Monday, November 15, 2010
The French House is returning home and selling on Trade Me some of the items used for our special events. Terrine moulds, gratin dishes, glasses, serving plates... this is a unique opportunity to acquire some of the dishes used by Little Red Rooster to cook fantastic meals and the beautiful glassware used to decorate our tables! The sale goes on tomorrow and for 5 days so don't miss the chance to get a bit of the story, pass on the love and maybe start your own underground restaurant ;)
We wish you beautiful meals and great parties!
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Thanks to all that came down to the market and tried our fare. As laways, it was lovely to see some familiar faces.
For those that didn't brave the conditions, this is what we did:
Sorrel, Chevre and Nutmeg Quiche
Pork Loin en Croute, stuffed with Almagnac Prunes, Pistachio and Thyme
Pear and Lavender Tart
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
For a one-off, The French House will go public this sunday at the City Market (Chaffers Dock Building, 1 Herd St, Wellington). The City Market brings a stellar line-up of local food and beverage producers together under one roof.
Little Red Rooster is talking about quiche, pork in crust and pear tart... We will be there from 8.30am til 12.30pm so come and say hi!
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
A big thank you to all our lovely guests for braving the rain and joining us on Sunday for a Farmhouse Party. We hope you've enjoyed it as much as we did and we hope to see the new faces again as well as our dear patrons! We also would like to say a special thanks to Kelda & Paul from Nikau Cafe who let us use their wonderful venue.
So here are the pics folks, and the whole menu...
Kalamata Olives & Caper Berries Roasted with Orange & Fennel Seed
Rare Seared Beef on Crostini with Horseradish Creme Fraiche
Cauliflower, Cumin & Rosemary Fritters with Dill Yoghurt
Bresola with Fried Capers, Marjoram & Lemon
Pan-Roasted Duck Breast with Cauliflower Puree, Belluga Lentils, Carrots & Celeriac, & Veal Jus
Seared Venison with Roasted Beetroot, Watercress & Red Wine Sauce
Parsnip & Fennel Gratin
Spiced Pumpkin, Sweet Potato & Coconut Cream Pie
Pecan Gelato & Orange Blossom Water
Friday, July 23, 2010
I wanted to stress how much pleasure can be derived from eating such so-called humble ingredients, sardines do not have to come from a can, more so, like anything they are lovely when fresh. Granted they are not always available but in a way i think that makes them better, we love asparagus so much because it is only available for a short season, and in a rant similar to my last post, Alice Waters (owner and founder of Chez Pannisse, director of the French Food institute of America) was writing about tomatoes and wanted to scream at people for eating this wonderful gift of the earth out of season saying that by eating them all year round you ruin the wonderful experience of eating them when in season. It is in a similar vein to the humble sardine, you can't always have them so when you do have the chance, seize it, treat them right and they will treat you right.
it is not hard to cook your sardines either, you can do it in a fashion common in many parts of Italy and just roast or pan-fry them whole, or, if the bones and offal freak you out as they do a lot of people, just open them up and pull out the offending innards, but leave the tail on as this will hold the fish together, grill or fry them and they go wonderfully with a light salad or, of course, on toast.
one way of preparing the sardines i have not tried as yet but will be very soon is to lightly coat them in a flour mixed with, powdered mustard, sweet paprika, salt and pepper and fry them. could be served with a yoghurt or mayonnaise based sauce or again, with a salad.
I think it is important not to look down on so-called humble ingredients or you will miss a lot of pleasure. Hundreds of years ago ( before fridges and freezers ) all over Europe most people could not afford the more choice cuts of meat etc. and as such had to find ways to make what they could afford taste beautiful, or they would starve. if these same people were lucky enough to live ( or know someone who did ) on a farm and an animal had to be slaughtered then you had to use the whole animal, throwing away food would be a crime against both the animal and their empty stomachs! So, things like salami, salt fish, confit, terrine etc. were born, a way to hold that meat for the winter and thus survive the cold months. In the modern age we have much less need for these practices and while they were born out of necessity, it turns out .....it makes great food!
