Ever bitten into a French fry and found it disappointingly soggy? It seems potato variety and water content has a lot to do with that crunch we’re looking for, and some varieties are better for the job than others. Indeed, just as we Filipinos assign different mango varieties to different uses, so different potato varieties each have their own best uses. This was the message of the U.S. Potato Board in their recent Davao food safari, which we were hired to cover earlier this week. The safari would feature showcase menus by three Davao chefs, each with several potato dishes created just for the event.
The safari kicked off with a presentation by the USPB at the Waterfront Hotel, followed by lunch at a Davao fine dining icon, Claude’s Cafe de Ville. Located in the elegant old Oboza House, Claude’s is the go-to place for French food in the city, where it’s cooked up and often presented by the genial chef and owner Claude Le Neindre himself.
A proud resident of Davao, Claude chose to highlight the best products of the region with his offerings: Chili Potato Cheese with Shrimp, a Creamy Potato Onion Veloute with Malagos cheese, a Salade Madayaw with fresh pomelos and Malagos chevre, Pepper Steak in Hash Browns, a Potato Souffle, and finally a Potato Durian Pie a la Mode. The food was exactly as one would expect from Claude’s – the flavors finely balanced, with the freshest quality ingredients, made with the touch only long experience can give.
Dinner was at the Cafe Uno of Waterfront Hotel, this time featuring the creations of Executive Chef Victor Barangan. Chef Victor went for an internationally inspired menu, starting with Bacon and Potato Rolls with Miso Peaches, a Potato and Corn Bisque, Hot Crab Salad with Crisscut Fries, Surf and Turf with prawn breaded in potato and served on a bed of mashed potatoes, and finally a Green Tea Dorayaki with ice cream filling and nuts. Having come from a very filling lunch that featured so much potato, we doubted we could eat any more – but were proven wrong once we started! We particularly liked the surf and turf, the steak perfectly done and the prawns crispy on the outside with their potato crust. The servings were also just right for a Filipino stomach, giving us room to appreciate all five courses.