Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dinnertime, and the Living is Easy . . .

I always wanted to be a travel writer someday, but writing little pieces like this is probably about as close as I'll come to achieving that dream . . .
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Suppose you had a rough and tumble week at work, and were well and truly ready for some serious relaxation this weekend, and you had a sudden hankering for night out at a fine restaurant with excellent food and service, followed by a night in a really good hotel ? If that's the case, then I'm going to share a little secret with you, but you have to promise not to tell anyone, ok ? Raise your right hand and swear ? This may be one of the best kept secrets in all of France. This could be one of the best kept secrets in the entire world, for that matter. The secret is the fabulously good restaurant and hotel run by Patrick Jeffroy at the Hotel de Carantec, in the town of Carantec, which is on the northern coast of Brittany, close to the small city of Morlaix, overlooking the sea. But really, you have to promise not to tell, I'd hate to see this place get swarmed by such big hordes of tourists that I could no longer get my favorite table by the windows . . .
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From New York you can now take the new A380 service offered by Air France to Paris, and then it is a three hour TGV train ride to Morlaix. From the station in Morlaix it is perhaps a 15 minute taxi drive to Carantec on the coast ; then you can check into a few nights of paradise on Earth . . .
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How I would love to invite all of you over for a long and leisurely dinner here where we could share our tales of blogging adventures . . . and talk of everything else east of the sun and west of the moon . . .
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The blue lobster sculpture on the facade gives you a little clue as to the orientation of the menu, but lobster is far from the only specialty to be found there. I would strongly recommend the "filet de bar" (sea bass), perhaps accompanied by a meursault white wine from Burgundy ? But that is just one of many terribly tempting possibilities here . . . however, if you stay for a week, you can try nearly all of them, between lunch and dinners.
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Should you feel you've eaten too much, you can always work off your excesses with brisk walks along the coastline, enjoying the beautiful views on the water and many small islands, or go out at low tide to the isle Callot for a longer walk with unbeatable Brittany scenery. Or spend entire days afield visiting a myriad of possible destinations in the region from Brest to Quimper, to the central hills of Brittany where a multitude of small and fascinating villages lie hidden, usually with historically interesting treasures of one sort or another . . .
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Some of the hotel rooms are under the eaves, in turn under the blue Brittany skies . . . There is a saying in Brittany : The weather is nice several times a day. True, there may be some clouds and drizzle from time to time, but there are also stretches of gorgeous skies, which change all the time.
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The view from the large bay windows in the restaurant is unbelievable, out over the Bay of Morlaix. No wonder they're called bay windows ! Watching the light change on the water as the sun goes down and the sky turns dark, while the first courses are being washed down with a glass of wine (from their fabulous wine list) . . . it just doesn't get much better than that.
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Two mirrored signs outside for the hotel and the restaurant . . . I've never stayed in the hotel, as we stay in my mother-in-law's house just up the street from the hotel. But I've looked at the rooms, and they look wonderfully comfortable. Simplicity and good taste reign here . . .
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I love the red lobster who holds up the menu case near the entrance outside. The entire menu is on their website in French. I'm not going to go into the details here, as I would probably be accused of cruel and unusual temptation to feloniously good dining, but I can assure you, every dish is beautifully and artfully presented, in perfectly mouth-watering splendor. Patrick Jeffroy is an entirely extraordinary culinary wizard.
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On your way out don't hesitate to pick up one or two of their beautiful bookmarks so you'll have a souvenir of the wonderful night you just had, and their phone number for the next time you wish to make a reservation . . .
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37 comments:

Roxana said...

ah, another post related to cuisine, another impossible temptation (though i notice you deliberately avoided any dish pictures - but ah, i would have wanted so much to _see_, even if, of course, accusations of cruelty would have followed :-)...

ENVIOUS!

Deborah said...

Mmmmm....it's a long drive up there, but I'll write this place in my possibilities book.

Steve said...

Now that's what I call a review! Book me a table for next Friday please Maitre'd!

Elise said...

Lovely pictures, you've got the light and shade just right... looks like it was a beautiful day too

Sar@h said...

Est-ce bon ? Je n'ai jamais eu la chance d'y être invitée … Par contre, je côtoie souvent Patrick Jeffroy dans les queues au marché du samedi : traduction, il sert souvent du bio.

Dame ! j'ai regardé les prix des menus … Je crois que je continuerai à aller au Cinétoile, c'est plus dans mes moyens.

Est-ce sa plaquette ? Joli, ma foi.

the watercats said...

*sob.....

Nevine said...

