I’ve always belabored the fact that there are hardly any pies to be found in Manila. Cakes are constant, but sometimes there’s nothing like the cover of crust protecting its precious treasure within. Whether sweet or savory ”“ and no, I hardly think empanadas count ”“ pies are my idea of what to eat whatever my mood or whatever the weather.
Chad Davis, my good friend and the Food and Beverage Manager at Enderun, gives me the heads up on the Pie Craze that’s ongoing at the school. It’s a pie festival of sorts happening at Restaurant 101, the school’s private dining establishment where the food is cooked and served by Enderun students. I’ve eaten there a few times ”“ there’s almost always something new on the menu and I’ve always been impressed with the level of service.
“The pie festival came about because of one dish that we had on the menu,” Chad tells me as we settle down to lunch. “The lamb pie. It was practically selling itself so we decided to offer other pies.” Because he and I are throwing ourselves into ”“ as the promotion is being called ”“ a “pie craze”, we order all the pies on the menu: vegetable pie, seafood pie, and of course, the lamb pie.
What is it about a pie that moves me the way no cake can? First, I adore crust, a confluence of flour, butter, water, and salt, a simple alchemy that ”“ when made well — transforms into a flakiness that falls apart on the fork and then melts on the tongue. Then there’s the filling of a pie, which, depending on whether it be a sweet or savory pie, is a calendar of changing seasons or one’s whims.
Enderun’s pies are largely savory. The ones we order arrive at table with puffed tops, and when pierced, the escaping steam is visible. These pies have only one crust (as opposed to double crust pies), grand domes of puff pastry that in the heat of the oven, “puff” up more than three times their original height. They’re ethereal in texture and when pierced with a fork, there’s a slight crackle.
The lamb pie is indeed excellent. The tender lamb cubes have a hint of cinnamon and is redolent of red wine, similar to the fruitiness of the (red) wine I’m accompanying it with. I can inhale this pie on cue. Unfortunately, it’s Chad’s favorite among the three so it’s a race to the finish between us to see who gets the last serving. (He wins).
I’m not as happy however with the seafood pie. For one, the seafood filling is sparse, and secondly, it’s overly coated in cream. I tell Chad that its flavor would pop with a good lashing of nutmeg, and definitely more filling.
It’s the vegetable pie (see cover photo) that captures my heart. Unassuming grilled vegetables become superstars with their thick balsamic glaze. Anointing it with its tangy-sweet flavor, it’s a pie dish that renders itself unforgettable to me. I can still taste it on my mind’s tongue.
Unfortunately, the one and only sweet pie is an apple pie tart. Baked in a small fluted mould, the crust is tough, a sign of being over-handled during mixing. And the apples in the filling are dry and limp. Why don’t they have more sweet pies? Thank goodness for Enderun’s chef-instructor Thomas Wenger who gives me and Chad a tasting trio of crÃ¨me brÃ»lées: coffee, ginger, and vanilla. The restaurant’s flourless chocolate cake is satisfying too; not as dense as the usual, with a pleasing milk chocolate taste.
Restaurant 101’s Pie Craze runs until July 31.
P420 (nett) / pie
Restaurant 101 at Enderun Colleges
2/F Wynsum Corporate Plaza
22/F Ortigas Jr Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig
For reservations and inquiries, please call 6385555, local 101
Open for lunch Monday-Friday, 12-2pm, dinner from 6-9pm.