© Olivier Marie

Oysters

An outstanding Breton delicacy

Oysters

Northern and southern Brittany are both favourable areas for producing oysters, and have a reputation for their exceptional quality. Whether they are fines, specials, Pacific or Belon, they all have a strong taste of the sea. Oysters are a healthy natural product, rich in essential nutrients and full of beneficial elements.

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All you need to know about oysters

When can you enjoy them?

Milky or not milky? It’s a matter of taste! And what about the rule that says you should only eat them if there’s an R in the month? Well, here’s a bit of explanation. From May to August, the height of the reproductive season, oysters produce a soft roe which has no effect on the taste or nutritional value of the oyster. However, to avoid this natural phenomenon and allow people to eat non-milky oysters throughout the year, some producers grow sterile oysters (triploids). Which means you can eat oysters all year round in Brittany!

How are they prepared?

Raw, seasoned with just a squeeze of lemon juice, a grind of pepper, or with a shallot and wine-vinegar sauce, you will get the full flavour of the oyster. Always make sure that the oyster is alive before eating it. To do this, poke it with the point of a knife or fork. It should flinch. What to eat with it? Some good bread and half-salted butter. They can also be eaten hot, au gratin, steamed or grilled. Ideally, they should not be cooked for more than five minutes.

Some top restaurants for oysters

  • In Cancale, the Atelier de l’huître is a haven for anyone who loves oysters: Belons, Pacific and Pieds de cheval oysters, all accompanied by a glass of dry white wine.
  • In Penvins, at La Pointe de Penvins, Alban and Ralph are two brothers who are devoted to food culture. They serve oysters on their lively terrace facing the sea.
  • Step aboard a traditional Brittany sailing boat for a trip off the coast of Cancale to taste a few house specialities of ‘corsair cuisine’, including oysters with Roellinger pepper.

Where can you taste them at the oyster farms?

  • At Saint Philibert, on the Rhuys Peninsula, take a seat on the terrace of the Perle de Quéhan, which overlooks the bay of the same name, and enjoy Jeff Quintin’s Pacific and Belon oysters.
  • In the heart of the Abers district, where rivers join the sea, the Madec family (oyster farmers for more than 100 years) open their ‘Prat Ar Coum’ tasting restaurant every summer.
  • Right at the end of Cancale harbour, just below La Houle lighthouse, you can buy oysters direct from the producers at the Marché aux Huitres and sample them on the spot. It’s a unique place in France and is open all year round.

Where can you buy oysters?

In every market in Brittany you’ll find oyster farmers selling their produce to gourmets. From Cancale to Rhuys, not forgetting the Abers, make sure you try oysters grown in different areas. You’ll notice a variety of tastes. If you like them large and fleshy, go for sizes 0 to 2: the smaller the number the larger the oyster (up to 5 for Pacific oysters or 6 for Belons).

Fancy taking a crate of oysters back home? No problem: just store them for a maximum of a week in a cool room (the temperature must be between 5° and 15°C) or flat in the bottom of a fridge, with the curved side downwards.

Did you know ?

The Oyster Festival

Every year, at the beginning of September, Paimpol puts on a major festival where oysters are the star, with various demonstrations and competitions. A date not to be missed in the Côtes d’Armor department.

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