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 â€œoomphâ€ factor as it cascades down the ramekinâ€™s lip.
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 truffleâ€™s network of white â€œveins.â€
So. Gently-cooked eggs, mushroom foam, and truffles. Itâ€™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 Iâ€™m an adventurous eater, there are times when I order a dish that gives even me, pause. In this case, itâ€™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, Iâ€™m determined to try them tonight, and Iâ€™m confident Iâ€™m in good hands here at Restaurant Ciçou.
It would be appropriate to say that the dish arrives â€œbathing in bubbles,â€ an organized flurry of foam interspersed with bits of brown. Separating the â€œseaâ€ 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, theyâ€™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 â€“ the color (bizarre brown), the flavor (like liver), and the smell? The end. For me.Â 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 CiÃ‡ouâ€™s ongoing truffle promotion.
2 San Lorenzo Drive corner A. Arnaiz Avenue, Makati
The Black Diamond