Rien d’Impossible en Brest

For our Anglo voyage, we went on a 3-day school trip to Bretagne (Brittany) in north-western France, particularly around Brest (the most western tip of Europe, also known as in the Finistère department). 
Though Brittany is best known for its Breton crêpe, its main culinary feature is seafood…and we ate a lot of seafood – scallops especially…actually, we just ate a lot in general 🙂


The main theme of the trip was to visit local farmers, producers and how they conduct local business in Brittany. 3 days seems very short to the average person but trust me, we saw/ate/drank a lot during those 3 days. What else could we do to beat the frigid…and i mean FRIGID cold (…we are at the western tip of Europe facing the Atlantic)


Day 1:
Waking up early for our train at 6.30 am was not easy, especially if you snoozed your alarm and woke up at 6am!?!? Though morning was a rush, the 4 hour voyage to Brest was met with a good nap. 


Upon our arrival to Brest, we boarded a bus to Lannilis, a commune in Bretagne, north of Brest. There we were met with Chef and M.O.F Jean-Luc L’Hourre and his staff at his 1-star Michelin restaurant L’Auberge des Arberts. The restaurant was quaint, a little rustic theme was felt and the food was simple and elegant. 

Chef L’Hourre getting ready

While we waited, our Chef got interviewed by the local newspaper…this happened 3 times during our trip

Entrée: Parfait de St-Jacques, Beurre Monté et Chanterelles (Parfait of scallop with mushrooms)
Plat: Paupiette de lieu jaune, purée de céléri fumé, Croustillant de pommes gaufrettes, Croustillant de Jambon et Bisque d’étrilles (Pollock fish with celery puree, Potato chip and crispy bacon with crayfish bisque)
Dessert: Paris-Brest

Having had a satisfying meal, my stomach was met with a surprise when we went to visit C.Chocolat, a French chocolatier in Brest (who graduated from Ferrandi too!).

                                    

 Visiting a chocolate and macaroon company = eating more…It’s a family run business with father and son in tow and they were very nice to give us a tour of their huge store (with kitchen). It was very clean, and they were patient enough to explain the steps of how they produce their chocolate. I was so proud as they had a Jade and Ella chocolate candy…so obviously had to try those!

From this…

Smoothing out the ganache de chocolat

To this…




Our job…to try…


Macarons
Confiture
My stomach now filled with goodies, I wanted to rest but we went straight to our next destination; a sheep farm where we met with the local farmers who explained to use how they breed and raise their animals, how they make the milk and fabricate cheese and yoghurt.

How they pump their milk. The ewes are all nicely aligned.
We got to try it out…
And taste the cheese, it can’t get as fresh as this…

For dinner, our Chef kindly booked with us La Fleur de Sel, a 1-star Michelin restaurant headed by Chef Yann Plassard (the Chef who came to do a demo in our school a few months back)

Salt and Pepper shakers

Amuse Bouche: Croquant d’Avocat, Mousse de Betterave (Crunchy Avocado, Beet mousse)



Entrées: Huitre de Kéraliou, pommes verte, et sabayon au cidre fermier (Oyster with green apples, cider sabayon)

Homard breton roti, confit de choux vert et céléri, far de blé noir, jus émulsionné (Roasted lobster with celery and cabbage confit, buckwheat and emulsioned jus)

Plats: Noix de Coquilles St-Jacques en coque, Beurre de truffes (Scallops in its shell, truffled butter)
Dos de Barbue en papillote “carta fata”, retour du marché aux légumes, huile de pistache (Brill fish wrapped in paper with its vegetables and pistacchio oil)

Desserts: Poires/réglisse, sabré breton, cappuccino de poires (Pears and Licorice, Pear cappuccino)

Chocolate surprise!
All we could do after this was sleep…from tiredness but also from all the eating…Our stomachs had to be ready for Day 2.

Day 2: An early wake up call and slouching down to Breakfast at 6.30am for a morning cup of coffee barely woke us up for our first visit for a local cow farm, where we tried the locally produced butter, cheese and yoghurt.

