Wednesday, September 26, 2007

L'Amour du Cidre: Un Collage Cidre

This year's vacation was all about cidre francais and crepes.

The above collage shows some of the many cidres Laura and I sampled in Brittany. We began our journey by flying into Paris (11 hours), elbowing our way through the Métro (1.5 hours), and collapsing into our seats on the train (4.5 hours). Meeting up with Andrew and Jenny the next morning, we drove to our destination, the Kergudon Cottages, in St Cadou (1 hour from Brest).

While driving to our accomodation, we passed by an enticing looking creperie - L'Armorique and determined we would drop our luggage and come directly back for lunch. How lucky we were, delicious crepes were ordered and consumed along with the perfect cidre - Kerné (top row, 2 on left). It has the perfect sweetness, bubbles and finish, presented in a bolée (champagne bottle). I first tasted this several years ago on my first trip to Bretagne and have been dreaming about tasting it again ever since. We (Laura, Andrew, Jenny and I) all lament the loss of the Creperie de Lost March where we first sipped its sweetness.Sharing this bottle our first day in Brittany was a lovely way to start our holiday. Pouring in action(3rd row, last pic). Unfortunately, this was the only time we encountered this delicious nectar during our trip (though not for a lack of trying). Incidentally, this town, Landerneau, is also one of the only places in Europe with an inhabited bridge (others include Florence - Ponte Vecchio, historically the original London Bridge was inhabited until the Victorians messed with it - apparently big ships where more important - bah!!!)

While in St Cadou, many different cidres were purchased and drunk, some of the labels are shown above. They ranged from the 2 pack of 1.5L bottles for €2.75 (1st row, 4th pic) to the €3 bottles (2nd row, 4th pic; 3rd row, 3rd pic) to the tasty Kerné (€8 in a restaurant). In an effort to sample other regional products Laura and I purchased a bottle of Chouchenn. Chouchenn (Hydromiel) is a mead made from honey and apple juice and is often served as an aperitif (1st row, 3rd pic; 3rd row, 1st pic; 4th row, 3rd pic). This was tasty but many others around the table didn't enjoy it. All the more for us I say!!

There are also two other breton beverages we did not get to try (we had to save something for next year): pommeau and lambig. Pommeau is a beverage of unfermented cidre mixed with apple whiskey/brandy and aged before being drunk as an aperitif (appellation in Bretange and Normandie) while Lambig is an apple whiskey/brandy

Ah, this trip was heavenly! Every corner store, grocery, restaurant and roadside stand contained some cider. It is usually served cold in the bolée or in a pitcher, with a boule (small ceramic teacup) to drink from. These vessels are seen in several of the pictures above.

Down the road from the cottages, where we were staying, we spent several days on the beach of Lake Drenec. We sampled the almond Magnum ice cream bars and couldn't resist the creperie. I ordered an andouille sausage crepe which I didn't enjoy - it was the musty smell, Laura ordered a tasty ham and cheese one. The saving grace was the bottle of Val de Rance cidre we while sitting under a clear blue sky in the sun (2nd row, 1st pic; 4th row, 2nd pic).

A note in the rare cases when in Brittany where no cidre is available (Sacre bleu!) or you are drinking alone and bottle will be too much, turn to another delicious beverage Breizh cola. Breton in the Breton language is Breizh a word often seen here. The cola is a delicious, refreshing and non-alcoholic alternative when cidre evades.

Following our week in St Cadou, we continued on to Rennes, the capital of Brittany. Rennes seems like a sea side town even thought it is completely landlocked. It had innumerable timber frame buildings from the 15 - 16th centuries and walking down some empty streets lined by these buildings, felt like you had fallen into the past. Many of the timber frames were residential on the top levels with restaurants and divey bars below ( 2nd row, 2nd picture). In a divey celtic pub, we enjoyed a boule before heading to the cinema to see Persepolis en francais. We were 2 of 7 in the theatre with no line ( unlike the lines at TIFF for the premiere in North America).
The next day we visited the Creperie de Porte des Mordelaises and supped on crepes with a pitcher of cider (2nd row, 3rd pic; 4th row, 4th pic). Porte des Mordelaises was one of the gates to the city the medieval period.

Laura had read about a good creperie in Mont St Michel called La Sirene. It has a great view of the main street from its' second floor locale and you could only gain entry by winding your way through a ultra-kitschy gift shop. We dined on crepes and cidre before heading towards the top of the mount (4th row, 1st pic).

On the final leg of our journey, Paris, we did not drink any cidre - what a shame. But after all the quality cidre from Brittany, our hearts and tastebuds just weren't into substandard drink.

We did however purchase a special bottle of cidre to bring back with us to Canada from the fermier stand in Giverny. We saved it for a special occasion when friends were together and we shared the gift of sweet french cidre with them on a sunny afternoon in September.

Until the next cidre adventure....

Photos and collage courtesy of Laura.

No comments: