When the French entertain, it’s got to be simple but fresh.
That’s the style the French Embassy has evoked through the years.
New French ambassador Gilles Garachon and wife Isabelle have revived the tradition of celebrating Bastille Day (the French National Day which commemorates the revolution on July 14, 1749) in the ambassador’s residence.
(Many Filipinos remember this Forbes Park house as the home of the late socialite Elvira Manahan who hosted some of the most memorable parties in Manila. Her family sold it some time ago.)
Tents were set up around the pool with sheer drapes of red, white and blue—colors of the French flag and, coincidentally, the Philippine flag.
Inside the home, backlit pyramids served as cocktail tables. As guests streamed in, a French musician played the accordion against a background of Moet & Chandon champagnes.
The guests were from the academe, the diplomatic corps, and culture and the arts. Beauty queens such as Miss World Philippines Gwen Ruais and her mother, ex-model Malu, and singer-It Girl Solenn Heussaff, with dad Louis, were among the young guests.
The best part was that Deanna Ongpin-Recto, the ousted president of Alliance Française (AF), came to support the event even if that meant being in the same room as the AF officials. After all, the Garachons are a likeable couple, and the ambassador’s agenda is to strengthen the cultural ties between the Philippines and France.
The event began with a baritone singing “Lupang Hinirang” and a soprano rendering “La Marseillaise” in perfect French. In his speech, Ambassador Garachon talked about the ideals of Bastille or the French Revolution—liberty, equality and fraternity—also the spirit of the Edsa Revolution.
Dessert stations in the living and dining areas made references to Paris, created by the Makati Shangri-La team.
The centerpiece was a facsimile of the Eiffel Tower, with the French flag colors of red, white and blue macarons. A tower of croquembouche, a traditional French dessert made of crunch profiteroles and creamy filling, was the second focal point. Glasses of curaçao, panna cotta and raspberry also echoed the nationalistic colors.
Guests also savored the mini coffee eclairs, tarte tatin au poire, or caramelized upside down pear, and the classic mini baba au rhum.
All through the night, guests nibbled on pass-around cocktails. There was a selection of mild French cheeses, and bite sizes of steak tartar on crout and quail eggs, poached cherry tomato with goat cheese and thyme, cauliflower panna cotta topped with salmon caviar, rillette of duck on crout with apple jam.
As a foil to the cold appetizers, there were demitasse cups of lobster bisque, snail wrapped in pancetta and fricasse of mushroom, duck fillet and the classic Mediterranean dish of sun-dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives mini-tart.