Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Monday, 4 July 2016

A seafood lunch - part 2

The two ladies at the restaurant 'Bistrot de la Mer' killed the time waiting for their cooked lobsters to arrive by talking ... computers! Window 8, Windows 10, Apps, ... they juggled with the words like real IT professionals, although they must both have been well in their eighties. I was flabbergasted and in awe!

Then my lunch came: two baby lemon sole, with chunky French fries, a green salad and a dollop of mayonnaise. With it, I had a small bottle of Sancerre and bottle of fizzy mineral water. The meal was excellent!

Click to enlarge. You can almost smell the still sizzling butter.
On the right, my notepad. I like to take notes when travelling on my own. It kills the time and I rediscover my thoughts afterwards - lol!

But I wasn't the only one enjoying a seafood lunch. Across the road the seagulls were on the look-out for a free meal. As you can see below, the Visserskaai is lined with food stalls selling fish snacks and shrimp salads. The main attraction though are the whelks, cooking in steaming pots of fish and vegetable broth. People stepping out from under the awning are immediately attacked by the waiting scavengers. Their beaks and clawed feet have been known to seriously hurt small children, robbing them from their seafood treat and fries.

 A young woman stirring in a pot of whelks and a seagull taking off.

A seagull waiting for some unsuspecting tourists appearing with their snack lunch.
This vendour must have a resourceful author in his family.
The stall is called 'Visboetiek' = Fish boutique, and the slogan reads:
"Bij Lima is alles prima" = At Lima's place everything is 'prima' = outstanding. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A seafood lunch - part 1

After walking up and down the Visserskaai a second time, I finally found a place I liked, with a nice offer of seafood, a cosy terrace with a premium table in the sun. Inside the place looked pretty full (always a sign of quality food and service), but the terrace only had 4 patrons: two elderly ladies wearing sun heads and a middle-aged couple.

When I walked up to entrance, the waitress was about to take the order of the two elderly ladies. I had to wait for a while and overheard their conversation. They both wanted lobster: 1/2 Thermidor-style (cold with a salad, mayonnaise and cocktail sauce) as a starter. The second half: warm with a garlic sauce for the main course.

The ladies sounded like regular clients, with the waitress calling them 'My Princesses'.

After a while the waitress re-appeared carrying a bowl containing two fine lobsters. The two 'princesses' were very curious to know whether the lobsters were males or females, as they insisted on having the precious 'coral' of the females. After a scrutinizing examination - involving the poor animals indignantly being turned upside down - they got the ladies' approval. It was fun and interesting to watch!

The waitress saw me taking the above photo and with a big smile walked over to my table for a close-up of the bowl and its contents.

'That'll be 10 euros', she laughed. 'Just put it on the bill!' I answered. Of course, she didn't but it was all good fun and it broke the ice ...

I didn't have lobster. More to come ...

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Getting the feel of the place

I arrived in Ostend on Thursday, June 9th at around 11.30 a.m. My taxi dropped me off at the hotel and the driver was kind enough to carry my luggage in. As check-in wasn't until 3 p.m. I left my bags in the hotel storage room and set off for my first walk along the beach promenade to get a feel of the place, enjoy the sun (the weather was surprisingly mild, with hardly any wind and a calm sea) and find a place to have lunch.

I walked in the direction of the port and the Visserskaai (Fishermen's wharf), shooting photos and observing people. It was a very nice walk and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I saw some famous landmarks on my way - more about that later. 

This statue facing the sea and honouring the fishermen who died at sea is the most famous landmark of Ostend ... and a favourite look-out spot for the many seagulls.
Click to enlarge.

At some point the promenade makes a 90° turn east and before you lies the Visserskaai, with on one side the entrance to the port with a small semi-open fish market, the North Sea aquarium and the lock through which the sailing yachts enter the docks further inland. The fishing port is on the other side of the port entrance and not visible from this point. The sidewalk across the road is lined with cafes and restaurants. By the time I got there, the terraces had started filling up with hungry tourists.

I walked up and down twice, checking out the menu cards, the general infrastructure and people sipping coffee, beer, a glass of wine or a soft drink while studying the menu. Prices for an standard menu consisting of a starter and a main course varied from 19 to 35 euros. The offer was quite similar: fish soup, shrimp croquettes, salads, two baby Dover soles with french fries, lobster, mussels and the odd meat course - steak with a choice of sauces (warm and cold), fries and a salad.

I had a hard time deciding which place to chose. Then I realized that it was almost 12.30 p.m. and that I felt rather thirsty. I wasn't ready to make a choice, though and walked down a narrow street leading inland, where I found a nice square with a small outdoor market in full swing. 

Market square.

The sidewalk terraces had a really French look and feel, and I decided to have a cool beer before deciding where to have my lunch. After all, being on vacation, I had all the time in the world. Especially as most restaurants took orders till 2.30 p.m.!