Friday, 18 July 2014

Crêperie Saint Georges - Carnac, Brittany, France.

Four years ago, I spent the week with an awesome French family near Carnac. One night, they took me out to their favourite local crêperie. And it was delicious.

Brittany is famous for its crêperies, serving up divine wholewheat savoury galettes and incredible sweet crêpes. It seems like every second restaurant is a crêperie round here!

Coming back to the little seaside town of Carnac this week with my family brought back all the memories from four years ago, and I immediately recognised the crêperie: Le Saint Georges. I was keen to go there again with the famalam.

I enjoyed all the matchy matchy going on.
Crêperie Saint Georges is a super stylish restaurant with a tasteful pink and grey colour scheme. That said, we didn't feel out of place having rolled off the beach, thrown on some clothes over our bikinis and rocked up for dinner.

It's a big restaurant with a huuuuge selection of galettes and crêpes on the menu, as well as salads (but really, who would choose a salad?)

In the afternoon it's also a café/tea room.

The staff were young, cool and friendly, and the clientèle trendy, largely French and a range of ages.

We sat down outside and placed our order - galettes all round and traditional cider to go with. Cider is traditionally served with crêpes and galettes, and I am SUCH a fan these days. Can't get enough of the sparkling appley stuff.

Before I could even take a sip, however, our galettes had arrived! The service is amazingly quick - when the table next to us were served their food, the children cried out, "déjà?!" in disbelief at the speed.

I went for la soubise-jambon. Soubise is basically an onion compote, and its sweetness complemented the slightly salty ham perfectly. The galette was crisp at the edges, slightly chewy in the centre and deliciously flavoursome. Almost cheesy.

Do you know what you have to do after eating a galette? Eat a crêpe. It's enshrined in French law. And we're not the type of family to get ourselves into trouble with the law...

So this happened:

A sweet crêpe stuffed with cooked apples, generously topped with caramel au beurre salé (salted caramel) and vanilla ice cream. A little like the pancakes I made for pancake day this year.

Caramel au beurre salé is another Breton culinary speciality (seriously, they have aaallll the good foods), and it's everywhere and in everything. Hey, I'm not complaining.

It was a pretty indulgent crêpe, but as the ice cream melted and all the flavours swirled together, it was heavenly. I scoffed the lot and had to try really hard to resist licking the plate.

As we waited to pay, the cider kicked in and the inevitable post-crêpe silliness occurred.

Our bill was brought with four mini Caramel Carambars - sweeties I used to love as a child. Obviously I did not need any more food, but I love restaurants that bring you a little something with the bill. It's those tiny touches that make a big difference in my eyes... Don'tcha think?

Le Saint Georges isn't the cheapest crêperie in Brittany, but in the context of dinner out and compared with other restaurants, it's still a good deal. You'd have to top a galette with solid gold to make it expensive.

It's a lovely, stylish restaurant with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, great service and delicious food at reasonable prices, all of which adds up to a lovely family evening. What's not to like?

Find Crêperie Saint Georges at 8 Allée du Parc, Carnac-Plage, Bretagne, France.

Tell me, ma dears, what are your fave crêpe/galette toppings?

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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Medieval French fun at Fêtes Historiques in Vannes.

A couple of days ago, whilst on holiday with my family in Southern Brittany, we decided to go and visit the medieval town of Vannes, famous for, well… Actually I’m not sure it is famous. I hadn’t heard of it beforehand anyway.

After parking the car and walking the dogs, we strolled towards the town centre. A couple in medieval fancy dress walked past. Um, weirdos, thought I. And on we went through the city walls and into the old town.

As we wandered down the well-preserved medieval streets (think cobble stones, exposed beams and a general Shakespearian vibe) I noticed the town was somewhat buzzing with life. Well, it is the day before Bastille Day and Vannes is popular with tourists, so that must be why.

Mmm Kouigns Amanns

There were stall selling local delicacies and food trucks selling candy floss, but even they couldn’t hold my attention when these ladies tottered past me…

Um, what!?

A little further on we noticed a large crowd of people gathered round in a circle. Just what were they watching in the middle? There was ye olde style music playing and I craned my neck to peer over the heads of those in front of me.

Inside the circle were a massive group of peasants. Yes, peasants. And this is not just me being terribly snobby, they were legit old-fashioned peasants. Like the characters of Merlin. And there were even a couple of court jesters too.

They entertained the crowd dancing, singing and clapping along to traditional folk songs, and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Were they a local theatre group? we wondered.

The fam and I walked on up a pretty, narrow cobbled street and soon met another crowd watching a man apparently about to be beheaded. Right. OK, something is definitely going on today.

A little further up the street two terribly dapper young men were having a casual sword fight.

This noble chap vanquished his competitor and won the hand of his fair maiden (I imagine.)

Is it bad that I kinda wish guys were this dramatic about getting girls these days? Maybe minus the death part but you know what I mean.

Around the corner we chanced upon a large folk band blasting out medieval beats on their lutes, pipes and recorders. And we still hadn’t a clue what was going on.

Sitting down in a café, we pondered what we’d seen over coffees and glasses of the local Breton cola (it’s seriously tasty). Was this something that happened every Sunday in Vannes?

Um, no. After a brief chat with the waitress and a spot of post-trip research,we found out that it was Vannes' four-day annual Fêtes Historiques celebrations. Every year, the town re-enacts a different period of its history, and has been doing so since 1986. And we just happened to be there for the 2014 Fêtes.

This year’s theme was Anne of Brittany, to mark the 500th anniversary of her death. Anne was not only the last independent Breton ruler, but also Duchess of Brittany, Countess of Nantes, Montfort, and Richmond, Viscountess of Limoges, and Queen of France. Twice. All before she died at the age of 37. (Some people are just over-achievers, aren’t they?) She was the richest European woman of her time. YOU GO GIRL!

From that discovery, everything suddenly made a lot more sense.

Later that afternoon we ventured out of the old city walls and found some gorgeous gardens filled not only with flowers but also medieval stalls, where people were showcasing their old tricks, trades, crafts and skills. The tourists were lapping it all up like a thirsty cat stumbling upon a puddle of spilt milk. 

There were going to be a concert and fireworks that night, but alas, we couldn’t stay.

Before leaving Vannes, however, the Shrimp (my sister) and I decided to treat ourselves to something sweet, carby and entirely devoid of nutritional value. OK, when I say we treated ourselves, I really mean my parents treated us. Perks of a family holiday, eh fellow poor students?

The treats in question were chichis.

Although they’re effectively churros (yes, Spanish churros), chichis seem to be ubiquitous round these parts.

Basically, doughnut dough is fried in long sticks... 

...then tossed in sugar, straight out of the pan while still warm.

Then you need to get yourself a cup of warm, silky, melted chocolate.

Give your chichi a generous dunk into the chocolate.

Aaaand devour. But be careful not to dribble chocolate down your top now! 

That, ma dears, is easier said than done. I emerged from our chichi-fest with chocolate all round my mouth, down my (Breton-striped) top, and on my camera. But hey, if a camera covered in food and sticky finger marks isn’t the sign of a food blogger I don’t know what is!

Sure, they may not be traditional medieval grub, but they sure were tasty. As we rolled ourselves back to the car, the sun was shining down beautifully on the boats along the harbour.

Whether you go during Fêtes Historiques or not, I certainly think Vannes is a town worth visiting for its medieval charm (as well as its chichis!)

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