“My god Sau, I’ve just about given up on you,” I say.
Trying to nail down Chef Sau del Rosario is like shooting for the moon. He misses all the deadlines I give to my purveyors and I even have to resort to getting messages to him through his assistant. But I back off and give him his space because that’s what friends do, although some pressing down on them doesn’t hurt. (Heehee).
“I’m ready, Lori,” Sau tells me finally, almost a month after the deadline I’ve set for the purveyors. So I haul ass over to his new restaurant, Villa Café where we have the shoot.
Villa (pronounced VIL-ya) is Sau’s homage to his native province of Pampanga. Along with his chef-partner in crime Jam Melchor, they offer a menu that infuses new life and honor to family heirloom recipes. It’s a remarkable proposition and though Sau keeps inviting me to come over, I always tell him, “After November 12.”
Sau and I have been friends for almost seven years and I’ve been exposed to his wide range of culinary abilities – everything from hot dishes to desserts to breads. It’s the doughy delights from his Gourmet Garage (a bread commissary) that I had initially wanted him to sample at the Dessert Comes First Christmas Gift List. Turns out that Villa Café opened up just a few weeks before my event so Villa’s specialties will take center stage at the Christmas Gift List.
When we meet for the shoot, Sau has acquiesced to holding it at 9am. My day is packed, as is his. “So early, dear!” Is the first thing he tells me as we hug. “Thanks for being so patient with me, Lor. Hiya na ako sa iyo.” Now I have to say that I haven’t tried any of the following dishes that Sau will be showcasing at the event – haven’t had the chance to. So it will be a pleasure to try them at the event this Saturday.
”It looks a little dry, let’s pour some olive oil on,” Sau says as I snap away.
“This is our star dish.” Sau says of his Braised Lamb Shanks in Kaldereta Sauce with Quesong Puti. All the food blogs I’ve read concur that this is one knockout dish. I can only imagine, but a riveting sight this truly is.
Villa’s Rellenong Bangus comes with a Creamy Relleno Jus, made from the drippings gathered as the fish is steamed. It’s strikingly plated with playful loops of onion and rushes of red from the roasted tomatoes.
My favorite part of any pastel dish such as Chicken Pastel, is the crust. But I think I can make an exception in the case of Sau’s Pastel de Lengua. A profusion of ox tongue, chorizo, and mushroom tumble in a tangle of cream while hobnobbing with olives and potato chunks.
It all looks so inviting that I can’t wait for Saturday to come already.
Chef Sau Del Rosario & Chef Jam Melchor of Villa Cafe
7427 Glory Building, Yakal St., San Antonio Village, Makati
Open Monday to Sunday, 10am to 1am
Find them on Facebook.