Try as I might, bran and yogurt just weren’t my choice for the morning meal in Cap Ferret. With a bakery like Chez Pasqual in Le Canon cranking out yummies every morning by 7:30 like the one you see below, I was doomed.
It’s called a “Sacristain,” and it almost defies description. I’d surrendered on the first day of our stay to an “Almandine” but it was too heavy, too luscious, too richly almondy and buttery. On the second day, my faithful breakfast delivery person (husband) came home with le Sacristain. A fluffy twisted puff pastry, crowned—at least in their version—by a paper thin layer (veil? mantel?) of what seemed to be meringue (if such a thing is possible) with flaked almonds and a dusting of that devilish powdered sugar we are told to avoid. Sinful, miraculous, and seemingly (though we all know it wasn’t) light as a cloud—it melted and crunched in my mouth at the same time and proclaimed itself the Pastry of Choice for the rest of our stay. Perfect, accompanied by a bol of café au lait and the International Herald Tribune.
After the morning indulgence (above), a cruise around the various purveyors of fresh food for the evening’s victuals and—weather permitting—a dip in the Big Blue, it was time for lunch. One that would nutritiously make up for the dietary lapses of morning. And since none of us are squeamish and/or vegetarian, when possible we opted for the local specialty: oysters.
Each time we’d pick a different establishment (basically, any cabin sporting a sign for “degustation”), ask to be seated, then be ushered “out back” bayside to a picnic table or a bistro table where the menu included oysters, local crevettes (shrimps), bulot (something akin to a sea snail), bread, butter and wine. And that’s it. For the kiddies? Ditto, with water. No Coke. No lemonade. No sugary, fizzy anything. Perfect.
After about, well, no time really, we realized that Cap Ferret was a bit pricier than we’d anticipated. Hmmm. (That explains why my husband saw an inconspicuous Scarlett Johansson* whip her head around in passing upon hearing me tell my children in American English that they were choosing postcards that cost more than I wanted to spend and that they should redirect themselves toward the 40-centimes, dusty, left-over-from-1960 variety. Aren’t those more charming anyway?). It was then that we decided to dine in as much as possible.
Luckily, I have an Italian by my side who not only travels with pasta of many varieties but knows how to cook it up into the most exquisite dishes even in the most ill-equipped kitchens. But first, an aperitivo of the local variety. Lillet. A fruity, easily-quaffed wine, served icy cold and with a growing appetite. Then, voilà, the master’s creation, whipped from its steaming pot and tossed briskly over the fire with cavatappi al dente. I had dish duty that night, but with a happy stomach and a happier heart, who really cares?
*We were never really able to confirm Scarlett Johansson’s presence in Cap Ferret but given the number of French and other VIPs who manage to hide themselves and their fancy houses in the pine trees by day, it wouldn’t have surprised us if it had been the actual luscious-lipped lady in the flesh. NOTE: We are not VIPs, just so you know. We merely happened to bumble into their space off season.