Owen, you make me feel so jealous. I miss eating seafood, especially in France, but this just looks like a dream disguised as a hotel. I'm drooling for lobster and sea bass now, and if the food is as exquisite as you say and the ambience is as beautiful as your photos show it to be, then I'm there - but only in thought. So, Owen, let me just say this. Because you are so lucky to be there and to have the opportunity to go back, I will live out my experience of being there vicariously through you. As long as you can continue to enjoy it, I will pull that jealousy out of my heart and enjoy it with you. ...sigh... Thank you, as always, for sharing. Your photos are absolutely lovely!

Nevine

Jessie said...

Gosh this is a bit of a contrast to the last post isn't it? ;) Looks very posh and therefore every expensive?

Petru said...

Nice pictures !

TechnoBabe said...

This review is very well done. If I hadn't already been reading your blog, I would assume you did this for a living. The restaurant looks divine and I took the link to their site. How opportune that your mother-in-law lives so close to a wonderful hotel/restaurant.

French Fancy said...

Guess what Owen, I've bookmarked the link and the next time we talk about having a good meal somewhere I'm going to book us a table ther. Thanks for the tip. In return I'm going to link to our favourite restaurant which earlier this year got its first Michelin star

http://www.auberge-grand-maison.com

@eloh said...

Very nice.

Catherine said...

Thanks for sharing the secret!! Looks a great place - that second lobster shot is grat and you should post it on Shadow Shot Sunday - a fun weekly meme at www.heyharriet.blogspot.com

Catherine said...

Thanks for sharing the secret!! Looks a great place - that second lobster shot is grat and you should post it on Shadow Shot Sunday - a fun weekly meme at www.heyharriet.blogspot.com

jeff said...

Hé bien !... Il y en a qui n'oublient pas le pourboire...! ! !
Si après ça, ils ne t'offrent pas un séjour gratuit dans l'hôtel, ce sont des enf.....rés !...
Mais tu t'emmerdes pas quand même ! Moi qui croyais que tu passais tes congés dans de vieilles bicoques à retaper sur les causses ou à voyager dans ton camping-car et dormir à la belle étoile...! ! ! 'Suis déçu Owen !...;-)))
Mais c'est une belle série de photos qui promouvoit ce bel établissement !
Je vois que tu n'as pas oublié de mettre un photo sur les bouchons de bouteilles de tise que tu t'es envoyé pendant le séjour que tu as passé là-bas ! ! !...;-)))
Sacré amigo !

Ciao pixpote !
Passe une bonne fin de week-end !
Aujourd'hui boulot pour moi et il me tardait de souffler un peu auprès de ma "belle rose" brune ! ! !

Bises ! ! !...

Janie said...

Perhaps you should be a travel writer with an emphasis on cuisine. You've certainly made my mouth water and peaked my interest in travel to Brittany.

Liz said...

Quite the distance for me... but I think I am ready for a vacation! How I would love to sit at that table looking out over the water! Sigh....

Margaret Pangert said...

Hi Owen~ Your description is so tempting! I don't know Brittany, but did you hear any Celtic? And did you sea that castle that becomes an island at certain times of the day? And is that ending in-ec pretty universal there? The water looks gorgeous but moreso the elegantly set table in the window! I'm glad you had this lovely respite!

Jo said...

Omigoodness that looks absolutely wonderful. It is exactly to my taste. Actually, everything about it looks like Heaven on Earth.

Here I sit in Vancouver on a cold, drizzly November evening, wishing I were there. *sigh*

BLOGitse said...

Thanks Owen!
The dinner was...amazing!
I love good food with good wine - this restaurant was an excellent choice!
ps. I promise not to tell this secret forward...shhhhh!

The Sagittarian said...

Ah yes, some food pix would have added some joie de vivre but your post is wonderful as always, Brother Owen. I'd call you BO but you might get the wrong idea!!
Love the book marks, I always loose mine. I made my own once with family photos and then left it in the book when I took it back to the library!! I thought someone would find it and return it but alas, no! Next time I'll put my phone number on it.

louciao said...

Sometimes life's a bitch, and sometimes it isn't. It's good to recognize those moments of unguarded bliss and give thanks for them, as you have clearly and colourfully done here.

One (wo)man's seafood delight accompanied by a fine French wine served in a charming hotel restaurant is another (wo)man's hot dog and beer wolfed down in a football stadium.

Salut!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

No need to worry about me - my passport's two years out of date and I'm a veggie in any case, so such a restaurant may well be my idea of hell, despite the splendid views.

Owen said...

Ahh Roxana, I feared that images of the dishes themselves would not do them justice, could not capture the candlelight and especially the smells wafting around the table in fleeting snatches of paradise...

