Although they can't quite claim to be uniquely Breton, two appetizers feature on every self-respecting menu. These are moules marinières, giant bowls of succulent Orange mussels steamed open in a combination of white wine, shallots and parsley (and perhaps enriched by the addition of cream or crème fraiche to become moules à la crème), and soupe de poissons (fish soup), traditionally served with a little pot of the garlicky mayonnaise known as rouille (coloured by the addition of pulverized sweet red pepper), a mound of grated gruyère, and a bowl of croutons. Jars of freshly made soupe de poissons or even crab or lobster are always on sale in seaside poissonneries, and make an ideal way to take a taste of France home with you. Paying a bit more in a restaurant typically on menus costing €24 or more brings you into the realm of the assiette de fruits de mer, a mountainous heap of langoustines, crabs, Oysters, mussels, clams, whelks and cockles, most of them raw and all delicious. Main courses tend to be plainer than in Normandy, for example, with fresh local fish being prepared with relatively simple sauces. Skate served with capers, or salmon baked with a mustard or cheese sauce, are typical dishes, while even the cotriade, a stew containing sole, turbot or bass, as well as shellfish, is distinctly less rich than its Mediterranean equivalent, the bouillabaisse. Brittany is also better than much of France in maintaining its respect for fresh green vegetables, thanks to the extensive local production of peas, cauliflowers, artichokes and the like. Only with the desserts can things get a little heavy; far Breton, considered a great delicacy, is a baked concoction of sponge and custard dotted with chopped plums, while îles flottantes are meringue icebergs adrift in a sea of crème brulée or custard.
Strictly speaking, no wine is produced in Brittany itself. However, along the lower Loire valley, the département of Loire-Atlantique, centred on Nantes, is still generally regarded as "belonging" to Brittany. Vineyards here are responsible for the dry white Muscadet which is what normally goes into moules marinières and the even drier Gros-Plant.
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