French Photo Diary #6: Food Edition
It has been a year since I was last in France, so for all my readers who’ve joined me since then (hello!), in case you had not noticed from the France photos I’ve already posted, the trips across the (smaller) pond are all about food and drink for me. These are just some snapshots from some of the things I enjoyed at home, out and about, and the foodie things very local to my little corner of Brittany I happened to spot in my day to day.
Lets start off with my favourite restaurant in Brittany on the seafront in a little town called Cancale; Le Cancalaise. To start I had what I usually had, local king prawns with a basket of bread and homemade mustard mayo. We’ve tried to figure out why the prawns we are served at Le Cancalaise are always so much nicer than from anywhere else, and we think that they must have been cooked in sea water.
For my dessert from the set menu I had a traditional French dessert I’d never had before: L’île Flottante Maison. This roughly translates as the house speciality of a ‘floating egg’. It is essentially sweetened, very soft meringhe so it is more like egg whites, not baked in an egg type shape, usually done between two spoons, cooked floating on a (usually creme anglaise) sauce, and usually with some sort of light flavoured topping; shown here and in Raymond Blanc’s version out of his cookbooks, a very light thin caramel and chopped toasted almonds. It was very, unusual and very nice, but the jury is out on if I’d order it again.
A sunny lunch on our patio, my Hot King Prawns In Garlic Butter, a must for anytime I’m at the French house. It is a crime not to serve these with fresh crusty French bread and a glass (or several) of crisp cool rose.
Keeping in with the seafood theme, a trip to France would not be complete without multiple big bowls of my favourite dish of all time; traditional Moules Marinières. This recipe originates from Normandy, and as my part of Brittany is so close and on that part of the coast, they are one of the local specialities too.
I have plans to cook one of these in due course. This is how you buy fresh spider crabs, still alive in the supermarkets. They are either laid out like this or still in water tanks; all types of crab, and giant lobsters.
Back to Cancale for more seafood, after lunch I always like to go for a stroll down the pier to look out around the bay, and down to the small but lively seafood market and the oyster beds. The plan is the next time I am there to pick up a bag of mussels to cook myself, but for people for whom oysters are the first order of the day it is a little slice of heaven. As I’ve managed to snap some locals here, most people bring a picnic to eat on the walls overlooking the sea to go with the plates of fresh oysters and lemons you can get straight from the market. The whole beach is littered with mountains of empty shells and discarded lemon halves.
I really am British. One thing about being British, it means whenever you are in France and you have your car with you, you have to stockpile cheaper and better tasting supermarket wines to fill up your wine racks and drinks coolers back home in England. This was the second trolly of a three supermarket jump around to find the different wines we like at the best prices. Sorry but I’m not going to tell you what bottles are in there, horrible of me I know but a) whenever a wine we like gets popular it gets harder to find and the price goes up and b) I’m a firm believer that trying all these different 3€-7€ bottles to see if you can find your own gemstones in the rough is totally part of the fun!
Finally, my dessert of choice, the humble French crepe. These have been once of my all time favourite foods since I was a child. I used to spend my Summers down South and in my mind the only way forward with a crepe was to douse it in lemon juice and sugar. However, this style is less popular in this region. A few years ago in St Malo I had a set 12€ menu of Moules, a Crepe Beurre Sucre and a glass of rose. After tasting it when it came with my meal, the Crepe Beurre Sucre (melted butter and sugar) has become my new favourite (for my Dad too) and is what I always order if it appears on the dessert menu.
What special or local foods have you been sampling on your travels this Summer?