A Little Farm on the Hill

Let’s be honest. You don’t come to A Little Farm on the Hill for organic food. It’s treacherous to say that, and hypocritical. Organic doesn’t necessarily make you healthier. For all one knows, it certainly doesn’t make the chef a better cook. “Organic” matters because it preys on our anxieties and fears. What it really means is expensive. Expensive food.

You come to ALFOTH for the billowing linen curtains, the winding roads leading to the unruffled hut. You come here because you’ve decided to honour lunch, and maybe soothe a few of your followers, reassuring all that your life online isn’t banal.

ALFOTH doesn’t accept walk-ins; bookings must be made in advance and prepaid. Much like agreeing to a first date with someone in your friendship circle, there’s a tinge of excitement, a dollop of queasiness, and a lot of preparedness because you have something to lose. In this case, it’s MYR375 per person and an hour’s conservative drive from the not-so-unruffled Kuala Loco.

This beautiful place is a little restaurant perched, well, in a little farm on a hill, creatively named A Little Farm on the Hill. We made our way there one Saturday because the chap and I, we have promised that at the start of every month, each of us will take turns planning something fun for the other. In this case, ALFOTH was my call.

The air on the hill wasn’t as crisp as our imagination, but it was one fine sunny day. We were welcomed by the balmy and humidity of the equator heat as soon as we stepped out of the car. The warm greetings of the staff matched the temperature, but disappointingly, so were their torch ginger coolers.

Soon, when everyone arrived (they only seat 40), the ritual of this rustic, indulgent lunch began.

First came the owner, delivering the opening speech that he could probably recite backwards, with a handful of smiles and a back drenched in professional, conscientious, tropic sweat. Like a conductor guiding and instructing the orchestra of chefs and waiters with a tempo so lively and steady, the clanging of the pots and pans in the open kitchen was tutti pianissimo, so quiet that all you could hear was bird songs and the shutters of the patrons’ phone cameras.

He said that ALFOTH provides their green produce to high-end restaurants in KL like Dewakan and Entier. This restaurant, on the other hand, is an extension of their farm. They source their proteins, such as the beef from Australia and the chicken from a nearby farm. As soon as the speech ended, bread and cucumber tzatziki and baba ghanoush flew out from the kitchen to each table.

The bread was warm, porous, crusty—all the fancy adjectives you’d use for a fancy bread aptly apply. It was a good bread, like a bread that was meant for something bigger. The dips were divine, not because they were made from organic ingredients, but because they were spiced. Within seconds, our plates were cleaned, with so few crumbs remaining, it could have sent the local ants protesting at the Shambhu border.

Then, what filled the table was the real feast. Plated simply – rice, meat, vegetables, followed by a collective exhalation. Now that the edible flowers were gone, everyone could finally eat, truly eat. There is something about simple, uncomplicated, unembellished family-style meal that makes everyone comfortable; at the end of the day, we don’t live to eat, we really eat to be ourselves. To assuage our desires for validation and to sustain the little morsel of belief that if we are well-fed, we must be loved.

The beef came with pickles and salsa; the salsa was a little bland and we weren’t sure about the pickles that came with it. But we were wrong; the six-hour smoked short ribs, along with the pickles, quickly became the star of the show. The beetroot and the pumpkins were complementary and sweet as you would want your date to be. The salad was a concoction of herbs thrown together like an army that was united to conquer your palate. If served solo, it would never have made such an impact.

The Jewelled Basmati was precious indeed, with nuts and spice that brought the meal to a full circle. Complete. The farm chicken though wasn’t as tender and juicy because, well, you asked for it.

Once the main was done, out came the orange almond cake with a tray of coffee, sugar, milk, and tea. Then a glistening pot of cream. “Some even drink it,” the owner said when we asked for more. I would have, I thought. If there was enough lactase in my body and LactoJoy in my bag, I would have inhaled it.

Nonetheless, at the other side of the table, someone decided that we should enjoy this special treat fully and add the cream generously to the almond cake and the coffee. It didn’t take a second for me to be convinced.

We went all out with the cream, and it was so satisfying.

After the meal, we took the umbrellas thoughtfully prepared by the staff to visit the farm.

I felt wholesome, alive, organic.

Grateful for the food, the stellar service, and my pretty, sleeveless dress that was also stretchy.

With love x

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