Hello dear French hounds. I am sorry that it took me so long to report back on my June trip to the Béarn and the Basque country, but you know how it goes.
Anyway, We had a lovely time in the Basque region visiting well-reported in these pages places. Unfortunately Chez Mattin in Ciboure was closed, whaaa, as were a few other places often mentioned on Chowhound, but we managed to enjoy some wonderful meals at Le Kaïku in Saint Jean de Luz and L’Ephémère in Ciboure, both had really original takes on Basque cuisine, both well-executed, good and memorable (thanks Parigi!). We also traveled to Biarritz and thank Laidback for the recommendation of Chez Albert, we had the freshest, most loveliest St Pierre for 2, oysters and a wonderful white Irouléguy. We LOVED the Irouléguy and one of my favorite memories involved a picnic in Les Aldudes with Ossau-Iraty and confiture de cerise, washed down with some red, Irouléguy, Heaven!! And the gâteau Basque from the baker (whose name I forget) from Espelette at the Friday market in Saint Jean de Luz, more heaven..
We also had nice lunches at Chez Margot and La Marine on Soccoa beach...and we pigged out in San Sebastian and Hondarribia as well...mmm, that needs a whole other thread! I dream of the anchovies. I want them now...
Our trip to the Bearn was a little more challenging food-wise but we had a lovely time and it was a GREAT discovery. We spent our days eating more sheeps' cheese and drinking Jurançon (our favorite was from Bru Bache, a wonderful bio domain, so good and the people are nice.) We did have several memorable meals in Pau, a bargain lunch at Les Papilles Insolites, i THINK that the owners' worked at Les Papilles in Paris...in any event it was a similar set-up with a wine shop and resto...it was a bargain and everything was so good (pulpe, a delicious veal cheek, damn, can't remember the rest! But it was tasty and a bargain). We also had a nice dinner at Chez Canaille, a casual bistro in central Pau. Everyone was super nice there...wonderful boudin and more great pulpe, We'd love to go back there.
Our other recommendation in that part of the world is to go to the local village hole in the wall for the 13 (or MAYBE 15) euro menu. We had a great value for the price, homemade meal at a local tabac/PMU in Navarrenx, 13e for soup (the specialty, Garbure) and a decent steak (blond de béarn) frites. Plus it included a drinkable wine. THIS is why I love France...
Thanks again for all of the advice, hope this is helpful for anyone traveling in that most awesome, special part of the world. I would go back in a heartbeat...
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