Catch Moroccan Star Chef Moha Fedal At Rustan’s Moroccan Pop-Up Café This August
Rustan’s has brought the heart of Morocco to the Philippines at the 5th floor of Rustan’s Makati with “Le Couer du Maroc” (The Heart of Morocco), a Moroccan festival celebrating Moroccan culture, craftsmanship, and cuisine.
This month-long festival, which runs from August 1 to 31, 2018, gives us the full experience of Morocco under one roof, with its well-curated, beautiful displays of a wide range of Moroccan home items, fashion pieces, beauty and food products that are all for sale, too.
One of the many highlights of this festival is a pop-up café called Café Casablanca that is currently featuring the delectable cooking of a very famous Moroccan chef, Mohamed Fedal.
Chef Moha Fedal is Morocco’s foremost celebrity chef and is a known champion of new Moroccan cuisine. With 14 years of work experience in Switzerland (after graduating from the Ecole Hôtelière de Genève), Chef Moha challenged himself to reinvent Moroccan cuisine by opening Dar Moha, a restaurant located in a turn-of-the-century riad in Marrakesh that was once owned by the famous couturier Pierre Balmain.
The chef aspires to have Morocco recognized as part of the World Cultural Heritage and works on achieving this as the ambassador of Moroccan gastronomy. Through this role, he has been able to share his modern take on traditional Moroccan cuisine in various international functions and events, which included representing Morocco at the Embassy Chef Challenge 2017 in Washington D.C., where the Moroccan chef won the Judges Choice Award, besting 33 other chefs with his version of a Tanjia, the star of Marrakesh cuisine.
Thanks to Rustan’s and the Embassy of Morocco in the Philippines, we can now try some of Chef Moha’s cooking this whole month of August at the 5th floor of Rustan’s Makati, where a corner near the entrance has been converted into a small temporary café nicely decorated with Moroccan drapes. I was able to visit the pop-up for lunch on its first day with a group of friends and we all agreed that it was worth both the trip and calories.
Our buffet lunch started with a bowl of Harira, a lightly spiced soup with lentils served at our table with complimentary hot Moroccan mint tea. The tea was poured table side the Moroccan way, with the server pouring from high above the glass to help aerate the tea.
We then proceeded to the buffet table, which was filled with cold vegetable salads, hot entrées, couscous, bread and assorted sweets, to plot our plan of attack. I decided to first get a small tasting portion of the whole spread before committing to a larger share, as there were a lot of dishes to try.
The dishes that made me return for second servings were the cold Salad of Diced Tomatoes and Sweet Bell Peppers that came with a refreshingly tart yet balanced dressing, followed by the Quail B’stilla, which is a slightly sweet-savory Moroccan pie usually made with pigeon. Chef Moha’s version looked like Negros piaya that’s finished with a dusting of cinnamon. Among the hot entrées, the Beef Couscous with assorted vegetables and sultanas was our hands-down favorite, followed by another beef dish, Beef Tagine with onions and tomatoes that the Moroccans call makfoul.
For dessert, we had a choice of three Moroccan pastries and tea biscuits, which include Chebakia, made of strips of dough rolled to resemble a rose that is deep fried till golden brown, before it’s soaked in honey rosewater syrup and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Then there was a baton-shaped cookie that tastes like baklava, and a crescent-shaped hard cookie studded with almonds that tastes like biscotti—my favorite among the three.
Café Casablanca only offers buffet service for lunch at P1,300+ per person from 11am to 2pm and à la carte (choice of 4 set menus) for dinner at P850+ per person from 5pm to 8pm. I highly suggest making a reservation as the pop-up restaurant is small. space is limited, and it was full when we went for lunch.
Rustan’s Makati, Courtyard Drive corner Ayala Avenue, Makati City, (02) 813-3739
Photos by Cyrene de la Rosa
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