Sunday, May 18, 2008

From Bouley Bay to Sea Bass


Today dawned dampened and cool-breezy.
I flirted with the idea of staying indoors and writing, but the young German-Swiss lady who sat opposite me at breakfast was girding up for a walk, so I felt it would be culpable not to do the same. And when Geoff showed me the Day’s Events and I noticed that there was a collectors’ fair, about an hour and a half’s walk (he said) away, I decided on that.
So, around 10.30, I headed off towards what I was told was ‘the highest point on the island’. This island is, therefore, reasonably flat. I got there in an hour, via a road apparently named ‘La Grande Route de la Trinité’. Grande? Its about the size of a normal New Zealand country road, and it upholds Jersey’s record for lousy, or no, footpaths. I don’t have many complaints about Jersey but, honestly, do they think no-one walks? On second thoughts, I didn’t see anyone else today who was doing so, and on a number of occasions I held up the traffic by making myself a third lane on a decidedly 1 ½ lane highway, so maybe I’m being selfish.
The fair was the usual. Nice, but nothing for me. But I had a jolly chat with the car-park man, who pointed me onwards and downwards to the other side of the island. Well, if the rise to Trinité had been gentle, the descent to Bouley Bay was not.
I strode on past Trinité Church (out from which, oddly, echoed the strains of ‘God Save the Queen’), then on down to the coast. I cut corners by using one of the splendid walking trails constructed by a group named Men of the Trees, but unfortunately it ended in a building site at Bouley.
Here is a picture of Bouley.

Bouley exists, and has existed since the C18th because it is a deepwater port. Oyster boats moored here years, nay centuries, ago, also more belligerent vessels, for the place is a strategic point, looking out towards what I think is France. It has a stone jetty, a huge hotel of rather fun shape and proportions and now, alas, the building site which is apparently going to be an obviously tacky apartment block. They might have at least attempted to keep the character of the place, but no. Tacky.
The only way out of Bouley by land is back up that steep hill, so back up I duly went, and then headed on to find myself a different road back over the spine of the island to St Helier. And thus I came upon the zoo of Gerald Durrell.
I didn’t go in, as I don’t care for animals in cages, and I merely photographed the gatepost with its amusing dodo. I was wrong, it appears. The animals aren’t in cages and it’s worth seeing, so I may have to go back. Not like me not to do my homework, but I thought I knew.

The road back across the island was agreeable but perilously footpath-free, and I quickly became a traffic hazard. But, though agreeable, it wasn’t photogenic, and my camera only came out to snap some very sweet cows. Well, you can’t be in Jersey and not snap a cow, can you?

I made it home after 4 ¼ hours, slightly sore of foot because the home straight is all downhill. A Guinness, a shower, then a little snooze … because tonight I start the restaurant round.
OK. So I have my list of ‘must try and report on’ Jersey restaurants, but tonight I was going to try the tempting looking bistro (I like that word), run for 40 years by the same family (that appeals too), which is situated just 100 metres from Bayview. The Roseville Bistro.

I’m not going to go on about this. I’m simply going to say to the five ‘special’ restaurants that are on my list to be done: if any one of you can come up with better food than I ate tonight, I shall think I’ve died and gone to heaven.
I thought I could only eat one dish. That’s usually my limit. So I just ordered the local sea bass. I remember sea bass from our Christmas dinners at the Colombe d’or in St Paul de Vence days. Ian and I used to share one!
But here it came, a dear little sea bass, with a pottle of truly delicious lobster and sea food bisque to accompany, a few small new potatoes and a little veg … the perfect Kurt meal. And how much better with Guinness than with some ‘suitable’ white wine. Every mouthful was a treat, and when I’d finished, why, I felt as fresh as a frigate! So I asked for the menu.
I’m probably the only customer they have ever had who ate the menu backwards. For I ordered to follow – no, not prawns, not after the Philippines.. no, not mussels, after New Zealand -- but the home-made crab cakes from the ‘starters’ menu.
You’re going to think I’ve lost all critical sense but, I promise you, I haven’t. I will simply say that those were the Best Crab Cakes I Have Ever Eaten in my Life. All crab and no crap. Moist and light and ..
A tiny cognac ended this perfect meal perfectly, and now I’m back in my room wondering: am I obliged to do the ‘best-known restaurants of Jersey’, after all? I mean, the Roseville Bistro is so ‘me’. So handy too. And just so perfect that I can even bear the muzak.

I’ll think about this very important question tomorrow during my day-trip to Guernsey…

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