“La Belle Auberge”, Castegnede, France

Having grown up reading Elisabeth David, I have always been enchanted with her descriptions of the auberges that populated the countryside of France when she first visited in the 1940’s.  The kind of place that one happens across when driving way off the beaten path, where a lunch of well cooked local fish, meat and vegetables can be had for next to nothing, where the dining room is full of beret wearing locals, a socially mixed group ranging from the local plumber to bank tellers to the mayor and his wife.  In Elisabeth David’s world, the chef was always an older woman who wore a cotton house coat over her dress and pumps; the servers were always jovial and intuitive and happy to Continue reading

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“Chez Mattin”, Ciboure France

Chez Mattin is a Basque bistrot in the fishing port of Ciboure, which lies across harbor from the larger coastal city of Saint-Jean-de-Luz.  With its menu of traditional Basque specialties and its wood beamed dining room, Chez Mattin feels like a portal into a simpler time in dining.  This is good, honest food, emphasizing both “la mer” and “la terre” with a daily chalkboard menu that features equally the products of the green hills of the Payes Basques and the best of the days catch from Ciboure, France’s second most important fishing port.  The quality of the ingredients is irreproachable, the service is friendly (although don’t expect servers to speak English), the wine list full of well priced wines of the region.

Chez Mattin was recommended to me by the owner of the well-known “La Tupina” restaurant in Bordeaux, who lives in Ciboure and commutes to work each day.

Chez Mattin
Address: 63, rue Evariste Baignol  64500 Ciboure
Telephone : 05 59 47 19 52
Reservations:  Indispensable, especially at dinner

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