I’VE never been on a guerilla food tour before. Whenever I had an out-of-town or out-of-the-country trip, I would ask for the itinerary and google the places included in the itinerary and read up on them. So, when San Miguel Corporation’s Francene Callueng emailed an invitation for the San Miguel Pure Foods Guerilla Food Tour, which took place last March 12 to 13, 2013, like a creature of habit, I still asked for the itinerary. But Francene was mum about it. All she would reveal about the trip, which was called a guerilla food tour exactly because we wouldn’t know where we were going until we got there, was that we would be going to Cavite. Then she emailed a “trail” for the food tour that gave clues to the three places where we were going on that overnight trip. I used those clues, plus the only fact that Francene gave me – Cavite – to google on the possible venues. I got some leads on the first two places but the third one had me facing a blank wall.
So, when the day of the guerilla food tour came, my husband Raff and I arrived at the meeting place, which was the San Miguel Corporation head office in Ortigas Center, at the appointed time. While seated in the lobby waiting for the other media participants to arrive, I prodded Francene and Jon Hernandez III of the Corporate Affairs Office and San Miguel Pure Foods Culinary Center’s head and good friend Chef Maricel Manalo to tell me where we were going. But, fat chance, their lips were sealed and sweet smiles were all I got from them. There were clues, though, so by the time we got into the coaster, I knew we were heading up to Tagaytay and Emily’s Garden was one of the places we were off to. I just didn’t know whether that was the first stop, the second or the third.
So, where did we finally end up on our first stop?
After traversing the familiar road up to Tagaytay, past the Rotonda and all the way through Aguinaldo Highway, the coaster took a right turn down a secondary road and finally stopped in front of a vast property whose wall said “Marcia Adams’ Restaurant.”
I got excited because when I googled the first stop on the “trail,” whose clue on the invite said “Tuscan-style, wood-and-stone structure surrounded by spring flowers, wild plants and trees; whose big arch windows overlook lush, green fields and a walkway lined with century-old bricks,” Marcia Adams’ Restaurant came out of the search. It was then known as Marcia Adams’ Tuscany Restaurant, but when I mentioned Tuscany to Francene back in the San Miguel headquarters and she didn’t react, I dropped it and concluded that, too bad, my hunch was wrong.
The group got down at the gate and walked down the stone-paved pathway surrounded by a lush garden and reached the Tuscan-style wood-and-stone restaurant within. The restaurant actually has walls made of stone, floors made of bricks and trusses and ceilings made of old hard wood that gave the whole place a homey, yes, Tuscan feel to it.
Marcia Adams’ Restaurant is a cozy place that makes you feel right at home. You can actually choose where to dine, as the place gives plenty of options.
On a cozy and romantic evening, guests can dine under the stars. There are areas in the garden set with garden tables for intimate or group dining. There’s also a sunset lounge area complete with dining tables and chairs and sofas, as well.
For indoor seating, as soon you enter the main door, there’s already a long table by the window that’s all set for guests to dine at. There’s even a show window that gives guests a glimpse of the sunken kitchen, where the food is prepared by Marcia Adams herself and her kitchen staff.
Further inside, about two steps down, I saw what I was looking for. The short, narrow path down the steps led us to a spacious dining area, where the big arch window that overlooked lush, green fields was. Beautiful! You can indeed see the lush, green fields outside, and it felt very country, very calming and peaceful. That was where we all chose to enjoy our lunch.
Lunch was true to Marcia Adams’ Restaurant’s Mediterranean, French and Italian menu. We had Galician Broth for our soup. It was a clear soup that’s loaded with diced smoked ham, sausage, diced potatoes and shredded greens. Marcia Adams’ Restaurant does not list any particular soup on the menu. It serves Soup of the Day, and on the day that we were there, Galician Broth was the Soup of the Day. It’s light and satisfying.
Next up was a fingerfood called Amalfi Prawns. It’s crispy and succulent prawns marinated in salt, pepper, olive oil and parsley, then coated with breadcrumbs and pan-fried. Each prawn is served on a thin and crispy wafer, so the savory flavor of the prawns goes with the crunch of the wafers.
We had two salads, placed in the middle of the table, for groups of four or five to share. One was the Aegean Salad, a vegetarian salad of grilled pear, mixed greens, grilled Italian Ricotta cheese, cottage cheese and roasted pistachios drizzled with an herby, tangy dressing. The other one was Provolone, Melon and Arugula Salad drizzled with refreshing raspberry vinaigrette.
Then it was time for the set main courses for us. Everyone had a good plate composed of one stick of Chicken Kebab (marinated in cumin and homemade yoghurt) and one stick of Fish Souvlaki (fish kebabs marinated in olive oil, lemon and herbs), rice and roasted tomatoes. The kebabs were lovely. Light and flavorful and the serving size was just right.
All hell broke loose, however, when dessert time came, because each of us got to choose what we wanted for dessert, and there were so eight delightful desserts to choose from – Grilled Orange with Vanilla Ice Cream, Panna Cotta with Lemon Sauce, Fried Bananas with Chocolate Dip, Banana Split with Chocolate Ice Cream, Orange Crème Caramel, Lavender Crème Brûlée, Lemon Sponge Pudding and Sautéed Cherries on Chocolate Ice Cream.
I ordered Grilled Orange with Vanilla Ice Cream. We all had our own. But when Raff’s order of Fried Bananas with Chocolate Dip arrived, and the crisp and golden banana sticks looked so inviting, everyone in our area of the long table dipped their hands into Raff’s dessert, and we were all happy. Well, except Raff, maybe.
For drinks, we were served Marcia Adams’ Restaurant’s signature drink, which was homemade Lemon-Lime Bitters, in pitchers, which were emptied in no time at all.
After lunch, we got to meet the owners of Marcia Adams’ Restaurant. It’s a couple named Neil and Marcia Adams. Neil’s a retired British engineer, while Marcia is a Filipina whose passion happens to be cooking. They originally wanted a bed-and-breakfast place for their property, which stands at the border of Tagaytay and Alfonso, Cavite, but they eventually decided to open it for dining purposes. It’s a destination dining place where guests often call in advance to make reservations, which Marcia encourages, but for small groups, the place also accepts walk-ins.
In keeping with the place’s Mediterranean and Tuscan-style architecture and lush gardens dotted with flowering plants like Jade Vine and Angel’s Trumpets, the couple decided to serve French, Mediterranean and Italian food. Marcia is often hands-on in the kitchen, especially for special bookings, and Neil bakes the breads that they serve on the table.
The group also got to meet the couple’s daughter Juli, and tour the gardens before bidding adieu and heading off to our second destination for the guerilla food tour.