Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Discoveries at Enderun

I know my way around the kitchen. I enjoy cooking, an inch more than I enjoy eating even. I've learned a thing or two from television cooking shows, from the internet, from printed materials, and even from watching each member of my family cook their respective food specialties. Apart from these, I have no formal training whatsoever. I would love to believe that I know all the basics of cooking. But next to a chef, I think I barely scratched the surface with what I know to "get by" in the kitchen.

There are times, especially when I hit a snag during one of my little cooking projects, that I wish I had some formal training. Then, I imagine, I would know how to work around the snags, better yet, avoid them completely. How cool would it be if I had enrolled myself into a cooking school? You know, wear the outfit, the toque, have my own set of knives, and of course, learn a thing or two about cooking.

That's why I jumped at the chance to join an exclusive bloggers' event entitled, Discover Cuisine, hosted by one of the best Culinary Arts schools in Manila, Enderun Colleges (Enderun). Enough imagining, it was a chance to find out first hand what it would be like to be in a culinary arts school. The event involved a cooking demo by ADF+Enderun executive chef Marc Chalopin and a guided tour of Enderun's culinary arts building.

ADF+Enderun is an academic partnership entered into by Enderun with the Alain Ducasse Formation, established by "one of the most celebrated of modern French Chefs," Alain Ducasse. Alain Ducasse "is one of the rare chefs in the prestigious Michelin Guide's history to run restaurants carrying three-star ratings in three cities: Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo, Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee in Paris, and Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London."

While we waited for the cooking demo to start, we were offered some coffee and what is probably the best croissants I have ever had. It was delightfully flaky on the outside but delicately moist on the inside. I loved pulling it apart with my fingers, careful to confine the crumbs into the plate below as they fell, before delivering a mouthful portion of it through my lips. It was pure croissant love, I tell you. I would eat half a dozen of it right off the bat, had it not dawned on me how much butter-calories I would be ingesting by doing so and how I would pay for it on treadmill-hours. The croissants were baked right there at that very building, by the way. I just had to ask. (If Enderun can teach me how to make these divine croissants, imagine what else I could learn there!)

Shrimp Tartar Burgers

Chocolat Liegeois
During the cooking demo, Chef Marc Chalopin showed the crowd how to make Shrimp Tartar Burgers and Chocolat Liegeois. Everything was made from scratch, of course, from the chocolate ice cream and nougatine right down to the sundried tomatoes and mayonnaise.

The entire process is pretty daunting especially when you think about recreating it at home, but during the demo, with all the fancy equipment at hand (e.g. ice cream maker, blast freezer), everything looks like a walk in the park.

The demo was held at the building's elegantly interiored culinary ampitheater. Equipped with a fully functional kitchen, overhead mirrors, cameras, TV screens, and comfortable chairs, Enderun's culinary ampitheater can give any local cooking show a run for its money.

The tour of the culinary arts building was a spectacle in itself. The impressive facilities- hot kitchen laboratories, a pastry kitchen laboratory, and a preparation kitchen- made my jaw drop at every turn. I am such a sucker for professional kitchens and equipment. 

Restaurant 101
The building also houses a spacious library on the second floor and on the first floor, a restaurant, a bar, and a function area for events.

As I walked out through the elegant white doors of the Enderun culinary arts building after the event, I thought to myself-- when I do enroll in a culinary arts school, this would be a great place to do so.

Enderun offers a Three-month Pastry Arts Certificate class which aims to provide the student "the sufficient foundation to start a career in pastry, baking and confectionery." A full time course is also being offered, the ADF+Enderun fifteen-month program, which "covers the basics of Culinary Arts in fifteen months, including the opportunity for an internship in France." 
Applications for both programs are currently open for November 2011 intake.

For more information, contact:

Lou Molina
External Relations Manager
Mobile: +63917 8038617

Mark Tan
External Relations Associate
Mobile: +63917 5933398

Enderun Colleges is located at:
1100 Campus Avenue,
McKinley Hill, Fort Bonifacio
Taguig City 1634 Philippines
Telephone: +632 8565000
Fax: +632 8564656

Visit their website at:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Have your Ramen and eat your Gyoza, too, at Raku

Chicken Gyoza Kyo
I've been invited for lunch at Raku Hokkaido Ramen House a couple of days ago and immediately a day later, I developed a serious hankering for gyoza, those wonderful little Japanese meat and vegetable dumplings you see in every appetizer section of a Japanese restaurant menu.

