October 19, 2018
Finca de Uga, a piece of heaven in a sea of lava
In Lanzarote, on the edge of the Timanfaya National Park, within sight of its impressive dormant volcanoes, is a 70,000 square-metre piece of heaven where orange, avocado, mulberry, apple, fig and apricot trees grow; not to mention the flocks of majorera goats, herds of cows, free-range chickens and the local breed of black pigs they have. A Noah’s Ark in the middle of a sea of lava. This is the Finca de Uga, a farm where they grow crops and raise animals in a totally sustainable way, and where they also have a dairy where they make cheese. It is run by the vet, Arminda García, and it is the extraordinary pantry for the chef, Víctor Bossecker, and his team who cook at the restaurant Isla de Lobos, in Yaiza. Or as he says, ‘A Disneyland for cooks.’
At first, the owners began to cultivate their land simply as a way of supplying the restaurant and hotel with basic ingredients, at a time when concepts such as cooking with locally sourced produce was not fashionable. But this natural storehouse ended up being the roadmap for Isla de Lobos. ‘When I saw the farm for the first time, I realized that this was the path for the restaurant. Imagine what it’s like for a cook to have this larder of livestock, crops as well as a cheese shop. It gives me goose bumps. We also convey this value to diners who come here and eat the produce they have seen being harvested that very morning. Although a diner might be enjoying a humble carrot, it’s worth more than offering them caviar from Russia,’ explains Bossecker.
On the last Saturday of each month, the restaurant offers a special menu that begins in the morning with a visit to the facilities and fields that surround the farm, and ends with a dinner made with the produce the visitors picked earlier in the day. ‘Our diners are curious and very often they asked us what Finca de Uga was all about – this place from where the ingredients came – but it was impossible to convey in words what the feeling of being there was really like, to share that sensitivity, and we realized that was missing was a physical connection. So, two years ago we launched this kind of visit. Now, diners see everything first-hand and, in the evening, they can taste it. They remember things about that morning; that orange tree, that suckling pig...,’ points out Arminda García
The cheese-making dairy is another of the highlights at the Finca de Uga. On 4 November, its ‘Bodega de Oveja’ cheese won the Super Gold medal at the international 2018 World Cheese Awards competition, one of the most important fairs in the world.
By Miguel Ángel Alfonso