A Best of France selection.
In the north of Brittany, the Bay of Saint Michel is noted for some of Europe’s highest tides, with as much as a 46-foot difference between high and low tides at certain times of the year. The fishing port of Cancale, ideally located near the northern tip of the deeply indented bay, takes advantage of those tides for its most famous industry: the cultivation of oysters. Long known for its abundant wild oysters, which had been commercialized since the 1700s, Cancale launched its ostréiculture or oyster farming industry in the 19th century, and its huîtres were soon renowned throughout Europe. Now a family firm, Les Parcs Saint-Kerber, one of the strongest advocates for planting oyster beds farther offshore where increased space provides better growing conditions, has developed a new and different oyster, the Tsarskaya. The name comes from the Russian tsars who had a passion for Cancale oysters, which were delivered to the imperial court all through the 19th century. A meaty oyster with the iodine flavor of the sea, it nevertheless has a mild, almost sweet, rounded taste, with a hint of hazelnuts and a firm consistency. Les Parcs Saint-Kerber, 02.99.89.65.29.
Originally published in the December 2008 issue of France Today.