With the weather starting developing to full blown British greyness, I’ve started reminiscing of warmer golden sun times. I’ve been a bad blogger again and went away to the fabulous Brittney in the Summer for some R&R as well as a bit of a digital detox (even though there may have been one or two pictures on my Instagram of my trip). The trip had come at the perfect time to get some sun on my vitamin D craving body as well as good food, wine and wholesome times.
I packed my little suitcase and headed to the Bay of Biscay where I had my parent’s smiley faces to greet me at the airport arrivals, having been enjoying themselves for a couple of weeks before I arrived, so had hunted out the best bakery and beach spot to recharge those batteries.
Since the programme Great British Bake Off Crème de la Crème, my dad has started to try his hand at making his own patisseries. I’m very proud and been getting some phone calls I thought I would never get from my Dad about blind baking pastry. So of course, we had to visit one or two patisserie shops for him to get ideas for his next creation and they didn’t disappoint! Just check out these beauties…
We well out in France when the Brexit vote was taking place (reassured we did our postal vote before leaving!) and it was really interesting to see the reactions people had to the outcome. Being a fan of the quick international visit and being a part of the wider European community we were all in shock on the outcome day and spoke to lots of locals who felt the same way. To cheer ourselves up after waking up to the news we went to the local market to pick up some treats for the day. Being on the coast, the selection of fresh shellfish and fish was just the highest quality. Picking up langoustine by the carrier bag load that had been landed that night and trying to wiggle their way to freedom whilst we checked out the galette standard and rows and rows of gleaming jars of salted caramel.
We stayed at the beautiful part of the Cote Savage, of Saint Pierre-Quiberon and the coastline was just stunning. It would change from gleaming, glittery jewel stunned sea to brooding moody grey dramatic skies which were just amazing to watch as the clouds rolled in. The main draw for me on these walks was the sheer number of wild rabbits hopping over the harsh coastal vegetation. On my first night, my parents took me out onto the cliffs to visit them all before grabbing dinner and could have stayed there for hours watching them scamper in the dusk light.
Saint Pierre-Quiberon isn’t the biggest town you will ever visit, but with beautiful scenery, you can see why you wouldn’t want to visit anywhere else. With a couple of small bars, a local shop and bakery, as well as surprisingly a Michelin, starred restaurant. Now, of course, we well going to try out this restaurant when it was only a five-minute walk on the beach to get to sample such creative food.
Le Petit Hotel du Grand Large, as the name suggests is also a hotel and the restaurant feeds the lucky residents as well. They have three set menus with different numbers of course depending on the one you choose; we went for the 8 courses for 85 euros. Which for the standard of food, was a really good value and the presentation. Tucked right by the window overlooking the harbour, we had the best seats in the house as our meal progressed so did the nature’s dinner show of the most glorious sunset.
We had amuse bouche of warm yellow mustard seed Gougères and olives, that we had to keep reminding ourselves that it was the first of many more courses and not devour the whole bowl!
Another round of amuse bouche, Orange Nasturtium Flowers stuffed with a whipped smooth goats’ cheese and the smoothest set cream flavoured and jelly topped with a locally foraged Curry Plant leaves. Although not related to curry tree, you can walk around and smell hints of curry powder when wild rabbit hunting. A tartare of fresh scallop with a seaweed wrap to enhance the sea notes and a glass of a silken smooth potato puree with all the slightly waxy creaminess from the potato.
On to the first of our eight courses! Pressed langoustine with langoustine ice cream. The freshness and the sweetness of the flesh rang out from the wafer-thin layer. The ice cream again just reflected the sweetness of the flesh of the langoustine.
The next course was a first for us all. Edible barnacles with meat jus, pea shoots and mangetout. Goose barnacles are an edible species, not the type necessarily stuck to the bottom of a boat! Looking like some form of a dinosaur cousin, was apprehensive for the first try, but tender meaty flesh, similar to eating octopus. Delicious and the meat jus just paired with the meaty texture is fantastic, just maybe don’t look at the plate when you eat them!
The dishes just kept coming! Next a perfectly Pan fried mackerel with beetroot sauce. The earthy notes from the beetroot cut through the oily flesh of the mackerel. Simple, clean and just a great dish.
Massive plate envy for the next platter, just a shame I only had hand luggage! Artichoke hearts straight from their garden with a touch of caviar and a foam of buckwheat. The nuttiness of the foam which complimented the natural nuttiness of the artichoke was perfect with the salty burst from the caviar. Again, a simple and clean plate of food that allowed the ingredients shine through.
My favourite savoury dish of the meal was the crisp-skinned Halibut, with porcini brioche ‘soil’, butternut puree and spring vegetables and flowers. I could eat this dish for every day of the rest of my life. Just everything on perfect point. Tender flesh, beyond crisp skin, pungent earthy porcini and natural sweetness from the tender young vegetable. Amazing.
To end the savoury part of our extravaganza, was a plate with had a beach grey stone topped with edible sea foam, pan fried turbot and steamed clam. Once finished with the shoreline, lifting the stone off the plate to reveal a bouillabaisse with a poached oyster, crab and clams. A show stopper for presentation and intrigue, unfortunately not being the biggest oyster and crab fan I did struggle a tad with the punchy balanced broth, however, devoured the lighter fish and shellfish on the rock.
At this point, we had been eating and in the restaurant for at least four hours with the sun having been, set and gone to bed for the moon to arrive, leaving the restaurant lit by its soft glow.
Dessert time, after all, the savoury courses we were treated to a light sweet treat. An elderflower ice cream with Italian meringue and borage petals. The ice cream was made mainly with milk so lighter than a heavier cream based with worked lovely with the floral elderflower and cloud-like meringue and honey fragrance borage petals.
To draw a wonderful meal to an end, we had a dessert again inspired by the coastline outside of the restaurant. Dark chocolate dipped rock samphire, nestled in ginger ganache, mint ice cream with meringue crumbs. The warmth of the ginger with the cooling of the mint as well as the coldness of the ice cream made the dish a plate of discovery to try. The salty grassy samphire all rounded the sweetness and richness of the dish to make it not too overpowering.
A memorable meal in such a special setting, one that I will remember for a long time.
We continued our exploring of the area to the city of Vannes. Now I can see that Disney must have visited here for research for Beauty and The Beast village. I was expecting all the villagers to burst into song any minute. Such a beautiful place to wander around and especially when you go on a market day with all the hustle and bustle of locals trying to get the best deal for their produce.
As ever we had to stop off for a sweet treat and I’m rapidly falling in love with canelés. Golden crowns of squidgy chewy deliciousness, the cross between a sponge and set custard. So, so good. I want to try my hand at perfecting these bad boys!
I had such a wonderful trip and felt amazing to recharge those low batteries and explore a new pocket of the world that I hadn’t been to before. Bring on the next trip!