Food writers are often exhorted to “put meal to paper,” that is, to write about a meal while it’s still fresh in one’s taste memory. I stick to this rule as much as I can but sometimes… well, life happens is what, and I have no excuses. The following dessert that I’m about to describe here is something that I ate last May ”“ yes, May 2006. Several months have passed ”“ heck, it’s a brand new year already, and I was still shooting with my old camera, but I still remember this dessert as clearly as if I ate it just last night.
I was in Cirkulo last May on assignment for one of the magazines that I write for. It was a dessert article and in the course of my research, someone mentioned that the restaurant had a very unique dessert ”“ something with tomatoes in it and olive oil as well. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued, and since my love for dessert encompasses all types of ingredients, I was at the restaurant in a flash.
It’s called Cirkulo’s olive oil ice cream sandwich (P225). It’s not on the menu so you’ll have to ask for it, which succeeds in upping its air of mystery even more. While olive oil and ice cream put together don’t exactly stir up the most tantalizing of images, this is a case of “trying is believing.” And once I try it, it only proves that this dessert has the ability to captivate.
Deconstructed, this sweet begins with a fascinating white wine sauce drizzled with balsamic vinegar ”“ (…which looks like chocolate,” chuckles Cirkulo chef-owner J Gamboa.) Napping in the sauce is a single piece of caramelized French toast, torched until a crispy exterior is achieved. Atop the bread is placed a scoop of olive oil ice cream made on-site. I taste. The olive oil flavor is there, but not enough to turn anyone off. There is, instead, a lingering flavor of enigma on the palate. If I didn’t know that it was olive oil I’d be thinking: is it caramel? lemon, perhaps? or grape? It cools with an exhilarating freshness.
The tomatoes come in the garnish. Chef J orders hydroponic tomatoes from Tagaytay that are picked at their prime, and then roasted in a slow oven until they’re dry and sweet. They’re paired with slivers of Kalamata olives proferring their fruity, meaty essence. If you get to partake of this dessert, I ask you to try each component individually. You must. The vibrant harmony of the crispy bread, the sweet yet zesty sauce, the coolness of ice cream, and the olives and tomatoes yields to a wild and sexy climax with balmy undertones of fruit. Prepare to be ravished.
900 Pasay Rd., Makati