"Dear, it's Kalamunda and not Sylvia's Garden...," Sylvia Miguel corrected me last Sunday. Kalamunda is an Australian aboriginal term, which means "home in the bush." (Yeah, Sylvia's Garden could be easily confused with Sonya's Garden...)
You have to literally drive to uncharted Tagaytay area with no signs and just views of one farm after another. Kalamunda is right beside the new Massimo in Tagaytay, hidden just behind the borders of Tagaytay and Silang, Cavite.
The main highlight of this foodie trip is the cleanest-tasting lechon by Sylvia and Carlos Miguel.
It was a Sunday trip with 23 fellow foodie friends and 6 kids in Tagaytay. We had a convoy of 6 cars going to Kalamunda (which Aidan described as a train of cars) and 3 more cars that followed later on.
To start the feast, we were served with Sylvia's signature paté with crackers or melba toast as the appetizer. It is a popular giveaway during the Christmas season.
Sylvia is also known for her Vegetable Paella, which is a healthier accompaniment to the main highlight of our lunch -- lechon. It was turmeric rice with toppings of bell peppers, young corn, mushrooms and beans. I think it would have been better to serve it on the usual paella pan to get the tutong on the bottom.
This reminded me of the yellow rice and the sweet organic vegetables of the Ivatans in Batanes.
I loved the Kare Kare. I'm glad I asked Sylvia to prepare white rice, which went really well with this dish. The oxtail was soft, abundant and swimming in sauce. People were raving about the bagoong, which was a bit on the sweeter side.
The tilapia was served still wrapped, straight from the grill. It was so delicious because the fish were still swimming in the morning before they were served for lunch time.
The grilled shrimps were equally good but acted as a supporting role to the main heavy dishes. Maybe serving the shrimps with a home-fermented vinegar or pinakurat would add to the "wow" factor.
The lechon was cooked from 6:30 a.m. until it was served with smoke coming out of its butt. Most people commented that the lechon was different because it tasted like "dark meat" all throughout. The meat itself was tasty already, but not as salty as the Cebu lechon. The skin was crunchy with only a thin layer of fat.
The secret of this cleanest-tasting lechon lies in its organic diet, which is fed to the young pig months before it is served. There is also a secret process of purging the pig to clean it.
The dessert was not that impressive, compared to the main course. Simple turon was served.
Another dessert was the chocolate with cream cake. Just looking at it could increase your blood sugar.
The kids had a fun time role-playing as farmers around Kalamunda. They would occasionally inspect the farm animals and the vegetables around the hacienda at 12noon.
Carlos Miguel takes care of 4 cows, 2 pot-bellied pigs, 1 sheep, a few roosters/chicken and a number of duck and geese.
We had fun meeting new foodie friends, including Rona and family, who were visiting Manila from Canada.
Kalamunda by Sylvia Miguel
Reservations: Sylvia +63917 8810032
P1,500 per head for the Lechon Lunch (minimum of 20 people)
Go to SLEX and exit in Sta. Rosa. Continue all the way up to Tagaytay until you reach Ming's Garden. From Ming's, slow down because you will make a sharp right down an unpaved road. This road can easily be missed and its only landmark is that it is right before a bridge and the first right after Ming's garden.
After a while, you'll see a road sign that points to Chateau Hestia on your left. Turn left going up the backroads in Silang, Cavite. This is a long scenic route where you'll see a few houses, pineapple plantations and a few vegetable farms.
This path leads to a forked road where there is a sign that directs you to go straight to Chateau Hestia. Don't go straight but turn right instead to the Home Villas. This is a long winding road. Soon enough, you should see these landmarks on your right: Home Villas, then the new Massimo and then the red gate of Kalamunda.
Live an Awesome Life,