Wine and dine like a king
Today there is a grand celebration called the Feast of Christ the King so I wondered: What meal would be fit for a king?
Top of mind is the cooking of French Chef Cyrille Soenen, who has been acknowledged as one of the Maitres Cuisiniers de France or Master Chef of France, the highest honor a chef can get. My favorite hangout—a lifetime ago, it seems—was Cicou, a French bistro in San Juan owned and run by Chef Cyrille with his wife Anna Soenen. Cicou has since closed but here’s the good news: you can now enjoy the cooking of Chef Cyrille not only one or two but three ways!
The first is at the newly-opened Wine Drop, the latest creation of another Frenchman, wine connoisseur Jean Philippe Guillot of AWC Philippines. It is a tasting space for wine in San Juan where you can enjoy good vino with nibbles by Chef Cyrille such as pâté en croute, pork rillettes, pâté de campagne, pork head pâté and parmesan flan.
The wines here are direct imports from different parts of the world. Aside from French wines they also have wines from Argentina, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. So Wine Drop is actually a retail shop with their wine collection. They also offer craft spirits, local craft beer, Belgian beer as well as gift items for wine lovers such as cork screws, wine glasses and decanters.
But they have also incorporated a tasting table and a bar that fits around 12 pax. It sounds like a great option for a COVID-safe barkada reunion! Jean Philippe explains, “It’s important for us to have a cozy and safe place where humans can enjoy wine in a classy and exclusive environment.”
Wine Drop also offers items from Txanton, famous for its well-curated Spanish delicacies. So you can enjoy your wine with good jamon, aside from Chef Cyrille’s French pâtés and rilettes.
The best news, though, is that you don’t even have to go to the shop. You can opt to have the wines and food dropped off at your home. Or you can even have these sent out as gifts. Wine Drop has options for pretty gift boxes for one, three or six bottles; or if you want to just gift someone with two bottles plus jamon and pate, they can arrange that for you, too. “We’re flexible,” Jean Philippe says. They can also accommodate multiple deliveries if you are looking to send out gifts this Christmas season. (Call Wine Drop at 0956-1887548 or 8671-9125 for inquiries and orders. Visit winedrop.life for a complete product list.)
CiÇou á la Maison
The second way to get a hold of Chef Cyrille’s dishes fit for a king is through his own takeaway setup, endearingly called CiÇou á la Maison. He cooks from his home kitchen and you just call to order. (Call CiÇou for inquiries 0917-5401811).
Here you can order bigger items like whole roasted chicken good for six to eight persons or whole roasted turkey good for 10 to 15 persons or a whole lechon de leche that is stuffed with kielbasa sausage and mushrooms.
He also offers classic French fare like foie gras terrine and cassoulet. These are vacuum-packed so you can order them now and have them ready in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
You can also order croissants and baguettes, perfected as a true French Master Chef would. You can also order his famous kouign amann, the French layered pastry made extremely addictive by butter. There is the classic version, but he now also makes kouignettes or smaller versions with a variety of flavors such as chocolate chip and cinnamon. There are savory versions as well such as a bacon-flavored kouign amann. Most interesting, though this is not on the menu yet but was a hit in Bacolod where his wife hails from, is a kouign amann inasal: a savory version with chicken inasal on top!
Finally, if you really want an authentic French experience in your home, Chef Cyrille can be your personal chef for your family gathering or event! Remember that he was the executive chef of Intercon so if you want your family to enjoy Angus prime rib with Yorkshire pudding just like you remember it at Prince Albert, give him a call. (Cicou a la Maison 0917-5401811).
I have had the privilege and pleasure of dining at the Soenen family home in Mussidan, France, and it was truly one of the best meals of my life. So cool that we can now experience the genius of this Master Chef in our own homes, too! You will really feel like a king!
Here’s to a truly special Thanksgiving this Thursday. May your gatherings be abundant with food and love. Happy Feast of Christ the King and Happy Thanksgiving!
Wine Drop. 2/F Unit 5 One Kennedy Place, Club Filipino Ave cor. Ortigas Ave., Greenhills, San Juan City.
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