Le Poivrot

Le Poivrot

I am not sure who I felt sorrier for.... Me sitting on a table with a manager who works for my husband. Or for him sitting with the bosses wife, on a Tuesday night with 7 courses plus wine flight ahead of him! Being that he kindly requested my invitation recently at the launch of the new autumn menu launch at Le Poivrot..... the latter!

In the old joke shop between the BRI and Colston Hall, this area is not a natural destination for most. Yet, one well worth making the journey to. Le Poivrot, in the backwaters, screams French Bistrot. However, by their own design with a fresh approach and modern wine. With understated, stylish decor I imagine Le Poivrot will create its own vibe. Certainly, it promises beautiful food and wine.

The new Autumn menu on first glance showed many seasonal ingredients. Quince, figs, wild mushrooms and leaves from the Severn Project, made for a promising start. Once seated our introduction was a rich duck terrine served with quince. With delicate floral notes, toasted hazelnuts and served with an aromatic Arbois Chardonnay. It was a strong start! Followed by a beetroot and goats cheese salad, with a creamy and light goat cheese mousse. Non-goats cheese fans would not be overwhelmed with sour/goaty flavours. Elevated with earthy, pickled baby beets and candied walnuts for sweetness and texture. Paired with a US Reisling, with fruity tones and beautiful velvety honey.

Next up was a French classic that I have never actually tried! Steak tartare. Not served in a traditional sense Le Poivrot describes this as their signature dish. Coarsely chopped steak with fine cornichons brought acidity amidst the rich confit yolk. Peppery radishes and sharp caperberries contrasted and topped off with generous truffle dusting. The red wine match for this dish was my favourite for the evening. A classic blend of Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah grapes. Aged in concrete vats for 6 months, giving a juicy, red fruit profile and very drinkable!

As we progressed and becoming increasingly full we did not lack enthusiasm! Next up was subtle flavoured partridge. Served with sweet baby parsnips, plump, ripe juicy blackberries and earthy sprouting broccoli. The wine match was not one I could personally quoff on its own as it was bold. Yet, with this dish, the Bordeaux blend came into its own. Finally, it would seem unfair not to mention the bavette frites. Highly flavoured, this loose textured cut was perfectly seasoned and accompanied with frites. Beautiful community initiative The Severn Project, Bristol salad leaves completed the dish with a Bordeaux Superieur. Delicious.

I wish Alisdair and Richard all the best in their endeavors at LE POIVROT. Hoping it brings as much success as Redlight. Thank you for hosting me at your Autumn menu launch. The menu is spot on and look forward to stopping in again soon!

Wild Beer Company

Wild Beer Company

Had a chance to pop back to Wild Beer at Wapping Wharf this week for Mr FFFs bday! With the sun shining and prime seats in the deckchairs the kids seemed pretty happy (win no. 1!) and we settled into a 'running with sceptres' larger from Bristols Lost and Grounded Brewers:Very nice too.

Whilst the kids happily tucked into their fish and chips, we anticipated the fish platter feast: Calamari, fish tempura and fish in panko crumbs, smoked salmon, samphire and prawns to name a few. We just about finished it all and it was thoroughly enjoyed! So if you find yourselves harbour side this summer and fancy an excellent variety of draft beers (and gin and wine too!) and some delicious food, I would recommend a stop off at Wild Beer! Let me know what you think! Lisa

Faster Pasta: Seafood

Seafood pasta

Ever been shopping and yet you still don't know what you are going to cook for dinner?! Me too. Life can get in the way of a good meal especially if the focus is on getting the shopping done, but not having had the time to think the weeks meals through.

Remember the days when you said, sod it, let's just go out for dinner?! (Maybe you still do. Enjoy that!) Flexibility with family life can mean you are a bit more tied to eating at home or have to pay someone to be able to go out and pay for dinner! Or maybe you are still at the stage where more thought goes into what the kids are going to eat, and you grab what you can or get a takeaway. We have all been there.

