When Frederic Coiffe joined So France as executive chef one month ago, he noticed the many restaurants focusing on gastronomic, complicated cuisine, and had only one thing on his mind: to bring simple but authentic French food to Singapore.
Only a month old, So France is located in the brand new Duo Galleria at Bugis, and was set up by a team of enthusiastic French gastronomy-lovers to introducing Singapore to real French cuisine. “The key to french food is simple food from the heart. It’s meant to be shared with people, like a family,” says Frederic.
Besides containing a bistro, So France also sells affordable French produce with a mini French grocery, selling everything from meats to cheeses to wines, all flown in fresh and direct from France. For Voilah! 2018, So France has stepped in to kickstart their series of regular cooking workshops, slated to go into full swing come late May. These workshops will range from dessert making workshops all the way to wine tasting sessions, and are aimed to be both educational and possibly, as potential team building sessions for the corporate world. With how this first batch of workshops were fully booked within the first few days of their release, So France’s future looks set for success.
For today, Frederic is here to teach us all about how to prepare some oysters. These oysters were flown in fresh from Arcachon Bay on the day itself (it helps that So France and Frederic know the producers personally), and Frederic deftly shucks one to demonstrate how easy it is, showing us the fleshy interior and demonstrates how one should eat it: with gusto and with no holds barred, slurping it down to show how delicious it is.
But before we’re allowed to try them, we’ve got to work for it – Frederic teaches us how to make a white wine reduction that will complement the oysters perfectly, and we’re to help by chopping up some onions (‘If you’re not crying, you’re not doing it right!’), parsley and of course, adding in some white wine, specifically a Colombard Sauvignon.
Leaving the concoction to boil on the stove, he moves on to teach us how to make some French butter. He recommends using full fat whipping cream, just the way the French like their food nice and rich, and this is by far the most amount of work we do in a day as we beat the cream as if our lives depended on it, till it solidifies and our arms ache. How do you tell when it’s done? The answer is: you should be able to see some milk beaten out of the cream, distinctly separating solid from liquid. When that’s done, Frederic places each of our butter blocks into ice cold water, and we use a cloth to press the water out, leaving us with somewhat misshapen, but undoubtedly legitimate pieces of butter, filling us with pride at how our efforts have paid off.
By now, the reduction is close to complete, and Frederic tasks us to add in butter to the concoction (not the ones we whipped up), and we stir copious amounts of it in slowly, letting it make the sauce nice, thick and milky. Before long, it’s ready, and Frederic helps shuck a couple more oysters and slices up a baguette, preparing for us for the final, finished dish.
Plating the oysters and bread, drizzling the finished reduction all over it before layering it with some cured meat, we clutch our prized shell in our hands before victoriously slurping down the whole thing. It is, as expected, delicious, incredibly clean and juicy, sliding easily down our throats and satisfying us completely, not to mention pairs very well with the remaining Colombard Sauvignon.
It’s easy to see how and why French food is so well loved – there’s so much heart and effort to goes into creating even the simplest of dishes, and quality is assured with the pride they take in their culinary arts. To experience a taste of France, be sure to head on down to the bistro as they roll out more fun workshops and serve up some good meals in the months to come.