Summer is such a fleeting time. We have spent weeks, if not months anticipating it, at long last it has arrived, with heat, sun, and long, languorous days. In September we’ll be missing it.
I am very fortunate to spend my summers in Brittany. When my sons where small my sister-in-law and her husband kindly lent us their holiday home near Roscoff for August, and we developed a life long habit. It was very difficult to break.
Now we have our own little beach house, it’s a dream, tucked away behind the dunes in Finistere.
I love it here. Each summer we find that we quickly adapt to the pace of life here in Brittany.
Here’s an example of a typical Breton Sunday, Chez Nous:
I get up early and walk the dog, sometimes there might be a sea mist, there are always rabbits on the dunes, he loves the chase, but never quite manages to catch one!
We pop down, en famille, to the local market, where we can purchase a baguette or two, these make a delicious breakfast, with salty Breton butter and some homemade Apricot Jam.
We buy strawberries from a local farmer’s stall and some artichokes, maybe a lettuce, a small crate of tomatoes and a bunch of sandy carrots.
Our most important purchase though, is a couple of lobster from the local fisherman! He is usually emptying his boat as we arrive, and now that we are regular summer customers, he sorts out a couple of beautiful lobsters for us to take home.
We always manage to fit in a swim. I prefer to go to the beach in the morning, when it is not too crowded, the swim is certainly invigorating, six weeks immersion in the cold Atlantic really does improve one’s circulation!
I tend to cook both the artichokes and the lobsters very simply.
The artichokes go into a pot of salted water (with a sliced lemon to prevent discolouration) for about half an hour. I then leave them to cool in the water for another 30 minutes. (It is essential to make sure they are completely covered with water during cooking, so I use two plates to weigh them down.) When I take them out of the pot, I leave them upside down, this drains away any remaining water.
We have one artichoke per person, I make a shallot and white wine vinegar to accompany them which is perfect for both dipping the leaves into and then pouring over the heart before we eat it.
The lobsters go into a separate pot, again the water needs to be very salty. Depending on their size they can take 12-20 minutes to cook. Once boiled I put them under cold running water, (it’s a little like blanching vegetables, you do not want an over cooked lobster!)
We eat the artichokes for lunch, maybe with a light cheese plate afterwards. Then it’s more swimming, another dog walk, and depending on the tide, a sail in my husband’s boat, before a delectable supper of lobster, brown bread and mayonnaise.
If you have not tried artichokes I highly recommend them. Sarah Raven has some super recipes for artichokes, including one beautiful recipe with herb sauce on her YouTube channel, but even better she has seeds for you to buy (either Gros Vert de Laon or Violet de Provence). They are such stunning plants, had I more space and time, I would dearly love to grow some.
Please do let us know if you grow them in your garden or allotment, and how you cook them once they are harvested…
Sadly lobsters can’t be grown in the garden, but they are a sustainable seafood. Do try to buy and cook some if you are near the coast. Eat them simply, they really do not require complicated cooking. There are photo instructions available on my blog for boiling lobster, please do have a look.
I hope this little taste of Brittany will encourage you to visit. All the things that readers of this blog love; seasonal food, locally grown produce, thoughtful horticulture and fishing can be found in this stunning part of the world.
It is a mere hop, skip and jump from the United Kingdom, and if you love Celtic regions such as Scotland, Wales, Ireland or Cornwall, you will feel right at home here. The countryside is rich and beautiful, the coast is too stunning for words and the little towns and cities are a real pleasure to visit.