November 29, 2006, a day 16 Xavier 4th year students discovered the cuisine of Chef Rolando Laudico, owner of Bistro Filipino at the Fort. To those who are unaware, a Bistro is a French restaurant that offers fine dining. On that Wednesday morning, the 16 seniors joined the trip to learn more about hotel and restaurant management through the High School Guidance Department’s Career Trips Program which coincided with the celebration of Likas Gilas, a program that caters to let Xaverians find their natural talents and hone them. I was one of the few who willingly signed up for the career trip due to my family’s connoisseurship. In addition, I have a budding desire to pursue a business that revolves around food because I know how to bake.
Upon our arrival at Bistro Filipino, Chef Laudico welcomed us with utmost hospitality. He gave our teacher, Mr. Frederick Perez, a hearty handshake and he introduced us to his restaurant. The façade of the place was not exactly eye-catching, but it was definitely patriotic with its logo boasting of a revamped sun with eight fiery rays. This logo, combined with the signage’s red, white and blue of the lettering obviously represent our Philippine flag.
As we entered the establishment, it was noticeable that the place was decorated with a Filipino flare, but it did not lose the Bistro touch. The reception was filled with interesting pieces such as a very old mirror that could have come out of one of the most recent horror films, “Wag Kang Lilingon ” while the rest of the pieces there were very Filipino. The kamagong poles and the capiz lamps coupled with the abaca pieces and the paintings depicting Filipino homes during the Spanish Period could not be mistaken for any other thing but Filipino.
However, so as not to lose the bistro touch, the silverware, glasses and dishes all looked like it were imported from France. Even the restaurant’s comfort rooms had its own mystique utilizing Filipino garments as frontal design. The interior of the bathroom was also very warm and tender.
Entering the small kitchen, one can already smell the aroma of the different foods. I even found it hard to stop my mouth from watering over all the food served in the bistro. Some processes like making coconut milk were also done the traditional way. Upon keen observation, we noticed that the restaurant uses very Filipino ingredients.
Before we left, the chef answered some of our questions about restaurant management and food concepts. He mentioned that the food served is of our own Filipino cuisine infused with international flavors. He even served us free tanglad (lemon grass) juice that had such a cleansing appeal.
When we left, I decided to recommend the bistro to my family since it was my father’s birthday the next day. My family agreed and I wanted to see if the description of the food items was up to par to the taste I had imagined. Upon my second arrival, it was the chef’s wife who graciously welcomed us and talked to us throughout the night. She too turns out to be a chef in her own right and was the one who fused in the many Filipino ingredients to the food.
Of the many choices available, my family decided on the Angus Beef Kare-kare , Adobo Overload and Tamarind Claypot Chicken. I also ordered dalanghita juice to complement the sour taste of the tamarind chicken while my family bought wine that was suitable for Filipino cuisine. I could not even stop saying that the food was scrumptious. Claypot chicken, also known as Romertoff , is very international but once tamarind was infused, it tasted very Filipino. I sampled the adobo and it was simply tasty. The chef’s wife was so hospitable that she even gave my dad a heart-shaped suman cake that tasted great and some chocolate truffles that had flavors like calamansi and dried mango for dessert. I also had to order some Molten Chocolate with vanilla ice cream made from carabao ’s milk.
My career trip was a fun-filled learning experience while my family’s fine dining experience at Chef Laudico’s bistro was simply a heavenly culinary experience.
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