My suspicions that Barbra Sia and Kurt Famador are psychopaths have always been there from the very first time I’ve met them. They are butchers to begin with and own an establishment primarily dedicated to the preparation and consumption of meat. The hallmarks are there: a fetish for knives, disregard for convention, interest in anatomical physicality, partialism (cheek and jowl are high on their list) and the fascination with fire.
It has been quite masochistic on my part to have returned time and again to Carnivore for their brand of pleasurable torture. Assortments of animals are cut and used from nose to tail. There are the exotics and the tame usual’s, the latter made like the former with extensive treatments before I am stuffed with these. Hansel was fed well for the intended oven. Here I am swallowing hook, line and sinker. Patty Hearst would have been proud. I am slayed every single time and am reborn wanting more.
A year after I was drawn into this macabre affair, I was invited to join two feasts, on separate dates two weeks apart, with the rest of their submissives to mark their sordid beginning and our willing capture. They were joined by one of The Island’s founders of the cult of craft beer, The Cebruery, pairing sweet liquid poisons with the solids.
Sous Vide Dalupapa Noodles with Classic Berliner Weiss and Sour Girl Beers
Local Giant Squid, Dalupapa, swam their last twenty-four hours en sous-vide before these were precision-cut into ribbons of pasta, drizzled with a Pear-Miso dressing, sprinkled with Tobiko and garnished with shaved Cucumbers and Edible Mums. The illusion extended to the perfectly al dente texture of the proteinaceous flat noodles with the rest of the ingredients coming right in between pushing out the briny, fleshy flavor of squid and masking it altogether. The sours aided the natural salinity and sweetness while cleansing the palate of the seafoody taste.
Crispy Bone Marrow with Uni on Brioche Toast with Boracay Blonde Ale
Rich by default Bone Marrow was made rich to a fault by a battered deep-fry. The sweet, briny flavor of Uni cut through the richness with the Brioche toasts holding back the possible cloy. The fats neutralized the hops in the Blonde making it an even easier drink to down.
Wild Cobia Sashimi
Smoked Wild Cobia made its way into the menu as a surprise dish. Gravlax-like in simplicity, the salt comes in from a finishing blend than from a curing. Caper berries and Tobiko add a touch more saltiness bringing out the sweetness of the fish with the Mangoes, the herbals and a brightness from the Champagne Foam.
Intended as a palate cleanser in-between, The Cebruery’s There She Gose-Gose Beer was refreshingly on the sour side with a bit of sea salt.
Wild Cobia Taco with Gold Dust Woman Weitbeer
A pan-fried fillet of Cobia rested on a disc of taco soil in their take on deconstruction. Mangoes, Cucumbers, Aromatics and their signature Edible Flowers made up the green component. Sours came from local cherry tomatoes all tied- in by the Butternut Crunch Pesto. Complementary grain flavors from the beer and the corn balance out the hops and keep it light enough for the fish.
Smoked Pork Jowl Steak with King Prawn and Dumaguete Dubbel
King Prawns were sous-vided into the consistency of a crustacean butter resting in its split half shell against a generous cut of Wild Boar Jowl. The expected gaminess of the boar was rendered almost lost in a day’s steeping in red wine and the subsequent hour long sous-vide in the same marinade. What was left was a tender, rich, almost beef-like, dark meat with an aromatic dimension from a two-hour, Whiskey-wood cold smoke. The darkly sweet Dubbel played like a red would to the pork while not at all in the way of the more delicate flavor of the prawn.
Peanut Butter Mousse with Double-Roasted Cocoa Sherbet paired with a Chocolate Hills Porter
In an homage to Reese’s, peanut butter was whipped into a smooth and light Mousse with a Dark Chocolate Fudge coating. The Double-Roasted Cocoa Sherbet seconded the fudge in a cold temperature flux with the chocolate and caramel malts from the Chocolate Hills Porter echoing the chocolate treatments.
Beet Carpaccio and Liepzig-Style Gose
The second installment began with veg to ease us into another five-courser. Beets were oven-roasted soft, stewed in orange juice, peel, ginger, vinegar and select herbs. These were served in thin slices with Feta, Navel Orange Supremes, Edible Mums and flowers and dressed with a reduction of the stew. The more vegetal tastes were drowned out with the oranges playing up the sweetness and its tang coming up to that of the Feta. The tartness of the Gose brought out the sweet earthiness of the dish.
Whiskey-Smoked Bone Marrow with Uni served with Toasted Baguette Slices
The first surprise dish came by a roasted, split-bone, in-bone Marrow finished with a cold smoke of Whiskey wood. Uni and toast came into play with this dish as in the first dinner. The prezo included a popsicle stick embedded in the fatty bone tissue as a butter knife of sorts.
Slow-cooked Octopus and Classic Berliner Weiss
In another day-long treatment, Octopus was slow-cooked to a near scallopine softness. The luxuriously meaty texture rested on flavor contrast alternates of salty local Chorizo slices and the blank canvas of New Potatoes married by the Butter Crunch Pesto. Again, the Weiss comes in to bring out the sweetness of the seafood with its contrast of sours.
Beef Shortrib with Demi-glace and a Deep-Fried Goat Testicle
The Cebruery’s Brown-eyed Girl, an Oud Bruin, came in as an in-between with the second surprise dish of Beef Shortrib with a nine-hour Demi-glace and a Deep-Fried Goat Testicle. The shortrib was savory and their usual sous-vide soft. That offal piece wasn’t at all awful and only more strange to the thought than it was to the tongue with a texture more dense than but not too unlike a scallop crossed with a boiled jackfruit seed and a taste along that same approximation. Frying made it golden. The malty and sweet flavors of the Brown Ale are enriched by the beef while its dark and roasty character cut through the more exotic taste.
Water Buffalo Sliders with People Power Pale Ale
I expected a more gamey taste and a bit more than the usual chew with the unusual meat choice of Water Buffalo but was surprised with a flavor most comparable to an intense Angus. Local Buffalo Cheese lent a more exotic tang and mouthfeel than the usual processed cheese in the Ciabattini slider. Stark without the addition of any sauces and vegetables, the meat and cheese took center stage with myself wanting an encore. The rather hoppy ale helped balance out the intense flavor.
Slow-cooked Goat Leg with Striploin in Curry with New Revolution Double IPA
Sous-vide made the huge difference as goat striploin came up yielding and even light in flavor and color with nary the usual strong goat smell. A potent Curry Sauce gave it good heat and spice flavor that well with the subdued goat flavor. The beer catches the caramelization’s of the meat and boosts the umami. While the hops cool the heat from the spice the alcohol content reins in the effect to keep the bite distinct.
Dark Chocolate and Banana Cake with Kahlua Ice Cream
Two surprise dishes brought the advertised five-course to seven which pushed dessert to the edge of needless but who were we to say no. Chocolate and banana is always a winner and here it’s more an adult ala mode dessert with the more intense dark chocolate and the liqueur. All the alcohol in Kahlua may have cooked off but the flavors lingered in the creamy concoction. The Fat Bottomed Girl-Wee Heavy Scotch Ale extends the caramel, chocolate and coffee notes.
I write this in the state of food coma. I am still reeling from those sensational experiences and wallowing in the individual memories of each of my tastebuds. My suspicions that Barbra Sia and Kurt Famador are psychopaths have always been there from the very first time I’ve met them. If death be this delicious then let me die a thousand deaths by their hands.
Carnivore is located at The Gallery, John Paul II Avenue, Mabolo, Cebu City.
Photos by Toni Marie Despojo