When it comes to food i am proud to be the peasant i am, and i encourage everyone to look for those cheap cuts, the shun fish, the paupers vegetable and find a lovely traditional recipe and i guarantee you will enjoy it more than you think.
We've changed our network connections and merged our Facebook Page with our Ning Network. Some of you were not getting the updates via the Page and Ning is now asking to pay fee to run the network. So we've decided to make it easier for everyone, to create a Facebook Group. You can register as a member too and you will receive an email update for our events. We hope you join and keep the movement going!
Little Red Rooster & Mrs. Jones
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
i have recently discovered (while trying to source ingredients for our next event) that it is basically impossible to get fresh goose anywhere in New Zealand !!!!!!!
i was told by several very reputable suppliers of meat, poultry and game that 'we just don't have any fresh geese' and when i said that this is the point in the season that they should be being culled and therefore ....there must be some ....... i was told 'we bring them in live, put them INSIDE and fatten them up on GRAINS kill them and freeze them straight away'
this was, to say the least a very sad experience for me, no-one was prepared to allow these geese to be at their best ( by being fresh not frozen, by leaving them outside to fatten naturally against the winter cold, and to have a natural diet rather that what ever grains they could get cheapest no doubt) .
In New Zealand, we suffer from being in the southern hemisphere and as such when we want to eat goose (at Christmas)....it is not in season, goose is a traditional Christmas bird, but in the northern hemisphere when it is winter for Christmas. so i accept that i can't get a fresh goose at Christmas down here at the end of the world, but when we have so much good game and poultry going straight from slaughter to freezer and being fed rubbish i feel like screaming.
One supplier even dared to suggest that this approach was the only one ! If they were not all the way down in Rangiora i would have ran over and strangled them.....and grabbed a goose before it went into the freezer.
the fact is that in new Zealand we are behind the times in the food industry, there are valiant pioneers out there, forward thinking restaurateurs and suppliers, diners who are demanding (finally) basic food cooked perfectly etc, but when i have these experiences i want to scream at the top of my lungs WHAT ARE YOU DOING ! It seems there is still a long way to go until we can truly be a 'foodie country' (as i recently heard someone describe us as).
We have in New Zealand some of the best basic products to be found, we just often don't keep them here or don't respect them enough (like say.....throwing them in a freezer, feeding them shit, putting them in the wrong environment, not using the whole beast, central distribution in a country with the population of a small city and on and on....)
The completely honest reason i am so upset is because i wanted to serve people at our table goose.....because it is a mid-winter Christmas meal, but i can't because i will never put my name to frozen meat, never serve it to one of our guests, and never ever under any circumstances condone by purchasing, poor practices of food production that show no respect to the beast that has died for our eating pleasure.
Charlie Trotter once said ' some divine agent has given us all these lovely things to eat, the least we can do is to cook them with love and to appreciate them'
THERE IS NO LOVE IN A FREEZER.
P.S If anyone knows a farmer with geese ......i would love to know....i would change the menu at the eleventh hour for the right ingredients
Monday, July 19, 2010
A big thank you to all our lovely guests that joined us for Bastille Day and a special thanks to Glen & Emma for letting us using their cafe (Super, Island Bay). We had a great evening and hope everyone enjoyed it too. Here is the menu and some pics...
Charcuterie Plate (pate, rillettes, ham & salami, with cornichons & boozy prunes)
Onion Soup with Gruyere Cheese Crostinis
Cassoulet (Confit Pork Belly & Duck Leg, Toulouse Sausages, Harricot Beans)
Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke & Vegetables (Baby; Carrots, Turnips, Fennel), with Shallots, Confit Garlic & Marjoram
Sourdough by Mrs. Jones
Lemon Tart with Vanilla Creme Fraiche & Candied Lemon Peel
Thursday, July 8, 2010
The Isobar supperclub was already experimental with food, and also determined to keep dinners affordable and designed to promote interaction between intellectuals and artists. This is exactly what we would like to realize and find more in New Zealand: a contemporary salon that will foster great discussions and entertainement, get people together to socialize and interact, around a delicious table.
