La Petite Cuisine
10 Jalan Serene, Singapore
I was tucked away in Singapore for four months to shoot a TV series called the Kitchen Musical. I play Maddie, a sous chef in a French restaurant called the Avilon. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can catch the show every Saturday, 7:30 PM on Studio 23 in the Philippines and on AXN Asia).
I spent an entire month preparing for my role: dance classes with Australian choreographer Jason Coleman, script reading sessions with our director cheeK and kitchen boot camp with Chef Horst to familiarize ourselves in a restaurant's kitchen. It was during that period of time when I discovered that I wasn't exactly mad about French cuisine. And that was...
Problem # 1
I love food! That much you may already know from watching the "Digestive Sisters" blogs with Nicole but French food in particular never was my favorite. French food and the fancy ambience associated with it has always intimidated me. Save for this scenario:
A woven straw basket filled with a baguette, cold cuts and various cheeses eaten in random picnic spots in Southern France. Ah, the life!
I've always felt uneasy and unable to concentrate on how yummy French dishes are since I am distracted by the menu filled with words I can't pronounce or understand and the lingering question of which tiny or big fork and/or knife to use for each specific dish. That's just a little too much for my hungry tummy to digest during meal time! C'est la vie!
Driven by my fear of using the wrong fork at the wrong time, I normally just order appetizers or hors d'oeuvres in an attempt to simplify things. In times like these, I can relate with Julia Roberts' character Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman. (Just a side note: I can relate to Julia in the scene where she is being taught how to eat dinner like a lady. Big mistake...big mistake if you're thinking about anything else.)
Since we are talking of movies...<cue the Voice Over (V.O.) of James Earl Jones>
"There comes a time in every man's life, when every fear has to be destroyed!"
It is time for me to kill my fear of French cuisine!
1. Maghanap ng karamay
No task is ever daunting if you undertake it with friends.
Ikey Canoy who plays Winston (Pastry Chef), The Avilon and Pauline (Assistant Casting Director, The Kitchen Musical).Meet my food trip friends:
I told Ikey and Pauline of my problem and they said they would help me overcome it by "researching" on French Cuisine. We planned to go to The French Stall in Little India but they were not open for lunch on a Sunday. I turned to my new favorite Singaporean food blog www.ladyironchef.com and read the entry about La Petite Cuisine.
I called the restaurant and asked if they were open for Sunday lunch. I was surprised to get a funny response from a man with a French accent who said "of course, I must feed my people!" Then he told me that there was no need to make reservations. Encounter #1 slowly broke my preconceived notions of French restaurants. It dawned on me that I was talking to the owner and perhaps chef of the place.
2. Ordering Tips
Look for the Pinoy wait staff.
If you have no idea what to order and you haven't done your research beforehand like a diligent foodie, your last course of action would be to ask the staff what dishes they recommend. Lucky for us Filipinos, we have a lot of kabayans in the food service industry who have a similar palette as us.
3. Point and Shoot!
If you can't pronounce the word, point to the item in the menu that you'd like to order. You don't have to worry about having a "nosebleed moment" in an attempt to pronounce the French words.
WHATIZZTHIZ? Escargot = Kuhol
Don't be afraid of the es-car-gohhh. It is what we call kuhol back home. Kuhol lang yan!
My Lola Zeny cooks the kuhol in gata or coconut milk. The snails are not rubbery and have a good texture. The snails are served in abundance on a simple colored plate. The meat is removed from the shell using a toothpick.
Escargots in Croissant with salad (6Pcs) $13. When I think of escargot as kuhol, they loose their become less fancy in my mind. I end up thinking of...
...the cultured kuhol
I grew up seeing in my Lola Zeny's bukid in our province Laguna. She feeds them repolyo to keep them happy and healthy. In the battle between escargot VS kuhol, I'd have to say ginataang kuhol wins by a mile.
WHATIZZTHIZ? Duck Confit = Sarap to the bones
Confit de Canard with gratin $16.50 with house wine (Ask Selena Argon of the Kitchen Musical for the perfect pairing).
Duck Confit VS Max Fried Chicken Chicken-All-You-Can. In this competition, I am a bit torn. I think it's a tie. They are both "sarap to the bones!" The only difference is that I can eat up to 2 servings of Max eat-all-you-can fried chicken but I could only eat half the serving of duck on my plate. I'm not used to the oiliness of duck in general. But then again eating less is actually a good thing. Sometimes, enjoying the food in your plate and not excessively eating is a great way to enjoy the meal.
OTHER ITEMS ON THE MENU
Soup de Maison
Carrot Orange Soup
Foie gras panfried with orange confit $17.50
A happy Ikey and his dory fish dish. He just played Scuttle in the very successful run of the Little Mermaid.
Dory basquaise sauce and rice $12
3. Take in the ambiance
I love the modest and clean surroundings. My favorites are the checkered table cloths and the families who enjoyed a Sunday meal with huge smiles on their faces.
My *LIKE CLICK* goes to the Chef who was not only welcoming and super funny, he was also dressed in shorts under his apron. I asked permission if I could take photos and chef ordered me to "eat first!" He is a wise man! He knows how to make sure his Asian fans (who love to take food photos) enjoy their meal before thinking about food blogging or taking photos for facebook albums!
Me with the Chef! Each time I would take a photo, he would make an "oohh" "ahh" sound =)
Quite the character! No good dining experience is ever complete if you do not pay your compliments to the chef!
4. Reward yourself with ice cream
The best and the worst thing about being in the Kitchen Musical is that food trips are essential for research. It's the best thing because I live for food trips. It's the worst thing because it is fattening to be "researching" all the time. Thank God for nice jogging paths all over Singapore.
I can't believe I'm saying this...but after overcoming my fear, I found the yummiest local ice cream I've been dreaming of:
TehTarik from Island Creamery which is next door from La Petit Cuisine. Watch out for the complete ice cream food trip on my next entry.