Food Photo Thursday: Snails

Playing up on the shock value here, but click on through and let me tell you about this dish. Get ready for it, because it’s a tease.

Note: Every Thursday, post a food photo: it can be of what you’re eating, what you want to eat, etc. It can be shot with any device, from a mobile phone, tablet, to a regular camera – point & shoot or SLR. It’s all up to you but it must be YOUR photo, no ripping off of somebody else’s work. And please include a short description. We want to know what it is and where to eat it too, if possible.

Chefs Sau del Rosario and Jam Melchor were one of the purveyors at my Christmas Gift List event last year but they didn’t serve this dish. If they had, they might’ve had people swooning to the floor. But it’s on the menu at Villa Café, their showcase of heirloom recipes from Pampanga, from which they both hail.

A rather harmless name it is, Garlic Susu with Lemongrass (P275) and the decidedly benign description, Coriander Butter, Puff Pastry. A handwritten font with an arrow pointing at the item name reads as “extically good!” I’m unsure if I read it wrong, it could be “ecstatically good!” but the font is so stylized as to render it indecipherable.

No matter, for it arrives in a large, deep bowl. It’s rather enigmatic this dish, veiled by a protective cover of puff pastry. I pierce it with a spoon and no, none of the characteristic steam escaping through. What could this be? The receptacle is large for the amount it presents, and the bits of black at the bottom are initially off-putting. They seem to scintillate in the overhead lights, the yellow glow of the bulbs further emphasizing the black bits’ butter- olive oil outlines. These are the susu (suh-SOO): say it quickly, staccato-like. Snails, or if I’d like to be fancy about it, local escargot. Now that I know what it is, there’s no turning back.

I take a spoonful and BOOM! It’s several things simultaneously. Every chew puts up gentle resistance surrendering a gush of oil seasoned with garlic and pimiento. Somewhere on the sides of my tongue, I feel sensations of spice then saltiness, alternating like the beats of a heart – my heart! – pulsing with excitement. Tough-tender, the susu spreads out and is spooned up, a dish that initially underwhelms but when pried, offers an all-out assault that leaves me wanting more. A titillating treasury of textures and tastes, and oh what a tease this dish is.

Rip it open and be rewarded.

Villa Café
7427 Glory Building, Yakal St., San Antonio Village, Makati
0917 434.3143
02 478.2659
Open Monday to Sunday
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