A very inspiring show, with a great insight on the movement, for those who still wonder what is a supperclub... Here is the link to the podcast:
Enjoy the show and book a spot for our next supper!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
"I have always thought that it is risky business telling the chef what to cook, by choosing from a menu. They are well known to be creative and moody characters and so it has always been my strongly held belief that whoever is cooking should be the one to decide what they are in the 'mood' for creating. The food I experienced at The Fr...ench House tasted like it had been dreamed about, that its creator had churned it through his mind, testing, tasting and perfecting and yet still allowing the spontoneity of the produce and the day to live in his food. the attention to detail in the service, ambience and food imprinted something I had not expected, I felt cared for. Simple and yet somewhat rare and while I can remember everything I ate in vivid detail it is this feeling that has lingered. It is quite something to have the dreams of someone on a plate before you and to be in a room that holds those dreams in place. The French House left all of my previous dining experiences for dust. Keep dreaming for I am definatly coming back for more." Nadine
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
"Secret supper clubs operate from Berlin (The Shy Chef) to Buenos Aires (La Cocina Discreta). They are a barely legal dining experience that relies on word-of-mouth advertising. Patrons pay a suggested donation, bring their own alcohol and eat in suburban lounges, empty shops and private backyards. Some are run by chefs who can't afford their own restaurants. Others by enthusiastic home cooks. The concept has had so much press, that in 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported a backlash: "Kitchen not so confidential. Underground restaurants go public, lose cachet." It may be an international phenomenon, but until six weeks ago, it had not hit New Zealand. Then suddenly, one weekend in May, two unrelated secret restaurants opened for one night only."
And here is the link to the article: Meat and Mrs. Jones
Thursday, July 1, 2010
|Allons enfants de la Patrie,||Come, children of the Fatherland (Homeland),|
|Le jour de gloire est arrivé !||The day of glory has arrived!|
|Contre nous de la tyrannie,||Against us, Tyranny's|
|L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)||Bloody banner is raised, (repeat)|
|Entendez-vous dans les campagnes||Do you hear in the countryside|
|Mugir ces féroces soldats ?||Those ferocious soldiers roaring?|
|Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras||They come up to your arms|
|Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes !||To slit the throats of your sons and wives!|
|Aux armes, citoyens,||To arms, citizens,|
|Formez vos bataillons,||Form your battalions,|
|Marchons, marchons !||Let's march, let's march!|
|Qu'un sang impur||May an impure blood|
|Abreuve nos sillons !||Water our furrows!|
|Que veut cette horde d'esclaves,||What does this horde of slaves,|
|De traîtres, de rois conjurés ?||Of traitors and conjured kings want?|
|Pour qui ces ignobles entraves,||For whom are these ignoble trammels,|
|Ces fers dès longtemps préparés ? (bis)||These long-prepared fetters? (repeat)|
|Français, pour nous, ah ! quel outrage||Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage|
|Quels transports il doit exciter !||What fury it must arouse!|
|C'est nous qu'on ose méditer||It is we whom they dare plan|
|De rendre à l'antique esclavage !||To return to ancient slavery!|
|Aux armes, citoyens...||To arms, citizens...|
|Quoi ! des cohortes étrangères||What! Foreign cohorts|
|Feraient la loi dans nos foyers !||Would make law in our homes!|
|Quoi ! ces phalanges mercenaires||What! These mercenary phalanxes|
|Terrasseraient nos fiers guerriers ! (bis)||Would strike down our proud warriors! (repeat)|
|Grand Dieu ! par des mains enchaînées||Great God ! By chained hands|
|Nos fronts sous le joug se ploieraient||Our heads would bow under the yoke|
|De vils despotes deviendraient||Vile despots would become|
