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The Best Things We Ate During Goût De France, The World’s Biggest Dinner

Goût de France (or Good France), an annual event launched by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2015, happened last March 21 with 3,000 restaurants across five continents participating, in effect making it the biggest dinner in the world.

In the Philippines, 18 participating restaurants paid tribute to the excellence of French cuisine by each preparing a one-time-only French menu for Filipinos to enjoy. While we didn’t get to try each and every one of the 18 menus served that day, we did partake of special French menus at Sagana Epicerie and Bistro, Maria Luisa’s Garden, as well as at a by-invitation-only dinner at the residence of the French Ambassador to the Philippines, Nicolas Galey.

Here’s a sampling of the most memorable dishes we ate during one most remarkable day:

 

Chef Miko Calo’s Robuchon-Inspired Menu with Filipino Touches

French Ambassador Nicolas Galey and his wife Camélia hosted a lovely six-course dinner prepared by Chef Miko Calo of the Underground Supper Club which organizes pop-ups and private dinners. Chef Miko worked under renowned French chef Joël Robuchon for many years before coming home to the Philippines.

For the French Ambassador’s dinner, her French training was in full evidence as she executed an impeccable classic French meal highlighted by local ingredients throughout. She clarifies though, “I’m injecting local things but not claiming to be French-Filipino fusion.”

The Tuna Tartare featured local passionfruit dressing with foie gras butter. Her Butter Roasted Local Seabass with Crème du Barry (a cauliflower cream) was dusted with local tinapa-dayap-kabayawa rind powder for an extra smoky-citrusy dimension.

The main course Carbonnade de Boeuf was braised in San Miguel pale pilsen and seared in muscovado sugar, and was paired with Truffled Potato Purée, her own take on the famous Robuchon mashed potatoes.

But perhaps my favorite dish of the evening was its simplest—a Watercress Velouté with Onion Cream. Using local watercress, the soup was light and creamy, but with a sweet-ish punch thanks to the onion, and a hidden crunch from almonds buried at the bottom of the soup. - Nana Ozaeta

Underground Supper Club, IG: @ugsupperclub

 

A Traditional French Menu with Local Ingredients at Sagana Epicerie and Bistro

This is chef-owner Marc Aubry’s fourth year participating in Goût de France. With his new restaurant Sagana, Chef Marc strives to create classic French dishes using high quality, all-natural, organic ingredients sourced locally and available for sale daily.

From the special four-course menu, I thoroughly enjoyed the Coriander and Pumpkin Flan with Sautéed Philippine Scallops resting on a light bed of lettuce and served saffron butter sauce. The acidity of the dressing cuts through as soon as it hits the palate. The aroma of the thick warm flan complements the overall heartiness of the dish, like a pumpkin soup in flan form.

Chef Marc then made hearts stop with his Roasted Lamb Tenderloin stuffed with a vegetable ratatouille and served with Lyonnaise potatoes. The slice of lamb was generous enough to quell even the biggest of appetites, and worked well with a red wine black olive sauce that started off tangy and finished with a peppery explosion in your mouth. The dish also had perfectly seasoned roasted onions, caramelized so exceptionally, they were a revelation.

- Monique F. Suzara

G/F Net One Building, 26th Street corner 3rd Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, (02) 815-8801, 815-8802, (0917) 632-7946, FB: Sagana Epicerie and Bistro

 

Simple French Fare at the Charming Maria Luisa’s Garden

This little restaurant that sits inside the Makati Garden Club is unassuming in its stature, but the quaintness of the place gives you a taste of the simplicity and comfort of the typically French food they serve inside.

Chef Robert Lillja prepared a simple five-course menu for Goût de France, but he punctuated it with some unexpected dishes that he added impromptu. Of the dishes that he served for the night, the Mussels in White Wine and Cream made the most impact on my palate. The smoothness of the soup base melded nicely with the mussels, and the hint of wine in the dish left a nice flavor on the tongue.

Another favorite was the Baked Brie with Honey and Walnuts. A traditional French dinner usually has a cheese course, and this number was part savory, part dessert, which makes it a whole lot of fun. The tartness of the cheese was complemented perfectly by the sweetness of the honey, and the walnuts added the crunch I was looking for to add texture to the dish.

Note that to enjoy the French fare at Maria Luisa’s, you need to sign up as a member of the Makati Garden Club. Membership is only P1,200/year, and they are also in the process of providing daily and weekly passes for short-term guests. - Chris Clemente

Makati Garden Club, Recoletos Street, Barangay Urdaneta, Makati City, (02) 552-7051, 552- 7045, (0917) 877-7892

For more on Goût de France, visit www.ph.ambafrance.org or follow FrenchEmbassyManila on Facebook and FrenchEmbassyPH on Twitter