There are a few adventures from my time in Los Cabos that truly stood out. Visiting El Arco, and my first experience in SUP (stand up paddling) were unforgettable. (To my great regret, the SUP wasn’t captured on anyone’s camera. Out on the water was where we realized the true value of a GoPro camera, something none of us own.)
Some of the other major Cabo highlights were meals we ate, which is not surprising if you know me. I’m all about the food, all of the time. We had fabulous dishes at Corazón de Alcachofa (also known as Artichoke’s Heart), The Office and Club House at Quivera Golf Club. However, I’d have to give top spot to our lunch at Flora Farm. Not only was the food impeccable, fresh and delicious, but we were treated to a tour of the Farm – so it wasn’t just a meal, but another adventure.
Located in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range, in San Jose del Cabo, Flora Farm is a 10-acre working organic farm with a restaurant, bar, grocery, art gallery and microbrewery on site. The owners, Patrick and Gloria Greene, hail from California, but began the Flora Farm venture in 1996. It has developed slowly and (appropriately) organically since that time. The Greenes even built a yurt on site where they raised daughters and continue to live part-time. At this, the main location, there are no animals. However, there is an additional farm in nearby Santa Anita, of 150 acres where pigs and chickens are raised, humanely and without any hormones. At the time of our visit, we learned that the remote ranch would soon be acquiring their first two cows in order to begin creating their own cheese and dairy products.
Flora Farm’s restaurant, Field Kitchen, is truly a field-to-table experience. Since the farm does not have any cows, you won’t find any beef on their menu. They serve a burger, but it’s a combination of chicken and pork meat, strictly from Flora Farm livestock. The bread that they serve is made entirely on site, at their own bakery in a large wood-fired oven. Even their water is natural water run through their own well and purification system. That can be worrisome to gringos, but I assure you that our entire group (of eight, adults and children) drank pitchers of the Flora Farm water (clear, refreshing and tasty) and we have all lived to tell the tale.
Are you salivating, yet? Just wait until you see these pictures…
There is a small wooden stage, just off the end of the dining area, erected with just enough room for a musician or two to play for the diners. We listened to jazz played by a saxophonist that switched between soprano and alto sax.
Instead of breaking up the dining room with walls, which would hinder the natural breeze, definition was given to spaces by hanging “walls” of birdcages and mason jars with fresh flowers. And yes, those flowers were fresh-picked from the farm that day, just like all the table centerpieces.
We dabbled in some of the farm’s specialty cocktails, and sampled some of the freshly baked bread while we perused the menu. A hibiscus margarita for Susan and a cilantro-lime gin and tonic for me.
Olive bread. Olives. In the bread. I could have eaten ONLY this bread, as my entire meal, but there were too many other options tempting me. But the bread was that good.
After a great deal of debate, I finally landed on the Smoked Chicken Salad. Thanks go to our server, who described it so beautifully that I just couldn’t say no. Mixed field greens, house-smoked chicken, crisp green apples, cranberries, nuts and shaved parmesan in a light, sweet vinaigrette. Occasionally I find that field greens can taste a lot like, well, the field. Dirt. (I’m looking at you, Panera) However, this salad was just the crisp tastes of the lettuces – and enjoying the distinct, different flavors of each kind of lettuce. Seriously, heaven.
Several of our party opted for the cheeseburger. Once again, our server did me in. He asked each of the cheeseburger choosers whether they would like bacon. He then mentioned that it was (of course) cured on-site and that they smoked it with brown sugar. I started drooling during the description and requested a side of bacon, just because I felt like I needed to taste it. I received a plate with a healthy pile of bacon, which I shared. Everyone loved it. The strips were incredibly thin. I’m normally a thick-cut bacon girl, but the sweet, savory flavor removed any need for additional thickness. Unfortunately, everyone loved it and ate it so quickly that… I got absolutely no photos of the bacon plate. My apologies. It hurts me as much as it hurts you.
Completely satisfied with our meal, we were then given a tour of the farm.
We learned about the way in which the farmers rotate the crops, so as to enrich the soil, and also to prevent pests from setting up camp. In the photo below, you can see how Flora Farm handles the extremely hot and dry climate. The tubes you see are a drip system that provides a slow but constant water supply. The hay that is placed over the beds, allowing just the heads of lettuce to peek out, helps to keep the moisture in the ground.
Along with fruits, vegetables and flowers, Flora Farm is also a haven for rescued animals. They try to keep a pack of 10 rescue dogs at a time, “Any more and it’s too many and any less we are denying a good home to a stray.” The dogs wander throughout the farm, some even walking through the kitchen. We saw one dog saunter through during our lunch, and caught three others trying to keep cool, lounging in the shade of trees.
We were able to visit the building that housed the butcher’s station and bakery, viewing the roasting pit and massive oven used for breads.
A second, identical oven, is located just off the dining area of Field Kitchen. That oven is used primarily for wood-fired pizzas. As we were leaving this area, I noticed stockpots filled with a rather delectable smelling concoction. Our tour guide, Nicole, explained that Flora Farm is a no-waste facility. Following the butcher’s retrieval of meat and other immediately edible portions, any remains are then used for broths and stocks.
We were shown the well, the source of the previously mentioned drinking water prior to purification.
The entire experience at Flora Farm was remarkable. From the fascinating ways in which the farmers work with the land and climate, to the exquisite food and drinks and feeling of being at a family home. For the employees of Flora Farm very much are family to the Greenes. Last September, following devastating Hurricane Odile, the farm became a second home to many of the workers. Although the farm received damage, including the decimation of the original family home, they were lucky enough to have a diesel generator that provided electricity for food and water for the employees. They set up a temporary shelter, on their property, with bathrooms, showers and 24-hour security, and provided 3 meals a day to employees, and their families, who had lost homes in Odile.
How’s that for a treat? Beautiful people and ideas in a beautiful natural environment.
I would absolutely, whole-heartedly, recommend that anyone who is in the Los Cabos area take time to visit Flora Farm. Things you need to know: call ahead (days, weeks) for a dinner reservation. Lunch is more likely to be available on short notice, but plan in advance! Despite forgoing any marketing, word of mouth has created quite the stir for a Field Kitchen meal. Also, the roads between town and the farm are rough. They are mountain foothills, and the roads are not paved. (This is strictly the responsibility of the government, but the government has yet to show any interest in doing so.) It’s a little bit of extra work, but so very worth it.