Generally I am not a big takeaway eater. If we are at home Mrs. SF and I tend to cook from scratch (Mrs. SF in the week, with me taking over cooking – with varying degrees of success – duties at the weekend) and if we don’t fancy that we go out (blog would be a bit shite, ok more shite, if we didn’t).
I probably only have two or three takeaways a year max, but needs must and with Covid 19 shutting down the eating out option for the foreseeable future not cooking means either not eating (never an option for a glutton like me), getting a ready meal (the super market ones mostly leave me cold) or ordering a takeaway.
Whilst at the start of the Covid 19 outbreak there were a myriad of “fine dining” options that turned their hand to takeaways, the field has (particularly since the ability to furlough staff was announced and eased a bit, I imagine, what must have been a horrid dilemma for a huge number of places) thinned a bit recently (many are now feeding NHS workers through the fantastic Go Fund Me – worth a look and a donation if you can afford it), but options still abound and more seem to be coming back on stream.
I have downloaded both Ubereats and Deliveroo (for the first time this week) on to my phone, encouraged by Hoof and Franks have signed up, but what caught my eye in the first week of lockdown was a tweet posted by that cheesemeister par excellence Mr. Croquewich.
I have been a big fan of their toasted cheese sarniesfor many a year, but they have recently expanded their offering with some intriguing bistro pop upsVery nice that menu (above was for a pop up event at Mr. Brightside in Llandaff North) looked too and it was this side of their offering that tickled my fancy.
Their oven ready, delivered to the door, menu offers lots of enticing options for both the main and side dishes and operates as a sort of half way house in terms of cooking from scratch and a full blown, eat as it comes through the door, takeaway.
Baby steps are needed for an old fogey like me in terms of forays into the takeway market, so this seemed the perfect stepping stone.
Cassoulet is always a hearty number and, like fabada, is a peasant dish of humble origins that has been elevated over the years to define a region (Languadoc in respect of cassoulet, Asturias in terms of fababa).
It is comfort food to the max and in these trying times it is comfort that I seek (in all things, not just food).
For Mrs. SF (who is coping admirably with having me at home 24/7, albeit locked away upstairs working in the new office for significant portions of it, in that I am still alive) and it was, therefore, a no brainer that we choose the cassoulet for mains.
To this we added the Provençal salad (keeping it Southern France) and Glamorgan bon bons as sides/starters (slightly off the Southern France piste, but who can resist melt in the middle cheesy balls).
Ordering was a breeze, even for a technophobe like me, with an email (better option than DMing them on Twitter it seems) sent detailing my order and giving a requested delivery date (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are the current options).
A response came winging its way promptly back over the ether, with the total price, the delivery window (worked for me, but pretty much all do at the mo as regrettably not going anywhere for the foreseeable other than walking the dogs) and a link to a secure payment platform (all major card, even Amex, taken).
All very simple and stress free.
What arrived, ready for the oven or the fridge (we were told it would keep up to 3 days in the fridge), was a most welcome sight (loads of goodies – did we over order I wondered briefly and then thought nah, well probably yes).It all came with comprehensive, but easy to follow cooking instruction.We started off with the Provençal salad as a sort of pre – starter.I put the goats cheese in microwave for 30 odd seconds to melt it a bit.A nice start to proceeding, with a good mix of salt and sour. All very enjoyable.
Next up were the Glamorgan bon bons (below is one portion),which were crispy salty balls of cheesey loveliness.
They came with a good chilli dipping sauce.
Sweet, with plenty of heat, this worked a treat with the salty, cheesy, bon bons.
On to the main, the cassoulet was a big hearty number, with plenty of flavour Not perhaps a particularly traditional cassoulet (with confit chicken – thankfully the tastier thigh – rather than duck, more standard pork sausage rather than toulouse numbers and no breadcrumb), it still packed a bucket load of flavour, with plenty of soft yielding beans. It came with a good portion of garlic buttered green beans and Lyonaise potatoes – both excellent.
My clean plate was testimony to how much I enjoyed this.
For dessert there is a choice of 3 (only two were available when we ordered due to flour, for the crumble, being hard to get hold of it seems – everyone is a bread maker these days).The lemon and lime cheescake was light and airy, with a good sharp zestiness. Very refreshing number this.
The black cherry and brownie one was liberally studded with chunks of gooey brownie and juicy black cherries. Very pleasant, but after the belly busting cassoulet the lighter lemon and lime number was my favourite.
On the booze front, a meal like this is not complete without a glass (or three) of decent wine in my opinion.
I picked up this number a while back (£10 from Costco) which proved to be a fine match with the cassoulet.
From the Côte de Rousillon (prime cassoulet country), it is a blend of syrah (70%) and grenache (30%) and had a lovely nose of ripe dark fruits (blackcurrent and blackberries) and a touch of smokiness.
On the palate there was bags of black fruit, liquorice and a touch of chocolate in the mix as it lingered.
It worked a treat with the cassoulet, proving the old adage that local food tends to pair admirably with local wine
This feast (and it really was a feast) was very generously proportioned (I had enough for a very fine lunch the next day) and packed a real flavour punch.
Total cost was £32 (so £16 a head), which I was very happy with.
If truth be told we over ordered a bit and 1 x bon bons, 2 x cassoulet (with the French beans and pots) and 2 x desserts would probably have been more than enough (the cassoulet, with the french beans and Lyonaise potatoes was a very robust portion size). That would have dropped the price to a mere £24.
Add the wine (here just under a tenner) and you have yourself a mighty fine 3 course (plus pre starter) meal, with booze, for £21 (or £17 if you pair it back a bit) a head.
Would I order it again? Absolutely – I think Mr. Croquewich’s Bistrot Home Delivery offers a perfect half way house between a takeaway and eating out.
Great value and great eating – I hope they continue it post the Covid 19 lockdown, but regardless I will be looking out for one of their pop up that is for sure.