Friday, July 23, 2010

For something more positive, i had the distinct pleasure of prepping and cooking some lovely sardines today.
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 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.


Dear friends and members,

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!

Thank you,
Little Red Rooster & Mrs. Jones

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hi there folks, it has been a while since i made a post on our blog, but i am sad to say that this one is a rant......
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) 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'

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

Bastille Day supper

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...

Lillet Aperitif
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
Green Salad
Sourdough by Mrs. Jones

Lemon Tart with Vanilla Creme Fraiche & Candied Lemon Peel

Thursday, July 8, 2010

BBC podcast on the supperclubs movement

The fab and fiercely militant MsMarmitelover was on Radio 4 this week with Tim Hayward, who explores the links between a 1930s supperclub in Hampstead, at the Isokon building (built in the constructivist style) with Agatha Christie and other leading lights, with supperclubs in today's London.

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

And here is a review by one of our lovely guest...

We were very glad to have already an article in the press, but what we are the most happy about are the lovely messages left by our guests. Those are the reviews that truly move our hearts and fill our souls with joy. So here is one of them, to thank them.

"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

The French House in the press!

Kim Knight, from The Sunday Star Times, attended our last event... here is a short extract:

"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

Bastille Day, july 14......let's eat !

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[3] 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...