Villia Jefremovas in Sagada Saturday September 21, 2019 EDT 
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food odyssey

Villia DespedidaJune 11, 2006 Sunday

Villia's Despedida (Going Away) Party

When I think 'bigger than life', somehow Villia Jefremovas surfaces among a select few. With 3 residences in the world, a presence you can't ignore, a mind set of a global diplomat, culinary skills of a chef, creative prowess of an artist, an uncanny ability to win people over, and more importantly, an irrepressible desire to feed her friends (he-he), Villia is one for big occassions. Now that she has to leave Sagada for a world conference and take residency in Colombia, she throws in a despedida party to rival the gastronomic indulgence of Les Trois Gloriuse...with a little help from accomplished chef-friends.

Villia Jefremos Despedida

Chef Guests
Chef Aklay was of course there. Leida, owner of Café by the Ruins, and schooled at the Cordon Bleu, was there too. Mitos, owner of Mario's in Baguio, graced the occassion as well. With Villia and the 3 chefs, we're talking DREAM TEAM. The rest of the guest line up were mostly culinary enthusiasts themselves or like me, guys who enjoy good food. I don't think any business/professional associate was there. From what I could gather, only select friends from Sagada and Baguio were invited...people close to her heart.

Opera Cake
Like all her despedidas before, the pastry highlight remains the Opera Cake. According to Aklay, it has 3 stars in terms of difficulty. There is no 4. It stops at 3. When I asked Siegrid what Aklay-dish she liked the most, without missing a beat, she said Opera Cake. Roughly speaking, you create 12 layers of alternating cake and cream within a 2-inch height. Due to its complexity, it was prepared a couple of days in advance. Opera cake is Austrian but very popular amongst French chefs. Definitely not one for the novice.

Roast Duck Stuffed with Prunes and Pistachio
All the dishes were exceptionally good, bar none. However, if I am to choose only one for my dinner, I would take the roast duck stuffed with prunes and's to die for. Eating it is like cheating on an exam and getting away with it. You haven't lived yet 'til you try this dish.

Ending Thoughts
If you've ever watched the Northern Exposure episode where Maurice throws an epicurean feast at his house, this is it. Another analogy is being at the dinner prepared by Babette in the movie Babette's Feast. Food is catapulted to stratospheric heights, it becomes religion.

Thank you Villia. We miss you. Sagada is already a little quiet without you.

--- TheLoneRider

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