Saturday night: anglers on the jettee fishing, people watching the anglers fishing and us watching the people watching the anglers from the safety of the belvedere at the end of the terrace. All is calm and languid. The sea is slopping around in an orderly and atmospheric fashion.
Fortunately, down the road at Biganos, M. Brion is baking like the clappers because Sunday is bread stall day at Arcachon market.
The main problem is what to choose. In the end it’s a seigle pur because I’m not getting into baking rye while we are here, and a straight-up-and-down wholemeal batard. You want that high-bake? Too right, Doll.
I’m still amazed at how good simple, well-made bread can be – really crusty outside, open and moist inside, knockout nutty flavour. Someone on the Bread Bakers Guild of America forum was saying it’s easy to make bread, harder to make good bread, more difficult still to make great bread and virtually impossible to bake great bread all of the time. How would you judge this loaf on that scale? Objectively you could probably say it was just good bread. But bread is also of the moment and at this moment it was total perfection.
So we did our best by it. Sue ran up a fig and ham salad using the finest jambon bayonne and local fresh figs. Bloody feast.
From the bread stall to the fish stall. At one end he had a great heap of petoncles – which as you all know is what we would call queenies of queen scallops. Never seen them in shells before so had to have a try. After a brief misunderstanding when he started weighing out about three kilos of the things we settled on twelve.
Twelve – he’s probably still telling the story – something along the lines of the parable of the loaves and fishes. Exactly like king scallops you have to open the shells and clean the little bastards before you do anything with them. Ended up with twelve little corpses the size of peas. Needed tweezers to serve them.
Only thing to do in these circumstances is resort to comedy – serve two per crevette.
A close-up just in case you have a problem seeing them.