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Pâtés and fruitcakes –the good kind–as Christmas gifts

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Pâté foie gras was the very first pâté I came across. It was in our family restaurant Au Bon Vivant in Ermita, Manila. It came in a tin can with black truffle in the middle, made by a company in Paris called Petit Quenault.

I remember the details because I used to bring cans of the pâté home for the restaurant every time I flew back to Manila. I had no idea what it was except that with some melba toast, it was delicious.

Many times, I would set that black truffle aside and try it, and never really understood all the fuss about it. To me, it didn’t have a taste. White truffle had a stronger taste.

Another pâté the restaurant served was a homemade one called Pâté de Campagne, or country pâté. Made mostly with ground pork, it was also perfect with mini sour pickles or on a sandwich.

Homemade version

Later on, I learned that the pâté I was exposed to was made with duck liver, while a less expensive version was made with chicken liver.

In Vancouver, there was a French food store on Grandville Island market that sold a variety of pâtés. Most looked the same and the only way I could tell the duck version from the others was through the price. The duck pâté was, of course, the most expensive. With a nice bottle of full-bodied red wine, we would feast on this at home.

Years ago, my wife Tessa and I decided to make chicken liver pâté and offer it for Christmas. I made the pâté while she took care of designing the black ceramic duck containers. With a lot of liver and butter in our chillers, we were like a factory gone mad.

From the response and repeat orders we got, our homemade pâté was a success. But anyone doing food business during Christmas knows that it can totally spoil the season. Ours did. Now, we leave it to others to do the pâté-making.

I have come across many versions of pâté, spreads or anything similar to them. I have savored many good ones, and endured many not that great, too.

Recently, I found a very good one made by Mandarin Oriental Manila. Also in a duck container, the pâté is topped with a mildly sweet gelatin to seal the treasure underneath.

The pâté is smooth, creamy, delicious, and just brings me back to the great pâtés I’ve tried. This comes with thin sesame toast; a thinly sliced and toasted baguette will also be a winner with this spread.

Hard-to-resist snack

One of the most common Christmas gifts is fruitcake. I’ve noticed that there aren’t too many going around anymore. Many make fun of this cake, but I love a good version of it.

With good-tasting cheese, it is to me a snack very hard to resist.

The Mandarin Deli also makes very good fruitcake. The delicacy is topped with dates, walnuts, pistachio, cherries and some more dried fruits. Sarap!

Another spread I recommend is made by Deeda Revilla. Caviar pie is a thick layer of light cream cheese, chopped onions and chopped hard-cooked eggs, all topped with black caviar. With melba toast, this is simply yummy.

Her hubby Alex also makes a great seven-layer Mexican dip with Tostitos.

With Christmas coming ever nearer, we’re becoming more frantic in search of what to give our special friends and relatives.

One timeless tip when giving recycled gifts: Make sure you remove the card.

Happy Eating!

Call Mandarin Oriental Deli at tel. no. 7508888 ext. 2415. It also has an outlet at Rockwell Mall in Makati City.

Another gift idea is authentic Laoag longganisa, the one they put inside Ilocos empanada. Not the sweet version. Sarap! Call tel. no. 0923-4237485.

Visit the author’s blog at www.sandydaza.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter @sandydaza

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