Break of dawn…

Local farmer explaining to us how she makes her butter
Fresh yoghurt and butter
Breakfast round 2
Our chef getting interviewed again by another local newspaper…we’re getting famous!
Our next stop for me was the highlight, I think because it involves pork and I was getting some meat withdrawals already…
We drove to see a demo and degustation at a Charcuterie owned by Hélibert in Bourg Blanc, an eccentric and funny Chef who (along with his wife) were so welcoming into their shop, kitchen and tell us about his story, his recipes and make us taste everything he makes himself. Everyday they make about 6-7 terrines for their clients and change the ingredients as well: sometimes it’s rabbit, sometimes pork, sometimes wild boar, etc…

All the sausages and terrines you can imagine…I think I’m in heaven
Some featured favorites…

Andouille – a coarse-grained smoked meat
This comes from this:
A smoked ham roll
Why not some pre-lunch boudin noir and andouillette?
Fresh paté

Post-charcuterie picture of some of the Anglos
At this point, I thought this was lunch but again I was wrong when we boarded the bus and then headed to Hélibert’s wife restaurant L’Ecaillé des abers by the sea. This restaurant had a maritime theme and unlike the morning, we ate pure seafood.

Raw scallop in shell

The main dish…look how happy Matan looks…it was an amalgamation of seafood (langoustine, shrimp and clams), fish (salmon and pollock) and vegetables (potatoes, carrots, string beans) in a creamy curry sauce.
Only halfway done…
To top it off, we had a chocolate fondant…


At this point, I just felt like I was in a food coma…JAMAIS! We need to move along…first stop an Abalone (Ormeaux) farm.

This was a real treat as in Hong Kong, eating abalone is pretty expensive. Here, they grow up to 7-8 years old and get easily stressed out (that’s how they die, and that’s why they are hard when raw). You have to pound them to soften them up and then they’re ready for eating 🙂

Simple cooked in butter…

We then visited the point of Saint-Mathieu, at the very western tip of Brittany.

There, we met with Yvon Laine Plougonvelin to visit his seafood farm as well as a vegetable conditioning factory

Local worker explaining how they sell their local vegetables to the population: including cauliflower, broccoli, strawberries, etc…
Now to the holding tanks…

Scallops

Lobster
And crab…
Before dinner, we went to a local slaughterhouse, and were explained the processes to raise cows and calfs…they were too cute! Sad I love to eat beef so much…
As the day came to an end, we were welcomed to the Hotel at Saint-Mathieu for a dinner.

Amuse Bouche: Crème Brulée de Foie Gras, Mousse de Betterave (Creme Brulee of Foie Gras and Beetroot Mousse)

Entrée: Noix de Saint-Jacques juste saisies aux endives acidulées (Scallops in shell with endives)
Plat: Filet de Bar accompagné de son Risotto Crémeux (Seabass and creamy risotto)

Dessert: Assiette Gourmande (Assortment of Desserts)

Good night Day 2!

Day 3:

For our finally day in Brest, we got to get up a little later.
First, we met up with Chef Yann Plassard to take a tour of his second restaurant (right across from our hotel) in an old seaboat.

Original decorations were kept
In the kitchen
After our brief tour, we drove to a local sardinerie in Concarneau where they package canned sardines, mackerel, tuna, as well as fish soup, and lobster bisque among others.
Before our lunch, we had a little time to kill so some of us visited a local food market in Concarneau and found piment d’espelette at the root!
For our final meal in Brittany, we ate at Les Coquilles right on the seaport of Concarneau, in our own private room too where we later met the Chef, ex- of La Tour d’Argent. 



Bread with lardons (bacon)
One of the books picked up from the surrounding library..of course, Alain 🙂
Entrée: Avocado Mousse with Shrimp, Chantilly cream
Plat: Seabass with purée
Dessert: Apple Tart and Vanilla ice-cream with caramel
It was a wonderful trip organized by Chef and we thank both of you for accompanying us and showing us the wonders of local produce and food from Brittany. Every single person we met was very welcoming, warm and kind and even opened their farm/factory when they usually closed for the day. We very much appreciated your hospitality and thank you for an amazing trip!

Chef Sébastien de Massard and Chef Stéphane Gabrielly







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Comments
One Response to “Rien d’Impossible en Brest”
  1. R.Valli says:

    heyyyyy , the trip was awesomeeee LOVED ITTTT! =)

    you eat a lot….

    but i eat more! =))

    =X

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