Tuesday, March 11, 2014

An Evening with Chefs Yannick Van Aeken and Louise Bannon



Published on Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Section on March 27, 2014


There are so many people to thank for making this dinner happen.



First, Aleth Ocampo who welcomed our group of 27 people into her beautiful home.




 She set up the place tastefully with white tiffany chairs and pretty blooms
 that she arranged herself.  




 Aleth is, I quote Pio Goco, "the Nigella Barefoot Contessa" of Manila. 


Then there are the two big-hearted people who organized the unforgettable affair - Glen Raemakers and Robby Goco, who have both been actively and passionately championing Philippine products, Glen by promoting our local ingredients in Belgium where he resides, and Robby in his restaurants Green Pastures and Cyma.  

And there would be no food on the table if not for the husband and wife tandem Chefs Yannick van Aeken and Louise Bannon, formerly executive sous chef and pastry chef at Noma. 

Yes, Noma. The No. 2 Best Restaurant in the World.




 It's been my dream to go there, and now they've come here! And they are with me in this photo!!!

L-R: Glen Raemakers, Chef Yannick van Aeken, Chef Robby Goco, Chef Louise Bannon,
Jin WhoStillCannotBelieveIt, Aleth Mapa and Julie de Block :)




It was a joy to see Chef Louise having fun with our national fruit. 
I believe Philippine mangoes are incomparable. They are gold standard.
I was delighted that the Irish chef thought the same.




Watching the chefs work in the kitchen, I spotted these handsome clay
pieces and found out later on that they were handmade by Aleth. Wow. 




Dinner was a BYOB event and guests were requested to bring Philippine wines and liquors
so the Belgian chefs may try our local intoxicants :)




Kalel concocted my mojito using Manille Liqueur de Calamansi 




Alkaline water loaded with fruits, and a tropical fruit drink for the more wholesome guests 



Chef Robby spoiled us with some amazing appetizers to warm up our tummies.



This scallop-uni creation was a winner! It was like I swallowed the ocean with a shot of booze.




First, you drink the broth made with tupay and shrimp head essence, and then
you take in the scallop and sea urchin together. So simple yet so wildly delicious.
Aileen's smile says it all.




Eggplant relish with pine nuts, feta cheese, garlic and Greek olive oil served with ube and
kamote chips. Addicting stuff!




And it wasn't just me. Gaita also went back for seconds. ;)

Gaita Fores of Grace ParkCibo and Lusso is also a big supporter of our local farmers, 
and together with Chefs Yannick, Louise and the Cibo di M team, she hosted a 
Yolanda Fundraising Dinner at the CVC Rainmaker's Lounge the very next evening. 




I tried to stop myself and save space for dinner, but I was defenseless against this next appetizer. 




It was taramosalata, a dip made with fish roe, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil,
and topped with dulong and capers.




Chef Yannick came out and saved me from emptying the bowl.
Thank you!!!


The young and talented chef explained that the inspiration for our dinner menu was their trips to the markets and provinces of the Philippines. They saw so many beautiful fruits and vegetables, but noticed that the 3 main ingredients used in Filipino cuisine are rice, pork and chicken. (Fourth is sugar. Lol!) They wanted to focus on fresh local produce that are often neglected.




Angel Wings, Beans, Kalamansi, Coconut Vinegar
This was so simply prepared, allowing the sweet diwal to take center stage - the best way to serve
good quality, fresh seafood in my opinion. The bitterness of the sigarilyas and tanginess of the
sinamak and calamansi dressing brought a refreshing, cleansing and entertaining counterpoint
to the dish. 




Pumpkin Sauce, Mussels, Kalamansi
Again, the plump local mussels were presented simply, this time on a bed of skillfully balanced
roasted pumpkin puree and pork broth, topped with fiddlehead ferns and crunchy chicharon.
It was straightforward, honest, and absolutely delicious.




Pork Dashi, Egg, Malunggay, Seaweed, Daikon
The sweet and crunchy radish together with the eggy and creamy yolk balanced the saltiness
of the local kelp and bacon consommé. Beautiful harmony in flavors and textures.




Letting you peek into my 62-degree yolk :)




Ube, Kriek, Oats, Rice
Local red rice served on an ube-beer mash with pickled shallots and oatmeal crisps




The ensemble was paired with a shot of Belgian cherry beer




Cabbage, Kimchi
Grilled cabbage smeared with a sauce made with tomato and smoked fish
from Bacolod 




Dessert is my favorite part of a meal and I couldn't help sneak into the
kitchen to see what the chefs were preparing for us. They worked with
so much calmness and even managed to talk with guests while their 
hands were full. It was almost therapeutic to watch them in action.




Coconut, Mango
How utterly amazing that something as simple as mango, coconut water, coconut-calamansi
ice cream and bits of fresh thyme could taste incredible together. It takes admirable technique
to make an uncomplicated dish so remarkable, and Chefs Yannick and Louise displayed theirs
masterfully in this young coconut husk. 




Gaita, her eyes twinkling, said it was "SUPER SARAP!!!"
And that gave me the very little push I needed to go for the extra serving.




I meant to share the extra blessing with Anton, but "accidentally" forgot to pass him the buko.
Sorry, Anton! :P




For our bonus dessert, dark chocolate truffles with reduced coconut cream fudge sprinkled with
latik and served with saba chips




Biting into the truffle will make you think that a latik factory just exploded in your mouth.
Seriously, treats this intense should come with a warning label. 




 Because life is too short to eat only 2 desserts, we also had these yema balls by
Heny Sison. I am renaming them Yema Bombs because they are the bomb!




Erwin Romulo, Usec Berna Romulo-Puyat, Glen Raemakers, Angelo Comsti.
Bravo to Department of Agriculture Usec Berna for always playing a major role in promoting
Philippine products locally and internationally!




Anton Diaz, Aileen Anastacio, Pixie Sevilla, Manny Torrejon, Chinky Apostol




Chef Jayme, Margaux Salcedo, Adam Lieber
Jin Lovestoeat, Margarita Fores, Teddy Montelibano, Micky Fenix, Claude Tayag




The night ended with Kalel's "Kryptonite Lambanog" which involved fresh
lemon, a shot of local coconut wine and a magic berry that made everything
sweet… magically!




And an ice cream party care of Adam Lieber, the ice cream man himself. 




You just cannot enjoy a wonderful evening with kindred spirits and not go home happy.
Look how everyone was smiling ear to ear! :) 




Thank you, Robby, for hosting! And Pio for inviting! :)


It was an eye-opening experience for all of us. Between all the oohing and aahing throughout dinner, one fact is evident. 

The Philippines is ready.

Our homegrown ingredients are on their way to take on the world.

As we were saying our goodbyes, Glen promised that this collaboration will not be the last. I am already looking forward to exciting times ahead! 



See related posts: 

A Taste of Noma in Manila on Our Awesome Planet

Dinner by Two on Coconuts Manila

Five Minutes with Chefs Yannick van Aeken and Louise Bannon of Noma on Spot.ph

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