was so good we were knocking each other’s forks out of the way and pretending it was an accident.
After that I had a “raw veggie Napoleon”… this was basically a stack of raw veggies & fresh pineapple, spread on each layer with vegan pesto and macadamia nut cheese. Again with the nut cheese and it was amazing! And again, a meal of all veggies and it was really satisfying! Although for full disclosure we did get another piece of the chocolate pecan cake… and a vegan halo-halo…
Although I eat vegan 95% of the time, I have to say I was amazed and inspired by the food I ate this weekend. And I felt energised and rejuvenated by it as well. I think sometimes I rely pretty heavily on starches & grains (either physically or- more likely!- psychologically!)… and it’s good to just step back and experience just how good a meal of pure veggies makes me feel. Not that I think we should do this all the time, but for a little retreat, it was bliss.