|Les maîtres de nos destinées !||The masters of our destinies!|
|Aux armes, citoyens...||To arms, citizens...|
|Tremblez, tyrans et vous perfides||Tremble, tyrants and you traitors|
|L'opprobre de tous les partis,||The shame of all parties,|
|Tremblez ! vos projets parricides||Tremble! Your parricidal schemes|
|Vont enfin recevoir leurs prix ! (bis)||Will finally receive their prizes! (repeat)|
|Tout est soldat pour vous combattre,||Everyone is a soldier to combat you|
|S'ils tombent, nos jeunes héros,||If they fall, our young heroes,|
|La terre en produit de nouveaux,||The earth produces new ones,|
|Contre vous tout prêts à se battre !||Against you, all ready to fight!|
|Aux armes, citoyens...||To arms, citizens...|
|Français, en guerriers magnanimes,||Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors,|
|Portez ou retenez vos coups !||Bear or hold back your blows!|
|Épargnez ces tristes victimes,||Spare these sorry victims,|
|À regret s'armant contre nous. (bis)||Arming against us with regrets. (repeat)|
|Mais ces despotes sanguinaires,||But these bloodthirsty despots,|
|Mais ces complices de Bouillé,||But these accomplices of Bouillé,|
|Tous ces tigres qui, sans pitié,||All these tigers who, mercilessly,|
|Déchirent le sein de leur mère !||Rip their mother's breast!|
|Aux armes, citoyens...||To arms, citizens...|
|Amour sacré de la Patrie,||Sacred love of the Fatherland,|
|Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs||Lead, support our avenging arms|
|Liberté, Liberté chérie,||Liberty, cherished Liberty,|
|Combats avec tes défenseurs ! (bis)||Fight with thy defenders! (repeat)|
|Sous nos drapeaux que la victoire||Under our flags, shall victory|
|Accoure à tes mâles accents,||Hurry to thy manly accents,|
|Que tes ennemis expirants||Shall thy expiring enemies,|
|Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire !||See thy triumph and our glory!|
|Aux armes, citoyens...||To arms, citizens...|
|(Couplet des enfants)||(Children's Verse)|
|Nous entrerons dans la carrière||We shall enter in the (military) career|
|Quand nos aînés n'y seront plus,||When our elders are no longer there,|
|Nous y trouverons leur poussière||There we shall find their dust|
|Et la trace de leurs vertus (bis)||And the trace of their virtues (repeat)|
|Bien moins jaloux de leur survivre||Much less jealous to survive them|
|Que de partager leur cercueil,||Than to share their coffins,|
|Nous aurons le sublime orgueil||We shall have the sublime pride|
|De les venger ou de les suivre||Of avenging or following them|
|Aux armes, citoyens...||To arms, citizens...|
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
A big thank you to all the lovely people that joined us for our second event, their kind words and appetite, it's been very encouraging and reassuring! We were delighted to have you around our tables and excited to feed you ;)) We've met some fantastic people and look forward to seeing them again. Here is an insight of the meal, full menu and few pics, hoping to convince more people to join us and keep the word going...
Lustau Manzanilla Sherry
Caramilized Onions, Margoram & Goat Cheese on Crostini
Deep-fried Pig's Head Terrine with Sauce Gribiche
Mussels, Creme Fraiche, Chives & Capers
Terakihi Tartare with Salmon Caviar, Seaweed Caviar, Chilli & Shallot
Terakihi Consomme with Lime, Chilli & Chervill
Slow Roasted Pork Loin, Stuffed with Black Pudding, Thyme & Cepes
Confit Pork Belly, served with Sauce Soubise with Jerusalem Artichoke & Confit Garlic
Duck Fat Parsnip, with Brussel Sprouts, Sage & Capers
Walnut, Almond, Frangelico & Chocolate Pithivier
Served with Walnut, Pistachio & Frangelico Ice Cream
It was a lovely Sunday lunch... and we are already thinking about our next supper... coming up soon!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I have a long-term affair with digestives, thanks to my grand-mother's "bar". She used to have friends that produced Eaux-de-Vie from their clandestine distillery in Normandy, and every year they will gave her new bottles of prune, pear, strawberry or raspberry alcohols. I will wait patiently to the end of the meal, that she turns to me and says: " would you open the bar and get some digestives on the table?".
