Rediscovering Bohol: From Food to Organic Farming
Together with fellow travel writers and content creators, Team Out of Town was recently invited by DOT Region 7 to visit Bohol for a food appreciation tour. The tour aims to rediscover Bohol, beyond the usual Chocolate Hills and tarsiers.
Through this food tour, we were able to discover Bohol’s heirloom recipes, organic farms, and yummy delicacies. The tour highlighted farm-to-table experiences, organic produce, and local farmer and community groups, making the gastronomic adventure more worthwhile! Read on to know the places we visited for the love of food.
Green Thumb Farm
After arriving at Panglao airport, we headed to Green Thumb Farm, an organic farm located in Corella, Bohol. The farm specializes in growing and producing oyster mushrooms and other mushrooms. The owner also gave us a short lecture about the various types of mushrooms and how they grow these on their farm. They also serve healthy organic meals sourced from their own farm.
We started our farm tour by visiting their greenhouses, where they grow various types of mushrooms. After the tour was the cooking demo where they showed us how to cook their famous mushroom sisig. It’s actually a healthier version of Pampanga’s famous pork sisig. To me, it somehow tastes like an authentic sisig–sans the meat.
We had our lunch at their Alfresco Restaurant, a unique outdoor dining venue of Green Thumb Farm. They served us mushroom sisig, fried native chicken, ensaladang talong, fish escabeche, ginataang utan, and mushroom in misua soup for lunch. For dessert, we had kinampay shake – a delicious purple yam milkshake made from a local fragrant variety of ube called kinampay.
The outdoor resto, owned and managed by couple Rona and Jares Denque, utilizes the huge space of the farm’s front lawn. The farm is also a favorite pitstop for bikers traversing the inner roads towards Loboc. The open-air restaurant allows guests to sit, squat, or simply experience the Earth’s bountiful blessings through food and nature.
The Green Thumb Farm
Address: Purok 4, Sambog, Corella, Bohol
Contact: 0917 543 9700
Our next stop was at The Santa Monica Parish Church of Alburquerque, commonly known as the Alburquerque Church. It is a Roman Catholic church in the municipality of Alburquerque, Bohol. It’s under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tagbilaran.
The church was declared an Important Cultural Property by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2013. It was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute in 2014.
The church was partially damaged when a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Bohol and other parts of Central Visayas last October 15, 2013. Although the original retablos vanished, it was replaced by an intricately hand-carved wooden altarpiece made by local artisans. With the help of 15 other local wood carvers, Arsenio Lagura Jr. led the team in creating an impressive three-panel retablo that we see today. The pulpit is another distinct feature of old churches here.
Visiting the Asin Tibuok Factory
We visited a village near the Alburquerque Church to learn more about a Filipino Artisanal Sea Salt production called Asin Tibuok. This sea salt is famous for its sharp, earthy flavor with mild smoky undertones on the palate. Although it’s no longer widely used by the locals, the production continues mainly to serve orders from the international market.
Authentic Boholano Snacks and Dinner at Julio’s Bed and Breakfast
Nestled in Loay Bay, along Villalimpia Beach is Julio’s Bed and Breakfast. This quaint accommodation serves home-cooked meals and snacks.
In Bohol, nothing beats a freshly fried “siakoy,” a deep-fried twisted donut coated with white sugar, paired with homemade tablea sikwate (hot chocolate.) Like Chinese Tikoy, this local delicacy is made with ground sticky rice, muscovado sugar, and coconut milk mixed in a huge pan for a couple of hours until it gets a perfect consistency. Julio’s Bed and Breakfast serves a delectable version of it that you must try!
While we were there, the B&B owner showed us how to catch kagang (land crab) using a traditional bamboo trap. It was followed by a cooking demo, showcasing how to cook kagang using coconut milk and coconut meat.
As we waited for dinner while enjoying the beautiful sunset as the backdrop, we were serenaded by a local band performing Boholano folk songs. For dinner, we savored Filipino favorites like kagang crab, barbecue, crispy pata, laswa, tortang talong, grilled tulingan, and turon at Julio’s Resort.
