By Rey Anthony Chiu, PIA-Bohol | 03:06 PM April 20, 2021
Claiming to be a stress-free zone is one thing, settling down in a banig romblon laid on the ground, a low wooden pallet as a table and just savouring the cool breeze filtered by a tangle of coconut leaves covering a manicured lawn is The Life. Hearing the gentle rustle of leaves, the gentle splash of a nearby fountain and the faint chirping of birds, ah, that is celestial.
Alfresco Restaurant, the newly opened unique outdoor dining venue of The Green Thumb Farm is just that, even without the food yet.
Tucked in the neatly trimmed carabao and bermuda grasses in a coconut grove in Purok 4, Barangay Sambog in Corella town is a farm that distinguishes itself as a rarity in Bohol.
Owned and managed by couple Rona and Jares Denque, the outdoor resto which utilizes the free huge spaces of the farm’s front lawn is, like it presents, an open air resto that allows guests to sit, squat or simply allow the experience of grounding with the earth while enjoying its bounty.
Here, guests may opt for the low table or the regular table with wooden slab benches, or the shed for the more formal idea of dining.
Opened from 2:00 to 9:00 PM on weekends and by appointment, the restaurant also packs a free visit to the farm’s ‘vertical gardens’ and its unique produce: cultured mushrooms.
Supported by the Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Training Institute, the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, The Green Thumb, owing to its unique produce, easily led the way in Bohol’s mushroom niche.
The Green Thumb’s journey was not a bed of roses, shared ATI-7’s Regional Director Dr. Carolyn May Daquio during the restaurant opening.
Green Thumb CEO Rona echoed the same, adding that buckets could not hold her tears of frustration starting with an entirely new venture that demands the painstaking patience of a laboratory scientist, the persistence of a nursing mother and the determination of a good neighbour to help her community.
Starting with 7 workers, the farm and resto now employs 19: a person with disability, neighbors and all of them workers displaced during the pandemic.
Also a regional trainer and lecturer about mushrooms, Rona of The Green Thumb fame, started to produce oyster mushrooms grey, white and pink and when the sales was good, expanded.
Pioneering the industry with very few competitors has its premiums and the farm soon was shipping their produce to Cebu. In the pandemic however, with reduced boat trips, somehow, they decided to find ways to use their harvest, and the restaurant was an easy option.
In the restaurant menu, one finds the usual fare: sisig, a Pampango dish usually seasoned with calamansi, onions and chili peppers, karekare, a Filipino stew complemented by a rich thick peanut sauce from curd and curry, humba, a popular Visayan dish of tenderized meat in soy and vinegar and chicharon, a deep fried skin that makes for a great beer match, would always jump out of the daintily crafted menu.
The finer print however betrays the ordinariness of the fare.
All the menu served here does not include meats of any sort: pork, beef or chicken. All are mushroom based, and the discriminating palate of the fine dining connoisseur could be fooled easily.
Here, the only sure thing you can get from the menu is the mushroom soup. Thick and tingy, the minced mushrooms are spetacolare to the palate.
Your carbonara will have mushrooms overloaded, pasta is al dente although the cheese and the oils could disqualify it as vegan. But, the taste is squisito, as the Italians would have it.
The karekare will have all there for the eyes to feast, except for grey mushrooms which act as substitute for the ox tail. And yes, it also comes with a bagoong look-alike: mushroom bagoong as you guessed.
The mushroom chicharon is a as spectacolare as is buono, as the Italians again would say. Ask for a ball of Sambog’s home-fermented sinup-ak tuba too, to be truly authentic.
For snacks, the house mushroom burgers are a must, and the mini pizza, ottimo. The shawarma, umm, svaadisht delicious. The nachos? magnifico.
Visit The Green Thumb Farm, do not be inhibited.
Run and roll in their wide lawns as you let the carelessness innocence of youth take over, and leave that stress somewhere. (rahchiu/PIA-7/Bohol)