Dessert Comes First

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

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Truffles and Foam and The Kidney

posted by in French, Restaurants

truffle-cover

Thin but sizable slivers of black truffle blanket the precious package beneath like a sheath of jewels, albeit more fragrant ones.

Eggs en cocotte (P1,000) is its name, or simply two eggs baked in a cocotte — in this case, a round cooking vessel or ramekin. Cooked in a water bath just ’til the whites are opaque, the slow cooking process allows the yolks to come into their gentle being; a foam made from concentrated mushroom stock provides the lubrication and “oomph” factor as it cascades down the ramekin’s lip.

en-cocotte

And of course, those truffle shavings. As large as these are, I finally feel that I can taste the myriad superlatives attributed to this mythic ingredient. Each shaving is like a single clover leaf outlined in black, which highlights the intricacy of the truffle’s network of white “veins.”

en cocotte cross

So. Gently-cooked eggs, mushroom foam, and truffles. It’s indulgence raised to the third power, a subtle sonata differing ever so slightly in flavors distinct to each component, combining to make an extraordinary whole.

Although I’m an adventurous eater, there are times when I order a dish that gives even me, pause. In this case, it’s veal kidney and sweetbreads (P700). Veal of course is the meat of a calf under a year old, its kidney is red (when raw) and multi-lobed. Sweetbreads, the term is a euphemism (some would say), for the thymus gland (in the throat) and the pancreas (near the stomach) of calves, lambs, and pigs. Having just read a book discussing these particular variety meats, I’m determined to try them tonight, and I’m confident I’m in good hands here at Restaurant Ciçou.

sweetbreads

It would be appropriate to say that the dish arrives “bathing in bubbles,” an organized flurry of foam interspersed with bits of brown. Separating the “sea” with a swipe of my fork, I see that the sweetbreads sit on a mount of mashed potatoes. I find that the nuggets of offal agree with me, they’re somewhat beefy tasting yet delicate. Followed quickly with a forkful of the mashed potatoes rendered unforgettable by nibs of roasted chestnut (what genius that is!), this is one dish that makes me feel all grown-up.

But my gourmet bravado is short-lived when I taste the veal kidney. Quite intimidating, about the size of a rubber jackstone ball, its offal-ness is quite awful to me – the color (bizarre brown), the flavor (like liver), and the smell? The end. For me.  Perhaps my palate isn’t as mature as I want it to be, but my plate is clean blemished only by a hill of uneaten veal kidney.

~~
Both dishes, among several, are part of Restaurant CiÇou’s ongoing truffle promotion.
Restaurant Ciçou

Hotel Celeste
2 San Lorenzo Drive corner A. Arnaiz Avenue, Makati
(02) 889-6728
restaurant_cicou@yahoo.com

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10 Responses to “Truffles and Foam and The Kidney”

  • Oh, my, oh, my, oh, my, Lori! That second photo is just too entrancing. I don’t think I’ve seen such big truffle shavings in Manila before. Please do give more details on the truffle festival — what are the other dishes, and until when is it? Methinks it’s not mere chance that CiCou is so very near me. :-D

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  • The sweetbreads part reminded me of Hannibal Lecter. Hahaha.

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  • The veins on that truffle! I loved the cascade of foam underneath it.
    Can’t take kidney pie, it’s not something I can ever love. But sweetbreads, I love them, especially parillada style, bbq’d and eaten hot, with a hint of spice.

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  • oh my sweet Lord…. hanips! sorry ha ‘la kong ma sabi… ay grabe!

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  • Lori pls educate me, what is a truffle? a type of mushroom ba?

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  • Dang: in Lori’s post, the truffle refers to mushroom…the most highly sought after and can cost an arm and a leg. It is mushroom season here …morels are over, the summer truffles are just beginning. It is not for the average mushroom picker unless he/she has a highly sensitive NOSE and can sniff the truffle locale! One needs to bring a dog or pig? trained to sniff the mushroom for it is in the ground underneath….that is why it is expensive. It retails here for $49.95 /100 gms. But that is only if you go in the forest. It is cultivated here now in the Island..that is the only local source of summer truffles here. But for the wild ones like chanterelles and King Bolete (porcini), I go with my friend who is an avid mushroom picker. Sorry, I cannot tell you where we go or she said she would have to “silence ” me….hahahaha….She is French and has been doing this (foraging for mushrooms in the forest in France) since she was alittle girl in Paris.

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  • OMG! I love molecular gastronomy and that dish reminds me of a truffled egg toast that haunts me to this day.

    Would you recommend the sweetbreads???

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  • Thanks Bettyq! now i know what it is and why it is expensive. I just finished watching No Reservations in HBO and the lovely truffles are mentioned in the movie. :) i am curious and wanted to try it.

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  • grabe and mahal naman nyan. Lori if i want to make this recipe where can i buy truffles or can I substitute truffles into something else?

    Zhaine –

    Truffles are one of those ingredients that are unique, just like butter. :)
    –lori

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