Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beau Biarritz and Restaurant Chez Albert

The forecast last Saturday for the Pyrenées mountains was cloudy and overcast, so that made our decision on what to do that day easy: head for the sun...head for the coast, to beau (beautiful) Biarritz. A short one hour 15 minute ride by car from Pau, Biarritz is a beautiful coastal resort town and summer get-away destination for many. It's so close to Spain that you can even see the Spanish Pyrenées! Our day's plan was simple: go to Biarritz, eat lunch, take une promenade (walk) to help digest lunch you know, and that's about it! Très relaxing.

I highly recommend the restaurant Chez Albert, located at Port de Pecheurs. When sitting on the terrace, you have a view on the Atlantic Ocean, although admittedly, you need to look through the parking lot first. No matter, that doesn't detract from the restaurant's charm, which is to say its fresh, fresh seafood. Here's what we had during our 2+ hour lunch:

Entrées (1st Course)

- Huitres (oysters) Top Right - Moules de bouchot (steamed mussels); Bottom Right - Tartare de thon ceviche (tuna tartare)

All was very good, but by far, the best were the oysters. I'm kind of a novice when it comes to fresh oysters, growing up in the mid-west and all, where beef is king, and fresh fish and shellfish are not always easily available. In fact, I was almost a little squeamish the first time I tried to open an oyster and then taste it at Ecole Ferrandi here in Paris. But I have to admit that I've grown to really appreciate them & like them. In France, they have a strict protocol of traceability at all steps in the "supply chain", to use a term from my old business days...from the ostréiculteur (oyster farm producer) to any/all the end the customer. There are never any guarantees, but it does provide a good assurance as to quality & freshness. Something like this probably exists in the US...I don't know since I wasn't in this line of work when we lived there! Anyway, the next time we go to Chez Albert, I'll be ordering a big platter of oysters (Marene-Oléron #3)!

Plat (Main Course) - It's the same story here. All were very good. One was exceptionally good. The Saint Pierre (John Dory). It was out-of-this-world good. Cooking a fish whole certainly has something to do with it, which required that two people order it. Find someone who wants to order this because you will really love it!

Saint Pierre (John Dory), whole, cooked in a croute de sel (salt crust) on the grill. Fileted at tableside Left below: Seared giant scallops, with jambon de bayonne, slices of boudin noir et sauce beurre blanc Right below: Tronçons de turbot grillée (grilled Turbot), aspèrges blanc (white asparagus) with poppy seeds, piquillos (red peppers) and sweet potato chips

Sorry no pictures. In fact, I didn't order dessert but I tried a bite of Raymonde's gâteau basque made at the restaurant (called Pastiza basque tiede). This is a regional specialty and really should not be missed, no matter how full you feel!

For our promenade, we walked up and down the coast - past the casino, near the Hôtel du Palais (with 1 michelin-star restaurant La Rotonde), and back down the coast toward the Rocher de la Vierge (Statue of Madonna on a rock). We watched the many surfers there that day, observed the waves crashing dramatically against the enormous stones seemingly perched in the ocean at low tide, and saw many locals sitting on various benches lining the beach and park areas. Some were reading alone, some were simply gabbing in the sun with a friend (with noticeably bronzed skin), and others were enjoying an ice cream or looking at nice sand sculptures. Here are a few pictures of our walk. I can see why Cathleen and her family go to Biarritz every summer for the month of August! It sure is tempting...but back to reality, it's worth going, even if just for the day!


Restaurant Chez Albert
Port des Pecheurs
64200 Biarritz

Télé: 05 59 24 43 84

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