And yet you speak of impossible temptation, thou who art the master of temptation, temptation through ever more mysterious images and poetry that shines like moonlight on a black rippling water...

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Hi Deborah, I would guess your "possibility" book is bursting at the seams ? If the drive is too long, the TGV, perhaps even overnight in a "couchette" berth would be a more comfortable way to travel to Morlaix, or still faster... flight from Toulon or Marseille to Paris, connecting through to Brest...
:-)

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Steve, excellent, so we can meet at last ? Just be sure to bring a good healthy appetite that night...

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Hi Elise, it was a beautiful day indeed, though light and weather sometimes change rapidly in Brittany...

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Bonjour Sar@h ! Est-ce bon ? Oui, c'est exquis, tout simplement excellent du début à la fin. Ce n'est pas non plus dans nos moyens, mais une fois tout les deux ou trois ans, et puis suivi par des semaines de pates et du riz... mais ça vaut un petit sacrifice, même juste une fois dans la vie... c'est un tel plaisir pour les sens. C'est un artist sublime, M. Jeffroy. Non, ce n'est pas leur plaquette, ce sont des marque-pages alignés que j'ai scannés... Ils ont aussi un menu déjeuner moins cher que le soir...

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Dear WaterCats, would you like to borrow a kleenex ? Or perhaps a shoulder is what you may be needing to cry on ? Oh yes, it is good, it is even better than my pitifully inept and inadequate superlatives can convey... it must be lived to be believed...
:-D

Owen said...

Hi Nevine... how I wonder where you may be... One gets the impression that you have travelled far and wide, and hopefully may continue to travel and wander and roam. So what might keep you from returning to France one day, and taking a short detour to Brittany to visit this place, and to say hi to us near Paris or in Brittany... yes, hope springs eternal, no ? You are not in prison I trust ? Though sometimes I think you may be living in a castle in a cloud kingdom, the way the writing on your blog picks up the gold of sunshine as it filters down to us earthbound beings... Yes, by all means, pull the jealousy out of your heart and cast it away, and enjoy vicariously... and perhaps seek revenge by posting soon in your pages a similar report on a wonderful place to eat where you are ? There must be something good nearby, no ? You are not living in and ice cave on Antartica ??? Smiles to you wherever you may be, and bushel baskets full of peace and quiet, that you may continue your wondrous writing...

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Hi Jessie, well, a contrast yes, but a logical progression, as upon being released from prison one is surely wanting a fine dinner to re-kindle a love for being able to wander freely outside of tall stone walls... Yes, a bit posh and rather expensive, but if one goes only once in a blue moon, it isn't the end of the world either, and well worth every penny...

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Petru, thank you !

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Hey TechnoB, many thanks... we are indeed very fortunate to have our mother-in-law there, literally just a few steps away ; we don't have to worry about driving anywhere after finishing off the wine !
:-)
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Hi FF, Many thanks for the tip, was just looking at the map to see where le Mur de Brétagne is exactly... will have to look into stopping there, looks wonderful...

Just found a web site which lists the Michelin star restaurants, according to this site Patrick Jeffroy's Hotel de Carentec now has two stars...

http://www.tuxboard.com/?guide-michelin-2009-restaurants-etoiles

In any case, the experience of dining there is unique imho...

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@eloh, indeed, extremely very nice...

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Hi Catherine, many thanks for the tip to the shadow shot... may just look that up...

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Salut Jeff ! Mais c'est exactement ça, on aime bien dormir à la belle étoile... les belles étoiles Michelin... dont ils en ont deux, si je comprends bien... mais bon, peu importe les étoiles, c'est une assiette sublime là, une détente inimaginable, et on n'y va pas souvent, pas souvent du tout. Et ils m'offrent autre choses à mettre sous mes dents que des feuilles d'arbre... J'imagine de temps en temps avec ton amour pour l'art et la poésie que tu aimes bien un bon repas préparé par des artistes, non ? Bon, on discuteras de tous cela et plus un de ces quatre... bonne fin de soirée !

Owen said...

Hi Janie ! Just need to put a bib on if the mouth starts watering too much ! Well, we'll see if any offers come in for more travel writing after this little piece...
:-D

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Hi Liz, well if you're ready for a vacation... then do, by all means, go for it... life is short !
:-)

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Bonjour Margaret... Brittany is a beautiful place to spend some time wandering. Not many people speak "Breton" any more, so one doesn't hear much, although there are some efforts to keep it alive as a language. Many signs have both French and Breton on them. I'm not sure which castle you may be referring to that becomes an island ? When the tide comes in ? There is a lovely island at Carantec which is a peninsula one can walk to at low tide, but an island at high tide. Yes, the "-ec" ending is fairly common I guess, just as there are many town names that all start with "Plou-" in Brittany... anyway, thanks for letting yourself be tempted...
:-D

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Hi Jo ! Glad I was able to brighten up a gray drizzly evening... from Vancouver there must be some direct flights to Paris ? Then a quick hop on the TGV train, and there you are ? But I'm guessing there must be some good restaurants in Vancouver too, if you feel the need for a fine meal with no dishes to do after ?