Salmon Gyoza Kyo
Vegetarian Gyoza Kyo
Pork Gyoza Kyo
Scratch that. I do not want just any gyoza from just any Japanese restaurant. I want gyoza from Raku

Salmon Gyoza, Shrimp Gyoza, and Scallop Gyoza

Vegetarian Gyoza
What sets Raku apart from most of the Japanese restaurants I've been to as far as gyoza goes is that they offer different varieties of it. I love that Raku puts a lot of thought into the gyoza, enough to dream up and offer to the dining public chicken, vegetarian, shrimp, scallop, and salmon gyoza over and above the usual but nevertheless beloved pork gyoza.

If those choices aren't enough or if you're just plain feeling adventurous, you can get a "kyo" version of any of them. In which case, you get all sorts of delightful toppings on your gyoza like fish roe, nori, katsu sauce, and Japanese mayonnaise, rendering your customary salty and tangy gyoza dip all but a redundancy.

Shoyu Ramen
Also on the menu is a wide selection of ramen, Raku being first and foremost a ramen house, more particularly of the Hokkaido variety. I found it interesting to learn that, as with our adobo where every province has its own version of, the different prefectures of Japan have their own signature take on the ramen. Hokkaido, Japan's "winter playground", is famed to be the "home to the world's best ramen."

Gyuniku Ramen
Tonkotsu Ramen

Miso Ramen
The secret behind the Hokkaido version is the warm, delicately balanced miso broth which became "a source of comfort against the island's harsh weather. Carefully prepared over many hours, the flavorful soup is a blend of freshly ground miso, chicken and pork hocks." With this interesting bit of information and vivid images of the late Brittany Murphy in scenes from the movie, The Ramen Girl, I expected only the best ramen from Raku, one of whose owners has apprenticed with a Hokkaido ramen master.

The ramen at Raku comes in large bowls and heaped with all these beautiful and delicious ingredients, most of which, are imported from Japan to give the diner a taste of authentic Hokkaido ramen. The servings are enough for two, I would think, or for one with a really big appetite.

Ebi Tempura
Php195 for 3 pieces, Php290 for 5 pieces
Next on my plate was the iconic, Ebi Tempura. Quite a number of restaurants, Japanese or not, often try to pass off what tastes more like camaron rebosado rather than a proper Ebi Tempura. Raku's ebi tempura I am happy to report passes the "camaron rebosado test." It's crackling to the bite even after sitting on the table for a while. And the shrimps are quite large under all that perfectly fried layer of tempura batter.

Shitake Miso Udon Shitake Mushrooms in Miso Sauce
Ebi Remon Udon Fresh Shrimp in Lemon Bonito Oil
Until October 31 of this year, Raku is offering several special items on its menu for its Udon Festival. Among the udon dishes on offer is the Ebi Remon Udon. It's got a vibrant yet simple taste I liked and it made me feel like all the flavors in it from the Lemon Bonito Oil to the fresh shrimps conspired to make the udon the star of the dish.

Apple Nectar (Php145) ; Strawberry Cheesecake Mirukuseki (Php185)

After lunch, I had a tall glass of cold apple nectar. I am not a big fan of apple juice so I was a bit skeptical about giving this drink a try. But I'm glad the "curious cat" side of me took over to choose it. It was nothing I had expected, definitely refreshing and actually quite addicting. If I hadn't known it was apple, I would think it was green mango juice at first sip. The flavor is hard to explain. I guess it's one of those things you've got to try to understand. The Strawberry Cheesecake Mirukuseki (think strawberry cheesecake milkshake) is the one to choose if you are looking for a more belly-filling dessert-type drink.

Hiyashi Kani Ramen Salad
Cold Kani and Corn Salad
Hiyashi Chashu Ramen Salad
Cold Chashu Kani Salad in Soy Vinegrette Ramen
And I am positively smitten by those lovely plates! Like all of the key ingredients found in Raku's cuisine, these beautifully crafted plates are sourced and specially hand-picked from Japan. I love the dainty details and the impressive craftsmanship that went into them and how they serve as an artful backdrop for the food.

Man, I am still craving for a gyoza.

Raku is located at G/F Le Grand Building, 130 Valero Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rockwell's Ultimate Taste Test: Desserts and Drinks

Theo & Philo Chocolate
artisan chocolate bars
A while back I had said that I love discovering local gourmet food producers. I was beside myself in delight when I learned of Theo & Philo Chocolate, local producers of artisan chocolates. Imagine calamansi or ginger with chocolate. Pretty wild flavors to find in your chocolate bar, I know, but they do work, surprisingly well in fact.

