It all starts with a little aperitif. We are in the living room in my grandparents’ house. It’s close to lunch time and we are warming up our appetite with a few canapés and a little drink. Three hours later, the kids are running around and playing in the garden. The little stream has become a sea for the boats we have made out of sticks and leaves. The adults are finishing the wine with some cheese and the little bread that is left. Lazy lunches, a way of life in a french household. A typical Sunday in France, right?
Of course, France is not the only place in the world Food and time together are celebrated. Traveling has introduced me to new flavours, but one thing remains: how it brings people together. In Kenya, if you happened to come by someone eating, they’d say “karibu”, inviting you to share their food. In the Middle East, we experienced our first Iftar with friends, and here in Asia, the discovered the round table that spins so everyone can have a taste of everything displayed.
More than ever we live in a time where Sharing the things we have in common – but also our differences – has become important, almost vital. The big events, yes, but most importantly the little ones too, the perhaps non-events. Maybe it’s just another Sunday, but it is also about sharing a meal, taking the time to do so, talking and laughing, re-centering, just being and of course some good food.
The three hours we spent in Cocott’ made me think that this place was just that. A simple yet clever blend of hearty, delicious French food and the spirit of sharing, Asian style. A place that could look like your own dining room: a few rugs, wooden tables and chairs, plants and flowers. The kitchen is open and you can witness the dedicated chef and assistants preparing your food with care and attention to details.
Rui and Geoffroi are the dynamic and friendly duo leading the restaurant. Their training in Switzerland has given them a solid base for offering a culinary and hospitality experience but their openness and how they are doing this with a heart can not be learnt. The atmosphere of the restaurant feels genuine and it adds a “je ne sais quoi” that doesn’t go unnoticed. The rest of the team, from the waiter to the commis de cuisine were friendly, smiley and super patient with our two girls. We always appreciate staff that seem attentive without being overwhelming. Another key point for me is to know when to serve the next dish. I always feel like with sharing, you could end up just eating non-stop, but this was timed perfectly, striking a good balance between leaving enough time to savour what was in front of you, and looking forward to what was coming next.
The cast-iron cocottes are cute, but don’t be fooled, they are heavy and strong and they actually contain a decent portion of food! Each cocotte has enough to share but I honestly could have eaten a whole boeuf bourguignon one by myself, it was so tasty and melted in the mouth. Each dish is well presented without going over the top, respecting the whole idea of offering a casual experience. The flavours seem simple but take your time to taste everything together and you will appreciate the combinations and the effort that has gone to each dish.
First they bring you bread, which is baked in the cocotte itself. The crust is thin and crunchy, just enough, but the inside is soft and melty.
Then we tried some entrées: baked escargots, foie gras and deep fried raclette cheese balls, married to perfection with onion and red wine chutney. If you have never tried escargots and you are not going to France anytime soon, this is the place to do it. They are imported from France and they are the crème de la crème of escargots. They are seasoned and baked just right. The foie gras is cooked and served with salad, and I actually combined it with the chutney and it was delicious.
Our mains were the scrumptious marinated red snapper, which was after the boeuf bourguignon, my very favourite dish. I now know a few people who have loved the potato and cheese mousse that accompanied these mains. It was certainly the favourite of our children.
We finished with two absolutely delicious desserts, the chocolate and raspberry moelleux and the pineapple clafoutis – I have gone back since and tried the mango tatin with kaffir lime, and that’s to die for! I love how the richness of the dessert is not overwhelming and the flavours are superbly put together. What a finish!
Finally, I am coming back to the boeuf bourguignon a little bit. Eating one in my neighbourhood here in Malaysia that reminds me of the one my grand-mother used to make is a little bit like coming home. And what not to wish more than the feeling of home when you gather with your loved ones in a restaurant? Enjoying, sharing delicious food, taking the time to be present in the moment… So if you are a “Joey doesn’t share food” type of person, it’s OK, but do give it a try – at Cocott’, you’ll want to keep going back, and share, again and again!