Friday, June 8, 2007

Dinner in Cap Ferret. Part two

Bruno has been telling me about Eric, a fisherman in the next village, who braves really high waves in a small boat, throws his net, and pulls in a variety of fish. His prize catch is sea bass. When we visit Eric he wants to show us a video of him at work which sounds like a great idea until I actually watch it and feel seasick. I look around Eric’s house instead and feel right at home in the Northern California ambiance of surf boards, wet suits, and a hot tub in the backyard.

Chez Hortense is everything you want in a local seafood restaurant-- great location, a place that looks like a 50’s French movie, fresh ingredients, a boisterous crowd with everyone smoking which I know is uncool but secretly enjoy. Jay and I are wondering why there can’t be a restaurant like this in the Hamptons instead of all the pretentious, expensive places there.

Anyway, back to Chez Hortense. Bruno wants me to visit the kitchen and see the fish we are going to eat. We are having turbot and a sea bass that Eric caught that morning which is lying there with a small metal tag identifying it as his.

At the stove, they tossing mussels in a secret sauce until all of them are open. I ask but they won’t tell me what goes into the preparation. We are served them and they are amazing: small, sweet, and tender with a sauce of garlic, parsely, tomatoes, white wine and a little oil of some sort. The hand cut french fries are outstanding too; I can’t stop eating them.

The fish is grilled and we get the turbot first. It is fresh, firm and slightly dense.
The sea bass is unbelievable and unlike any I have had before. I loved the sea bass at Gato Nero in Venice but this is better…wilder with a stronger taste of the sea. I am so overwhelmed by the fish I can’t even focus on the wines. I think I was enjoying a Graves.

The sun is setting on the dunes across the bay, the laughter is rolling through the restaurant, and I am totally blissed out. Dessert, an apple pie made with layers of philo dough, doesn’t blow me away. All I want to do is take a walk on the beach and savor what the meal and the day and plot my return.

Chez Hortense a la Point
Cap Ferret 33970
05 56 60 62 56


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