Monday, September 10, 2012

France, Day 4, 8/25/2012

In the morning we walk around the part of Cancale away from the shore. There's not much there besides houses, but we find this cemetery:

For lunch, we sit in the grass eating bread (a baguette au levain) and our remaining cheese. We also have celery root rémoulade and mushrooms à la Grecque, little button mushrooms in a vinegary pureed tomato sauce with onions and parsley. The rémoulade, made with mayonnaise, wasn't as good as Julia Child's vinaigrette-based recipe, but the mushrooms were tasty. We also have terrific reine claude plums (which I learn now are greengage plums in English). They have green flesh and a soft, creamy texture.

Then it's on to an oyster facility. (Lindsay and I have always enjoyed shellfish tourism.) Here we go on a tour (in English) and learn how oysters are farmed. The native flat oyster was originally so plentiful that people got all they wanted just by picking them up at low tide. Then, they started trawling the ocean floor for them. By the 18th century, they were starting to run low, and no one could figure out how to farm them. People eventually managed to farm a Portuguese variety of oyster, all of which died in a blight in 1962. Now, they farm a Japanese variety. The original flat oysters are still around and are now farmed, but they cost twice as much since it's harder to do. I would have liked to try these, but you can only get them in cold months because so many of them die out of the water if it's warm. The tour is fun. The only other people on it are a family from Hong Kong. The father is a real oyster aficionado, asking the tour guide's opinion on how Breton oysters stack up against the ones from Normandy, Japan, and both coasts of the U.S.

We sit down again at our cafe on the main square around the church in Cancale in the late afternoon. We are really becoming accustomed to this afternoon break. This time, I get a Breton dark beer called Telenn Du (yes, the French make beer!) and Lindsay gets a Perrier. We're sitting outside with our drinks when it suddenly starts raining hard, and everyone runs inside. Then it stopped and got sunny, and then it rained for another few minutes.

Toby with his Breton beer.

For dinner, we've made a reservation at Au Jardin du Bourg, whose niche is to be the restaurant that doesn't just serve piles of seafood by the seashore. For 12.50 euros, I have terrine de campagne (a coarse paté served with cornichons), a cassoulette of fish baked with vegetables and cream, and a chocolate and pear tarte. Lindsay has a salad with lettuce and a ham and chevre toast, steak, and chocolate mousse. Everything is good, especially the juicy, flavorful, chewy steak. I get a digestif of Calvados, which I wanted to try because I was planning to bring some home. [I ended up bringing home something slightly different, though.] The restaurant gives us free tiny glasses of amaretto, and we go home very happy.

Au Jardin du Bourg
6 Rue Duquesne
35260 Cancale


JBL said...

"a course paté" tee-hee

Toby said...

Oops! I guess I'm just more used to typing course than coarse.

JBL said...

Of coarse!