The Lechon Diva Collaborates with Flame For A Night of Modern Asian Magic
Lechon Diva Dedet dela Fuente and Chef Luis Chikiamco of Discovery Primea's Flame restaurant have the distinction of not just being well-respected in the industry, but also of being genuinely well-loved. Last week, the duo combined their wide range of talents to take lucky guests on a 12-course degustation journey that not only piqued all senses but also elevated comfort food in the subtlest yet most substantial of ways.
The Makings of a Great Meal
Memories of our best meals usually involve feelings of deep appreciation for those who’ve fed and nourished not just our bodies but our souls, too. Because let’s face it, no matter how great the food is, what we recall most are the emotions that surrounded each dining experience and the inimitable sense of satisfaction and maybe even a bit of it awe, that it may have brought us at the time.
Our Modern Asian meal started off with a refreshing Thai-inspired mocktail of tamarind juice and soda aptly named Silom Cooler—its sweet and sour flavors whetted our appetites for what was yet to come.
An amuse bouche of garlicky Balut Salpicao with a cleverly concocted Lechon Scone studded with crisp shards of balat and Mr. Thomas Butter (a play on the famous lechon sauce) was next, followed by the dramatic entrance of the freshest Tuna Kilawin floating in a mist that brought to mind that famous Long Night on GOT.
Two more seafood courses were served: Seafood Bounty featured a veil of tomato and lemongrass gelee atop a Filipino Lato salad that was a crowd pleaser and a Crab Croqueta made even more rich with the inclusion of crab fat or taba ng talangka in the béchamel that held the crab morsels together.
French Congee and a Lechon Sandwich
Hands down, one of the night’s favorites was the deliciously decadent Lechon Sandwich by de la Fuente with her trademark juicy lechon meat and a slice of foie gras ensconced between rolled pan de sal, with cream cheese and pickled ampalaya (to cut through the unctuousness), and crowned with crispy lechon skin.
Chikiamco wowed all with his Foie Gras Congee, a masterpiece of a dish, which seemed simple at first spoonful, before revealing an amazing play of textures and flavors. For the velvety porridge, he took inspiration from the French soubise, a compound sauce of gently cooked rice and onions.
To this, he added a 63-degree sous vide egg, thinly sliced smoky duck breast, a black and white sesame seed emulsion and some crispy chiffonade of lemongrass.
Making Old School New Again
Going deep into our DNA, Chikiamco’s Australian Lamb Kanto BBQ was a decidedly ingenious iteration of a humble street side snack made even more special with atsara tempura and vinegar dip on the side.
And in homage to the emblematic dish that defines many a home cook, he explained how he took a prime cut of USDA beef short ribs and made his version of adobo that was cooked for 24 hours in a sous vide. Then, referencing the Cebu lechon, Chikiamko grilled cuts of ribeye using the advanced technology of the Rational oven with his own twist of placing charcoal in it to impart a wonderful hint of smokiness.
Already overstuffed and ready to call it a night, guests could not resist the Lechon Diva’s Lechon “Sawrap,” her take on a lumpiang sariwa with vegetables stuffed into the lechon and served with a trio of sauces and crunchy bits of skin. De la Fuente even brought along her very own unique plates and dishes, something that played heavily in the delightful presentation of her creations.
And as we reveled in the gorgeous meal we’d all been lucky enough to partake of, the two cooks regaled us with stories of their favorite meals, and told us how much they enjoyed working together on this truly memorable feast.