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Brittany/Normandy Restaurants (Merged topics)


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I am staying near St Lo (near Bayeux) in July for a few days with my wife and kids and would appreciate suggestions of where to eat at a variety of levels price/points,

Thanks

Adrian York

Adrian York
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At the high end, on the Brittany side in Cancal, there's Olivier Roellinger's restaurant. It's not normally the sort of place I'd think of when I think of kids, but when we were there, I recall a garden that can be seen from the restaurant and there were kids playing there. I assumed they were with diners and released from the strains of sitting at a table for hours.

It's justifiable a destination restaurant although it may be too far away. Perhaps it could justify a day trip with sightseeing. I don't know how old the kids are. It's been a while since we've traveled with a young one, but with a new grandson, we may get that chance again. I'm still trying to decide if it's something to look forward to or not. :biggrin:

Robert Buxbaum

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Thanks Bux, I'll check that out. Cancale is not far from us. I have two teenage girls and a 2 year old boy but we have just returned from Barcelona and they had a great time at Can Majo, Le Boqueria e.t.c.

Adrian York
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Cancal oyster stalls. Get a beer tray of fresh oyster (shucked for you)and a cut lemon for next to no money and eat them sat on the nearby sea wall.

Martial.2,500 Years ago:

If pale beans bubble for you in a red earthenware pot, you can often decline the dinners of sumptuous hosts.

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With modern refrigeration, there may be less reason to restrict one's oyster eating to September through April, but I'm old fashioned and generally don't eat oysters much in July. It just doesn't seem appropriate and I don't think the oysters taste as good.

Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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I had a very pleasant lunch at Le Grand Large in Cancale. I don't know that its better than the other waterfront restaurants in town, but the monstrous plat de fruit de mer was tasty and reasonably priced.

Also enjoyed my dinner of crepes and local cider at La Maison des Galettes on Place St Anne in Rennes. Good food and sitting outside surrounded by medeival buildings added significantly to the experience.

Edited by tighe (log)

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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Within the borders of Brittany, I don't know that I've ever had a really bad crepe and cider. It's quite possible that the charm of the setting has often made the experience all that much more enjoyable however.

Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Within the borders of Brittany, I don't know that I've ever had a really bad crepe and cider. It's quite possible that the charm of the setting has often made the experience all that much more enjoyable however.

This was certainly unlike any crepe I'd ever had, very crisp and tasty. A local (Rennes) web page I found before my trip claimed that this place was the best creperie in Rennes, but I have no way of knowing if its true. The cider was also an experience, totally lacking in sweetness but powerfully flavorful. I would love to do a systematic comparison of creperies in Brittany some day.... :wink:

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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The crepes I've had have not been particularly crisp except maybe around the edges. As for the taste, I find the buckwheat or galette de sarrasin to be quite tasty if it's the actual pancake you're speaking about. As for the whole package, it depends on what's inside. The savory crepes are invariably made from a batter that contains buckwheat and generally referred to as galettes. The dessert crepes are made from refined wheat flour and always called crèpes. Of all the ways one may order a galette, especially these days, my favorite remains one with ham and an oeuf mirroir with the warm, but uncooked yolk of the egg poking out from the folded crepe.

Hard cider, in Brittany and Normandy is most often totally dry and crisp with no hint of sweetness, although there are some ciders that are fermented to retain sweetness. My guess is that these may generally be lower in alcohol, but I don't really know.

Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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  • 2 months later...

Am filling in last few spots in itinerary through Normandy and Brittany in September. Need a few of those "special," local places for lunch or dinner in Cancale area (we'll have wheels) and Carnac environs. Still working off pounds from 3-star tour of Burgundy...have Roellinger's Relais booked already, so recommendations don't necessarily need a Michelin nod. Looking for freshest local ingredients and preparation in a decidedly NON tourist setting.

Also, can anyone speak to the accomodations at Ferme de la Ranconniere (Crepon) and or l'Hostellerie des Anjons D'or (Plouharnel)?

