Got home from a food tasting invitation really satisfied. My stomach literally about to pop from all the sweet and savory dishes that we consumed. For dinner, we were invited by friends of Spanky Enriquez from Manila Boy fame to a not so new and fairly established Xocolat. We know Xocolat from its branch here at Promenade where we frequent and would often sample their delicious hot chocolates. Frankly, I was surprised with the fact that they had other branches in Katipunan, Libis, and Serendra. The whole concept of Xocolat was suddenly new to me. All these years I've known their brand name, this was the only time I got to dive deep into its heart and soul.
We were met by Patricia Avecilla, Marketing Manager of Xocolat. She told us more about the business and the concept of Xocolat. She introduced us to the menu and pointed out the bestsellers. I knew what to order beforehand because of the recommendation by Spanky so I was glad that the same thing we were about to order were indeed their bestsellers:
Xocolat Fries - As an appetizer, this was indeed an eye-opener. A palette jolting juxtaposition of flavors from the salt, cumin, and chocolate cut by the sweet tangy creamy feel of the aioli. It seriously made my taste buds flutter in anticipation.
Cripsy Pork Belly with Cacao Bagoong - How can you go wrong with crispy pork belly? Layers of porky goodness fried crispy and accompanied by a sweet salty concoction of cacao and local bagoong. The sauce was too die for. A perfect blend of flavors that would complement any fried protein beside it. I also loved the heat at the back of my throat from the sauce.
Spicy Chicken - A bit salty in my opinion but that may be because of the powerful flavors from the rub. The sauce was also amazing either over the chicken or the rice. This reminds me of a more savory chicken barbecue combined with the essence of a good adobo. I'm sure Filipinos will love this.
Molten Flourless Xocolat - Amazing dessert. Everything on the plate was great. From the moist cake that offered a bit of texture from the meringue on top. There was crunch at the end of every bite of that decadent cake. The classic hot chocolate was bitter enough to cut the sweetness of the cake. A better brand of vanilla ice cream could have been used to offer a more milky dimension to the whole dish but all in all the dessert was awesome.
Xoco Lava - The drink was pretty refreshing and reminded me of hot chocolate in taste. A perfect blend of sweetness and bitterness. I would have loved it more if it were a bit more creamier but nonetheless it was a really good drink.
Sampling their food was literally an eye opener for me. All the while I've been blinded by the idiotic notion that Xocolat was only a dessert place. Their hot chocolates are to die for but their savory dishes are equally as amazing. Much like life, we sometimes see things in black and white. See things only on the surface which often blinds us from what is truly the heart and soul. A magical thing one should cherish, one should hope to see. Because when you finally see what lies beneath, peace and contentment is not far behind. Good soul food is not far behind.
Topped with Gruyere cheese and gratinated until golden brown
The soup was really flavorful and the taste of the beef broth was quite evident and strong. The cooking technique and presentation were pretty basic and by the book which is very important in classic soups like this. I just couldn't get enough of the stringy cheese. Yum!
Slow Cooked Lamb Shank
Lamb shank braised with plum tomatoes, carrots, celery and onion; with mashed potato
The meat was so tender, perfectly cooked, and falling off the bone. The marbling on the shank was clearly visible. An amazing dish full of robust flavor intensified by the slow cooking. The mashed potatoes were also smooth to the tongue and creamy. A perfect accompaniment to the gorgeous lamb shank.
Baked Butterflied Prawns
Stuffed prawns cooked with cream, mushrooms, squash and Parmesan cheese and topped with emmenthal cheese and gratinated; served with sauteed rice
The prawns were a bit tougher than it was supposed to be but what do you expect with baked prawns. The difference was the culmination of the prawns and the ingredients which created a filling that was buttery, creamy, and cheesy. The taste reminded me of baked oysters minus the metallic taste.
The dishes we had showed amazing techniques from the chef through proper cooking and preparation. Knowing basic french techniques is essential to make amazing dishes. Because of these, our food at Chateau 1771 was perfect.