I recently joined the USPB (US Potato Board) Potato Safari 3, held in Davao City. The day started with an early morning flight to Davao via Philippine Airlines and arrived at Waterfront Insular for a little briefing on all the goodness of potato and all the dishes we were going to have over the next three days. Boy, was I excited,
Here are some fun facts about potatoes:
- Good source of Potassium (more than bananas), Vit. C, Vit. B6, Fiber and Protein.
- 110 calories for a medium sized potato and no cholesterol, fat or sodium
- Gluten free
First stop was at Claude’s Le Cafe de Ville. We celebrated many times in Claude’s when we lived in Davao before but this was my first time to visit their new location set in a restored colonial home. Chef Claude le Niendre prepared a six course French menu making use of different US potato products in each dish.
A meal at Claude’s would not be complete without their fresh baked bread paired with home made salsa and butter. This is still as good as ever and you’ll have to stop yourself from having too much.
The first course was a Chili Potato Cheese with Shrimp. This was one of my favorites with potato croquettes filled with gooey cheese with plump and fresh shrimps in a spicy sauce. Wiped out in the blink of an eye.
Salade Madayaw. A showcase of Davao’s fresh produce in a tangy dressing garnished with potato wedges.
Creamy Onion Potato Veloute. A traditional French onion soup thickened with powdered potatoes with a piece of local Malagos brie.
Main course was Pepper Steak in Hash Brown. Claude’s specialty of the house is the pepper steak, this time it is sandwiched between hash brown potatoes. Nothing unique with use of potatoes as it serves as sides for their excellent as always, steak.
For dessert, we had Potato Cheese Souffle and Potato Durian Pie ala Mode. I enjoyed the souffle with potato complimenting the airy cheese souffle well, a savory prelude to the sweeter last dish. What’s a meal in Davao without some local durian, I’m not fond of durian but lovers will enjoy a new way of having the king of fruits.
The next meal was at Waterfront Insular’s Cafe Uno, prepared by Executive Chef Victor Baragan. He prepare a five course Asian inspired menu.
We started with a Bacon Potato Roll with Miso Peaches. You can’t go wrong with bacon and potatoes, Chef Victor infuses a little whimsy with some edible flowers and sweet miso peaches.
Next was a Potato and Corn bisque. Dehydrated potatoes thicken the usually watery fresh corn soup. A cute curly fry hangs on the lip of the cup.
Hot Crab Salad. Another one of my favorites, crispy criss cut potatoes, fresh salad greens, watermelon, pickled radish and a spicy crab salad. There’s a great play of textures and flavors in this must order dish.
Surf and Turf. Grilled steak (hidden) with caramelized onion and asparagus paired with a potato battered giant prawn tempura on a bed of mashed potatoes.
For dessert, Green Tea Dorayaki. Dorayaki is a Japanese dessert that Doraemon loves. Durian lovers will love the in your face flavor of Chef Victor’s special durian ice cream. The pancakes are a bit chewier because potato flour is added to the mix.
The 2nd day started with a cooking demo by Chef Sandy Daza who flew in that morning to prepare 3 potato dishes.
Chef Sandy made Mixed Sausages and Crispy US Potatoes, Baked US Potato Seafood and US Potato Beef Caldereta. We had all three for lunch before heading to Gaisano Mall supermarket to shop for our final day potato cook off.
Criss Cut Potato and Shrimp Cake. Pomelo and jicama salad with red onion and drizzled with Asian sweet chili dressing. A Thai inspired dish with a crunch.
Mashed Potato Soup with Turmeric. A thick and a bit heavy soup with a surprise in the middle by way of a slow baked salmon log with grapefruit and cilantro cream.
Honey Caramelized Pork Spareribs. The potato wedges play second fiddle to the tender and succulent pork ribs.
Dessert was a Potato Strawberry Cheesecake. Artfully plated soft strawberry cheesecake with a crumbled potato crust with a side of vanilla ice cream. The crust under the vanilla ice cream was perfectly crisp in contrast to the crust on the cheesecake because of the longer prep time.
Our trip culminated with a cook off by different groups composed of our Manila media contingent as well as local Davao bloggers. I’m useless with a knife where I have a better chance of injuring myself that producing anything useful. I just took all the odds and ends, mostly prep work as my two teammates concentrated on slicing, dicing, and cooking.
Our creation was a Seafood Gnocchi. Even though we did not win the prize, we had lots of fun and the judges were amazed we could even finish our ambitious dish given the 1 hour time limit.
All of the dishes we tried in Claude’s, Waterfront Insular’s Cafe Uno and Polo Bistro will be available for a limited time starting January 2016.
If you want to get new ideas on how to use US potatoes, you can check out www.potatogoodness.com and www.ciaprochef.com/potatoes/.
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