Thursday, November 05, 2009

Le Légué. Tea at L'eau Rouge.

So we wandered on, and said hello to some of the other inhabitants of the port, who, like us, were profiting from the last warm rays of the last of the October sun,






and at the last leggy flowerings of  window boxes and planters.  It must be a fairly civilised place where these can be put out looking directly onto pavements.  The general absence of casual vandalism here still surprises and heartens me ( yes, there is graffiti tagging, and there are inner city riots and car burning and thuggish demonstrating farmers and all manner of other dreadful things, but the pointless and wilful petty breaking up of other people's property still seems relatively rare).







and we looked at the Dutch potter's place,



and noted one of the less elevated eateries,




then it occurred to me that we were suffering from mid-afternoon wilt.  And that the reason for this was the congenital British affliction of needing a cup of tea.  At the same moment, my eyes alighted on the shocking pink facade of L'eau Rouge.





The doors of its glazed porch were open to the sun and the breeze, and its low tables and straw chairs looked most inviting.  Behind the counter were dozens of tins of different teas, and stacked up on its oiled wooden floors were crates and boxes of wine.  This, I thought, is one cool place.  I have obviously stumbled upon a hub of bourgeois bohemianism, I've heard about this kind of thing...




A conclusion I have lately drawn, is that, in the countries where something is a staple, in general the inhabitants like it straight, not messed about with.  Where it's bit of a novelty, or somewhat recherché, there is aften a vogue for all kinds of mannered varieties of it.  In fact this is probably a totally specious hypothesis, based entirely on what we have observed about the respective French and British attitudes to coffee and tea.  J's cousin who was visiting from London lately went into a cafe with her, and when J asked her what she'd like, she said she'd just have a medium latte.  I don't think you will, said J, you'll have a grand crême and be thankful.  Iso's mum embarrassed her daughter and nearly got into a fight with a cafe owner in Lamballe when she asked for a cappucino and also received a grand crême, which she she insisted on pointing out was not what she asked for.  Really, wanting your coffee whitened at all is considered fairly outré here.  Similarly, on the whole, Brits, though we may care to specify Indian or China, perhaps prefering Darjeeling or Earl Grey, or Lapsang if you're really precious and weird, really just like a cup of tea.  French tea-lovers however, indulge in all kind of outlandish and frankly often disgusting infusions - tea with caramel, vanilla, mango?  Go on with you...




However, the selection at L'eau Rouge did intrigue me.  We compromised, Tom had a 'brunch blend' of Assam, Ceylon and something else, and I went for a rarefied leaf from Nepal, which was said to resemble Darjeeling but to be even finer.




They came in the most delightful glass pots with integral infusers.  They looked so delicate that we weren't remotely inclined to be philistine and proud and ask for milk.  And rightly, the teas was utterly delicious, smooth and flavourful.




We were also offered a friandise, in this case a spoonful of apple compote sprinkled with brown sugar, which went very well.




Molly had a white china bowl of water, served on a nice clean floorcloth, which she drank from appreciatively, then settled down on the parquet and behaved herself like a lamb, partly I think because of the open airiness of the place, which meant she could look around and not feel hemmed in and bored.



It was really rather expensive, but such a delightful relaxing experience, it was well worth it and quite rounded off our afternoon.  We didn't look at any of the books, embarking on Goethe's Faust in French was perhaps more than one pot of tea's worth.  Apparently, they have open house for philosophical chitchat every Friday too...



13 comments:

Zhoen said...

I love a good tea, Assam, but always plain. I love red teas and lapsang and white teas, but none of the "flavored" tisanes. But out anywhere, I just like boiling water over a teabag, since that's the absolute best I can ever expect here.

Dear Molly.

What is the last photo? A drip, or an upsidedown crystal ball, or something else?

marja-leena said...

Love that teapot! I like unusual teas, unadorned, thank you but do enjoy full cream in a good coffee. If we come visit, will you take us to this place, please ?

Isabelle said...

Oh, how I wish I could relax like Molly!

Julia said...

Good observation and I think you are spot on, at least for our national drink. The Czechs prefer their beer a pils and no additions please! (And yet, they will cheerfully add cola to a red wine to make it "drinkable", ahhieee)

Crafty Green Poet said...

the congenital British affliction of needing a cup of tea - brilliant description of my addiction.

Lovely post too, Molly is so sweet...

Jean said...

Oh, I love the last photo - that's the knob on the teapot lid, right? Taking photographs really makes you look closely - who else would spot the reflection in the knob on the teapot lid?

Barrett Bonden said...

The French know best, and sometimes it's true. The chalkboards outside bars announcing Plat du jour are, in effect, another form of arm-twisting. Ignore the chalked-up blanquette de veau and order a truite aux amandes off the fly-spotted, rarely consulted, laminated menu and you'll get a sigh and a mediocre piece of fish. The remains of the veal is what they'll be eating that evening. Thanks for providing proof that all meals, however modest, are occasions of possibility and not simply battery-charging. Stay around in Brittany for another twenty years with your camera and you'll be dining and boozing free at some of these places.

Rouchswalwe said...

Bubbles on the surface of the tea. Mmmm. The aroma is in the room with me, Lucy! And oddly (or perhaps not), I recall the tea houses of southern Japan. You loose with your camera in a Japanese tea house would be something to behold!

rb said...

I think in terms of my coffee or tea drinking habits I would be happier in France. It is so hard to grab your cup of tea or coffee here before they stuff milk in it. I really struggle to drink it then.

Glad Molly was well looked after too!

herhimnbryn said...

So sublime.....

Plutarch said...

Doors and windows. Very appealing. The promise of unseen and imagined interiors.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Lucy, you never disappoint. Always some insightful, entertaining commentary and wonderful photos. In a world with so much prevarication, obfuscation and downright bullshit, you are a beacon of hope.

Come over today to claim your Honest Scraps award badge, friend.

XO

Granny J said...

In America, we periodically come up with management consultant words which are 1) awful and 2) really quit descriptive, in an awful way. Which is to explain that in the past few years, we seem to have"reinvented" both coffee and tea.And priced the resultant products accordingly. I recall my forever problem of getting a proper cuppa plain ordinary breakfast coffee on the Continent many years ago.