It is a courtesy when dining out to give one’s ‘compliments to the chef’ after an excellent meal. Sadly, it is not a common practice to pay respects to those who grow the food! In recent years, some farm-to-table restaurants have raised some awareness about where they source their organic vegetables and free-range meats, but for most diners the distance still remains between their tables and the farms, ranches, and fisheries where the food is actually produced. However, there is at least one place wherein customers can come up close and personal with a community that is behind some up and coming food brands in the Philippines: Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm.
Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm is located at Barangay Encanto, Angat, Bulacan. This venture by the non-profit organization Gawad Kalinga has partnered with a village to help set up social enterprises wherein much of the profit goes to the community that started up the business. Since 2010, the Enchanted Farm has served as a start-up point and ‘incubator’ for a variety of social enterprises such as Bayani Brew, the Human Nature beauty and personal care line, as well as other start-up businesses begun by students who have trained at the farm village university. Not surprisingly many of these enterprises would be featured at the farm’s seventh anniversary fair, which Team Glasses was all too eager to pay a visit to this month.
One product that immediately caught our attention was the Luscious Choco Gelato courtesy of Kayumanggi Organic. We discovered that this was actually a vegan gelato, making use of coconut milk in lieu of cow’s milk. Admittedly I was skeptical at first, but then again, chocolate has always been more than enough to overcome our doubts. And indeed, our faith in chocolate was proven right, for the first spoonfuls of this gelato had the distinctive flavor of tablea melting in our mouths. The gelato itself was light and smooth on our tongues, yet remaining rich in flavor down to the last drop. Most interestingly, the gelato did not trigger another of Lee’s acid reflux attacks, a problem we’ve encountered on most other occasions with dairy desserts.
Another treat during our visit to Enchanted Farm was the duck burger from Golden Duck, a social enterprise centered around a duck farm started within the community. At first glance these burgers appeared to be on the plain side: bread, patty, onion, and tomato. No lettuce or cheese. One bite though was enough to explain exactly why this was the most Spartan burger we’d encountered yet; all the goodness was in the patty itself. The duck meat was rich and fatty, but seasoned with pepper to offset the otherwise heavy taste. This was one case wherein no fixings were necessary.
Yet another homegrown delight was the chocolate cake from the Make Peace Bakery, a French-inspired bakery run by the community youth. This particular dessert was not too sweet, with a light chocolate flavor that sank through every bit of the chocolate sponge cake. Only a little icing was necessary to spruce the cake up. The result was a dessert to rival those of Manila patisseries—and at a fair price to boot.
Thankfully we, and other travelers, do not have to venture as far as Bulacan to sample these treats. Kayumanggi Organic sells its chocolate gelato as well as coconut oil, coconut sugar, and wild ginger over at RealFood in Alabang. The duck burger as well as other products from Enchanted Farm are also available at Enchanted Farm Café on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.
Hopefully as these products and other social enterprises become more available and prosper, more communities will make their way out of poverty and continue to develop. And having healthier and sustainable food options in the market is a great boon to gourmets and gourmands who would like to be sure of their health—as well as the welfare of those around them.