A restaurant in the middle of a field seems like a strange concept

Culinary Cabo

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 bumpy, 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.

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 bumpy, 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 varieties of fruits, herbs and vegetables are grown onsite.

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 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 vegetables and explained the techniques used to grow them organically and ecologically in a desert-like environment. Weeding and harvesting is done by hand and about 100 local people are employed by the farm.

There is a community garden onsite, 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 owning 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.

As might be expected, the cooking class was laidback and relaxed. At first, everyone participated in blending the ingredients, but after a few margaritas from Flora’s farm bar, there was a lot more sampling than mixing happening — for my part anyway.

By the time our class was finished, we were all impressed with how simple it was to make these basic Mexican dishes. One of the participants vowed that she would never purchase pre-made salsa again. It was a bold statement, but then again she had consumed a few more margaritas than I had and I am pretty sure they were not the “virgin” version I had been knocking back.

I capped off the afternoon by having lunch at Flora’s Field Kitchen Restaurant. There is a good selection of pizzas and other American specialties, but I stuck with Mexican fare and enjoyed organic chicken enchiladas served with a fresh garden salad, beans and rice. I usually don’t eat dessert with lunch, but the farm-fresh key lime pie was too good to pass up.

As I prepared to take the long, bumpy road back to my beach resort in Los Cabos, I knew that my Grandma was right once again — it isn’t easy to get to Flora Farms, but it is definitely worth the effort.

If you go

• Flora Farms is located outside San José del Cabo and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, with breakfast, lunch and dinner served in the restaurant on those days and a special brunch service on Sundays. Reservations are recommended. A three-course lunch will cost about $20 and a three course dinner will cost about $40. You can get to the farm via a cab or rental car.

• Flora Farm offers regional Salsa Cooking Classes on Tuesday’s and Fridays. Other cooking classes are available on select dates. Prices vary depending on the number of participants and the particular class chosen. For more details or to make a reservation, email sonja@flora-farms.com.

• For reservations or information, visit www.flora-farms.com.

Debbie Olsen is a Lacombe-based freelance writer. Follow Debbie’s travels at www.wanderwoman.ca. If you have an interesting travel story you would like to share, please email: DOGO@telusplanet.net or write to: Debbie Olsen, c/o Red Deer Advocate, 2950 Bremner Ave., Red Deer, Alta., T4R 1M9.

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