A legend, sometimes, should remain a legend by being out of reach from one’s experience. Or maybe we exaggerate to much, causing unexpected disillusionment to something which, in case of food, tastes good in the first place.
We’ve long been told that if ever we’re in Bukidnon, or near its vicinity like in Cagayan de Oro, we shouldn’t miss the famous steak at the Del Monte Clubhouse. So after recently trying the whitewater rafting in CDO, we made it a point to drop by the Del Monte Clubhouse to finally taste its steak.
It was already 5 p.m. when we left CDO, leaving us to worry if the Clubhouse would still be open by the time we get there. No worries, we were told, because it closes at seven in the evening. So we pre-ordered while on the 45-minute trip from CDO to Camp Phillips, in the town of Manolo Fortich, the home of the Del Monte golf course and the Clubhouse. The 18-hole golf may be a splendor, as this is the origin and home of Philippines’ golf star Frankie Minoza, but that’s not the reason for this trip.
By the time we hit the dirt roads within the Del Monte pineapple plantation, it was already dark. I wanted to bang by head on the dashboard, realizing that the darkness has swallowed my hopes of seeing the ocean of pineapple plants. Our gracious hosts were kind enough to describe what we otherwise could have marveled at.
The thousands of hectares planted with rows and rows of pineapples means that harvesting is done daily AND nightly. The plantation is so arranged to allow an orderly harvesting on a continuous basis, to prevent overripe pineapples and to avoid backlogs. Huge trucks loaded with pineapples trickle from the plantation to the processing plant/cannery.
This amazing process gives us freshly-canned pineapple. It also produces so much pulp, and what to do with the pulp waste? You feed them to thousand or so lucky heads of cattle. Imagine a cattle being seasoned even before it’s slaughtered and cooked.
I ordered the “complete” set, which came with soup, salad, fruit salad, rice/bread and coffee. And I wouldn’t miss the bottomless pineapple juice, which naturally tasted good. It’s like going out of the Clubhouse, look for a ripe pineapple, pick and juice it. The vegetable and fruit salads were also fresh. Simply the best.
Which brings us to the steak and the roasted beef.
I wanted my steak medium rare, as usual. We’ve tried and written about a number of steaks here in VisitPinas. The steak in Steak Plus (Subic) and at the Cliffhouse (Tagaytay), both of which are not as good as the Del Monte steak. Unfortunately, maybe because it was cooked well-done, instead of my preferred medium rare, or maybe because it was cooked ahead while we’re on our way, the steak didn’t taste as good as its legend would have it. It didn’t taste as good as Mamou’s.
But this is where the legend, or the possible exaggeration, does a great disservice to the steak at the Del Monte Clubhouse. The steak is juicy, with minimal spice. It tastes really good, just let go of the expectations. And it goes perfectly with the awesome sliced loaf bread, the best one I’ve tried so far. The meat has been aged and you can be sure of its source.
The roast beef, on the other hand, is too much for my taste. I prefer it less bland, less cooked and less soaked in sauce. But that’s just me. I can’t speak for others’ preference.
In all, the balance between the steak and the roast beef with the fresh fruits and vegetables, together with the incoming fog, the cold atmosphere and the breathtaking view, was simply heavenly.