Every now and then we come across a place that makes us swoon, makes us smile from the moment we arrive until the moment we leave and turns us into full on super-fans.
The Farm at San Benito is one of these places and not just because they fed us some of the most delicious, creative and healthy vegan food we’ve ever eaten, although that clearly helped to win us over!
Located in the Philippines, a place famous for being ‘difficult’ for vegans, however The Farm at San Benito is a vegan paradise. It’s around 90 minutes from Manila but feels like a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the mega city madness. It’s set in a huge coconut plantation and as soon as you arrive you can feel the space and the peace.
Imagine coconut palms so tall you have to lean right back to look up to the tops, trees, plants and jungle as far as the eye can see, a feeling that you are in your own little paradise, separate from others. Fairytale pathways lined with lush tropical plants, moss covered steps and stone walls create a feeling of some kind of magical secret garden; there are lakes, ponds, pools and even a waterfall to explore during your stay too.
Farms are quite simply places where food grows and this one is no different with the majority of the food you will eat being grown right on the premises using natural, chemical free methods. But it’s also a place where other things can grow; ideas, inspiration, a feeling of calm and wellness. It’s just one of those places that is set up to make you feel good and it’s almost impossible to resist its charm.
Attend complementary yoga and guided meditation classes, sip hand crafted herbal teas in your villa, listen to the sound of the peacock calls echoing around the trees. Take a dip in your private outdoor heated pool or head to one of the other pools in the resort to float away into peacefulness.
It’s very hard not to love this place.
The coconut plays an integral role at The Farm at San Benito and each guest has their own supply of ‘Oil of Life’ cold pressed virgin coconut oil, handmade in small batches on site, using traditional methods to produce a high quality product that becomes addictive to use. By the end of our stay we were slathering it on as moisturiser, eating it, using it as a hair conditioner (well one of us was) and even had a go at ‘oil pulling’.
As soon as we left, we missed it…
Accommodation is top end with a design that has a light and natural feel. Open spaces, day light and fresh air stream into spacious living areas; jungle surrounds and the peace and quiet is absolute. Literally nothing disturbed us during our 3 night stay.
Staff are efficient and friendly (actually, super friendly in that lovely genuine way that seems to be everywhere in the Philippines), there are peacocks, ducks and a chicken that freely wander around and may possibly join you at your breakfast table if you take their fancy, and the general vibe is laid back and relaxed.
But the most amazing thing?
All of the food is totally vegan!
The Vegan Food:
Food at The Farm at San Benito is served in the main restaurant, Alive! (never has a resort restaurant been so aptly named) where you can enjoy your meals in a relaxed ambience whilst looking out over the organic vegetable gardens (where most of the ingredients of your meal will come from). The plantation-to-table philosophy underpins all the food you’ll eat during your stay meaning seasonal, fresh ingredients are the star of the show.
You can expect healthy food and cooking techniques or ideas that may surprise you as well as raw food, nutrition packed juices and of course those wonderful coconuts which feature in many dishes in one way or another. What you won’t find is junk food (even the burgers and fries are fresh, natural and healthy), bland food or a lack of choices.
The varieties of different vegan dishes to choose from is as abundant as the healthy qualities of what you’ll eat and the flavour sensations that you’ll experience.
Breakfast is a daily changing set menu which starts with a choice of something like ‘Tropical Fruit Salad with Homemade Yoghurt’ or ‘Mixed salad with Orange Balsamic Dressing’, followed by ‘Healthy Cereals with Granola’ served with fresh coconut milk then the choice of a cooked dish like ‘Rice Pancake’ or ‘The Farm’s Okara Sausage with Fried Rice’.
It doesn’t really matter what you choose, it’s all tasty and it will all leave you feeling satisfied but not over full, and ready to begin your day.
Lunch and dinner is vegan heaven too.
