Six year ago, nearly to the day, Ribbit and I met on this little island off the south shore of Brittany. Special in its own right with its 500 acres of untamed fields and beaches, Hoëdic, which means duckling in breton, is at the origin of my love affair with France. I met many of my oldest French friends because of the island, my mother's friend, an English teacher in France having recruited many of the children of her friends who have second homes on the island to come visit us in the United States. And it was while a guest at her house on the island that I met the people who would eventually introduce me to Ribbit.
We return several times a year and take advantage of the slow pace of the 100 or so inhabitants, to relax, fish, and enjoy a glass of Colombelle or Ricard on the terrasse of one of the three cafés.
A one and one-half hour ferry ride from the continent, the Island has a timeless quality associated with being far removed from the modern world of pollution and traffic (there are no motor vehicles on the Island except for a fire truck and a tractor). It retains its authentic fishing village feel -- I'll never forget my first morning there, siting around the kitchen table having coffee, when a knock at the door brought a fisherman in his rain slicks with a bucket of fresh fish for our lunch.
During this particular trip we had an exceptionally fruitful afternoon of clam digging and brought home a feast of 150 clams. Although far from a traditional regional dish, my initial thought was to make linguine alle vongole. There is nothing like the combination of clams and fresh pasta.
Linguine alle vongole
2 lbs fresh clams in the shell (or canned equivalent, although not recommended)
garlic cloves, slivered (to taste)
piment d'espelette (to taste)
3/4 cup of dry white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
bunch of chopped flat leaf parsley
Directions: in a large, deep pan, sauté olive oil with piment, garlic, salt and pepper for 3 minutes (do not let the garlic turn brown). At the same time, boil water for fresh pasta.
Add white wine and lemon juice, mixing together. Add clams to liquid, cover with a lid and shake periodically. After 6 minutes, or when all shells are open, take off heat and add cooked linguine. Garnish with chopped flat leaf parsely and serve.