Monday, November 3, 2008

a taste of Vanille

We first saw Vanille Cafe and Patisserie last October 31, when we were browsing through Cebu Ayala Mall’s The Terraces, the newest swanky dining-place to be which opened the day earlier. Dessert hound that I am, I made a must-visit mental note. The ambience is certainly promising. It offers a cozy statement of class- creme walls with stenciled Victorian patterns, tiled mosaic splash, plump purple velvet-upholstered chairs and three crystal chandeliers. Most of all, the cakes, from the outside, scream of a delectable promise. Alas, we just enjoyed a full lunch and sweets can be had some other time.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/50s, f/3.5, 18mm, ISO 100

So two days later, we made it a point to hit the cafe before we partook lunch. A bit of a reversal to have dessert first but as people know, pastries are my priorities. My wife and Cacing were willing to oblige.

The young twenty-something pastry chef Valerie Lua is totally unassuming. We were the first sit-down customers that morning so she attended to us personally. Surprisingly shy, she stuttered repeatedly when we peppered her with questions. Vanille is obviously her baby. Together with her sister Vanessa, she opened the cafe to pursue the dream of setting a pastry shop they can call their own. Her inhibition belie her solid qualifications: she graduated from no less the Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, arguably the premier culinary arts school in the world (it certainly is the largest, being present in 20 countries). A news article also pointed to her training in the famous Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. (It recently made news when Tom Cruise proposed to his present wife Katie Holmes).

What exactly does the shop offer? French-Filipino fusion. Imagine the exacting codified demands of French fare but with the introduction of decidedly Filipino ingredients. How is the response of the Cebuanos to her baked delights? “Overwhelming, “ Valerie avers. She cannot keep up with the orders and her backlog is keeping her from experimenting with new flavors and designs.

On offering that day were four pastries. We tried out three.

1. Isabelia. This concoction has for its base a special peanut dacquoise which is a cake of nut meringue and buttercream. The upper half are dollops of chocolatey mousse. The twist is that local tableya (cacao bean paste used for cocoa sikwate drink) is used as the chocolate ingredient. Half moon slivers of this bitter tableya chocolate garnished the ensemble with panache. Having both alkaloidal bitterness and sugary sweetness dance together in my tongue is divine!
price= P80

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/80s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 200, -1/3EV

2. Ube. This is an opera cake to crave for. A true French classic, opera cake typically features layers of sponge cake, almond biscuit, white chocolate ganache, coffee buttercream and chocolate glaze. In Vanille, chocolate and coffee were replaced with ube, that distinctively purple yam cherished in Filipino desserts, whipped into a mousse. Being a fan of anything ube, from halaya paste to ice cream to hopia, I can only fawn and wish that my serving was larger.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/250s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 200

3. French macaron. Finally, French macarons, the real Mccoy, have arrived in Cebu! Not to be confused with the dense English-style coconut macaroons that Filipinos are familiar with, this traditional French pastry is a sandwich of round meringue flats with creamy ganache between the layers. As in any meringue delights made primarily of egg white and sugar, the crisp smooth cookies literally melt in your mouth leaving the decadent and rich cream to deliver the coup de grace. Again, Vanille chose cocoa tableya and ube as flavors and I cannot be any happier.
price= P25 each

French macarons
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/100s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 100, +1/3EV

As I savored the last pieces of cake in my mouth, I was left to wonder what other heavenly delights Vanille has to offer. Vanessa assures us that she’ll introduce new concoctions in the following weeks, weekly if she could. Our expectations would be high but somehow we know that the first rate cafe that is Vanille will deliver.

Vanille Cafe and Patisserie
The Terraces, 2nd level
Cebu Ayala Mall
Cebu City, the Philippines

More on Vanille in part 2 and part 3.

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estan said...

maayo nga daghan na choices diri cebu. i still have to visit ayala for the new attractions and i've heard many positive comments about it.

Anonymous said...

I think I gained five pounds just *looking* at these delectable temptations!

Divina (from Flickr)

Farl said...

estan- judging from the crowds, The Terraces is the "in" dining place of Cebu

divina- at least your weight gain is virtual. mine is real LOL!


marvin said...

the food looks great. good thing there many choices!!

girlie said...

nice pics. :) googled vanille cebu, and it led me here.. saw ur bantayan and bali pics too.. they were wonderful.. i love vanille.. have u tried their grape juices? wonderful.. :)i think ive consumed 10 since last week. :) haha..

and L'OPera is wonderful.. my favorite though is the mango mouse type dome.. i forgot the name...