This summer while my family spent ten days in Brittany, I was lucky enough to meet a Breton woman named Manou Gorin. the contact person for the house we had rented. Trim, petite, and charming, this grand’mère (French grandmother) became an instant friend when we discovered that we shared a love of cooking. She brought us treats such as coconut crème caramel as well as crêpes with salted caramel sauce, and gladly shared some of her Breton recipes. One in particular, for lobsters roasted with Pernod and crème fraîche, caught my attention.
She explained that she halved the shellfish (while alive!), and arranged the halves on a baking sheet. The lobsters were topped with pats of butter, sprinkled with cayenne, and then roasted in a very hot oven. Finishing touches included pouring a little flamed Pernod (an anise-scented liqueur) over the fish, then topping them with small dollops of crème fraîche. I couldn’t bring myself to do in lobsters by plunging a knife into them, so I substituted thick salmon fillets instead, and loved the results.
In Brittany a few weeks ago, my husband and I had just finished gazing at a sweeping view of the Atlantic Ocean from Cap Fréhel (one of the most visited and certainly one of the most gorgeous sites in that region of France) and wanted to have lunch. If we had blinked our eyes as we drove down a narrow country road, we would have missed La Ribote, a small (think 25 seats) restaurant. The menu announced that the cuisine was prepared with local ingredients, and even listed the names of their suppliers, including fisheries and farms. The single waitress waltzed through the room carrying platters of mussels and oysters, but it was the large bowls mounded high with an incredible salad that caught my eye. Continue reading
My husband and I have left Paris with our son and his family to spend a few days on the northern coast of Brittany. We’ve rented a house with an incredible view of the Atlantic, marveling each time we gaze at the ocean through its picture windows. Although the sun has been out almost every day, brisk winds have kept us from spending time on the pristine beaches.
Boucherie (the butcher’s)
So, we’ve turned to cooking instead, taking advantage of the many marchés and food stores in the area. Huge artichokes (a specialty of Brittany), plump cherries, juicy peaches, and sweet melons are temptingly displayed, and, of course, there’s plenty of seafood—oysters, mussels, crab, lobsters, cod, and monkfish, caught fresh and sold the same day. We’re enjoying Bordier butter (one of France’s most celebrated butters and another specialty of the region) as well as local cider.
Bordier Smoked Salt Butter
We’ve bought chicken, sausages, and beef for grilling, and fresh white fish fillets for sautéing. And for sides we’ve made simple salads and a special curried rice scented with crème fraîche and summer herbs. In fact, this golden-hued rice has been so versatile that we’ve paired it with our entrees for the past three days. Continue reading