There are 3 other menus to choose from throughout the day, the regular Alive! restaurant menu, a ‘light’ menu with smaller, lighter dishes and also a daily specials menu where you can order a set meal or pick dishes to eat separately. It’s near on impossible to pick a favourite dish or a favourite meal that we ate as (hand on heart) they were all exceptional.
Here’s a few dishes that we really loved (you can read more about the vegan food adventure we had in our full restaurant review of Alive! here).
First there is the ‘Fresh Salad Roll and Almond Butter Sauce’ (Vegetable sticks wrapped in The Farm’s homemade wrapper topped with alfalfa sprouts and Almond nut butter sauce).
How is it possible that we’ve been on the planet so long and never eaten ‘Almond Butter Sauce’? Now we have to spend years making up for the lost time, eating this delicious creation at every opportunity. Creamy, light, nutty, sweet, spicy, spiced, garlicky, zingy; all of this and more. Served with the freshest of fresh spring rolls made from crunchy vegetables and salad wrapped in a delicate rice paper roll.
Then there is ‘Cashew Tofu with Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette’ (Cashew tofu with green asparagus and sundried tomatoes).
We’d never heard of ‘Cashew Tofu’ before and expected to get traditional soy tofu, but this was something completely different. It was a ‘tofu’ but made from cashews not soy, somewhere in between a nut cheese and a very firm silken tofu. Soft and spreadable but firm and silky smooth, with a creamy but light flavour and small bubbles of air in the texture. More flavour than traditional tofu, less tanginess than cashew cheese; its actually like nothing we’ve ever eaten before.
We must just mention the vegan burger…
Oh wow the ‘Nutty Cheese Melt Burger’ was divine.
Like we said, even the ‘junk food’ at The Farm is healthy, in fact there was so much good stuff going on that it can’t be called junk food at all. It had everything a good burger experience should involve – juicy sauces, a soft bun, a burger patty that doesn’t fall apart, tasty garnishes. Plus it came with cute tasty marble potatoes and a homemade ketchup and cashew mayo duo on the side for extra bonus points.
We must stop writing about the food now or else we really will keep you all day, but just one last thing deserves a mention; the desserts at The Farm at San Benito are off the hook.
Vegan dessert heaven.
Nothing more can be said, other than they are insanely good…
Spotlight on ‘Sweet Coconut Crackers with Mango and Vanilla Ice Cream’ (Healthy crackers with vanilla and mango ice cream) please; dehydrated caramelised coconut crackers stacked around creamy vanilla and fruity mango ice creams. Those crackers. So crunchy, so tasty, so naturally sweet. The perfect partner to the ice cream invoking memories of wonderfully fragrant waffle cones, only these are healthier and dare we say, tastier.
The Vegan Essentials:
There is an option to request feather free pillows from the housekeeping team, happy vegan sleeps ahead.
The amenities are homemade on the plantation and are coconut based. They are wonderful, especially the ‘Oil of Life’ pure coconut oil and the coconut oil and lemongrass salt scrub. All natural, no animal testing so 100% vegan.
At the onsite Healing Sanctuary Spa there are lot of gorgeous vegan treatment to be had – just check that the naturally made products used don’t contain beeswax. We got to sample a couple of massages; they were everything that you’d expect from a high quality spa. Relaxing, professional, rejuvenating, therapeutic and delivered by experienced individuals. Highly recommended; take us back now.
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:
Check in to The Farm at San Benito for a stay in vegan paradise. Expect to eat some of the best vegan food you will ever eat, a healthy boost and to leave feeling better than when you arrived.
Let the friendly staff look after you (don’t forget to visit the Healing Sanctuary Spa and take advantage of the complementary classes) and sit back as the spirit of The Farm soaks into every inch of your being. You won’t regret it.
We were guests of The Farm at San Benito but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
The Farm at San Benito
119 Barangay Tipakan
4217 Lipa City, Batangas
Telephone: +632 884 8074
Cost From: £280 / $345 per night (Jan 2017)