One of the best French dining places outside of Paris is in Cebu
It all started with a croissant.
I don’t normally take breakfast, but Corine offered one of her four croissants. “You have to try it,” she said. “It’s made with homemade butter by a friend from Brittany.”
The moment I took that first bite, I knew I was going to visit the French bistro that made the croissant.
We were in Cebu preparing for the biggest cooking event in the Philippines, the National Food Showdown. As judges, we go around the country attending these cooking competitions to select four finalists in the student and professional categories, from the National Capital Region, Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.
Among them will be chosen the national champion. Chef Myrna Segismundo chairs this event.
We also went to Cagayan de Oro (CDO) and Baguio. All that traveling can be tiring, but it also serves as my R&R every year.
In CDO, we had to taste almost 60 squid dishes, most of them either raw or undercooked. That same morning, we had 18 tuna dishes.
The rewarding experience made one forget the fatigue. That evening, we were treated to a wonderful dinner at Red Tail (tel. 088-8803950). The food was unique and most delicious. We were given plastic bibs, and bags of seasoned and boiled crabs, prawns and sausages dropped in the middle of the table, plus piping hot rice. Eating kamayan style, the feast was such a wonderful experience.
Flourishing ‘lechon’ business
In Cebu, we had lunch at Rico’s Lechon. Rico has become a friend, and I’m happy to see his once-tiny operation doing very well.
He remains humble even as he now has two big restaurants and a flourishing lechon business. His lechon is still my fave in Cebu. One may still order from him (tel. 0917-4072033), and pick it up at the airport in Manila.
We were on a break from the competition when I tempted my friends Myrna, Maricris Encarnacion and Glenda Barretto to join me on an exciting food trip. I told them about the croissant and the man from Brittany.
Our destination was the French bistro Tymad, owned and operated by chef Philippe Estienne.
This has to be one of the best French dining places I have tried outside of Paris. On display were pastries such as Mille-feuille or Napoleon, Tarte Tatin, Tarte au Citron, Tarte aux Amandes, Tarte au Chocolat, truffles, those sensational croissants, pain chocolat and many more.
On the menu was a variety of crepes and galettes. I tried the Crepes Complete, made with ham, egg and cheese; the Farmer with chicken mushroom and béchamel sauce; and the four-cheese, made with emmental, mozza, blue cheese and carabao cheese.
The secret, I think, is in the quality of the crepe, which was made from buck wheat. All turned out to be super sarap!
Other dishes we tried were the country pâté with cornichon (outstanding), the homemade pâté foie gras, quiche, salade niçoise, Poulet à l’Estragon. The moules farcie were baked mussels topped with garlic and butter—simply yummy.
With authentic homemade baguette and butter, this was France in Cebu.
And chef Philippe’s Paris Breast was exactly how I remember the dish was taught me at Ecole Cordon Bleu—a round pastry stuffed with cream and topped with shaved toasted almonds.
Another pastry I loved was a cinnamon-like bread with butter folded within and sprinkled with sugar. It’s considered the best pastry in Brittany and called Kouign-Amann.
I dream about this bistro—which is what authentic French baking and cooking is all about. This will be such a hit in Manila. But for now, I wouldn’t mind traveling to Cebu just to have a meal here.
Tymad Bistro is on Maria Luisa Road, Banilad, Cebu City; tel. no. 032-2397385
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