Carmen's Best
Salted Caramel and Coffee Ice Cream
Carmen's Best ice cream, specially made with Holly's Milk, is one of my favorite desserts in the event. The ice cream is creamy and the flavors of coffee and caramel stand out nicely. I also took a swig of Holly's chocolate milk, also quite delicious.

The Fruit Garden
Fruit Cocktail, Lychee Berry Rose, Winter Season
The Winter Season jam by The Fruit Garden is another winner for me. This jam has a unique and delicate flavor to it. Just a little taste gave me images of having a relaxing breakfast on a chilly but otherwise beautiful Sunday morning, complete with freshly baked lightly toasted bread and a hot cup of tea.

Hansie's Desserts
Chocolate Chunk Cookies
These are nice chewy cookies with a good cookie-to-chocolate ratio.

Marla's Original Muncheez
True to its name, these crispy sweet cornflake snacks are a delight to munch on.

French Macarons

Arizona Iced Tea by Bugle Boy Distributors Corp. and Torta Cebuana from Elle's Torta

Kashi Maki by My Pink Wasabi and Banana loaf with walnuts and chocolate chips by Yumy Aco

Pink Candies Kucina
Food for the Gods
Party Fuel
Mojito Mocktail

Well, that's the last of 'em. Again, thanks, Anton and the rest of the folks who made Rockwell's Ultimate Taste Test a roaring success. And cheers to the uber talented hosts, Spanky and Marian. Until next time!

For a complete list of the Food Vendors that participated in the event, please visit Our Awesome Planet's Guide to Rockwell's Ultimate Taste Test.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rockwell's Ultimate Taste Test: Main Dishes and Savory Snacks

I may not have tried the samples of all 55 food vendors at Rockwell's Ultimate Taste Test (I am not quite sure if that's a bad thing or a good thing) but I did discover some really good food among the ones I did . Here are the ones that populated my main dish/savory snacks shortlist:

Tina's Pie Outlet
Tarts: Shiitake with Swiss Gruyere, Prawns in Aligue, Chicken with Chorizo

One of my top favorites at the event is the Shiitake with Swiss Gruyere tart by Tina's Pie Outlet. The shell of the tart was delicious on its own, filled with Shiitake mushrooms and Swiss Gruyere cheese it's just heavenly. Other tarts available for tasting were the Prawns in Aligue and Chicken with Chorizo.

Among the non-tart/pie on offer at the event was Tina's Callos.

Almost Gourmet
Parmesan Chicken Sticks
The Flying Chef
Ham and Cheese Empanada
Eat My GF
Original Garlic Fries with Toppings
Farm n' Deli
Barang's Tinapa
Heart, Meat & Soul Foods
Hearty Meaty Spaghetti
Gourmet Keso
Chevre (goat cheese), Chevre with Cashews & Truffled Salt, Chevre with
Garlic & Herbs, Kesong Puti Hiyayako
Gourmet Keso is a purveyor of locally made goat cheese. I always get excited about discovering Filipino entrepreneurs like those behind Gourmet Keso who come up with these amazing locally produced gourmet food froducts. My favorite among Gourmet Keso's offerings was the Chevre with Garlic & Herbs. On soda crackers, they can be pretty addictive snacks.

HKR Food Express
Asado and Roast Chicken
De Original Jamaican Patties
Beef Original and Beef Pinatubo
I love Jamaican beef patties. Especially the spicy kind. De Original Jamaican Patties' Beef Pinatubo tops my list of these wickedly hot patties.

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Alique Mayo, Cream Cheese, or Wasabi Sauce

and Phillychanga
Another of my top favorites at the event was Chef Luigi's Phillychanga. It wasn't really a hardsell, chimichanga being my favorite Mexican dish. The Phillychanga was cooked on site so it was still warm when I bit into it. I really liked the distinctive Philly cheesesteak flavor and the light crunch of the deep-fat fried shell. Ah. Eat now. Diet later.

Sushi Mo
California Maki Roll and Tuna & Mayo Maki Roll
Chef C's
Paella de Andaluz

For a complete list of the Food Vendors that participated in the event, please visit Our Awesome Planet's Guide to Rockwell's Ultimate Taste Test.

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