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I have only eaten at Roellinger's once, but I'm a devoted fan as the food was must heads and shoulders above the other two or three two-star places in which we've eaten since in Brittany. I don't know either of your two choices. I would strongly encourage you to stop off and have a couple of lunches, or more, at local crèperies and drink cidre not wine. The savory buckwheat crèpes are referred to as galettes de sarrasin. My favorite fillings are the more traditional ham, cheese and egg. On previous trips we've had spectacular eggs in Brittany and my absolute favorite galette would have to be one with an oeuf mirroir or fried egg sunny side up sticking out on top. When I've had my fill of traditional galettes I might opt for a less conventional filling, especially one containing andouille the lightly smoked tripe sausage not to be confused with the Cajun sausage by the same name. A well balanced lunch in a crèperie would include a dessert crèpe as well.

I'd also go very far out of my way for a lightly caramelized kouign amman oozing butter and of course as many caramels aux buerre salé, preferably the Gwen Har Du brand with their black and white label, as I can manage in the short time I'm there. I also tend to leave Brittany with my pockets full of those caramels. They're mostly found in patissieries along the southeast coast of Brittany.

caramel.jpg

Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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When in Normandy try to find a place that serves Bourdin Normand. A beautiful Pate Brisse laden with apples, almonds, Calvados and creme fraiche.

When in Brittany, the Lamb that grazes on the salt marsh grass (lamb pre-sel I believe) is not to be missed. Brittany's Soupe de Poisson is also fantastic.

Turnip Greens are Better than Nothing. Ask the people who have tried both.

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Actually pre-salé is the term for those lambs raised on the salt marshes.

One noteworthy bistro and a true bistro at that, is Le Pic, on a nondescript commercial street in a residential area of Lorient. From my notes of July 2001: "A great bistro is rarely a destination restaurant, but it's often the one you most think about after returning home. It's the one you wish were near your home so you could drop in for a good meal at the drop of a hat. It often doesn't have great food across the board, but it has its specials and a local knows which are the reliable dishes. Le Pic struck me as a spiffy taut little shipshape place. I am assured that the proprietor knows his fish and that he has the best and freshest fish in Lorient. He also knows his wines and held the title of best sommelier in Brittany in 1986. The classics are often best in a bistro and the soupe de poissons here was as good as any I've had. It was served with toasted slices of bread as well as croutons and shredded cheese on the side. A dish of fish tartar was okay, but not nearly as pleasing as the same fish served marinated in slices as a first course. I was surprised and disappointed not to find a Pouilly Fume or Sancerre on the wine list in this part of France, but the inexpensive Vouvray sec recommended to us, made me forget about wanting to drink any other wine. Of course a really good bistro will have the perfect wine for everything it serves and have it at a price that brings as much pleasure as the wine. Le Pic has no Michelin stars."

Also from those same notes here's an account of my Kouign Amman expedition: "Sometimes I get to have travel companions even more obsessed with food, and this was one of them. Our longest excurion was to Douarnanez in search of what we thought was a museum devoted to Kouign Amann, Brittany's contribution to the panhteon of pastries. Kouign Amman flies low under the radar often undetected by gourmets and foodies. Who would choose kouign amman for the first time when confronted with choices such as barvarois aux framboises, charlotte aux pommes, souffle au chocolat, crepes suzette, etc. it sounds like oatmeal or a not so distant cousin of haggis. Initiates will know however that it is perhaps the ultimate combination of butter, sugar and flour and perhaps that Douarnanez was its birthplace. There was no museum, but there is an "Association des Artisans Fabriquant le Kouign Amann de Douarnenez" and its members all sell their version of the very caramelised and buttery pastry under the seal of the association. We immediately set out to rate all fifteen samples, but as we had already made our first stop of the day at a crèperie, we found ourselves done in before we reached the halfway mark. Subjectivity will always vary when it comes to taste, but we had to throw one panelist off the jury when she said the second sample had too much butter." As we never completed a proper study of all the shops, we threw away our notes determined to start from scratch another year. It would be unfair to judge two pastries made on different days under different temperature and humidity conditions.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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A trip to Belon to have some freshly shucked Belon oysters at the source; with some, lemon wedges, bread, butter and a bottle of chilled Muscadet de Sevre et Maine; Sur Lie.

edited to add: definately fits the description of fresh food at the source and not touristy. We had the above at an oyster purveyor whose main business was retail but also had a small courtyard where you could eat oysters on site and buy some wine and bread.

