The Museum Café's first-A A +A
By Betsy Gazo
Saturday, June 30, 2012
TO CELEBRATE its first anniversary last June 24, the Museum Café came up with a whole day fete of a three-course meal. Guido and Gemma Nijssen offered their specialties and more, featuring organic and locally sourced food paired with popular Argentinian wines, Melodia and Via Libre, for lunch and dinner that day.
What started as scrimpy appetizers (one of each of duck rillette and sausage rolls) for me and a girl friend escalated into a gut-busting dinner.
The duck rillette or rillette du canard is traditionally served with French baguette. It is 100 percent organic duck from Don Salvador Benedicto melted into its own fat and seasoned only with sea salt from Bago and pepper from peppercorns grown in Concepcion.
The rillette was served heaping on a small pastry cup. It was very flavorful and a slice of baguette would have made a better foil than the pastry but Guido probably didn't want diners getting full yet. The sausage roll, which is a popular snack in England and Holland, is ground beef in pastry. Very good, too, it was. Not over-seasoned.
For the first course, freshly made ravioli stuffed with spinach and alugbati (Malabar night shade) was done right before our eyes. Guido had a granite-topped counter set up in the middle of the dining hall for him and his assistants who are culinary students from the University of St. La Salle.
The pasta was fully stuffed, cooked al dente, and made moist with a garlicky white sauce and grated old herbed cheese which the café created from Sagay milk. The caraway seeds made a difference in the flavor of the cheese. I had chardonnay to go with the pasta while Sofie, my dinner partner, preferred sauvignon blanc. Waiting on the side was my tamarind juice sweetened with muscovado to break the heavy taste.
The second course was either beef or fish. I chose fish, naturally, and it came grilled and topped with cubed beetroot and served with chunky potatoes, carrots, and broccoli. Spices and herbs make meals extraordinary. The fish, via the beets, was infused with cilantro and cumin. Interesting combination! With this, Guido served a cabernet sauvignon.
By this time, we ladies protested but not too much. Dessert was in the works by then, and who doesn't love dessert? A flurry of activities later (or is it sooner?) we had our dense butter and dark chocolate cupcake sliced and sweetened with flambéed confit des fruits.
The dessert platter also had fresh fruit - orange, yellow watermelon, and avocado. Everything was polished off slowly but surely. If I had to suggest, though, it would be even more satisfying had the cupcakes been chocolate all throughout, for the chocolate's bitterness gave a sharp interlude to all that sweetness.
The sweet, sparkling Melodia wine using the methode champenoise (in the way of Champagne) made me forget my cabernet. Sorry, Guido. But I did leave my table with regret over the untouched glass of red.
For a year now, the Museum Café has been soothing the hungry soul and quenching thirsty patrons with their high quality teas and artisanal food mostly from our island.
If you missed the anniversary specials, catch this week's. The café still offers the duck rillette and vegetarian ravioli, plus filleted sardines Moroccan style, minestrone (a meal by itself), Mediterranean Olive Meatloaf, and even Peking duck ham.
Artisanal breads are sold by the weight and fresh fruit juice can be had anytime.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 30, 2012.