Dear French Market Shoppers,
After writing about Bistronomie last week I received some interesting feedback on several French chefs now resident in this part of the world who have passionately embraced this style of food. My favourites are Frank at the Foodbarn and Laurent at Bistrot Bizerca. Their food is always outstanding and on a par with Michelin restaurants but the atmosphere is more relaxed and you always feel welcome.
In a different style, the food that is produced at our Patisserie de Paris in Johannesburg is made with equal passion which is earning it a reputation as the place to go for breakfast. The latest special that Paul has created is a really decadent “pain perdu” (French toast) with mixed red berry compote and lemon mascarpone cheese drizzled with maple syrup.
For those of you who want to stay snuggled up in bed on a chilly winter’s morning, both Paul in JNB and myself in CPT, are now selling frozen croissants and baguettes which are cooked straight from the freezer. These are also ideal if you are going away for a weekend but need to take your fix of real croissants and coffee with you. I cannot believe how successful these lines have been, people are becoming real addicts. If you serve the croissants with our range of mini French jams and some of our delicious gooey brie everyone will be happy.
With the icy weather continuing across the country, another product that is rolling out the door is Raclette for “Raclette” parties. This semi firm cheese is designed to be melted in front of a fire or, more frequently nowadays, melted in little mini frying pans and poured over baby potatoes, served alongside cornichons and other tasty treats. Raclette parties are a great way to entertain informally and are very popular in France in the skiing regions.
In this chilly winter weather I continued to look for ideas for heart-warming, gluten free dishes and my thoughts moved in the direction of one of the most famous, traditional dishes of France, a Coq au Vin. According to some legends, the origins of this wonderfully tasty dish may lie in Roman times when a local Gallic chief sent a cockerel across to the Roman army camp and the Romans cooked it in wine (a luxury at that time) and invited the chief to share it with them. Le Coq Gaulois, (Gallic Rooster) is an unofficial symbol of France and is proudly displayed by the French, especially on their national sporting colours.
A key element of this dish is the marinating of the cock/chicken for at least 12 hours prior to cooking. Secondly once it has been cooked, allowing the dish to stand for several hours before eating, increases the flavour. There are many variations; the usual ingredients are chicken cooked in red burgundy wine with lardons (thick bacon slices), onions, carrots, mushrooms, herbs and spices. I bought my lardons from Raiths here at the Gardens Shopping Centre. Other regional variations are a Coq au vin Jaune (sweet white wine from the Jura), Coq au vin Riesling from Alsace, Coq Purpre (Purple) with Beaujolais wine. I did the traditional recipe with red wine from Burgundy (Pinot Noir). Therefore the perfect pairing is “La Vignee” Pinot Noir or a Gevrey Chambertin made by Bouchard Pere et Fils.
This weekend is a sidewalk “Winter’s Market” at the Gardens Shopping Centre. There are tables outside the shops offering interesting bargains. I see there is a new Chocolate shop opening opposite me tomorrow – Chocolates by Tomes – I reckon my daughter will become a regular client as she is a chocaholic.
I hope you stay warm this weekend and enjoy yourselves. See you again soon at the French Market shop.