Most people I talk to about food, love to eat but to find the time to think about it in any great depth is a sticking point; Or knowing where to find the ingredients or find new recipes that work, a bridge too far! So we end up getting on a 1 or 2 week rotation of meals that become a bit samey or variations on a theme. For those people, and this was me until both my boys were in school, this is why I started the Fuss Free Foodie.

Life is busy, it's the way we find ourselves living our lives these days. Life hacks are where it's at, and the Fuss Free Foodie is here to make eating amazing food accessible without the fuss! This is how I spend my time, and I love to share what I find, cook and eat. This is not an overhaul or need to make massive changes, but an opportunity to try and integrate a new recipe a week, or fortnight and rediscover that passion for food: the fuss-free way!

Life here in the Cadd household has changed a bit in the last 6 months, as our 7 year old has started Beavers. Fantastic. He loves it! But on a Friday night?! It was almost a deal breaker!! Traditionally, Friday nights were always about going to the pub after work and welcoming in the weekend. In fact, my husband and I used to work together so this was where we first started hanging out. 15 years later, and the scenario has changed slightly, but Friday is about catching up in front of the log burner with a glass of red wine, having eaten a lovely meal. So how does this happen when the evening goes off-piste with an activity?!

Pasta. Not just because I'm half Italian, but because it's fast. A bit of prep before and the rest can be pulled together whilst the pasta cooks. A lot can happen in 10 minutes!! We don't nearly eat enough fish, but seafood we love. Mussels (did you see the recipe for La Mouclade?) are such a fast food, but sometimes it's nice to have a change. Seafood risotto is lovely but SO labour intensive, as is Paella. But pasta checks a lot of boxes for us. Driven by what I can get fresh from my Fishmonger (Smiths Fish, Westbury Park) I will be flexible as to what I use, but a combination of prawns, mussels, squid and maybe some cockles work beautifully. Clams are lovely but very expensive and you get a lot more meat with mussels.

It's our reoccurring joke at the fishmongers that fish/seafood is the original fast food...and you know what....it's right. It's healthy and fast and we enjoyed this dish so much last Friday, we are having it again today! I hope you will give it a try. Let me know how you get on in the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook group and if you seek help in any particular culinary areas, I will do my best to help! Lisa.

Seafood Pasta
Serves 2

Up to 500g of prepared raw seafood (I used 2 handfuls of Mussels, 6 large prawns, heads off, peeled and deveined, 3 small calamari, cut into rings, check the tentacles for a small bone and chop out, a handful of prepared cockles if available)

200g spaghetti or linguine
50ml white wine
250g cherry tomatoes (vine and flavoursome as possible)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large tbsp of chopped parsley
Olive oil
Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper

  1. Prepare the mussels (*1) and place in a hot pan and throw in the wine and put the lid on. Cook on a high heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking regularly until the mussels are open. Discard any unopened mussels. Place a colander over a bowl, tip the mussels into the colander and keep the cooking juices in the bowl. Place a lid on top to keep the mussels warm.
  2. Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds and juice and then chop roughly. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and add the spaghetti. Bring to a simmer and cook according to the instructions, keeping the pasta al dente.
    Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a frying pan, and turn the heat up high. Fry the calamari, quickly for 2 minutes to try and get some colour on it. If the pan is on high, this is long enough! Take it out and place it with the mussels.
  3. Turn down the heat and add 1-2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the frying pan, and add the garlic into the pan and let it sizzle for a couple of minutes gently without browning. Add the chilli, if using, and tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes. Add all but the last 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquor from the mussels to the frying pan, bring to the boil and then reduce until it has a sauce-like consistency (about 5 mins). Add a splash of water if it starts to dry out. Season with pepper, it should have enough salt from the mussels but check.
  4. Place the prawns in the sauce to cook. Once one side is pink, turn them over to cook on the other side. If the pasta is not quite ready, take them out to hang with the other seafood, try not to overcook them.
  5. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and retain a tablespoon or 2 of the cooking water in the bottom of the pan. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil into the pasta and coat it with oil. Set the pan aside until the sauce is ready.
  6. Before you serve up, place the seafood (mussels in or out of the shells, however, you prefer) back into the sauce, if using cockles add them at this point (they just need warming as they are cooked already). Stir around, and then toss the pasta into the sauce, (make sure pan big enough) stir, sprinkle in parsley, check the seasoning and serve. Enjoy!

