On Helping Out With Every Bite: Enchanted Farm Cafe, Commonwealth Avenue
Updated: Sep 28, 2022
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: This review was originally published in February 2014. Some of the social enterprises I mentioned here - specifically that of the dessert - have long ended their operations.)
Originally a ministry under the Catholic organization Couples For Christ, Gawad Kalinga became a fully autonomous non-government organization (NGO) dedicated to uplifting the poor through social involvement, community building, sustainable agriculture, and more. Gawad Kalinga also lent its support to various social enterprises that permit families to have a truly uplifting livelihood - such as Rags2Riches (handbags made of local materials), Human Heart Nature (environmentally-friendly beauty products), and the GK Enchanted Farm (organic farm produce and food products.)
The Enchanted Farm Cafe in Quezon City showcased products from the eponymous farm in Angat, Bulacan. I first learned about the cafe after seeing a local lifestyle channel do a feature on it some years ago. Enchanted Farm Cafe was easy to find, conveniently situated beside the corporate headquarters of Human Heart Nature along Commonwealth Avenue - a main thoroughfare frequented by public transportation. Farmhouse hues of brown and green welcomed me as soon as I entered - a relaxing respite from the gray hues of the street. I found it similar to a neighborhood hole-in-the-wall cafe with a more Philippine twist. I sat near a spot that gave me a good view of the road below. This is one place you would want to stay at for a long period whilst doing creative work.
The cafe's shelves were lined it a wide selecton of products, all home-grown: jars of peanut butter and vinaigrette, bottles of duhat wine and Bayani Brew Iced Tea, bars of Theo and Philo Artisan Chocolates, and more. After browsing, I sat down and ordered my lunch as it was already 1:00 in the afternoon. I started off with the Bayani Brew Classic made from natural ingredients, that same iced tea displayed on the shelf. This locally produced iced tea brand's lemongrass (tanglad) and screwpine (pandan) flavors jived well together, resulting in citrus and leafy notes with every sip. Muscovado sugar is used to sweeten it, making it a healthier alternative to the overly sweet brands around. However, there's a lingering feel in the throat after drinking Bayani Brew (gumuguhit sa lalamunan), which dissipates quickly.
For my lunch, I got the Chicken Barbecue rice meal made from free-range chickens grown without the use of growth hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals. It consisted of stir-fried chicken breast fillets marinated in barbecue sauce. The breast fillet cubes were served on top of brown rice with salted duck egg, a slice of cucumber and tomato. A side salad of lettuce, tomato, and cucumber drizzled with honey and calamansi vinaigrette (also for sale) served as a light accompaniment. Chicken breast is tender when cooked right, and Enchanted Farm Cafe did it properly. The brown rice also helped fill me up without the bloat. The duck egg, also from a social enterprise in the Enchanted Farm, helped balance out the sweet-spicy taste of the chicken barbecue cubes with its diminished saltiness.
I ordered the Sabanoffee Pie to cap of my meal. This uniquely Philippine take on the Starbucks banoffee pie used local ingredients, most specifically local saba bananas that retained their shape compared to the lacatan bananas that easily turned soggy. The Graham cracker "crust" here was crumbled, a different take from how banoffee pie crusts are made - not to mention it actually had coffee! It looked like a deconstructed, layered version of the dessert, but it actually had more depth than how it was presented. The social enterprise that made this no longer exists, as of this typing.
This trip to the Enchanted Farm Cafe, as its name stated, was an enchanting one indeed. Little did I know that this visit turned out to be the first and the last time I would step here. Enchanted Farm Cafe closed down for good in 2015, after four years of operations. The cafe's signage remained there, even though the cafe closed down years ago - a reminder of what the space used to be.
Until the next review, bon appetit.