Michael di Lonardo
Surprises ahead! I confess, I am very surprised myself too. Here I am, a regular at the haute temples of gastronomy, a worshipper at the masterly great restaurants of the world. I preside over several global jurys for awarding great restaurants and having eaten my way through 34 food books would go to the ends of the world for sublime food that has the firm grasp of the art and science of cooking. And here I am actually admiring and going over the moon for food that is not even cooked, but is mostly raw (you read that right). And yet it seduces not only my tastebuds but also my eyes. And heres the bonus: it is bursting with energy and goodness and not only kickstarts my system into high energy but also calms my mind and makes me smile.
Welcome to paradise! Here sense-pampering is in erotic union with holistic health, here taste and flavor burst with nutrition and healing. It is from here that I’m mailing you this great news
Please take a look at the accompanying photograph that I just shot. Before I tell you more about it, all I can say is that if it had a video track you’d be able to hear the peacocks (they preen all over the 50 hectares of lush land) the chirping birds, the soft breeze. But what you can see is the ever-smiling chef Lucrecia Buking holding up the most delicious “Beet Canneloni“ and pecan dessert . The dapper Michael di Lonardo who helms The Farm in San Benito (its two hours away from Manila) smiles with Mishi ( his Lhasa Apso mix from Lonavala). Actually Michael being a brilliant chef himself (having worked with great chefs in Los Angeles and had the Hollywood stars eating out of his hands) also has plenty to do with the gourmet fare here. He is also driven by the conviction that “the farmer is the star’ and it’s the “quality of the soil and the organic produce that make great food”. Having worked three years in India (and loved it) Michael feels very strongly that “India should go against genetically modified food and Monsanto.”
And so here at this holistic healing and wellness mecca where mind, body and spirit get balanced, all the vegetables are organically grown within the Farm area. As are all the healing herbs. So much so that even the virgin coconut oil, the coconut water we drink is all from their own plantations. “From the farm to the table” is a delicious visible reality here. And creating amazing dishes is the chef and her team.
She was detected with third stage breast cancer three years ago and given six months to live. Today, Chef Lucrecia is not only fit and healthy but also weaving magic in the kitchen. She herself is living proof of the principles The Farm is rooted in, that all health stems from the gut and looking after and nurturing it with live foods will restore harmony and health.
Having learnt the fundamentals from the Living lights culinary arts school in San Francisco, she ensures that more than 85% of her food is raw (grains are soaked, seeds are sprouted, vegetables soaked in apple cider vinegar) and even the rest is very lightly cooked. “Raw food preserves the antioxidants and nutrients” she points out. no oil. No cooking, no sugar, no preservatives and yet bursting with taste and variety and color and flavor. Gastronomy redefined.
P.S. Theres plenty more to The Farm than this life giving cuisine, detoxing and recharging…I’m still here but already planning my next visit…saving up all my earnings (like I did for this time too)… it’s the best investment ever.
THE FARMS RECIPE
Try it. Its so simple, just chopping, slicing, soaking, mixing, processing and assembling. A visual and tasty and nutritional treat.
Red Beet Cannelloni
5 red Beet thinly sliced
For the “almond or pista cheese”
Tsp olive oil/ Cup almonds or pistachio nuts (soaked and peeled / Sea salt, Lemon, White pepper/ Tsp Nutritional Yeast (if unavailable then use miso paste / Tsp onion Powder
/ Tsp Tarragon leaves Chopped /½ Cup red Onion ( minced)/ ¼ Cup Chives (chopped)
For the “cashew sauce”
1 cup cashew nts/ 1 cup pine nuts/ 1 cup water/ 1 tsp hone/ ½ cup lemon juice/ 2 cloves garlic/ 1 tsp salt/ ½ tsp white pepper/ 2 tbsp fresh dill.
Put all these ingredients (except dill) in a blender until creamy. Add water if needed. You can use this sauce on any dish.
Slice and Marinate the red beet and set it aside. For the “cheese” put in a food Processer all the ingredients for the cheese. Keep “cheese” for a few hours before filling the beet slices with the “ almond cheese” and asparagus. Roll it up. Drizzle with cashew sauce. Enjoy