Cycle 5 – Item 77
23 () March 2014
-BGC, Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines-
With STH, MK, FL
Aubergine is a French restaurant. Trés-chic. Dishes lean classique in preparation and nouvelle in presentation.
During lunch with STH the other day, when I proposed that we have dinner together over the weekend – suggesting la cuisine française, knowing his francophile tendencies, but fully intending to pay – he was so enthused by the prospect that he offered to treat and expanded the offer to include two additional guests of my choice. Mais oui, s’il vous plait.
For the +2, I chose MK and FL. Both members of TTiT1. One is closest to me at work (MK’s my intern) and home (FL’s my I-can-see-her-door-thru-my-peephole neighbor). I asked them to come, however, because (i) they’re female – STH fancies himself to be a ladies man; (ii) they’re not Korean: MK’s more Australian than Korean, FL also Aussie; (iii) they’re quite charming and articulate.
Table d’Hôte is a type of French restaurant meal. It’s a multi-course meal in which most/all dishes are set – sometimes, the diner is provided options on one/more courses (e.g., soup or salad). The price is fixed – sometimes, the cost may go up with the option of a fancier protein (e.g., lobster, in lieu of fish), or with wine pairings for each course. The term means “table (table) of the host (hôte),” also referred to as “prix fixe (fixed price).” By contrast, items ordered individually are referred to as “à la carte (from the menu).” A dégustation (tasting menu) is a specific type of table d’hôte, in which each course is designed to highlight a taste or technique, representing the chef’s skills. A simpler version of table d’hôte is the plat du jour (plate of the day), in which a set meal (e.g., protein + vegetable + starch) is served on a single plate, often at a reduced price, for lunch. While traditionally French, the term and concept of table d’hôte can be applied to similar modalities in other cuisines (see for example 1.052 Bamboo Shoots in XO Sauce).
Amuse-Bouche is a type of appetizer. Typically a nibble of something, made at the kitchen’s discretion, hinting at the chef’s style, served immediately upon seating, free of charge, just to get things going. The term is French, meaning “to amuse (amuse) the mouth (bouche), though the French are more likely to use the term “amuse-gueule (gullet).” Tasting menus often include amuse-bouche.
Overall, the experience was fun, that sense of wonder and awe at the service of each course: 1 amuse bouche + 7 courses. The last time that I can recall having a proper table d’hôte was in Paris, at some 1-star Michelin restaurant, back in 2007. Here, upon tasting the amuse-bouche, a potato croquette, I quipped that it was so good that I could end the meal there. Alas, every subsequent dish was progressively less satisfying. The problem was the quality in base ingredients, which became more evident as the dishes got more serious. Oh well. I might come back to taste more.
I suspect that STH had pushed for the dégustation so that he could have more time to talk to us. He was very generous in telling us about his experiences in public health, regional/global health governance, and the organization. FL was practically in his lap the entire time, saying things like, “Oh my god, Dr. H, I am so humbled to be in your presence and learn from your wisdom.” Having met at 1900, we parted ways at 2300.
(See also BOOZE)
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN PHILIPPINES)