The husband had a week off school and with me not yet sanctioned by the immigration authorities to leave the country, we made our first domestic trip to Brittany, the land of Celts, crepes and cider.
We based ourselves in Quiberon, a coastal town set on a sliver of an islet, where the gentle curves of the bay met the steep, harsh cliffs of the Cote Sauvage. Being the most established town in the part of Brittany, it also made for good eating.
We showed up at the door of Aux Armes De Bretagne just as the proprietor was turning the lights on for dinner service. The boxy building, out-of-the-seventies decor and neon signboard all reminded me of a highway truck stop diner in the Midwest.
How lucky for us that instead of characterless burgers and subs, we were digging into huge buckwheat galettes, thin and extremely crispy, topped with a litany of choices. We opted for some local toppings, my pancake covered by a generous mound of mussels and mushrooms, the mussels gently cooked till tender and sweet in a cream sauce, with just enough pesto to balance the richness.
P’s andouille galette reeked of ammonia and innards, but like most food with unpleasant odors (think durian and smelly tofu), the taste was much milder and more pleasant, the pig’s stomach and intestines that make up the sausage introducing a chewy texture into the dish.
And what else could we have for desserts but crepes drizzled with homemade caramel and a flaming dose of Grand Marnier?
While we were having crepes, La Chaumine, the restaurant across the street caught our eye with its white clapboarded, blue signboarded prettiness, and we decided to eat there the following night. We are happy to report that the inside was just as nice as the outside, replete with a fish tank shaped like a ship’s bow housing local lobsters waiting to be transformed into delicious meals, as well as a warm, matronly madame that steered us most authoritatively through the menu.
I could not resist a cold platter of oysters and langoustines, not after craving for the large prawns after spotting those poor buggers piled high in the local market during the day. The oysters were nothing extraordinary, but it sure was fun getting my hands dirty prying the intensely sweet, meaty morsels out of the langoustines!
P’s fish of the day dish was beautifully presented, a thick, snow-white fillet of lieu jaune (pollock) perched atop a disk of golden potatoes and a pool of amber colored sauce flavored with a hint of curry. My skate wing was not quite the looker compared to P’s dish, but it was hefty, steamed just enough that the flesh separates easily from the bone yet still packed with juices. Dressed simply with a caper and mustard sauce, it was a clean and simple dish.
We finished up with a good sampling of cheeses and gorgeous fruit based desserts, including the fruit gratin that Madame sang praises of. Blackberries, raspberries and pineapple chunks surrounded by an almond mix broiled brown on top but still warm and gooey inside. A nice, sweet ending fitting for an evening of comfort eating.
La Chaumine bears the Michelin bib gourmand status, rightly so in our opinion, with the good quality and gentle prices (our menus costing only 28 and 33 Euros for 4 courses, each with a good deal of choice).
Our lunch spots:
We ate lunch under some preposterously picturesque settings. We found ourselves at the open-air terrace of Cafe de la Cale in Belle-Ile-en-Mer, sipping muscadet, slurping oysters, literally watching time pass. The food was passable, but really secondary to our experience of just being able to bask in the sun with our t-shirts on, without having to reach for a jacket or fumble for a scarf like we, and especially P has throughout the long winter.
We also had an enjoyable meal at La Table d’O in the medieval town of Josselin, where we were treated not just with the view of the storybook prototype castle looming in the background, but a very tasty (and inexpensive) lunch, where the formule starts at 15.5 Euros! Especially memorable were P’s fish and shrimp tartare spiked with the tang of grapefruit and a lovely pomme tatin that was accompanied by, among other things alcohol spiked chantilly cream. A trip to Josselin was plenty of fun on its own, but the meal was definitely the icing on the cake!
Aux Armes de Bretagne (Crepes)
54 Port Haliguen, 56170 Quiberon
La Chaumine (http://www.restaurant-lachaumine.com/)
79 Port Haliguen, 56170 Quiberon
Cafe de la Cale (http://www.cafedelacale.pagecom.fr/)
Quai Guerveur 56360 Sauzon Belle-Ile-en-Mer
La Table d’O
9, rue Glatinier 56120 Josselin