Saturday, September 16, 2017

Vendée - Dining in Vendee, France. The Department of Vendee is in France’s Region of the Pays de Loire on the Atlantic Coast.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

Oysters and a Reisling wine at a beachside restaurant in Vendee.

Vendee is a vacationer’s dream with over 150 kilometers (95 miles) of sandy beaches on the Atlantic coast in the region of the Pays de la Loire.  In Vendee’s seaside resorts and towns throughout the department, there are some of the best chefs in France with Michelin starred, and Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants dotted all over the department.

In Vendée expect menus with Challans' Red Label poultry, Jambon de Vendée IGP cured ham, Red Label Brioche, Noirmoutier’s Red Label new potatoes, Beurre Charentes-Poitou AOP butter, Mogette white haricot beans, Fleur de Sel, farm-raised mussels, oysters, and excellent fish and seafood.

Among the yachting fraternity, Vendee is known as home to the once-every-four-years Vendee – Globe, round-the-world, single-handed, yacht race. 

In Vendee, you may choose miles of empty beaches.
. Alternatively, choose public beaches or pay for privilege on beaches with umbrellas, lounge chairs, along with waiters and waitresses bringing drinks and snacks.
Vendee on French menus:
Brioche Vendéenne à la Crème d’Amandes et Abricots Rôtis A dessert made with the Vendee’s Red Label Brioche served with an almond cream sauce and roasted apricots. The brioche from Vendee is the only one in France with a Label Rouge, the Red Label of excellence.  The brioche comes in sizes from small to rolls to loaves of five kilos (11 lbs) or more; it is made with a traditional recipe that includes crème fraiche and orange zest.

Douzaine d'Huîtres de Vendée (La) – A dozen oysters from Vendée. With a menu listing like this, you need to ask about the type of oyster, and the size offered. All French oysters are farmed, and Vendee’s come from farms on the island of Noirmoutier or from coastal oyster farms like the Bay de Bourgneuf, next to the town of Bouin, or Talmont Saint Hilaire and the Bay of Aiguillon. For more about ordering oysters in France see the post: Oysters. Huitres II, How Fresh Oysters in France are Sold by Weight

A dozen oysters
Filet de Canard de Challans au Miel de Nos Ruches Navets et Foie Gras de CanardBreast of  Red Label Challans’ duck cooked with honey from our bee hives and served with turnips and fattened duck liver.  The poultry from Challans is among the best in France.
Filet de Bar Poêlé à la Fleur de Sel de Noirmoutier – A filet of European sea bass lightly fried with Fleur de Sel, from Vendee’s coastal  island of Noirmoutier. Fleur de Sel is the mineral-rich crystals from the top of sea salt drying pans.  Here the fish is flavored with the Fleur de Sel in a manner that does not transmit a salty taste. The island of Noirmoutier is just off the Vendee’s northern coast and has been connected to the mainland for the last fifty years by a 600 meter (665 yard) bridge.   (Before the bridge was built, you took a boat and sailed or walked, rode or drove across the “Goise,” a 5 km (3 miles) cobblestone causeway that is covered twice a day by the high tide with up to 4 meters (13’) of water.  The “Goise” is still used by hundreds of tourists every day).
Homard Bleu Rôti aux Pommes de Terre de Noirmoutier à l'Ail – The European two-clawed lobster served with the Red Label new potatoes from the Island of Noirmoutier and flavored with garlic. These potatoes are a treat, and they are on menus from April through the end of July. 

New potatoes from the Island of Noirmoutier

Jambon de Vendée Grillé aux Mogettes – The famous cured and smoked ham of the Vendee, grilled and served with their much-loved Mogettes de Vendée Label Rouge.  Mogettes are white beans that elsewhere are called haricots blanc.  However, these are Vendee’s white beans, and the soil and climate generate their particular taste with the award of a Red Label confirming their unique qualities. The climate of Vendée makes curing ham by drying difficult and so this is a pressed ham, that allows for a shortened drying time of  3 to 4 months. After drying this ham may be smoked with a process that creates a taste claimed by some to be compared to Canadian bacon. The ham will be cut into thick slices before being grilled or fried.

Lotte Meunière de l'Ile d'Yeu au Beurre d'Aromates – Cuts from the tail of a monkfish caught off Vendee’s  island of Yeu prepared with a Sauce Meunier flavored with an aromatic herb butter. Sauce meunier is usually made with clarified butter, lemon juice, and parsley, but here the sauce’s seasoning is changed through the addition of aromatic herbs. Monkfish has a white, firm and tasty meat and is one of the most popular fish in French fish restaurants.  Only the meaty tail of the monkfish will be used as the body has no meat. The Île d'Yeu is famous for sea fish and shellfish, especially tuna, lobsters, and crabs. The island is less than half the size of its neighbor Noirmoutier. It is reached by ferries from the mainland seaside resorts of Port Fromentine and St Gilles Croix de Vie. Depending on the boat taken the trip takes from 30 minutes to an hour and is a delightful day trip. Stop on the island for lunch or sunbath.

The Île d'Yeu has an English language website:

Suprême de Poulet Noir de Challans Rôti Lentement au Thym - Breast of the highly rated Red Label Black Challans chicken slowly roasted in thyme. The town of Challans is home to Vendee’s Label Rouge, Red Label, poultry including chickens, Guinea fowl, and ducks.  For more about the Label Rouge, poultry in France click here.

The black Challans chicken.
The wines of Vendee
Vendee is in the region of the Pays de Loire which is home to many of France’s famous wines, including Anjou, Chinon, Crémant de Loire, Gros Plants AOC, Muscadet, Pouilly-Fumé, Saumur,  Sancerre, Touraine, Vouvray and many more. Vendee itself only produces a few AOC wines though its wine production began when France was settled by the Romans 2,000 years ago. The best Vendee wine producing areas are said to be Brem sur Mer, Mareuil sur Lay, VIX and the interestingly named Pissotte; these are red, white and rose wines.  In the North of Vendee are the dry whites: Muscadet AOC, Muscadet-Côtes-de-Grandlieu AOC, and Gros Plants AOC all recommended to accompany oysters of which Vendee has so many.
Vendee – Globe

The Vendee – Globe round-the-world, single-handed, yacht race begins and finishes at the Vendee seaside resort of Les Sables-d'Olonne.  In this race, sailors spend up to three months alone at sea; it is considered the consummate test in single-handed ocean racing.

Vendee – Globe 2016

The department of Vendee has an English language website 
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Bryan G. Newman

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