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A Hidden Gem Shines in Vanua Levu countryside

A Hidden Gem Shines in Vanua Levu countryside
July 17
19:55 2017

Beachside resorts are a dime a dozen in Fiji, but what about resorts for people looking for something a bit different?

Considered one of the hidden gems of Va­nua Levu island (and it really is hidden!), Palmlea Farms Eco Lodge offers guests the chance to experience a totally different side to Fiji – one many visitors may not even know exists.

I headed off the beaten track to this beau­tiful eco-resort, which also happens to be a working organic farm.

There’s plenty to keep you occupied: a 25 metre swimming pool if you feel like getting in a few lengths.

Acres of gorgeous natural surroundings to explore, kayaking in the bay nearby and, best of all if you’re an animal lover, strok­ing the adorable baby goats who trot happily around the grounds.

The guest rooms are made in the tradition­al Fijian style, with native hardwoods and woven bamboo and overlook palm trees and the ocean

Food galore

The food here is one of the main standouts: being a farm, most of the ingredients served in the onsite restaurant are from the garden, and the food is a mix of traditional dishes, Fijian fare and fresh seafood.

Known especially for their pies, the resort also has its own pizza oven.

Foodies will certainly be content here.

What Labasa has to offer

The cuisine of northern Vanua Levu, in and around Labasa, is known mostly for its curries and spices, and the first stop I made here was Palmlea Farms, an eco restaurant where most of the vegetables are from the garden and the fish is sustainably caught.

One of the most traditional ways of cook­ing in Fiji is with a lovo, an underground oven whereby the food is wrapped in leaves, placed in the ground and covered with hot embers.

I knew I had to try something from the lovo oven, but the most popular dish is palusami, which is fish wrapped in taro leaves with coconut cream, onions, tomatoes, salt and chilli.

When I explained to the chef that I was vegetarian but wanted to try this traditional style of cooking, she happily knocked out a vegetarian version with potatoes, onion and eggplant taking the place of the fish.

This vegetarian palusami turned out to be one of my favourite meals in Fiji; the lovo cooking process steams the food until tender and gives it a wonderful smoky, earthy fla­vour that I wasn’t expecting at all.

Because Fiji’s bounteous seafood features heavily in its cuisine, I’d been worried that I might miss out on some of the country’s more traditional dishes. But the quality and variety of the food is one of the main things I will take away from my visit — perhaps second only to the warmth of the locals, eas­ily the friendliest people I’ve encountered in my life.

Then again, with such good food, perhaps it’s no surprise that everyone seems happy.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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