*1 To prepare the mussels, rinse them in plenty of cold water. Discard any that are open, which do not close when you tap the side where the 'hinge' is or if gently squeezed. Remove the fibrous 'beards' that are on the side of the mussel between the tightly closed shell. Scrape/knock off any barnacles from the outside of the shell and rinse the mussels again to remove any bits of shell. Store in the bottom of the fridge with a piece of damp kitchen roll over the top until ready to cook. When eating the mussels if any remain closed, discard them.

Mussels from Brizzles…..well, Brixham actually….

Mussels: La Mouclade

In the midst of the December madness, I popped my head above the parapet and thought how nice a bowl of fuss free mussels would be and had to think whether they were in season or not (if an 'R' in the month the answer is yes!). As it was, when I phoned my fishmonger I had missed the boat (quite literally!) and there was no getting any before Xmas. But made a note to self for Jan!

For me having a reliable fishmonger is important, as they will advise on seasonality, when and where the fish came from and offer any tips on how to store, or even cook your produce. Personally, in North Bristol, I use Smith Fish, Westbury Park as I know they supply the freshest and most sustainable fish from the day boats on the South coast, but try and find one local to you that you can get to know. I often just call ahead to get them to put things aside!

Chances are on either Friday or Saturday night we will want to eat something delicious but fuss-free in the preparation stakes; and I find mussels a protein-rich, fast food. The great thing about this recipe is you can clean/prepare the mussels for cooking and leave them in the fridge and sweat off the onions ready ahead of time; then all you have to do is take 5-10 minutes to get the dish pulled together and to the table.

When it comes to mussels, most people are familiar with moules mariniere, and I do enjoy this, but find it's a bit like drinking cream (which has its place!!) This is why I find this recipe for La Mouclade so wonderful, as it has a thicker sauce with a hint of saffron and curry powder. I first saw it being made by Barny Haughton, when I worked at the Bordeaux Quay cookery school and has been a firm favourite ever since!

Give it a try and let me know how you get on at the Fuss Free Foodie FB group.
Lisa x

La mouclade
Serves 2 for dinner or 4 as a starter

Pinch of saffron strands
1.2kg mussels, prepared*1
120ml white wine
25g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp medium curry powder
2 tbsp brandy/cognac (optional)
2 tsp plain flour
200ml creme fraiche
3 tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and ground black pepper

    1. Put the saffron in a small bowl and cover with 1 tablespoon of warm water
    2. Place the mussels and wine in a large pan, cover with the lid and cook on a high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until all the mussels have opened, should be 3-5 mins only)
    3. Place a colander over a bowl and tip the mussels into the colander and catch the cooking liquid in the bowl. At this point, I place the saucepan lid over the mussels to keep them warm.
    4. Melt the butter in a medium-sized pan, add the onion, cook gently for a few minutes, then add the garlic and curry powder. Cook without browning for a few more minutes.
    5. If using the brandy/cognac (if I don't have any, I skip this step..still tastes great) add this now and cook until it has evaporated/disappeared. Add the flour and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the saffron and water, then the cooking liquid from the mussels, with exception of the last 2 tbsp, which may be gritty.
    6. Stir the sauce and bring it to simmering point over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the creme fraiche and simmer for 3 more minutes, until it reduces slightly.
    7. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the parsley. Place the mussels in the serving bowl and pour over the sauce. Stir together gently and serve with plenty of French bread or favourite bread of your choice!

*1 To prepare the mussels, rinse them in plenty of cold water. Discard any that are open, which do not close when you tap the side where the 'hinge' is or if gently squeezed. Remove the fibrous 'beards' that are on the side of the mussel between the tightly closed shell. Scrape/knock off any barnacles from the outside of the shell and rinse the mussels again to remove any bits of shell. Store in the bottom of the fridge with a piece of damp kitchen roll over the top until ready to cook. When eating the mussels if any remain closed, discard them.

My recipe is a version by Rick Stein La mouclade.