The Rollin’ PinPosted: July 28, 2014
(Published 28th July 2014 in the Dumaguete MetroPost. I have since received free macaroons and calamansi juice for it!)
The Rollin’ Pin
One of the reasons why I haven’t been able to write for this column for some weeks now is the arrival of a new dessert place here in Dumaguete.
The Rollin’ Pin, located just a stone’s throw away from Silliman University, is perhaps Dumaguete’s first French patisserie. The place has been serving as a distraction for me and fellow creative writing majors for the past month. And if there’s anything you should know about writers, it’s that while we love writing, we love food more.
Having just opened this tenth of June (that’s just over a month), The Rollin Pin is a newcomer in Dumaguete’s pastry scene (dominated admittedly for decades by Sans Rival), but already, it’s proving to be a presence.
Behind the patisserie is French pâtissier Antoine Timothee Rolin. Antoine is as young as his pastry shop (no, not a month, he’s in his 20s), and he has all the restless creativity of that youth. Only The Rollin Pin can thus claim to serve French pastries baked by French hands. And what works of imagination they are!
It seems that the process of making pastries for Antoine begins in his daily walks to the Dumaguete Market. He not only goes there for supplies, but for inspiration. A fruit he’s never tried to use, a local ingredient not usually used for sweets, whatever catches his eye can give him ideas as to his next creation. From there he will begin baking his new idea, and it will be part of the day’s display at the Rollin Pin.
That The Rollin Pin’s selection of pastries relies entirely on Antoine’s unpredictable imagination makes the pastry shop a place full of gourmet surprises. You really do not know what will be on display each day, or even if there will be anything new later during the same day. No other pastry shop – no restaurant I daresay – changes its serving as much as The Rollin Pin does.
If you find yourself frequenting the place, you’re bound to meet Armegyn Maglenti, Antoine’s girlfriend. She serves as the place’s manager, and chatting with her will add a new dimension to appreciating the pastries. But even she cannot predict what the patissier will come up with next.
Antoine and Armegyn were originally from Cebu (ultimately not Antoine of course, he’s from France). Having cooked for various restaurants in China and France, Antoine found himself working in Cebu for a French themed restaurant there. But he decided to quit and, with Armegyn, started Chez Ton Ton, a French restaurant in Oslob that catered to its whale shark drawn tourists.
But Antoine’s restlessness drove the two to seek new places, and they found themselves in Dumaguete. Leaving the management of Chez Ton Ton to a relative, they set off to start The Rollin’ Pin.
The plan to start The Rollin’ Pin was a very personal one for them. The name itself, an obvious pun on the patissier’s surname, shows that.
When I first came to the place I noticed how irregularly shaped some of the pastries may be. I was with one of the early converts to the place, the young poet Arkay Timonera, and you’ll hand it to a poet to explain why eloquently: a uniformly shaped set of pastries would only show that they’re machine made, irregularities in the pastries hint their handmade origins. You know that the patissier personally rolls every croissant, personally fills every tart, personally spreads every roll with icing.
The decision to start The Rollin Pin was thus not simply a money making venture – the place is far too personalized, far too creative for that. It was to start a relationship with the people of Dumaguete that’s unique between artisan and appreciator.
And I’m not saying platitudes here: they really do respond to customers’ reactions. One of The Rollin Pin’s signature pastries, the macaroon, can be a bit expensive for student budgets. At forty pesos each it’s a luxury. One customer suggested they bake smaller ones so students can try, and a few days later Antoine came up with macaroons at half the price.
Perhaps one of the things that may turn people off about The Rollin’ Pin is that, the price. In cheap Dumaguete where only the pedicab drivers are overpriced, the pastries can be quite heavy. Its location near Silliman can also highlight that, as the pastries are far from student budget. But it’s really only expensive for Dumaguete standards – as someone from the city I know how cheap their pastries really are already. A macaroon will fetch you seventy to a hundred pesos each in Davao, but at forty pesos The Rollin Pin is attractively affordable.
Which isn’t to say Antoine and Armegyn are staying in their pedestals. They’re coming up with ways to let students with tight budgets try some of the pastries. There are the smaller shots at forty pesos for shots that usually range from sixty to ninety. There are the petit fours versions of the desserts at just fifteen pesos. Just recently they even served tiny croissants at five pesos each. And a discount system, by which a student can get ten percent off with a valid student ID, is in the works. All of a sudden Silliman’s ID policy starts making sense!
Bargain shots at art food are something I’ve never encountered in Dumaguete before, because you can really consider what Antoine is doing art. While his output is mostly orthodox French pastry, he’s delightfully edging into what can only be considered Filipino-French fusion. Now that is something I have never heard of, much less imagine in pastries. So far he has used mango, a rare ingredient in French cuisine, extensively, and in his take of the traditional Riz au Lait he used sticky rice instead of the risotto variety. Most innovatively perhaps he has used kangkong in tarts. I am excited to know how far he will develop in this!
The pastries you ask? I can fill this article with recommendations, but at the top of the list is that piece of innovation up there: the creamy kangkong tart. It’s a savoury tart with a sweet dough crust, but while it’s innovative it’s also ridiculously delicious. I think it feeds my social climber needs perfectly: the delightful balance of crispy sweet dough crust and the creaminess of the sauce is fancy enough to feed my more bourgeois palate, while the tagabukid in me is fulfilled with the deliciously familiar flavour of kangkong and garlic. I also love their homemade ice cream: being a devout strawberry worshipper my favourite flavour is easy to predict. I also loved the sticky rice series – The Rollin’ Pin has given me new ways of deepening my strawberry spirituality with the strawberry sticky rice (imagine strawberry flavoured champorado!) The fruit tarts I also love with some whipped cream on top.
Oh and they don’t just serve pastries. They also have sandwiches, salads, and breakfast meals. For the sandwiches Armegyn recommends the Tuna Wasabi and Nori sandwich, while I recommend the delightful croque madame salad, a croquet madame sandwich (bacon, emental cheese, and an egg) in a bed of lettuce, tomato, and onion with pesto dressing. The patissier himself recommends his chocolate coulant, crispy chocolate shell with oozing chocolate inside, served with crème brulee and ice cream.
And what’s next for The Rollin Pin? You’ll never really know what comes into Antoine’s mind! In the works is a change in the sandwiches selection, a peach melba offering, and a lunch menu. With Silliman’s Founders coming, there’ll be rich opportunities to innovate.
And I with my decadent palate I’m praying for a strawberry flavoured cream puff to come out soon.