Living here in Singapore means that I do have a modicum of help in the cheffing-up department (‘thank goodness’ cry two small people).
Despite being somewhat stove-shy, I’m actually not a bad prepper and really quite enjoy assembling ingredients (the more exotic, the better). What I hate is standing over a hot oven pushing it all about with a spoon. I don’t much care for doing it in any country but feel particularly justified in my outburst of domestic indifference when I’m living in tropical temperatures and my kitchen doesn’t just not have air-con, it’s outside in the sunshine.
Anyway…when I was over in England I threw a dinner party. A big step for me: jetlag (party was held 4 hours after my arrival) and I’d be cooking in my sister’s kitchen (‘where’s the salt/the spoons/how do I turn the oven on’ isn’t much fun for anyone) or should I just say cooking, full stop.
To the rescue came a new Barnes staple that I was thrilled to discover just in the nick of time: Madame Gautier’s regional French food shop, or traiteur as it’s otherwise known.
Serving up delicious things that you absolutely could and probably should make yourself (but as they taste delicious and look as if they have been, why worry?).
Each of the trays in the main picture at the top of the page showcase simple, unpretentious French food; the good, old fashioned stuff that always seems to be the Le Plat du Jour when you’re eating in any rustic village in France. It does all look slightly like a dog’s dinner in this particular shot but the boeuf bourguignon at least, which I can vouch for, tasted scrumptious and was perfect for a blustery cold evening.
Wine on offer was vin ordinaire – but perfectly good when being drunk with what’s essentially a stew – and came straight out of the vat they have here in the shop, weighing in at a wonderfully good value £10 for a litre (you buy a lovely stoppered 1l glass bottle from them costing £2 and they’ll refund you when you bring it back).
The charcuterie there also looked temptingly good:
…as did their shelves laden with French goodies:
Tarte aux pommes and other such treats sit temptingly close to the till…but I resisted (well, only long enough to round the corner a few streets along where I saw another French patisserie: my already weakened resolve crumbled).
Dinner in a dash. Done.
(Pots and peas to accompany the stew I did manage to do myself).
For more info on Madame Gautier’s Traiteur, who also run cooking courses and lovely weekend markets, click here.