Aah, the digestives' time! They were dearly needed, after a huge Sunday lunch, when you have to sit back on your chair and pop your trousers... We had to loosen up and, thanks to all the flavours proposed, we had excuses to have more than one!
Anyway, that's for the little story. My point is, you should never finish a meal without a digestive. It's the only reasonable way to ending a copious meal, that will help you to "digest" (!), yet leave you this comforting feeling that you are full but happy; its warmth protecting you from the cold waiting for you outside, and give you courage to finally stand up and leave the table... knowing that nothing else could be added to the experience.
So pay respect to the table, welcome the digestive at the end of your meal and celebrate life for all its goodness!
Sunday, June 6, 2010
The French House is now welcoming artists' proposals to exhibit in its intimate and comfortable surroundings.
Each month, we will be holding a different exhibition, with an opening party for each new one. Thereafter, the Gallery will be open in the day by appointment only; guests to The French House could enjoy the work in the Gallery at their leisure.
We are also looking for performers and musicians for special cabaret events...
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org, we want to hear about you.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Now, we've posted a question to Fergus Henderson on the guardian's blog, The Word of Mouth, and here is his response:
French girl, ex-waitress at St John, relocated in New Zealand, running a supperclub, The French House (in hommage to both you and the place)... trying to convince them to forget about ethics and macrobiotic, and eat foie gras and offal... any tips?
"Stick with it! Good luck. Don't be disheartened and make sure it's all delicious. Cooking's not about gore or blood-lust, it's about being delicious."
So thank you very much Fergus, it's encouraging, and yes we will stick to it!
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The supper will consist of an aperitif, followed by a 3 course meal, and finish with coffee and tea (and treats!). Because it's a social event, we encourage sharing tables, dishes and discussions! In time of economic recession we all need comfort, so come and join us for the experience, bring your own bottle of wine, and we will simply ask for a donation to cover costs.
Because of the nature of the event, places are rare and limited, and on the basis of first in first served, so don't wait too long to make a reservation (email email@example.com)! RSVP's close on Monday 14th June. We will then send you an email few days prior to the event, stating the menu and address, and ask you to confirm your booking and number of guests.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Last night, while discussing the menu for our next event and thinking about canapes and welcome drinks, I was reading Aperitif, Recipes for Simple Pleasures in the French Style by Georgeanne Brennan, day-dreaming about making our own vin maison or seasonal homemade wine, for everyday, that you can find in any given region in France. Aaah, the pleasure and ritual of aperitif, both a beverage and a social activity, where family and friends come together to share conversation before the lunch or dinner hour...
Here is a lovely insight about this social institution: "Just as the converstaion and conviviality of the moment are destined to stimulate the mind and spirit, the drink serves to pique the appetite and the taste buds before the meal."
I got a bit nostalgic after that... until I realized that we should (re)establish the importance of aperitif! It is an essential step before any introduction to the table that open your palate, wake-up your sensations, before calling for a meal. Most importantly, it is about social interaction and the first sign of hospitality that says: welcome to our home, our place, we are delighted to have you with us, relax, grab a drink, a nibble and chat away; to take time and enjoy life...
Rituals are my favourite things when it comes to food. I love the idea that everything is there for a reason, a tradition, and we have to honour and celebrate it. Which is why I never talk about binging but indulging, as nothing can be negative if done with care, love and respect. If you want to drink, drink, but well. If you want to eat, eat, but well. Be genuine, insatiable and thirsty!
Next stop: digestives!
Thursday at 12pm (BST), on wordofmouth's blog, Fergus Henderson, the man at the centre of the nose-to-tail revolution, will be online to answer questions. For those less familiar with his bespectacled presence, he's the chef who revolutionised the way we eat meat by opening a restaurant founded on the principle that if an animal is to be killed for the table, chef and diners ought to do it the courtesy of consuming all of it. In his own words:
"Nose to Tail Eating' means it would be disingenuous to the animal not to make the most of the whole beast; there is a set of delights, textural and flavoursome, which lie beyond the fillet."
