Tilde Hand Craft Café: A Cafe for the SeasonsSeptember 2, 2016
It’s unassuming. The small café tucked into the corner of a Matilde street in Poblacion, the chatter from the neighboring school its background. It’s quaint and secluded, with its small space and sparse table settings. However, the charm of Tilde is mostly that you won’t really expect anything as closely charming as initially perceived.
Ginny Roces de Guzman, together with Chiqui Lara and Neal Oshima, ventured into Tilde Hand Craft Cafe. Known for Gustàre Kitchen, the trio have gone into Tilde with a different agenda. Mostly, they want the bakery and café to be a communal haunt where people can gather and enjoy good food, and the name Gustàre in a neighborhood like Poblacion was not be the best idea.
Their menu is short and sweet, but most importantly it’s temporary. A list changed at the whim of its inordinately warm host. Firstly a bakery, Tilde’s menu revolves around its bread, the sourdough their most prized possession. The menu is designed with dishes that usually go swimmingly with bread—salads, soups, and pasta. Mostly because there’s pride with the bread they make, it’s traditional—difficult. The sourdough in particular she likens to a child—temperamental and a disaster waiting to happen if not treated properly. There’s no theme running through it, the menu is comprised of things Roces de Guzman wanted to experiment with. And she likes to experiment a lot.
There’s a common thread linking the food as you go through it. Tilde is often a play on contrasts. A sense of balance that surprises and delights in the most inconspicuous manner. Most of their products are made in house, from the bread to the sausage. It’s laborious and complicated, but it’s all part of the character.
For example, their Ratatouille with quinoa and harissa looks to be a light affair, but the slow roast on the vegetables builds into hearty bites, with the harissa bringing everything together in this pungent and tart finish, rounding everything with a veritable pang.
The pig’s head pasta, a dish inspired by a sisig pasta Roces de Guzman tasted in Australia, is treated like carbonara, with braised pig’s head and egg tossed into the hot pasta at the end. It results in a silky yet bright pasta with pops of spice coming from the pork.
The red lentil soup with chistorra and chorizo (smoked by Oshima himself) gives you this sweet and mellow soup base then a punch from the spicy sausages, giving a pleasant balance of harsh and soft flavors, which slowly then meld into each other harmoniously.
Initially trained as a patisserie, Roces de Guzman does not disappoint with her desserts. The Chocolate truffle (P170) is a cloud. A very light and delicate mousse makes for most of the dessert, layered with light chocolate cake in between, an almost amorous experience. The lychee cheesecake (P140) is soft and delicate, the bright flavors of the fruit bursting in your mouth, melding with the creaminess of the cream cheese, subtle and bright at the same time.
It’s a bright beginning, with a future that is dependent on the ministrations of Roces de Guzman and her many experiments. But she promises a menu that goes with the season, one that builds on the best and freshest ingredients, and if what we’ve seen is any indication, then Tilde looks to be an unlikely experiment you would want to take part in.
Tilde Hand Craft Café
A quaint café in Poblacion serving hand made fare, from sourbread to desserts.