Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

Magnum White King
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48 Hours in Cebu (Last of 2 Pig-Outs)

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1st Pig-Out here

The PIG-ging out continues.

Comfort Food Central

A Cebu institution for the past 14 years, Café Georg was started by Bunny Ludo-Alcordo who named it after her sister, Georgia. A Cebuano describes the place to me as “… where they serve comfort food. It’s where some people go when they don’t feel like cooking at home.” At the Banilad store, there’s a steady stream of customers whom I notice are indeed relishing the Spinach-Cheese Dip, the Casablanca salad, the Pork Chops with Garlic Herb Butter – all of which I try.

I’m more impressed with the desserts however. Bunny, whom I’ve just met but is someone I’ve been hearing about for years because she married a childhood friend of mine, recommends the Chocolate Decadence first (above right in photo). Far and away what people order most often, it’s a flourless torte that has a bitter edge but with enough sweetness for a smooth finish. I think I’m expecting something else because it’s my least favorite of all the cakes I try here.

I prefer the Chocolate Almond Tart (above right) with its licks of caramel gushing over a bed of chocolate. The crunch of almonds is its soundtrack accompanied by the crisp pâte brisée crust. Another outstanding sweet is the Dulce de Leche Latte Cheesecake (cover photo and on left in first photo). As evidenced by its name, it possesses a current of coffee that enhances the subtle caramel and cream combination.

The surprise dessert of the day, perhaps even my year, is the Pineapple Upside Down Cake (on left in photo directly above). A cake that’s always repelled me because of its painfully retro vibe plus the presence of pineapple (a fruit I prefer to eat fresh), I’ve always shunned this sweet. So it’s quite the shocker when I take one forkful and end up eating the entire slice! A soft but sturdy cake carries a cache of caramelized pineapples, making quite the impression. Bunny tells me that she employs a different technique with the fruit. “It’s a step more but I think it makes all the difference,” she explains. “Plus, I only use pineapples from Ormoc. They’re much sweeter and more yellow.” I like this cake so much that I hand-carry an entire one home to Manila.

~~
Café Georg
www.cafegeorg.com

Cebu’s Artisanal Chocolate Shop

At Café Georg, I pick up a package of pure Bohol tablea . I’m always on the lookout for good local cacao to drink and bake with and when I tell Bunny this, she takes me to Ralfe Gourmet.

Ralfe (pronounced Ralph) is an artisanal chocolate boutique owned by Raquel and Alfred Choa. The products they sell are made from locally-sourced cacao which include outstanding tablea discs packaged in rolls, alfajores cookies dipped in tablea, and whole cocoa nibs embedded in chocolate truffles.

At the Ralfe Gourmet showroom, there are place settings for chocolate appreciation classes.
Tables set up to appreciate chocolate. At the far left is what Edu Pantino calls, “The largest chocolate fountain.”
Chocolate art
Batirols filled with tsokolate tablea in different flavors: vanilla, cinnamon, orange, and original.

It’s difficult for me to believe that these confections are made with pure tablea but Edu Pantino, Ralfe Gourmet’s Marketing Manager, says that this is because only pure tablea is used, no fillers (cacao pod husks, peanuts, etc.)

Among the confections above, I try the Chocolate Rice Crispies and the Pralines with Whole Cacao Nibs. While they’re not as smooth as chocolates I’m used to, these are very sophisticated. The future of Philippine cacao looks very bright.

~~
Ralfe Gourmet
Mabolo, Cebu City. Appointments are required before dropping in.
For more information, please contact Edu Pantino at 0917 628.7661 or email info@ralfegourmet.com.

Lechon belly

Before we leave Cebu, lechon has to be our last hurrah. My Bin is especially eager to try Cebu’s Original Lechon Belly, an emerging food business that has gained much popularity since its debut just this past February. It was invented by Cebuano Marlon Gochan who noticed that the pig belly seemed to be everyone’s favorite part when eating lechon. So he devised a way to debone an entire pig belly, season it, and then roast it.

My Bin and I are eating at a makeshift area in Park Mall so the lechon belly we’re eating is not ideal. But even when lukewarm, the lemongrass and other aromatics shine through. I especially like the Spicy version(above left) which is rife with the seeds of bird’s eye chilies. Now if only they’d open a store here in Manila.

~~
www.cebuslechonbelly.com

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