We recently went to visit the ‘Finca de Uga’ sustainable farm as part of their monthly zero km event (KM0). This stunning day and night gastro event takes the term ‘eat-local’ to an all new level
On the last Saturday of each month, the ’Isla de Lobos’ restaurant in Playa Blanca’s 5 star hotel Princesa Yaiza hosts a tasting menu. The gastro event includes a farm visit during the day, allowing us to see first hand, where most of the local ingredients are grown or reared.
Finca de Uga..
Having seen the farm in December 2016, we were intrigued to experience the executive chef menu created using only local produce. The farm tour began with a visit to the animal enclosures.
Iberian and Canarian black pigs are reared in apparent luxury. They have showers systems, a fountained bathing pool and plenty of shaded areas for hot days. The ‘maternity ward’ boasts heated floor tiles and plenty of immaculately kept space.
You can’t help being impressed with this caring and nurturing environment. They even pipe music throughout the farm as it is has been proven to improve animal wellbeing.
Rearing Jersey cows, goats, and sheep on-site allows the farm to produce incredible cheeses under the award winning Finca de Uga label. They distribute the produce amongst local shops and restaurants as well as the family-owned hotels. The unused whey from cheese production is sent down to the pigs feeding area via gravity fed tubes. In addition, the animal waste in turn, gets used as fertiliser for the many crop growing areas.
It all sounds logical and sensible enough but this self-sufficient farm model has in recent times become a rarity. More so here in Lanzarote with the gradual move away from local agriculture due to the demands of tourism. It seems that perhaps the time is right for a return to one of the core attributes which made the island so popular in the first place.
Looking back over the last 25 years, we still had a few hidden restaurants set up in family homes with livestock kept nearby. The village bars sold their own wines, the choice was restricted but the produce was fresh and grown locally. Remember ‘El Tronco’ in Puerto Naos? The menu had 2 items, fish or meat.
Then came the chains, Fast food multinationals & low-cost Megamarkets, tour operators and imported everything. We have handed control to the big players. Yes, it looks great on paper with increases in tourism numbers. You have to wonder though – How much of a families holiday spend stays on the Island?
The all-inclusive model forced upon us in recent years has robbed many local producers the chance to earn a living. Most restaurants are trying to compete, so it seems less cost effective to use local produce when imported goods are not only cheaper but consistently available too.
In our case, since opening Cantina we have recognised the need to offer Lanzarote produce. We now sell almost 95% of our wines from local bodegas, our best selling sharing board is the Tabla Canaria. Furthermore, the Cantina Bienmesabe, a local almond dessert, has stayed consistently popular on our menu.
Yes, local wines cost more but most visitors will be happier to pay the extra euro. Our typical visitors would rather drink a glass of Malvasia Volcanica than a mass produced imported wine that you can find in Sainsbury’s.
The island boasts fertile soil and year round sun allowing many plants to flourish when combined with a decent water supply. The Rosa family at Finca de Uga have drilled a few hundred metres down and made a brackish water. Combined with an osmosis filter, this provides them with huge amounts of fresh water, a valuable commodity in their house.
Fresh local produce..
After walking through fields of peppers, courgettes and potatoes you enter a colossal growing room. Heading through netted doors to keep insects at bay you quickly see why they don’t need to use chemical pesticides on their produce. Inside we were greeted with the colourful sight and perfume of papaya, a wide variety of lettuce, herbs and edible flowers.
There are firm plans to convert a disused cheese curing cellar into a meat curing area and some horse stables are about to become a jam and preserve factory. Oils will be pressed here from the olives of several hundred trees which are just now reaching maturity. It seems more great things will come out of this incentive over time.
Much credit must go the Islands head of agriculture Paco Fabelo who helped develop the farm. It is clearly apparent that he cares tremendously for the livestock and also for the end product.
Paco & his team have created a oasis here. Although the farm trip is optional we felt it was an essential part and were truly in awe of the whole area. We created the nickname ‘Garden of Eden’. Although in this beautiful place, nothing is forbidden.
A Taste of Lanzarote
For the tasting meal, choose your evening dining time from 18:30h but book early if you are a larger group as they only serve 12 times during each half hour slot. The menu changes each month and can be accompanied with a 5 wine pairing from the local bodegas.
Pickled Tuna, Marinated Mustard and Avocado
Breaded Octopus with Chorizo from Teror and Honey
Crunchy Lamb, Pumpkin Foam and Smoked Milk Cream
Mango with Spiced Yoghurt and Buddha’s Hand
Wheat with Tomatoes, Basil and Cheese
Wine pairing: Tagalguen Blanco – D.O. La Palma
Avocado Gazpacho with Steamed Mussel in Malvasia Wine and Iced Cucumber
Wine pairing: Bermejo Fermentado en Barrica – D.O. Lanzarote
From The Surroundings
Japanese Dumplings Filled with “Majorero” Goat and Smoked Cheese
From Our Ocean
Wine pairing: Los Loros Sobra Lías – D.O. Valle del Güimar
Finca de Uga
Suckling Pig from Finca de Uga
Wine pairing: La Deriva – D.O.P. Islas Canarias
Passion Fruit and Mango
Wine pairing: Bermejo Malvasía Naturalmente Dulce – D.O. Lanzarote
Goat Yoghurt, Pineapple and Honey Rum
Petit Fours to finish..Perfectly!
The menu is bold and inventive yet accessible. Plating is quirky, fun and on trend showing the Chef’s flair for mixing traditional methods with contemporary style.
If you are passionate about food and local produce then this experience is a must, whether resident or visitor! We wish all success to the team and hope to see others adopt a similar approach to ethical farming, in addition allowing Lanzarote a firmer position on the Gastro map.
Benn & Zoe