Saturday, 3 February 2018

Cooking for France

Mr Robinson, chef and proprietor of The Glenwood Restaurant, has been invited by the French Embassy (SA) to participate in a week celebrating French cuisine. This week is an international event, organised by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs.

The French, as we have all realised by now, are unapologetic champions of their culture and central to their culture is food. Now, it is tempting, as I have just done, to use ‘French cuisine’ in a nearly generic sense. But this is very far from accurate. There is the north of France and the south of France. There is haute cuisine and classical cuisine. There is what the French eat at home and what they eat in restaurants. But what holds true through all these distinctions is that the French took their primacy in European cuisine to be absolute for at least 150 years until, relatively recently, people started noting Italian and then Spanish cuisine, and so on. And even in parts of the world which are not Europe it has been expected, for some bizarre reason, that the French would be the judges of how others fair with their own conceptualisation and execution – we have had Michelin judgements since 1926.

Robinson, as we know, is a stickler for making food he likes to eat. His leanings are also towards that part of France, Provence, which belonged to Italy till as recent as 1486. Provence is that incredible place so lauded and loved by Elizabeth David and her hero, Marcel Boulestin. It is home to where France meets Italy. Provencal food is rooted in the terrain of the produce, and these are used according to classical rules. The French love rules; they have rules for everything. This type of food is fresh, accessible and simple, but by no means easy to produce. There is no chance of subterfuge – of hiding behind mousses and jellies, or under blobs and swirls. There is no chance of baffling with things very esoteric. There is no smoke, nor are there mirrors here.

This is the food you eat at The Glenwood Restaurant and is what has won Robinson the invitation to participate. Over this week we shall also have French wines available, as is required of participants.

Here is something about the cultural week. And then to follow is the menu (R290 per head) we are serving over this week (21 to 25 March, for us). You are welcome to book by the usual means.

GOÛT DE FRANCE (a symbol of good France)

“Cuisine - French cuisine - represents joie de vivre, lightness, optimism and pleasure, ideas which are central to the image of Destination France”. Alain Ducasse, event creator alongside the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs  The spirit of Goût de France / Good France follows this founding idea with the aim of including all categories of restaurant throughout the world. This international event, which was first held in 2015, follows UNESCO’s decision to put “gastronomic meal of the French” on the intangible cultural heritage list. Thus on 21 March every year, participating restaurants offer guests the experience of French art de vivre and pay tribute to its capacity for innovation and the values that it represents: sharing, pleasure, and respect for good food, good company and the planet.   In 2017, over 2,100 participating restaurants in 150 countries, 250,000 meals and 8,000 guests in 156 embassies. Vitality, modernity, responsibility: gastronomy will be used to showcase France's positive values, with the warmth associated with the pleasures of good food.


On arrival:
Olives and Bakery bread with anchovy butter
(Et du pain de la maison avec di beurre d’anchovois)
Deep fried courgette flowers stuffed with house made ricotta
(Fleur de courgette farci au fromage)
Steamed oysters with tomato and tarragon butter
(Huitres au vapeur, beurre de tomate et l’estragon)
Impala stew braised in red wine with mash
(Civet de chevreuil “Grandmere”)
Open ravioli with ratatouille and basil butter
(Pate fraîche a la ratatouille et du beurre de basalic)
Local farmhouse cheeses with Bakery walnut and raisin sourdough bread
(Plateau de fromage fermiers servi avec notre pain de noyer et raisin)
Choux pastry fritters with ginger ice cream and hot chocolate sauce
(Biegnets soufflés de chocolat chaud et dela crème glacée de gingembre)
Plum and almond tart with vanilla ice cream
(Tarte aux bruneaux et amandes avec glace a la vanille)

Café et petits fours

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