Brittany food trip

Sorry to have been absent for so long, but it's been a bit of a whirlwind since, well, modesty forbids…

Where was I? From London I flew to Brittany, in north western France to research a food piece for a magazine, driving from Brest north to Roscoff and then east, finishing at Mont St Michel.

The last time I'd been in Brittany, I was about seven years old and the only food highlights I can recall were amazing pommes frites and pizza from a van, which was about all I could have wished for. Oh, and those strings of boiled sweets in tear-off packets which seemed impossibly exotic to a boy from Burgess Hill in 1978. And my first taste of Orangina, back when it used to taste properly of oranges. And real, fresh, chewy-sweet croissants, with soft, yeasty fluffy centres. And meringues covered in chocolate chips. And French toy cars which were somehow more glamorous and intriguing than DInkys and Hotwheels. Even the Milky Ways tasted different.

This time my food-related highlights were a little more sophisticated, but no less enjoyable:

Extraordinary fields of artichokes – a Brittany speciality – just west of Roscoff.


Roscoff is famed for its large, sweet onions and the men who used to cross the Channel to sell them, tied on string around their necks – the Roscoff Johnnies who, sadly, must have been on holiday when I was there.

Then there was a meal at the Hotel de Carantec, with a restaurant run by Patrick Jeffroy, one of the most influential chefs in this part of Brittany for the last couple of decades. The beetroot mousse was a joy, as was the oyster, the first of many of the trip. Even more interesting was the green leaf in the middle of the dish, from the oyster leaf plant, which tasted precisely of raw oyster. Later, Jeffroy showed me the plant in his garden. 

As you'd expect from a restaurant with a stunning view over the English Channel, seafood was the highlight of Jeffroy's cooking, although the young cabbage on the right in the picture below was possibly the best cabbage I have ever tasted – it was braised in the liquid from fresh oysters.

And here's the view. Staggering.

 Here's the oyster leaf plant, by the way. It really did taste of oysters, quite remarkable.


Driving further east, there were endless miles of glorious beaches like this one.


More in a bit… Got some cockles to cook.


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  1. 2
    serge the concierge

    I was born in Brittany on the Atlantic side (near Lorient)…
    When I lived in Brest, I did spend some time near Roscoff. A friend of mine who spent vacations there with family used to earn some money by selling artichoke flowers to tourists.
    My most recent piece on Artichokes was ‘All About Artichokes, The Artichoke Blog…’
    Here is the link
    ‘The French Guy from New Jersey’

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