Ahhhhh, good food.

This is also an open letter to March, the month. What I want March to do is to dispense a few extra hours, even days – whatever it takes just to delay April’s arrival. The days seem too short for comfort, and as much as typing this surprises me, I just want to put it out there that I don’t want cooking school to end. I’m just having too much fun! Too much, it seems, that I’ve been lounging under the radar for a while now.

A change of pace is great. One of the perks of being a student is that once in a blue moon you get to go on a field trip! And how many people can say that their field trip itinerary involves eating at a really great fine dining restaurant? Like I said, I’m having too much fun.
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So I’m just going to devote the rest of this space to the photos, and the little stories along the way because it’s already 1am and I have midterms in a few hours. But still, I’m here!

The Goose Station is tucked in a building and nestled in an area of Bonifacio that is more quiet, and doesn’t get a lot of action 24/7. In fact I would have had difficulty finding it if I went by my lonesome. It’s owned by the same chefs that run the school I go to and most of the staff are graduates of said school. I wouldn’t mind working at The Goose in the future, just so you know. (fingers crossed)

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Now the butter. Then the bread. That’s a mini baguette.
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For the snack we were served foie gras mousse in a flaky cone. It was followed by a lumpiang hubad served on a prawn cracker and a tuna tartare. I wish I could have had a second (and third) helping of the tartare, because it was delicious. It had a little kick of wasabi to it, which was simply perfect. I also keep on remembering how good the velvety foie was, served out of the box and in a nice cone.
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I don’t have much to say about the roasted tomato soup with parmesan foam, except that it hit the spot really well. It’s nothing spectacular…it’s just really good simple soup.
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The salad could be a meal in itself…and here lies its complexity. It’s made up of sweet potato sticks, little cubes of cured bagnet, watercress puree, salad greens, and drumroll…a piece of crisp chicken skin, a perfectly seared scallop AND an egg yolk that has been cooked sous vide (under a vacuum). Mix all of these components together – the smooth velvet liquid from the egg yolk, the crunch and salinity of the chicken skin and pork, the crisp taste of the greens and the juicy scallop… and you get a rich orchestra of flavors in your mouth. I was amazed.

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At this point the main course was well worth the wait: we were served a chicken roulade stuffed with Italian sausage and pistachio, adobo jus, green beans, smoked onion and a squash puree. All the components made sense. A big shout out to the roulade itself, which was made with (and I hope I’m right) chicken thigh, which I hold in high regard. I was a happy camper.

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To cap off our lunch, from Gourmandise patisserie, eclairs and spiked chocolate truffles. I made a mess with the truffles, and my personal favorite among the eclairs was the salted caramel.
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Here’s a parting shot of Gustare, which I didn’t expect to find just beside The Goose. It’s basically a low-profile food and pastry takeaway/commissary + kitchen lab, owned by Ginny Roces De Guzman the author of Bake Me A Cake, one of my favorite cookbooks. I didn’t get a chance to buy anything from the shop, but with products like santol bagoong…I’ll definitely be back.

In more ways than one.
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Chicken Roulade

I’ve been home for a few days now, and by home I mean this little dusty town of Zamboanga, far far away from the chaos of Manila. Being home for the holidays makes me all giddy because I have more than a few plans for Christmas dinner and all the lunches, dinners and meriendas leading up to it. This will probably be my longest holiday ever (3 weeks), and God knows if and when I get to come home next year so every moment has to count.

I brought home a few cookbooks with me, and because of that I had to dole out more than a thousand pesos at the airport because my baggage exceeded their weight limit. Lesson learned. But to have them with me during the holidays means I get to soak up as much inspiration as I can. I’m currently leafing through Saveur’s compendium of The New Comfort Food and already I’m listing down the things I can cook. Larousse On Pastry would be my go-to for desserts, and I can’t stress enough how important it is for me to make a decent cheesecake this year.

Memories of Philippine Kitchens, the one by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan (owners of Purple Yam in New York) would have to be my favorite simply because I was there when they launched the revised edition at Powerbooks, and I got to have my copy signed. That was an awesome moment. And already I’m thinking of their recipe for ube/purple yam tarts.
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Before I’m knee-deep in cookbook recipes, for Sunday lunch I felt that there was a nagging need to replicate something that my chef instructor demonstrated in school. Chicken roulade sounds and looks fancy but it’s actually very simple to make. It’s just rolled up chicken breast y’all!
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I’ve always preferred dark thigh meat over white meat because the latter can get really tough when not cooked properly. The only real way to have juicy chicken breast is to cook it just enough and when it’s cooked just right, it’s really good. I could have gone the extra mile by making sauce from scratch, but there were people to feed and like me, they get really cranky when they’re hungry. And true to form, it was a great lunch.
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Chicken Roulade (serves 2 – 3)

  • 4 chicken breast fillets, butterflied (click here for a tutorial)
  • bacon strips
  • a few pieces of basil
  • 1 medium-sized white onion, chopped
  • half a bulb of garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 284ml can cream of mushroom
  • 3/4 – 1 cup water
  • mushrooms of your choice, sliced (I only had canned button so I went with that)
  • salt, pepper and thyme
  • parsley, chopped for garnish
  • kitchen twine (or if you don’t have one, you can use toothpicks)
    1. On your work surface, season the butterflied breasts with a little salt and pepper.
    2. Then add a single horizontal layer of bacon strips to cover the breast. Top it with a few basil leaves.Photobucket
    3. Carefully roll the fillets starting from one side going to the other (essentially, left to right). Secure it by tying twine near the ends. Season the rolled fillets with salt, pepper and thyme.Photobucket
    4. Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of your pan. Make sure the oil is very hot before you add the chicken. Carefully add the chicken, and allow to sear. When one side is already golden brown, sear the other side. At this point, you don’t want to cook the chicken through and through, you just need a beautiful sear.
    5. When the chicken has been browned enough, remove from pan. In the same pan, add the onions and the garlic and saute.
    6. Add the flour and stir everything together until you create a light roux (mixture of flour and fat). Cook for about a minute over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
    7. Add the cream of mushroom and the water. Stir everything together. Bring to a boil and let it simmer. Adjust the taste to your preference. Add the mushrooms and the chicken.
    8. Cook for about  5 -6  minutes until sauce has reduced slightly. Remove from heat, garnish with parsley and serve with rice or mashed potatoes. Enjoy!