Sunday, January 30, 2011

A french dinner in Plevenon

After Cabourg we headed to Brittany, the province to the south. We stayed in an even smaller village there called, Plevenon. There are about four streets in this village and the main drag has a church, a butcher, a baker and a bar. All four are right out our back door. The first morning it was especially lovely to hear the symphony of bells that ring at 7:00am in the morning. It has been less lovely each successive morning but as the stores all open at 8:00am, I am thinking life starts at 8:00am in Brittany.

Our house here is quite lovely. It is an old farming complex. I am not sure what part we are in; possibly the barn or stables but it is hard to tell as it has been renovated so beautifully inside. The main house on the property is still occupied by the owner’s grandfather whose family has owned this land for a long time. The lady who runs the place speaks very little English but I was thrilled to be able to use my French with her and she actually understood me most of the time! The costumes helped.

We have no internet but the bar across the street has wifi access so Tom and I have been forced to spend hours at the bar. Our first night we met a very nice Irish man who lives here. His name is Tony McCarthy and he told us the Irish and Brittany have a long history together. He invited us to come to his house for dinner and told us he would leave a message with the bartender the next day if it would work with his family.

We wound up going over a couple of nights later. We first met his wife, two year old daughter and dog, all of whom were quite delightful. After a bit Tony’s wife, Manuela’s parent’s arrived and completed our grand party. They had just celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary. Both were born and raised in Brittany and didn’t speak English. This presented a bit of a challenge but through mime, bluff and guesswork we managed to communicate pretty well. I participated actively in wonderful French conversation during which I butchered their language quite thoroughly but they handled it with good grace. It was a wonderful evening filled with delicious food and great wines. We had a champagne with fois gras to start and then pork chops with veggies and a red wine to follow. It was all wonderful. I wouldn’t have thought to serve a champagne to start and wine with dinner and it seemed so French and so delicious. Manuela’s parents were such fun and had a wonderful warm sense of humour. After dinner, we had a galette which we have seen everywhere but haven’t tried. I did ask at the patisserie what it was but with my limited understanding I didn’t get the whole story.

The galette is served on the first Sunday of January or for a special occasion. It is a pie filled with an almond (frangipani) paste. Somewhere in the pie is hidden a small statue. Whoever receives the statue becomes “the king” and wears a crown. We saw some people in a park in Paris eating the pie and wearing crowns and we also saw the crowns sold with the galette so we knew there was some connection but we just didn’t have the full story. I forgot to ask where the tradition originated which is sure to have some interesting significance. At our dinner, Rhys found the statue and wore the crown quite well. We didn’t just have galette, however, but also had ice cream and a chocolate cake as well. I ate every last bite and thought I would explode!

We got talking about recipes and I asked Manuela’s mother, Helena to write down the recipe for crepes and galettes because she said they were very easy. Sadly, they are very easy when you’ve been making them all your life and add a bit of this and a pinch of that. They had no idea of exact amounts. Eventually, Jean-Pierre, Manuela’s father wrote down this recipe for me:

Crepes Jean-Pierre

5 kg farine blanche
3 litres lait
12 oeufs
Half litre rhum
Ajouter un peu de schnapps

Let me know how it turns out.


maryanncart said...

Did you REEL home after dinner? I am screaming with laughter about the recipe and I don't even speak French! I LOVE all the pictures...what a beautiful place. It looks cold but better to be there without all the tourists! Love MOM

Steve said...

Sounds like a recipe for 20 guests. Is the rum for the recipe or the cook? The Schnapps is just the icing on the cake after all...