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.
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.”
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.
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.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‡ou’s ongoing truffle promotion.
2 San Lorenzo Drive corner A. Arnaiz Avenue, Makati
The Black Diamond