Wine and dine like a king

FRENCH CUISINE An assortment of pâtés prepared by chef Cyrille Soenen (right) can be enjoyed at Wine Drop, a new wine tasting space in San Juan, or in the comfort of your own home, with a bottle or two of your favorite AWC wines. – CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Today there is a big celebration called the Feast of Christ the King, so I asked myself: what meal would suit a king?

The cuisine of French chef Cyrille Soenen, who has been recognized as one of the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France or Master Cuisinier de France, is the highest honor a chef can achieve. My favorite haunt – 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 Chef Cyrille’s cuisine not just one or two but three ways!

Drop of wine

The first is at the recently opened Wine Drop, the latest creation from another Frenchman, wine connoisseur Jean Philippe Guillot from AWC Philippines. It is a wine tasting space in San Juan where you can taste good wine with Chef Cyrille’s appetizers like pâté en croûte, pork rillettes, country pâté, pork head pâté and the parmesan flan.

The wines here are direct imports from different parts of the world. Besides French wines, they also have wines from Argentina, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. Wine Drop is actually a retail store with their collection of wines. They also offer craft spirits, local craft beer, Belgian beer as well as gift items for wine lovers such as corkscrews, wine glasses and decanters.

But they have also integrated a tasting table and a bar that can accommodate around 12 people. Seems like a great option for a safe barkada reunion! Jean Philippe explains: “It is important for us to have a comfortable and safe place where humans can taste wine in a chic and exclusive environment.

Wine Drop also offers items from Txanton, famous for its well-prepared Spanish specialties. Thus, you will be able to taste your wine with good ham, apart from the French pâtés and rilettes of Chef Cyrille.

The best news, however, is that you don’t even have to go to the store. You can choose to have the wines and food delivered to your home. Or you can even have them sent as gifts. Wine Drop offers pretty gift boxes for one, three or six bottles; or if you just want to offer someone two more bottles of the ham and pate, they can organize that for you as well. “We are flexible,” says Jean Philippe. They can also accommodate multiple deliveries if you want to send gifts this Christmas season. (Call Wine Drop at 0956-1887548 or 8671-9125 for inquiries and orders. Visit winedrop.life for a full product list.)

Here at Home

The second way to get your hands on Chef Cyrille’s king-size dishes is through his own takeout setup, endearingly called CiÇou à la Maison. He cooks in his family kitchen and you just have to order. (Call CiÇou for inquiries 0917-5401811).

Here you can order bigger dishes like whole roasted chicken for six to eight people or a whole roasted turkey for 10 to 15 people or a whole lechon de leche stuffed with kielbasa sausage and mushrooms.

It also offers classic French dishes such as 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 like a real French master chef would. You can also order his famous kouign amann, the French puff pastry made extremely addictive by butter. There is the classic version, but now it also makes kouignettes or smaller versions with a variety of flavors like chocolate chips and cinnamon. There are also savory versions like a bacon kouign amann. The most interesting, even if it is not yet on the menu but has been a success in Bacolod where his wife is from, is a kouign amann inasal: a tasty version with inasal chicken on top!

Personal chef

Finally, if you really want to live an authentic French experience at home, Chef Cyrille can be your personal chef for your family reunion or event! Remember he was the executive chef of Intercon, so if you want your family to enjoy Angus prime rib with Yorkshire pudding like you remember in Prince Albert, give him a call. (Cicou at the House 0917-5401811).

I 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 chef in our own homes too! You will truly feel like a king!

Here’s a really special Thanksgiving this Thursday. May your gatherings be abundant in food and love. Happy feast of Christ the King and happy thanksgiving!

Drop of wine. 2 / F Unit 5 One Kennedy Place, Club Filipino Ave cor. Ortigas Avenue, Greenhills, City of San Juan.

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