Here’s a copy of my column First Class published 21 August 2016, Sunday, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer + more pics 🙂 I wrote about a recent day trip to Pampanga. Went with a few doctors of my dad, whom we met when they were just residents and now they have finished their fellowships!
Angeles has changed since the last time I visited.
Pampanga has always been a thriving food hub but next generation Capampangan celebrity chefs have given the Angeles food scene extra flair.
Case in point: Cafe Fleur by Chef Sau del Rosario, a restaurant that is both a tribute to Chef Sau’s Pampango roots while showcasing his growth as a French-trained chef.
The venue is a heritage home and one can easily envision a family from yesteryears making memories in this space.
Chef Sau converted the upstairs into “Babo” (Kapampangan for ’upstairs’) Avante Garde Capampangan cuisine.
Here the celebrity chef presents his interpretation of traditional recipes.
Tamales, which is usually served wrapped in banana leaves, is here served deconstructed in a shapely glass.
The well-known Capampangan delicacy (also called Boboto) made with very finely ground rice, coconut milk and various savory toppings like chicken and ham, is presented in a manner befitting a fine dining setting.
Purists are bound to raise an eyebrow but it’s a lovely modern-day expression of a classic comfort dish. (The bread that comes with it is tasty, too, encouraging the diner to treat the tamales like a pate and spread it on the bread.)
Kare-kare, a quintessential Filipino comfort food, is likewise deconstructed and twisted. Kare-kare usually uses oxtail; here Chef Sau uses crispy pork belly and other ingredients that are neatly tucked in a corner of the serving plate.
The rest of the plate is a bed of peanut sauce mixed with macadamia and the irresistible flavor of truffles.
Other items are more straightforward, such as the lamb kaldereta, okoy and the chicken galantina.
What’s great about the menu, though, is that it shows that through the years, Chef Sau has developed not only recipes but also friendships.
The best item on the menu, for me, is Chef See’s laksa.
Chef See Cheong Yan is the Culinary Head of Enderun Colleges. He is Malaysian and IMHO makes the best laksa in the Philippines. The problem is that his laksa is only available during rare events. It’s great to see that Chef See has allowed Chef Sau to use his recipe.
Now, if you ever need a laksa fix, as I often do, it’s just a couple of hours away.
While it will be difficult to resist trying everything on the menu, do leave room for dessert because the desserts here are yummy. Have the pandan sans rival or the jackfruit sans rival and allow yourself to go home stuffed silly.
Cafe Fleur. L-463B Miranda St. Brgy Sto. Rosario, Angeles City. Open Tuesday to Sunday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations recommended especially for lunch, call 045-3041301 or 0935-7616550. Visit cafefleur.ph.
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(Part 1 of 3)