Bretons in Argentina

2008.Feb.20 Wednesday · 0 comments

in Restaurants

 Very thin, wide pancakes made from buckwheat flour are eaten with ham, eggs and other savoury fillings. They are usually called galettes (Breton galetes), except in the western parts of Brittany where they are called crêpes (Breton krampouezh). Thin crêpes made from wheat flour are eaten for dessert. Other pastries, such as kouign amann (“butter cake” in Breton) made from bread dough, butter and sugar, or far, a sort of sweet Yorkshire pudding, or clafoutis with prunes, are traditional.”

Buenos Aires – Let’s lay out a few things. When I start talking about the cuisine of Brittany, don’t start respelling and thinking I’m about to launch into a review of Britney Spears’ infamous NYLA restaurant. I’m talking about that area in the northwest of France that simply isn’t part of most folks’ tours of the country. It just doesn’t have the cachet. I’ve never been – not because of the lack of cachet, I’ve just never been. In fact, I think my only brush with the cuisine was at Chez Michel in Paris – seven years ago. Blogging chef friend David Liebovitz has been, and gives a nice roundup of what’s important in the cuisine of the region – far better than I’m going to be able to do. But what does all this have to do with anything. Well, surprise, suprise… out of the various, but not overly numerous, little French boîtes that are dotted about town, who knew that there was one (and I actually gather, two…) that specialize in Breton cuisine?

Finistere - morcilla and apple buckwheat crepeFinistere, Montevideo 973, is one of them – named after the western most départment of Brittany, or Bretagne. And, following on the culinary traditions noted above, and by David, the restaurant specializes in massive buckwheat crêpes filled with various and sundry items – from vegetables to chicken to red meat of various sorts – surprisingly, given that Brittany is also known for its seafood, the only offered crêpe that was based on the fruits of the sea was a salmon and leek one. My eye was drawn to a crêpe filled with morcilla sausages and sauteed apples – a classic of the northwest of France and a favorite dish – sounded delightful for a crêpe filling, and, indeed it was – with the sausage practically melting into the insides of the crêpe, the apples still just slightly crunchy and barely sweet, providing a great contrast. My friend, who is apparently taking some sort of spiritual and physical cleanse, is spending a week eschewing all meat products (though carelessly ingested one of the mini ham and cheese sandwiches that were brought to the table as an hors d’oeuvre), and didn’t lag behind me in consuming her mushroom and garden vegetable crêpe. [This place has closed.]

Finistere - Far BretonWe split what is one of Brittany’s most famous desserts (of two, that I know about), a Far Breton – a sort of custardy or flan-like tart, nicely browned and stocked with prunes. Having looked at David’s review of sampling through the Far Bretons in apparently every pastry shop he could find in Brittany, I have no doubt that Finistere’s version would not leap into the top echelon, but it was good (“dense and heavy” were his descriptors, and quite accurate), and we certainly didn’t leave any crumbs on the plate. According to a poster on the bathroom wall (strangely, no copies of the poster anywhere else that I saw), last night was the annual “Bretons in Buenos Aires” festival, to be held jointly between Finistere and the other Breton restaurant – I don’t recall the name, and since there were no other copies of the poster, don’t have it, or the official website of “Bretons in Argentina”, a group which apparently exists and has sufficient members to fill two restaurants for an annual festival! Also, from the restaurant’s website, I gather they have live Breton music on weekday evenings. Sounds worth a return visit to me.


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