Also--keep an eye out for local festivals that may or may not be associated with churches. There were many of these in August that we stumbled upon--had lots of great food at these; they were in small towns and seemed to be mainly for locals. One specific memory was of some wounderful Kouign-Amman. Another great fish festival up in the NW of Brittany on the coast.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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We had two superb meals at Jean-Pierre Crouzil in the small town of Plancoët in Brittany. At the time the chef-owner of the restaurant and associated hotel L'Ecrin had one Michelin rosette; the following year the guide awarded him a second. I still remember the delectable pavé de boeuf surrounded by a mélange of teeny vegetables and the wonderful farm pigeon. Plancoët has its own source, and the water is marvelous--but hard to find outside the area.

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We had a lunch there that was marred by what I remember as fish in sugar syrup as a main course. It was quite unexpected and left us puzzled. Couzil had two stars then, and has continued to have earn two stars from Michelin each year since.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In Belon, Chez Jacky for grilled lobster and the Belon oysters

Chez Angel for wonderful ctepes.

In Pont Avon, The Moulin de Rosemedec

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly....MFK Fisher

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  • 2 weeks later...

We're considering staying at the Roellinger property, but timing is such that the bistro is where we'll be eating. We were first going to stay in St. Malo, but I may have convinced the taller half to stay in Cancale.

Has anyone eaten at the "Le Coquillage" Bistrot Marin?

lalala

I have a relatively uninteresting life unless you like travel and food. Read more about it here.

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I'll concur regarding the Auberge Grande Maison. We stayed overnight as well. What I remember was a superb pigeon that was prepared à la bécasse. I'm not exactly sure what that involved and we didn't quite get the explanation in French, but it was sauce rich with the duck's offal. Bécasse, is usually prepared with its entrails intact, by the way. I don't think that was done with the duck, although perhaps, in some less literal manner, there was a connection there. In any event, it was a dark rich sauce and most satifying. Most people come to Brittany for the seacoast and the beaches, but the interior is quite nice. Mur de Bretagne is on a lake, but we never got to see the lakeshore facilities.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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My tallest half and I are doing her pre-school vacation in France this year, we are sort of doing this trip as a celebration of her father's love of food and to see

another part of France that we really haven't explored.

So far -- fly into Paris, pick up CDG-Lille train, arrive Lille, drive to Dunkerque to see gardens at art museum, drive to Lumbres and eat and stay at moulins de mombreux. We ate and stayed there in 1994 when it had one michelin star. We quite liked it.

Next day, drive to Honfleur, via Jumieges. We want to see the gardens at Les Bois de Moutiers and maybe eat somewhere interesting. Any suggestions?

The next day we drive to St. Malo. We are hoping to see the garden at Thery-Harcourt and maybe see Mont. St. Michel in the late afternoon. We have a dinner res. at Le Coquillage at Maisons de Bricourt. We couldn't get into the restaurant, so maybe in December. :)

The next day we are driving towards Quimper, hopefully to hit the market day in Treguier and maybe get into the gardens at Kerdalo. We drop the car off in Quimper and take the TGV to Paris the next day. We're looking for restaurant suggestions for Quimper if anyone has any suggestions.

Hopefully, we'll be able to see some of the pottery shops in Quimper and find some sort of food for our train ride. We were thinking of driving back, but it just seems like getting on the train and reading for while would be better use of our time.

We then have three nights in Paris. I appreciate all the info I have gotten from the Paris threads... I'll check out some of the new restaurants and add a few of my favorites.

If anyone thinks this itinerary is too crazy, please comment. My taller half enjoys driving and I enjoy napping.

lalala

I have a relatively uninteresting life unless you like travel and food. Read more about it here.

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That seems like a lot of driving, but that's really up to you. It appears that you're into gardens...are you going to Giverny? It was well worth the trip. Also, don't miss Mont St. Michel. Have great trip. :smile:

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I think we have the driving down to 4 hours a day. I thought adding Quimper was too much.

I thought about Giverny, but its really a nice day trip from Paris. Easy to do in the spring.

Anyone have any suggestions for Honfleur or Quimper?

lalala

I have a relatively uninteresting life unless you like travel and food. Read more about it here.

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