Come Be Our Guest: Creating the Cavallo Experience
In 2015, Philip Bomhoff combined his appreciation of Italian culture and old Florida’s tranquility in the creation of Daisy’s All-Natural Blueberry Farm. He originally named the farm after his dog, Daisy. He had owned the acreage on Lecanto Highway for many years. After a friend encouraged him to get into blueberry farming, 40,000-plus blueberry bushes were planted over twenty acres.
Phil envisioned preserving the essence of these rolling hills surrounded by tall forest trees with rows of delicious berries in a bottle of wine and giving it back in grandeur to the Nature Coast community. He went to work with a premier wine maker in 2017, crafting the Cavallo Estate brand offerings.
Cavallo is the Italian word for horse. Thus, Cavallo Estate Winery was born.
In March of 2020, the blueberry bushes were laden with fruit ripening in the sun, and a fresh produce market and boutique featuring locally sourced produce – some from the on-site greenhouse – and an in-house bakery, was opened.
Katie Wright, Cavallo’s Chief Operating Officer, shares, “We built out the market to make indoor areas more comfortable for shoppers, and for produce to last longer inside the air conditioning. We completed construction – putting the doors on and opened within 12 hours. Literally. My family, Alan’s, and the entire staff came in and worked all night to make it happen.”
How NatureCoaster discovered Cavallo
The blue 1940s truck with Cavallo Fresh Market and U-Pick Blueberry sign attracted my attention several times as I sped past on Lecanto Highway through the Withlacoochee Forest. It looked intriguing.
While working on NatureCoaster’s U-Pick Blueberries story, I finally stopped in. Greeted by rocking chairs, picnic tables, and a large building with a covered concrete patio offering plants and produce for sale, I felt welcome.
Cavallo’s tagline “Come be our Guest” is evident throughout their operation.
The dedication to providing an exceptional guest experience is prominent at every visit to Cavallo. The staff remembers my name, what I like, and seems to always be working on making the place shine. Verbal greetings, offers to help find anything are the norm.
The building feels open and airy, with a variety of merchandise that appears to be eco-friendly. There are natural lotions, soaps, and grooming items. Fun clothing has a soft cotton feel, farm signs, and holiday gift items – but not the cheap, ‘made in who knows where’ stuff – a whole lot of wine-themed items, and gourmet spices. There are many unique gifts that would be special to the recipient.
Flavored Olive Oils and Vinegars with Free Recipes
A large wall display offers flavored oils and vinegars for cooking with free recipe cards enticing me to purchase several varieties. Next were jars of canned goods, from blueberry jam to several varieties of pickles. On weekends, a sample bar is staffed, offering tastings to guests.
Coffee, Tea, or Craft Soda with a Side of Delectable Sweets
The coffee, tea, and soda bar is next along the wall, with the most amazing Keurig machine I have ever used. One or two touches of the screen produces a latte, macchiato, mocha, or café americano with fresh ground beans – dark or medium roast – drinker’s choice. A coffee lover’s dream!
The Stubborn soda is craft with interesting, and I might add, delicious, flavors like agave vanilla cream, black cherry, and lemon berry acai. The tea is fresh brewed in either sweet or unsweet.
Then comes my favorite part of Cavallo Farm and Market – the Bakery Counter! On the Cavallo website, signature “Lemon Blueberry cookies” are mentioned. These sounded interesting, well, good, so I tried one. Superlatives do not do this cookie justice.
After looking up many lemon-blueberry cookie recipes online, I asked Chef Alan how he does it and he just smiled. “I can’t tell you that. It’s my signature recipe,” he quietly but definitely replied. I now purchase them by the dozen and every time I visit, my husband reminds me to bring home cookies!
There are many tempting pastries, cheesecakes, cakes, and cookies at Cavallo’s bakery. The strawberry float cake is amazing, and the salted caramel cheesecake is so good that my friend from New Port Richey keeps mentioning that she wants to return for a whole cheesecake!
Award-Winning Chef Alan creates Signature Foods to please any Palate
Alan Ingram came to Cavallo before the market opened. He is an award-winning Chef, bringing the best of #FarmToFork right to the table. A simple breakfast and lunch menu combines fresh ingredients and tasty flavors for consistently great food.
Whether you are a traditionalist, preferring a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich (on a croissant) or biscuits and gravy (yes, the biscuits are fresh-baked), or an adventurous eater trying the Lobster & Co. lobster salad, egg, and asparagus on a croissant, or the cannoli French toast, you are likely to be glad you came out to the Café for your meal.
Lunch options include BLT with a fried green tomato as the “T” complete with applewood bacon, spring mix, and Chef Alan’s signature tomato jam and lemon aioli, a Buffalo Cauliflower wrap, and the Sweet Heat Chicken Sandwich, made with another Chef Alan creation – his sweet jalapeño jam, each including potato salad, coleslaw, or fresh kettle chips as a side.
Salads include Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad and The Grove Salad featuring grilled Chicken, blueberries, mandarin oranges, tomatoes, and almonds on a spring mix. Check out the full menu here.
The parking is always free and it doesn’t cost anything to come and visit this relaxing venue. A climb-on train is located a short distance from the market. Picnic tables dot the lawn. Down the way is a barn venue where wine is fermented and bottled, and weddings and events may be scheduled.
Don’t Forget the Blueberries – U-Pick Season is the Best time of Year
Blueberry season averages late March through mid to late May. During blueberry season, the store, u-pick and café are open 7 days a week. And air cannons go off in the fields, keeping the birds from taking too many berries and all of us on our toes! This is one of the most upscale fields to pick in, with a storefront for purchases, as well as indoor restrooms, and dining onsite. They take credit cards and offer pre-pick and u-pick berries.
Schedule a Visit to Cavallo Farm & Market to Unwind and Indulge the Senses
When u-pick season is over, the hours slow a bit, but there are plenty of reasons to schedule your visit to the Cavallo Farm and Market.
The food served on the large open patio overlooking the blueberry fields is one. Plans are underway to add wine on the patio and possibly live music, but a timeline was unavailable as of this story.
All entrees come with a free iced tea – sweet or unsweet – or a free coffee from the amazing Keurig machine. Guests can come to the café, get a table, and then help themselves to a drink inside. Upon return, menus are set, and food can be ordered. Every server I have had at Cavallo has been kind and helpful.
If you want to shop in the market, or peruse the baked goods, just let your server know and you will be alerted when your food arrives. Now, you can order online and just stop by Cavallo to pick up your meal(s).
Catering is also available – and highly recommended! Are you having a birthday, graduation, or other gathering? Schedule an appointment with Chef Alan to work out a menu that works for you.
Meanwhile, a visit to Cavallo Farm and Market is a worthwhile indulgence for the senses. Between the open air, the good food, accommodating staff and fun shopping, it is a wonderful Nature Coast destination to visit.
Cavallo Farm & Market is located at 8123 South Lecanto Highway in Lecanto, Florida. Their phone number is 352-419-4466. Their website is: https://cavallofarmandmarket.com.