FAM­ILY FES­TIVE FEAST

What’s on the fes­tive ta­bles of two cel­e­brated chefs

Epicure (Indonesia) - - CONTENTS -

Christ­mas is a big deal in France. Come De­cem­ber, ev­ery state in the coun­try starts to get dressed in their fes­tive best, from the rus­tic Christ­mas mar­kets and dé­cor of Nor­mandy to the glitz and glam­our of Paris. Similarly, homes will fol­low suit; ad­vent wreaths are hung and Na­tiv­ity scenes are set up on win­dowsills. It all cul­mi­nates on Christ­mas Eve, when the most im­por­tant tra­di­tion of France takes place. Be­fore mid­night mass, fam­i­lies must gather for le Réveil­lon de Noël.

The Réveil­lon din­ner is where the French truly go all out. Pre­mium in­gre­di­ents and the finest wines are brought out, and Réveil­lon din­ners can last up to six hours. (Stay­ing at the ta­ble for long hours is part of the French tra­di­tion.) It is a time of mer­ri­ment and won­der, es­pe­cially for chil­dren, when greeted with a mas­sive ta­ble filled to the brim with the grand­est fes­tive dishes.

It’s how Vian­ney Mas­sot re­mem­bers his Christ­mases at home. The 27-yearold, who helms one Miche­lin-starred Vian­ney Mas­sot Restau­rant, re­mem­bers the at­mos­phere and air of ex­cite­ment at his fam­ily ta­ble. He has fond mem­o­ries of his grand­mother and mother toil­ing away in the kitchen to pre­pare mouth­wa­ter­ing sig­na­tures for Réveil­lon.

The menu for Réveil­lon changes from re­gion to re­gion, but a main­stay will al­ways be a gor­geous golden brown roasted bird. It doesn’t have to be tur­key; the en­tire range of French poul­try is used, from chicken to quail to pheas­ant to goose. How­ever, Mas­sot re­mem­bers his grand­mother’s La Pin­tade (guinea fowl) the best.

“My grand­mother does it in a very tra­di­tional way, serv­ing it with foie gras and roasted chest­nuts. The smell is sim­ply in­tox­i­cat­ing; it re­ally gets me in a fes­tive mood,” shares Mas­sot. His mother would al­ways pre­pare the Bûche de Noël (yule log). The Christ­mas musthave sports cherry, choco­late and al­mond mousse, which are clas­sic flavours for a yule log. At Vian­ney Mas­sot Restau­rant, the Bûche de

Noël is rein­ter­preted into a mod­ern, con­tem­po­rary form: La Pomme de Pin. Al­mond mousse is care­fully piped to re­sem­ble a pinecone, be­fore the cake is fin­ished with ‘snow’ and edible soil.

What will Mas­sot bring to his fam­ily’s ta­ble, now that he’s a cel­e­brated chef? “My trade­mark Le Mac­a­roni. Ev­ery­thing about it just matches what Réveil­lon is about,” he says. And he’s not wrong; the foie gras fill­ing hidden within the mac­a­roni and co­pi­ous amount of black truf­fle is in line with the lav­ish­ness of in­gre­di­ents used dur­ing Réveil­lon. Pair the dish with a rich port and Ar­magnac sauce and you’ve got a sump­tu­ous Christ­mas feast.

“My grand­mother does it in a very tra­di­tional way, serv­ing it with foie gras and roasted chest­nuts. The smell is sim­ply in­tox­i­cat­ing; it re­ally gets me in a fes­tive mood” Vian­ney Mas­sot's La Pin­tade is in­spired by the tra­di­tional fes­tive roasts his grand­mother would make as a cen­ter­piece to a Christ­mas feast.

Do not be con­fused when you hear the jin­gling of bells, the soul­ful voice of Michael Bublé, and spot adorable Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions at ev­ery street cor­ner of Philip­pines dur­ing Septem­ber. The coun­try is known for or­gan­is­ing the long­est Christ­mas fi­es­tas yule­tide par­ties be­gin four months early.

And just like her coun­try’s love for the hol­i­days, Lisa Revilla, ex­ec­u­tive chef of The Dempsey Cook­house & Bar, and her fam­ily are also mas­sive fans of Christ­mas. “A typ­i­cal Revilla fes­tive feast is a gath­er­ing of over 100 peo­ple, in­clud­ing my ex­tended fam­ily. Held in one of the func­tion rooms of our an­ces­tral home-turned-ho­tel, the din­ner in­cludes a large spread of fes­tive dishes served buf­fet style with carv­ing sta­tions. We will also fire up the bar­be­cue to grill chunks of meat,” shares Revilla.

A sta­ple on the ta­ble is the Chicken Galantina, a must-have for Revilla’s lola (grandma). This fowl dish is only served dur­ing Christ­mas, and is tra­di­tion­ally made from deboned chicken stuffed with farce meat like minced pork, ham, olives, sweet pickles and red bell pep­pers. Ev­ery house­hold has a dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tion of their Chicken Galantina. “Lola doesn’t have a recipe for this – she re­lies on mus­cle mem­ory. The Revilla ver­sion fea­tures pork, ched­dar cheese, olives and ham stuff­ing, and the stuffed chicken is then roasted in­stead of steamed, for added flavour,” says Revilla. Un­like her lola, Revilla’s mum go-to dish is the En­say­madas, a clas­sic Span­ish pas­try with lay­ers of but­ter and sprin­kled with queso de bola cheese.

As for Revilla, she has added an Ital­ian twist to the clas­sic Le­chon. “For the Porchetta Le­chon, I use tra­di­tional sea­son­ings

– a mix­ture of salt, black pep­per, red chill­ies, gar­lic, lemon­grass, scal­lions and cider vine­gar – but I pre­pare it the Ital­ian way. And when I cook it, in­stead of cider vine­gar, I use co­conut vine­gar made by my un­cle – it’s aged co­conut sap freshly har­vested from the tree,” she shares. And this is what the Christ­mas at Revilla is: tra­di­tional, fa­mil­iar with a touch of moder­nity.

Ditch the log cake; this is Lisa Revilla's mama's favourite Christ­mas treat, En­say­mada. “A typ­i­cal Revilla fes­tive feast is a gath­er­ing of over 100 peo­ple, in­clud­ing my ex­tended fam­ily. Held in one of the func­tion rooms of our an­ces­tral home­turned-ho­tel, the din­ner in­cludes a large spread of fes­tive dishes served buf­fet style with carv­ing sta­tions. We will also fire up the bar­be­cue to grill chunks of meat.”

A con­tem­po­rary re-imag­i­na­tion of Mas­sot's mother's Yule Log: La Pomme de Pin Vian­ney Mas­sot Restau­rant's sig­na­ture Le Mac­a­roni, a dish fit for an el­e­gant Christ­mas feast.

In­spired by her trip to Italy, the Porchetta Le­chon is Revilla's take on the clas­sic dish. Chicken Galantina, a must-have from Lisa Revilla's grand­mother.

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY ED­DIE TEO STYLING DAR­RYL PES­TANA

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