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Hi Blogitse... so glad you enjoyed the dinner, we'll have to do it again sometime ? And thanks for keeping the secret...
:-)

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Dear Sajsis, yes, but the lack of food pix adds to the mystery, hopefully enticing you to come and try it for yourself one day... from Wellington its just 20 hours of flying or something like that, right ? So, what's this you're saying, you're going to start putting your phone number in public places ??? Oh dear, oh dear, someone might get the wrong impression ! Oh, so I'm BO now ??? Oh boy, what a nice thought !
:-D

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Lynne, there you are ! Back from the ballpark ??? And did you really wolf down hot dogs and beer ? Hope you had one or two for me ! And you came in here just after the Saj ! How'd you organize that ??? Anyway, yes indeed, this place is pure bliss, and no problem recognizing that in the least... just hope I'll be able to afford to eat there at least once more in my lifetime... If they get still another Michelin star they may become unaffordable for commoners such as I... Hope you had a dandy time out and about this weekend !

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Hi Laura, hope the visit to these pages and photos wasn't too much of a nightmare, even if not a vegetarian establishment... thanks for stopping in ...

jeff said...

Owen ! Tu devrais goûter les feuilles d'arbres ! Je dis ça... en toute humilité...:-))) Sinon, culinairement parlant, j'adore faire de délicieux repas fins, et m'attarder longuement sur les desserts ! ! !

Amitiés My friend !

...;-)

Virginia said...

Owen, you missed your calling as a travel writer. I"m ready to board the next flight over. I'm sending this to our Alice in Arradon, on the Brittany coast as well. Your photos are trés belle!
V

Owen said...

Ah cher Jeff... je viens de voir un film amusant, Broken English... you know it maybe ??? Une américaine, (Parker Posey), un français (Melvil Poupaud) qui se rencontrent à New York, je te vois bien dans ce rôle perhaps...

et oui, s'attarder sur les desserts, c'est bien, c'est plus que bien... ce soir la grenouille a fait une mousse au chocolat, on s'est attardé dessus longtemps...

Mmmmm; j'adore une bonne mousse...
;-D

PS mais après, pour dormir bien, une infusion d'herbes, oui, ça s'appelle une tease-âne (c'est moi l'âne...)

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Virginia, excellent, one can never come over to France for too short a time... if you might have read the comment above from French Fancy, she left a link to another restaurant / auberge that looks good, very good in le Mur de Brétagne, which is just south of St Brieuc... see you, bon voyage !
:-)

The Sagittarian said...

Hmph, Wellington is a good 3/4 hour flight from CHRISTCHURCH too so I will have even further to travel...must check out direct flights from CHRISTCHURCH.

Owen said...

Oh dear oh dear oh most hopelessly geographically challenged of twin brothers... I admit, I spouted off the first city name of any size that came to mind... so there are flights from Christchurch to Paris ??? Direct ? And if that is the case, there must be some in the other direction too ??? The better to arrive in NZ by then to take up residence in the rabbit hutch out back... until the crisis is over...

Marguerite said...

Fabulous post, mon cher ami, Owen! What a beautiful place, and how lucky you are to be there! Your review was incredible and I agree with the others, here, that you definitely should pursue a career in travel writing! Your wonderful photos and descriptions make me want to go to Brittany, more than ever! Glad you're having fun!! Cheers, cher!

AmyR said...

Delightful! I will remember this when I finally get to France.

Owen said...

Hi Marguerite, beaucoup de bonjours, et mille fois merci... And I hope you'll be able to come visit Brittany someday if such is your desire.... why not, it's not as far as the moon...

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Hey Amy, so when are you coming ??? Do let me know when you do... Meanwhile, when are you going to share with us more of your early black and white work from Ohio ?
See you...

Sar@h said...

Puis-je lui dire que ses marque-pages sont jolis et parler de ton blog la prochaine fois que je le vois au marché ?

Sar@h said...

Pfftt Je viens de lire le 3ème paragraphe … Je peux faire taxi s'ils veulent ! Juste pour avoir un prétexte d'aller à Carantec !

AmyR said...

I shall definitely let you know...and I'll see if I can dig up some more black and whites. :D