Trust renowned chef Jessie Sincioco to create an exquisite selection of dishes using homegrown ingredients like cacao.
Ongoing until Dec. 8 at her Chef Jessie Rockwell Club in Makati City, Sincioco prepares a special menu using Cacao de Bola finely crafted by Cebu’s chocolate queen Raquel T. Choa.
Sincioco and Choa, a proud MyInquirer brand ambassador, collaborated on this limited edition Cacao de Bola menu to produce a delightful feast of savory and sweet concoctions.
Cacao de Bola—the chocolate equivalent of Europe’s queso de bola—is Choa’s own creation from handpicked pure cacao beans, pounded and formed into a thick cacao paste. It is used largely as flavor, garnish and marinade, among other things.
For starters, Sincioco prepares Classic Caesar Salad liberally garnished with Cacao de Bola shavings. While the typical Caesar salad borders on rich and creamy mouth feel, Sincioco balances the cloying taste with chopped cacao nibs that give off a nice, slight bitterness. The cacao shavings help provide a rounder, earthy relish.
The Grilled Portobello with Four Cheeses has also grated Cacao de Bola that plays around with the meaty texture of mushroom and the velvety taste of cheese.
The sharpness of the Cacao de Bola keeps all the flavors together and prepares you for the next bite.
“I just play around with the flavors in my mind,” says Sincioco, whose restaurant provides the exclusive outlet for all of Choa’s artisan and gourmet chocolate treats in Metro Manila ranging from tablea, chocolate praline, hand-rolled chocolate truffles, chocolate bars and Tablea Chocolate Peanut Butter, among many others.
For the main entrées, there’s Grilled Ostrich Tenderloin served with sun-dried tomato sauce. Sincioco infuses the melted cacao into the ostrich steak sauce and thickens the demi-glace. It highlights the sweetness/sourness of the tomatoes and the bitterness of the cacao.
For the Truffle Risotto, instead of just creaming the mixture, Sincioco puts in melted cacao that somehow adds a hint of peppery-sweet aftertaste.
For desserts and drinks, choices include Cacao de Bola cupcakes and mousse, Sikwate with Glutinous Rice, Tablea Crème Brulee, Cacao de Bola Chocolate Mousse, Cacao de Bola Cupcake and Cold and Hot Cacao de Bola.
“I’m happy working with Raquel who’s very talented and passionate about what she does,” says Sincioco. “You
cannot get any chocolate preparation as pure as this Cacao de Bola. It has no additives.”
She adds: “I also like that she helps the local cacao farmers. Farmers are the most neglected workforce in our country.”
Choa learned the rudiments of making tablea and planting cacao from her grandmother in Balamban, Cebu. On her own, she discovered creative ways to transform the lowly cacao from what was referred to as “dirty chocolate” into high-end luxury chocolate products.
Choa is also the founder of Ralfe Gourmet, a creative outlet for artisanal chocolates; The Chocolate Chamber, a restaurant that incorporates chocolate into various dishes; and Casa de Cacao, a venue for chocolate appreciation tours.
She supports the livelihood of local cacao farmers through the Cacao de Filipina Fellowship.
“I’d like to thank chef Jessie for opening the doors for me in Manila,” says Choa. “I am proud of what we do. All our products are lovingly made by hands.
We are also happy that our Philippine-made products are slowly being recognized in the world.”
Choa is set to represent the Philippines at the United Nations’ chocolate fair “Le Salon Du Chocolat” in New York City.
The Cacao de Bola Menu is available for lunch and dinner at Chef Jessie Rockwell Club, G/L, Amorsolo Square, Rockwell Center, Makati City. Call 8907630, 8906543; follow @TheChocolateChamber on Instagram.