San Miguel Food Center (Pure Foods)

Trekking the southern foodie trail
By Nico Erle Ciriaco

The San Miguel Food Center invited mediamen on a weekend trip to the south of the metro to sample Pure Foods’ new cold-cut products as they become ingredients in dishes prepared by a few chosen watering holes.
Our first stop took us to scenic Tagaytay, to a hideaway called Martha Adams (; a Tuscan-style, wood-and-stone structure surrounded by spring flowers, jade vines, wild shrubbery and trees. From its ornately furnished, albeit unobtrusive, interiors, diners are greeted by big arch windows that look out unto lush, verdant fields.
The furnishings are akin to that of a quaint chateau that’s filled with eclectic bric-a-brac.
A cobblestone pathway weaves around the gardens – lined with century-old bricks from Bacolod – offering a glimpse of the golden years of sugar production in Negros. The entire courtyard is filled with these re-fractured tiles that were shipped from the old muscovado mills of Occidental Negros after the home processing of sugar gave way to the mills in the 1900s. This rustic restaurant will delight your appetite with a selection of French, Spanish, and Italian fare; all inspired from the Mediterranean side of Europe.
Our meal began with Galician Soup, a Spanish dish of shredded cabbage, potato cubes, diced pork, bacon bits, white beans and French sausage. Vegetarians would love their Aegean Salad, a substantial plate of greens offering a feast of flavors and textures with grilled peas, roasted pistachio, grilled Italian ricotta cheese, and cottage cheese drenched in herb & tangy dressing. For entrée, we sampled Amalfi Prawns on Bed of Wafers; a concoction of crispy and succulent tiger prawns marinated in salt, pepper, olive oil, and parsley then pan-fried after coated with bread crumbs. This was served with organic rice and chicken kebabs that was marinated with cumin and home-made yogurt.
I finished my lunch with Lemon Sponge Pudding and coffee. Their house blend is a tasteful mixture of Liberica (barako)) and Batangas beans roasted to the restaurant’s specifications. “Our food was created to entice our friends to come up to Tagaytay and visit us. When those became frequent, the restaurant idea progressed into something concrete. We offer standard recipes from the Mediterranean. The contents of that recipe book have been perfected through experimentation on what works and not with the Pinoy palate.
“We are a weekend destination and have a limited sitting of only 40 covers. So we advise those who want to visit us to reserve at least 24 hours prior to that. We’ll soon come up with a pasta menu for kids because the little ones always come with their parents,” apprized Martha, who has deftly managed the place with husband Neil Adams. Martha hails from Sibalong town in Antique and has a Public Administration degree from U.P. tucked in her belt.
Now satiated from an epicurean lunch, we were then transported to a place far removed from the din of the urban jungle; where the only sounds are birds a-chirping and the wind whistling through the trees. Set amidst a tropical forest, Nurture Spa is a blissful combination of healing and pampering nicely tucked in the backwoods of Tagaytay.
The roseate streaks of the sunset turned chiaroscuro and the nightly sounds of croaking frogs and cicadas soon pervaded the air. Our bacchanalian adventure continues as our group was whisked to Emily's Garden, a hideaway owned by the landscape artist that beautified The Amanpulo in Palawan. The frenzied beat of the drums and the gyrations of fire dancers regaled our arrival.
That night, we feasted on Moroccan-inspired dishes prepared by beauty queen-turned-chef Sabrina Artadi. The former Bb. Pilipinas-International proffered tasty yet healthful concoctions, much to our delight. Sabrina's Kitchen went for dishes flavored with cumin, paprika, cinnamon & mint, and which were not temperature sensitive like ozzo buco, stuffed peppers, as well as chicken filled with couscous.
The gustatory onslaught still continued the morning after. A breakfast banquet greeted us with a buffet spread showcasing the latest additions to the widely increasing range of San Miguel Pure Foods cold-cut products.
We rode back to Manila refreshed and recharged. The weekend flew so fast and manic Monday arrived. Duty beckoned but the memories of Tagaytay lingered.


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