While the amount the home cook can learn about the principles and practice of nose to tail eating from such a chef might seem overwhelming, it's worth bearing in mind the last and certainly not least of the four things he thought he should mention in his introduction to Nose to Tail Eating:
"Do not be afraid of cooking, as your ingredients will know, and misbehave. Enjoy your cooking and the food will behave; moreover, it will pass your pleasure on to those who eat it."
Monday, May 31, 2010
oh little piggy, when i see you rolling in the mud and you squeal
i must confess, hungry- i do not feel
but when i see you shaved, paitently waiting for my knife
i am filled with all the joys of life
i will take your belly for confit, your breasts to roll
your hocks for soup, a menu (in my head) starts to unfold
your head for terrine, your leg for ham
your blood for sausage, mise en place i start to plan
you truely are the perfect animal, your heart i hear
will even interchange with ours!
please know little piggy that when i eat of you
it makes me happy like a child
and that is why mr. pig, i will never throw a scrap of you in a bin!!!
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Here are some pictures of the night...
Sea Gull Cocktail
Chicken Liver Pate with Hennessy Cognac
Pork Terrine with Pistachio, Juniper & Gin
Slow Cooked Pork Belly with Brandied Prune Salsa
Salted Terakihi Brandade with Crispy Capers
Leek, Silverbeet, Nutmeg & Chestnut Tart,
served with Cress & Creme Fraiche Dressing
Roast Chicken, stuffed with Thyme Butter, Lemon & Garlic
Slow Roasted Duck with Rosemary
served with Shallots, Bacon, Sage & Armagnac Prunes
Cavalo Nero with Confit Garlic Oil, Chilli & Rosemary
Braised Baby Carrots
Bitter Green Salad
Pistachio Brulee with Salted Pistachio Pralines,
served with Vanilla & Honey Roasted Quince, Red Wine Poached Pear
and toffeed Pistachio
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
So come and join us!
Monday, May 17, 2010
This is a new experience in New Zealand and we are hoping to get in touch with other similar initiatives and foster the network.
So if you are passionate about well-cooked, rustic and gutsy food, join the movement and keep it going!
We would love to hear from you and find out if you like this project...
To subscribe to the network, click on the Community page or link on to http://thefrenchhouse.ning.com/
Thursday, May 13, 2010
In times of economic recession we all need comfort, so join us for the experience, bring your own bottle of wine, and we will simply ask for a discretionary donation to cover costs.
Please note that due to the nature of the event and limited places, RSVP is required by Tuesday 18th May. The menu and address will be provided few days prior to the event.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
With the high cost of opening a restaurant, what's a young chef with a clever idea to do? In San Francisco, the answer is to set up a temporary restaurant in an existing space a few nights a week. By taking advantage of underused kitchens, pop-ups allow young chefs to experiment without the risk of a full-fledged operation.
Even Chef Alice Waters, of Chez Panisse, started out deep in the underground dining circuit in the late '60s. Waters' community-conscious dinners, mostly for free-speech campaigners, became popularized as Alice's Restaurant.
The underground movement though is more about emphasising food as a social experience, meeting new people, eating well at a reasonable price. They are called Supperclubs (US), paladares (Cuba), 'locked door' restaurant (Argentina), underground restaurants (UK)... the trend is so stealth that nobody can estimate the number of secret pop-up dining locations.
We loved the concept, and are now bringing it to New Zealand, hoping it will spread here too...
We want to invite you to debate ideas and meet people, sharing table and dishes, in a cosy and intimate environment, that will change for each event. You won't know where it will be and what the menu will be until a few days before.
Because of its underground nature, it works on bookings-only basis, and you have to be a friend (or a friend of a friend, or a friend of a friend of a friend; alternatively you can also become one through our facebook page!) to be part of the experience.
Finally, and to remain clandestine, there is no alcohol licence (you can bring your own bottle) and no fixed prices; we simply ask for a discretionary donation to cover costs.
Intimate and sociable...