Julio’s Bed and Breakfast
Location: Del Carmen St., Villalimpia 6303 Loay, Philippines
Mobile: 0922 515 7594
The Making of Tinapay
On our second day, we headed to Tagbilaran to visit Cecille Orot’s Residence for a “tinapay” making demonstration. For a lot of Filipinos, tinapay in English is bread. But for Boholanos, it’s actually a thin crust square-shaped biscuit that tastes like apas. Aside from their own take on tinapay, they also make egg cookies, torta, and other pastries.
Cecilia’s Tinapay Crisp
0041 Geronimo Oroc Street Pk1, Taloto District, Tagbilaran City
SUP at Loboc River
After a pleasant tinapay learning experience, we were then bound to relax and enjoy water activities at Fox & The Firefly Cottages. We were served organic and homemade Kombucha to quench our thirst upon arriving.
We were divided into two teams to experience different kinds of activities– one for the standup paddle boarding experience while the others were to try their signature massage.
After these exciting and relaxing experiences, we had a sumptuous lunch at Fox and Fables restaurant, the in-house resto of the place. Located along the banks of Loboc River, the restaurant offers healthy meals and vegan dishes. They also offer specialty beverages, from organic drinks and shakes to cocktails, wine, and authentic Belgian Beers.
For Lunch, we had pandan rice, coco boko, vegan kare-kare, atsarang talong, signature salad, mongo soup, and halang-halang. Their vegan kare-kare is paired with a bagoong alternative made from locally sourced mushrooms, while their signature salad is made with pomelo and some greens. My favorite would be their halang-halang soup, a Visayan version of tinola with coconut milk and moringa leaves.
Fox & The Firefly Cottages
Address: Barangay Road, Loboc, 6316 Bohol
Phone: 0917 703 9979
Afternoon Snacks at Cresencia’s Café
Ube has always been a valued crop by Boholanos– they even have an annual festival dedicated to this purple-colored root crop. Upon arrival at Cresencia’s Cafe, we were invited for a cooking demo of Biko and this time, it’s for an ube-flavored one.
Cresencia Café is a quaint food and coffee house nestled inside the ancestral home of Narciso Ginete. This family-owned restaurant creates a charming dining experience by offering great food and good coffee. Patrons will also feel nostalgic as its interior offers an otherworldly feel with its wooden pieces and antique decorations that feature some of the owner’s personal items.
Crescencia Food & Coffee
Address: Poblacion 6301 Baclayon, Philippines
Mobile: 0917 304 1084
Farm tour at South Farms
South Farms is an organic farm located in Panglao, Bohol promoting rural, handmade, handcrafted, and hand-built tourist destinations. The site features a nature-based family-oriented tourism attraction and caters to fun activities and local events.
We visited areas dedicated to carpentry, pottery, basket, vinegar, and VCO-making facilities inside the farm. We also visited their organic farm that cultivated various local vegetables that they supply to their partner hotels. They also have a rabbit farm and a fish pond where anyone can enjoy fishing.
After exploring the farm, we proceeded to the gazebos located right next to the fish pond for our dinner. We had our dinner under the stars and they served bukid rice, uma salad, native chicken halang-halang, deep-fried kingfish, grilled shrimp, maja blanca, and fruits for dessert. Everything was so filling and we had a great meal to cap off the day.
Brgy. Bolod, Panglao Island Bohol 6340 Philippines
Mobile: 0917 716 7609
Indeed, Bohol is much more than the famous hills and tarsiers–it’s worth discovering for its culinary discoveries, relaxing experiences, and ecotourism activities that serve as the locals’ livelihood. As Farm to Table food concept becomes more and more popular in the Philippines, I’m glad Bohol is fastly adapting and more establishments are joining the movement. This concept not only provides a new way of producing and preparing food but also helps create more jobs for the locals while promoting a healthier lifestyle. For sure, we’ll be back to experience more of Bohol’s hidden gems through their cuisine.