Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Highs and Lows of Brittany

I've been meaning to post a few more details on my recent travels through the French region of Brittany. Here are the highs and lows from my trip:

The Highs

Cider: The cider, both sweet and dry, is superb throughout Brittany. It's a must, especially worth drinking with crepes.

Oysters: I am not what you would call a huge fan of oysters — I can take 'em or leave 'em. But the oysters I tasted in Brittany did not have the stringy and unpleasant texture they sometimes have in U.S. restaurants. The ones I ate in Brittany were fresh, incredibly delicate and almost sweet. I would eat a lot more oysters if I lived there.

La Roseraie de Bel Air: Tucked in a small village on the outskirts of Quimper, this Michelin-starred restaurant was wonderful — stellar food in a rustic stone cottage with a cozy fire burning in the huge hearth. I haven't had a pork chop that was that good in my life. I keep telling myself it was "just a pork chop," but it was juicier than most tenderloins.

The Lows

Kouignettes: (pictured above) These would appear to be the most popular pastries in southern Brittany, and they also happen to be one of the most overrated. I really wanted to like them, but both times I tried kouignettes I found them to be a syrupy, sticky and bland glob of dough.

Meringue Cookies: Like the Italians, the French seem to love meringues, especially when turned into cookies that are sold at confiseries (confectionary shops) throughout the country. Meringue cookies are often included among the petits fours that are served right after dessert in a high-end French restaurant. But I just don't get 'em. They are bland — a real waste of egg whites.

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