French baker, chef and author Richard Bertinet shells his last langoustine
I’d be on the “Côte Sauvage” of Brittany, in Quiberon, where I grew up. Every season is special there, but I especially love the winter, with its big waves. Good for the clearing the mind and the soul.
The Pembrokeshire coast reminds me a lot of those childhood places. We’ve been there from time to time over Easter. The first thing I do is always to find a local fisherman and buy the freshest crabs and oysters. We’ve had some great lunches that way.
I’d have a big seafood platter – a big red crab, some oysters, langoustines, winkles, some mussels, clams, little crevettes grises (brown shrimp) – with a big pot of homemade mayo, a few bottles of rosé and a large loaf of my bread. It takes a long time to eat, so we’d start at lunchtime and finish at dinner.
For dessert we’d have my mother’s far breton (see below), which is a typical Breton snack. It’s like a large flan baked in a big earthenware dish, a mixture of custard and creme brulee. We make ours with prunes soaked overnight in rum.
I never used to be able to make the recipe work. When my mother gave it to me for my book, Crust, I found it tricky, but eventually realised that it was because her spoon was a very old spoon, so I went to Brittany to get her spoon and measure how much it holds ...
With that, I’d have a good, cold, dry Breton cider. And perhaps, to really push the boat out, some champagne. My favourite is from a small, relatively unknown producer called Pascal Ponson, near Reims.
For the cheese course, I’d have a baked baronet, from Julianna Sedli, a small cheesemaker near Bath in Somerset. It’s a bit like a Munster, or a raclette, with a wonderfully soft pâte. You leave it out of the fridge for six hours before eating; or even better, you bake it.
My wife and my children would be with me – my eldest doesn’t like seafood, so I’d also make their favourite, roast beef and yorkshire pudding, and a whole baked sea bream, very simply done, with very new potatoes, sauteed and sprinkled with sea salt and a few sprigs of mint. My brother and sister would be there too, along with two other people who love the sea as much as I do: Mitch Tonks and Angela Hartnett.
We wouldn’t need any music –the sound of the sea is enough.
Richard Bertinet’s Far Breton recipe
130g caster sugar
110g plain flour
A pinch of salt
750g cold full-fat milk
50g melted butter
1 Preheat the oven to 220C/425F gas mark 7.
2 Soak the prunes in the rum for at least a few hours, or overnight.
3 Mix the sugar and eggs together and add the flour gradually, then the salt. Whisk in the cold milk to make a thin batter.
4 Brush an earthenware dish with the melted butter and put into the oven to warm up for 1-2 minutes.
5 Spoon your soaked prunes into the dish, put into the oven again for a few minutes just to warm them up, then take out and pour in the batter. Put into the oven for 10 minutes, then turn the heat to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and bake for another 25-30 minutes.
6 To check it is ready, dip the blade of a sharp knife in cold water, then pierce the middle of the batter. If and if the knife comes out clean, it is done. The sides of the batter will also be starting to come away from the dish. Cool completely in the dish, then cut into pieces, and serve with a cup of tea.
“The first thing I do is always to find a local fisherman and buy the freshest crabs and oysters,” says Richard Bertinet.
- Richard Bertinet is a restaurateur, baker, author, and the owner of the Bertinet Kitchen Cookery School in Bath