Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bohol's Food Eden

October 25, 2008
Bohol Bee Farm
Panglao Island, Bohol

I've never really been a fan of buffets. Stuffing yourself silly with everything you see just for the sake of increasing the rate of affordability is not anywhere near my list of things to do. Gluttony is definitely my least favorite deadly sin. The tired, bloated feeling you get after a buffet meal is, in my opinion, the closest experience to hell one can get. If palpitations and meat sweats are not your cup of tea, it'd be best to stay away from these kinds of spreads. With everything in this world though, there are exceptions. I'm not a fan of buffets but I am open in trying some out. Heck, you know I'm open in trying anything once! The best buffet so far for me is the Bohol Bee Farm buffet:

The whole buffet starts with a refreshing drink of fresh lemongrass juice. First time I tried it, I didn't quite like it. It was a surprise to me that lemongrass was made into juice and used for beverage. I didn't quite like it though the last time. I felt that it tasted a bit weird. Maybe I was caught off-guard with the drink. This time I knew what I was getting into and surprisingly, I kinda liked it. It had grown on me. The coldness of the drink amplified the taste and texture of its actual freshness. It was very refreshing. Something to take that buffet-overload taste out of your mouth.

After sampling the beverage, the food came to our table one after the other. We tasted just a little bit of each dish before going all crazy on everything. The way to conquer a buffet is by tasting each dish once and then going back for seconds. Focusing mainly on the good dishes is key and the secret to an efficient lunch/dinner buffet. The problem with this buffet was that everything was so damn good, so you had no choice but to just dig in. Our mantra for this buffet dinner changed to "Eat now, think later" as soon as we saw all the scrumptious dishes.

Camote Bread/Squash Muffins. Just tasted this dish... didn't want to get filled up by carbohydrates this early into the buffet. The camote bread was normal... Didn't have that sweet potato aftertaste that I was expecting. It is best served when you lather some of the homemade spreads over it. The squash muffin was really nice. It was still moist inside which is always good. You can really taste the squash in it so you ARE sure you're getting your money's worth. I'd prefer it to be warm though, ours was served at room temperature.

Homemade Spreads. This is one of the best parts of the Bohol Bee Farm experience and also one of the reason for actually going there. I was tasked to buy some to take back to Manila for my friend Warren. The last time we went here, we loved this stuff. I remember we used to buy a lot to take home and let others sample it. It was definitely addicting. There are 3 kinds of spread: Pesto, Mango, Honey spread. The pesto spread for me was the best. A hint of margarine at the tail end of the flavors is a bad sign for those health conscious people but trust me, it's all worth the heart clot.

Cab-Cab with Pesto and Green Tomato. I almost forgot about how good this was. It is a healthier alternative to potato chip. It is made from cassava which is an abundant root crop in Bohol and the harvesting of it has been one of the many livelihoods in Bohol. The cab-cab dish was awesome and having the dip of their version of a sweet green tomato salsa was magical. I just wish they also placed the other dip of coconut jam together with the dish like the way it was served my first time here. Cab-Cab and coconut jam is also a good combination.

Seafood Soup. My favorite among all the dishes served to us. It is a very hearty serving of seafood in a spicy-ginger-tasting soup. As you take a slurp of the soup, you can taste immediately all the flavors infused in it. Surprisingly, the soup is not fishy to the taste given that it is in fact filled with different kinds of seafood. Maybe because of the ginger and spices used that seem to mask the fishy taste. The soup itself is not sharp to the tongue like MSG-laden soups out there and it is very flavorful even without it. The best part about the soup is the after effects of a stinging spicy sensation of heat from either the ginger of some chili. The soup dish is perfect for the buffet since it's not that heavy on the stomach that you can still have space for the remainder of the dishes.

Organic Garden Salad. The photo of this dish doesn't do it justice. You have to literally dig in the salad and find servings of mango chunks, kesong puti, carrots, and yam bean (singkamas) then pour the mango-honey dressing over it. As you can see, flowers act as ingredients-slash-decoration on the salad. It also brings out those aromatic oils from the completely homegrown flowers and vegetables. The arugula also added some bitterness to it. I just love arugula! All the different tastes in one dish, we couldn't help but have seconds. I mean, I've tasted many salads but I've never tasted anything this good! Do I dare say it? Best salad in the WORLD!

