This post is about my restaurant experience on-board Brittany Ferries. With the excitement of Christmas over and the weather dull and dreary people are starting to think of booking holidays. It’s hard to imagine that feeling of having the sun on your back when it’s raining cats and dogs outside. Brittany Ferries have routes from my home-town of Portsmouth to France and Spain and each October around 30 of us from the Portsmouth CTC enjoy 5 nights away on a cycling holiday either in Brittany or Normandy. Last year we went to Brittany where we stayed in a lovely hotel right beside the lake called Hotel Du Lac in Combourg – but that’s another story which will come in a later post.
Our trip is called ‘The Winedown‘. It’s a play on words for ‘Wind down’ for the winter months but because much wine is consumed this name suits it much better. The ferries have self-service restaurants, bars/lounges, coffee shops and the rather splendid French cuisine restaurant. A few of us like to finish the holiday with a nice meal from this restaurant with its crisp white linen tablecloths and silver service. The previous year the return crossing was a little choppy and several of us didn’t make it (to the restaurant I mean, not the journey!). Luckily this year the waters were calm so we found ourselves a nice large table which would accommodate around eight of us. The waiters were all very friendly and the service was very good We went for the ‘Buffet Selection’ menu at £25.70 a head.
The buffet for the starters consisted of a selection of dishes and I think I had a bit of almost everything. Fresh pasta, peppers, black olives, chicken with minty cous cous – which was really tasty – halved boiled eggs, sweetcorn, king prawns, avocado salad, melon, salsa, salad. The list was endless. You name it, it was there, beautifully laid out and all very fresh.
The main dish was not a buffet, there was a choice of five dishes, including two of which were vegetarian. I went for Carré de cochon cuit au foin, farz de blé noir – which is rack of pork cooked in hay with buckwheat farz. The pork was very lean and tender and there was plenty of it. Peas – almost like processed peas – with carrot, potatoes and butter beans and a rich gravy with onion. The buckwheat farz was like a little crispy basket – similar to a brandy snap basket, but of course, not sweet – with a kind of stuffing inside. In a tall jar was some very fresh hay. Needless to say, I did not eat it but it was nice to smell (if I still had my house-bunny I would’ve taken it home for him).
My vegetarian friend enjoyed Timbale de pâtes aux morilles et artichaut – timbale of pasta with mushrooms and artichokes. This was served with a pretty little flower on the side of the plate. I’m not sure if she ate that or not…
The dessert was a buffet!! So many sweet things to choose from. Creme brulee which had a wonderfully crisp burnt top and smooth creamy centre, tiramisu was light and coffee oozed out, tall shot glasses filled with trifles, meringues were gooey in the middle, sponge cakes were light and fluffy, crumble…I could go on. Again I tried the majority of the desserts on offer.
Then there were cheeses which I didn’t take a photo of but again there was a huge selection from different regions of France. Livarot – Normandy, Bleu d’ Auverge which I didn’t care for, Chaorce – Champagne-Ardenne and Tomme de Savoie – The Alps. We enjoyed our meal with a glass or two of Laroche Bourgogne a 2012 Chardonnay.
As it was a night crossing we headed to our cabins and I climbed the little ladder to reach the top bunk to sleep until we arrived in Portsmouth. It was a lovely way to end a great holiday with friends.
Living life, loving cake
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