The French are known to be fickle with their food. Have you seen Ratatouille?
The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines (CCI France Philippines) recently celebrated their 30th anniversary with a gala called “La Soirée”. There was dinner, dancing, and lots of free-flowing drinks. In true French fashion, everything about that night was sophisticated and elegant. There were beautiful chandeliers, music from the 80s, and of course, there was food.
There were tables upon tables of delicious French pastries, breads, meats, and cheeses. A wide assortment of hors d’oeuvres lay before us, all of which were prepared by Sofitel’s Chef Julien Cossé and his team. Wines and cheeses were also flown in from France, not to mention a special cocktail called “The Purple Puffin”, which was created with the help of Camus Cognac.
I can’t say I know much about French food. I’ve been fortunate enough to have spent an entire month in France back in 2016, but the cooking techniques just seemed too complicated for me to understand. So I did what I did best, I just sat back and relaxed, and enjoyed the food. Now looking upon the assortment of savory and sweet fare before me, I knew I just had to learn more about them.
I loved munching on these beautiful profiteroles.
One of my favorite things about that night were the profiteroles, which were decorated with a slice of strawberry and a candy flower. They looked too pretty to eat, but I devoured them like nothing else. Made from choux pastry dough and baked to perfection, these profiteroles were crispy on the outside, silky on the inside. Every bite was a delight with each profiterole being filled with smooth cream inside. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: the French sure do know how to eat!
What’s a French event without some creme brûlée?
What would a night of French dining be without the oh-so famous crème brûlée? We watched as chefs around the room torched each and every plate so as to crystalize the sugars on top. Surprisingly enough, most crème brûlée recipes are made with only five simple ingredients: cream, vanilla, salt, eggs, and sugar. I’m not entirely sure if Sofitel added anything else to their crème brûlée recipe, but let me tell you that the one we had was rich and creamy, a complete indulgence but one I didn’t feel bad about.
While the wines were from Alsace, Bordeaux, and Champagne, the beef we had was from Burgundy. You may have heard of beef bourguignon before; it’s a French staple, right up there with coq au vin. Slow cooked and seasoned to perfection, the beef bourguignon we had was tender and delicious, just as the French would like it. They came speared on cute little sticks, with a tiny button mushroom just on top. Although I’m not a big fan of beef, I did thoroughly enjoy these bits of meat. The way it was slow-cooked allowed it to absorb all the flavors; it didn’t hurt that the meat was also incredibly tender to bite.
A cheese platter because…of course.
There were, of course, the French staples of bread and cheese. I knew that these two were the pillars of French cuisine, but it was only when I went to France that I realized just how important these two things were. Supermarkets everywhere were stocked to the brim although those baguettes could be a cliche, they were so for a reason. Francophiles rejoiced during La Soirée when they saw just how much cheese there was! Bleu, gruyere, and camembert alongside plates of prosciutto. Thinking back now makes my mouth water.
There were baguettes, plenty of baguettes
Stacks of bread were also readily available: from baguettes to brioches to boules. Everything was spread out in front of us, ready to be eaten.
Free-flowing wine for the lucky guests
To me, La Soirée was more than a celebration, it was a fabulous degustation. The French love their culture, and so do we. After all, how could we not? There was rosé and there were canapés. What else could I ask for?