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Culinary adventure unearthed in Cabo
Restaurant, produce stand, cooking classes — Flora Farms is a hotspot for food-lovers and celebs
BY DEBBIE OLSEN, CALGARY HERALD DECEMBER 13, 2013
My grandma used to say that “nothing in the world that is worth doing comes easy. If it is really worth it, it will require effort and sacrifice.” So, as I bounced my way down a pothole-riddled road to get to Flora’s Field Kitchen Restaurant outside the Mexican city of San José del Cabo, I couldn’t help thinking that this place was going to be special. Mind you, any successful restaurant located in the middle of a farmer’s field is something worth checking out.
Flora Farms is owned by Patrick and Gloria Greene, a pair of California expats who purchased the farm in 1996 and began producing organic fruits and vegetables in the Mexican desert. From humble beginnings, the farm has grown and today more than 80 different varieties of fruits, herbs and vegetables are grown on-site. The Greenes own more than 150 acres of farmland and even produce their own organic, free-range chicken and pork at a location away from the main restaurant site.
A few years ago, they built Flora’s Field Kitchen Restaurant in the middle of one of their vegetable fields with the idea of creating a menu entirely based on the farm-to-table cuisine concept. It is one of those “if you build it they will come” stories in their very own “Field of Dreams,” because the restaurant has become one of the hottest dining spots in Cabo. Hollywood celebrities have even been known to venture out on the long, bumpy road just to enjoy an evening on the farm. The restaurant is said to be a favourite dining spot of both George Clooney and Jennifer Aniston.
Like most visitors to the farm, I began my visit with a tour of the extensive gardens. Our guide, Sonja, an expat from Calgary, described the many different species of vegetables and explained the unique techniques used to grow them organically and ecologically in a desert-like environment. Weeding and harvesting is all done by hand and about 100 local people are employed by the farm. There is a community garden on-site, a restaurant, a bar and a unique housing project that will see several vacation homes built around the vegetable gardens. Part of the appeal of having one of these vacation properties is that owners will have the opportunity to walk out into the fields to harvest fresh fruits and vegetables to use in their own kitchens.
One of the latest farm offerings is a series of cooking classes that allow farm visitors to learn to make authentic Mexican food from scratch. I was signed up to take a seasonal salsa class with Chef Victor and his assistant Delores and that was my next stop. Chef Victor, or Tío as they call him on the farm, taught our small cooking group how to make a roasted tomato salsa, an uncooked salsa fresca, and a traditional guacamole. Delores taught us the techniques for making fresh corn tortillas.
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