Grilled Marlin. Probably, in my opinion, the best viand in the whole buffet. The fish was perfectly cooked and I'm sure fresh. The meat still succulent and tender. The flavor was also infused inside the fish meat which showed the intense marinating process done over the marlin. The meat was sweet and had hints of sourness within. I didn't like the sauce accompanying it though since it would only mask the true and ample flavor of the meat. I suggest you only try a little bit of the sauce over the fish and not drown it.

Baked Spareribs. I'm not really a big fan of this dish. Maybe that is also the reason why the photo itself got messed up. Kidding aside, I really don't like this dish because it is tomato-based. I never really liked tomato-based dishes (except for Lasagna). Bohol Bee Farm's version of the Baked Spareribs is quite good. The meat is still tender having sat a few minutes waiting for us to sample it. More tendons than meat though. Tendon lovers would definitely want a piece of this. Maybe the buffet isn't that perfect after all... Nahhh! A minor hurdle.

Seafood Lasagna with Carabao Cheese. Lasagna has been one of my favorite pasta dishes. This was no exception. Again, I would like to apologize for the food shot (if you can call it that), lighting was kinda dim so I had to compensate with some photo-editing. Anyway, the Lasagna was superb! Add this to the best Lasagnas that can be found out there. The cheese was awesome also. The carabao cheese was light and complemented the pasta dish very nicely. It tasted like mozzarella but tastier. The only downside though is that I didn't quite see any seafood. Maybe all were grounded up but it would've been nice to infuse some actual seafood bits in it to give it some personality.

Honey Glazed Chicken. Organic chicken and local honey was used for this dish. I have this hatred for this type of chicken because at home we used to eat it deep-fried and we would have a hard time eating it. Organic chicken is small and the meat little. Hence, if you fry it without looking over it and making sure it's not overcooked, it'll become like bits of rock. My fear for organic chicken turned me off of this dish at first but as soon as I tried it, I loved it. The chicken meat was not at all tough. They maintained the meat's tenderness during the cooking process. Kudos to the chef. The honey glaze was also amazing and it coated the chicken pieces nicely. Perfect Honey Glazed Chicken.

Organic Red Rice with Camote. The rice served was very healthy but we didn't get to eat that much of it. The carbohydrate would not be a really good idea in a buffet. We just tried some to just experience it. The rice was very aromatic and the bits of rice were really fluffy looking. The dish is a healthier alternative to the normal white rice but I think it'd be much more filling. The color alone would psychologically make you think it's richer. But for rice lovers out there, this would be nice for putting some of the soup over and eat viand with. The rice is not flavored rest assured your kidneys are safe my dear readers.

Homemade Ice Cream. For dessert. The ice cream was served in two flavors: mango and buko. I liked both but I prefer the mango flavored one. They were very creamy and rich. When you taste it, your taste buds will tell you that this is real homemade because of the intense creamy texture and strong milk flavors. The dessert is packed and not full of air like conventional ice cream that can be found in the grocery. This is the real thing. The flavor also included a salty aftertaste which was kinda weird but interesting. Up to now, I still don't know where that saltiness came from. A theory of mine would state that if everything was made naturally, the ice cream maker would have been surrounded with ice and salt. This is done to even lower the freezing point of the ice which makes it faster for the cream to stiffen and eventually freeze. Some of those may have cross-contaminated over to the cream that was being made. Well, this is just a theory. Maybe they just put in salt so that the taste would be different. I don't know. Just know that it's very good. A perfect ending to a perfect buffet.

The photos and descriptions will never do justice. Bohol Bee Farm served the best buffet I've ever tasted. A heavenly feast of organic ingredients taken directly from their farm. Rarely do you see buffets having all of their dishes blow your mind. In Bohol Bee Farm, ALL the dishes are amazing. At the same time, everything is served with the perfect Bohol hospitality. Ambiance great. Food awesome. Service superb. Other buffets can never be this perfect. It is truly the closest thing one can get to heaven through food.


the donG said...

thanks for the feature. i can actually refer my friends to this blog when they go to bohol.

oliboy said...

yes please do! it's one of the Bohol experiences you must never ever let pass...

thanks dong! :)

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