Sagana Marries French Technique and Filipino Ingredients Into a Cohesive, Delicious UnionNovember 16, 2017
French favorite Champêtre closed its six-year-old doors in Bonifacio Global City just earlier this year, much to the dismay of their long-time followers—but with the promise to return with a bang. The result is Sagana, where Chef Marc Aubry again proves his dexterity of preparing French classics with time-tested techniques and balance of flavors, but this time, as applied to proudly Filipino ingredients: dairy from Malagos Farmhouse in Davao, local seafood including scallops and apahap, pineapple-fed organic beef, and so on.
Part-restaurant, part-épicerie (French for “marketplace”), Sagana puts the spotlight on local, organic Philippine ingredients: fruits, vegetables, meats, and other sundries by Filipino artisans, sourced from different farms and craft brands around the country. Aubry—who has been staying in the Philippines for close to three decades, but who admits his comfort zone leans far towards doing European classics—gushes about ingredients he’s discovered along the journey: kadyos (pigeon peas, which he uses in place of lentils); roselle (a plant whose flavor he compares to that of black cherries); sigarilyas (winged beans, which he uses to top a rabbit dish on the menu); local wild cucumbers; and more. He clarifies, however, that Sagana is still a French restaurant at the core, especially in terms of approach and technique. “It is still very much my cooking . . . [which is] very much French-influenced. It’s not fusion. [As] we say, stay true to what you know.”
Long-time fans will be relieved to know Sagana retains a number of signatures from the days of Champêtre and the even-older Je Suis Gourmand, including the author’s personal favorites of French Onion Soup, Goose Liver Terrine, Steak Tartare, and the renowned Algerian Couscous. But you’ll find a number of new creations worth paying the restaurant a visit, whether it’s your first time or you’ve been a follower since day one. Celebrating the abundance of the Philippines through dishes that showcase these ingredients—the best of which is brought out from the hands of one of the country’s best-regarded French chefs—Sagana successfully bridges the two seemingly-distant worlds into one harmonious (and delicious) union.
R: Leche Flan CheesecakeHere are some of our favorites from Sagana’s new offerings:
Baked Pumpkin Soup
Sagana’s puts a fun spin on the classic appetizer by utilizing the shell as the soup’s own (edible) vessel. Local mini-pumpkins are pre-baked until tender; the contents are scooped out, blended with cream and other seasonings, placed back into the shell, topped with Emmental Cheese, and popped back into the oven. The result is a hearty soup thick enough that it holds its shape on a spoon, marrying the sweet earthiness of pumpkin, slight pungency of garlic, and creamy embrace of dairy. The best part, however, is ooey-gooey crown of melted Emmental that imparts the soup with its defining nutty funk. You’ll want to have a chunk of bread on the side (Sagana’s house bread, naturally, works great for this) to mop up every last bit.
Chicken Basquaise is a classic dish of the poulet braised in piperade—a sauté of peppers, tomatoes, and other ingredients typical of the French Basque Region. Sagana’s version, however, uses native black chicken, which we notice to have a deeper “chicken-y” taste that shines through its surrounding piperade (and which surprisingly stays tender despite being naturally leaner). Relatively light but full of vibrant, Mediterranean-leaning flavors (which will likely hit home with its similarity to the tomato-based stews of Hispanic origin common in these parts, e.g. afritada), this dish exemplifies the appeal of simple things done well. (A glass of Merlot to accompany your meal, however, would not hurt one bit.)
Leche Flan Cheesecake
Here’s a dessert worth saving space for at Sagana: a hybrid of a sweet meal-ender that marries leche flan’s smoldering burnt-sugar varnish and yolk-y custard flavor with cheesecake’s density and subtle tang. “This [dessert] is something my wife does at home . . . she [suggested that we] add it to the menu, and so I listened to her for once,” Aubry explains with a chuckle. She sure was on to something, as the resulting dessert delivers the best of both worlds—plus fruitiness from sautéed bananas served alongside—in each forkful.
A French restaurant, helmed by Chef Marc Aubry of Champêtre fame, that highlights locally-sourced, organic ingredients.
ADDRESS: Net One Center, 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
VISIT: 10:30AM-10PM Mondays to Saturdays / 8AM-3PM Sundays
SPEND: PHP 500-1000
Contact: (02) 815-8801 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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