There can be few better ways to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary than by sharing a meal together at a classy restaurant. No preparation, no washing up, just two hours being spoiled with wonderful mixtures of flavours and textures rarely matched at home.
There is a problem – finding a restaurant for such special occasions can be difficult. In Brittany, two or three times a year for a decade we have celebrated at Ty Pin (Pine Copse House). Then, last summer, catastrophe struck; Michel Célérier, its chef, owner and founder suddenly died. While that was sad enough, if the restaurant were to close, it would mean a gastronomic void.
As well as the delicious food, there were the accoutrements and at Ty Pin the choice of linen, china, cutlery and glassware, was an added pleasure. And it was the green tumblers of which I was especially fond; their shape, their colour, their weight, their feel on the lips, and their fine, almost invisible fluting were a delight (see illustration below).
Originally, the tumblers were a standard part of the place settings. Over the years, however, their presence was not guaranteed and, if I saw them on another, as yet unoccupied table, I would go over and do a swap. To avoid disappointment, when I reserved a table I would ask Nathalie, the chef’s wife and the restaurant’s maîtresse d’hotel, if she could arrange for us to have them at our table. Gradually, even this ploy failed as breakages and lack of replacements took their toll.
When we heard of Michel’s death, I contacted Nathalie to give our condolences, to ask what had happened and to learn what her plans were for the restaurant. Without hesitation she told me that closure was inevitable. I gingerly asked whether I might buy some of the remaining tumblers and her response was a warming surprise. She and her husband knew how much I loved the tumblers and it would give her great pleasure if, when probate was completed, they went to a home where they would be cherished. She would put them aside for me.
Two weeks ago, so almost ten months later, we collected them from Nathalie, a solitary figure standing outside her now-empty restaurant. It was an emotional moment. I drove home with great care and soon they were safely installed in our Tréguennec home. Now, just as I get pleasure from using them, I am reminded of the years of celebrations we had at Ty Pin. Could there ever again be somewhere that might offer similar delights?
On the day the tumblers were collected we started our search for a new venue. For a special ‘thank-you’ meal we took two close friends to our first candidate – Haut-Linage – a restaurant that had just opened and for which one already had to book well in advance. To our amazement and delight the flavours, textures, presentation, service and accoutrements were truly outstanding.
And there was an added pleasure; the chef was the son of our Brittany neighbours. We first met Corentin when, at around ten years old, he would play in the garden next door. We also saw him at his home when we went round to his parents for meals.
Corentin had always loved cooking and when still young decided that one day he would be a chef. His dream career started in earnest at lycée, where his A-level equivalents concentrated on cooking and hotel management, a subject he continued during a two-year course at college. After studying for five years and then working for another three at quality restaurants both in France and abroad, with his partner Klervi – a trained maîtresse d’hôtel – he opened Haut-Linage.
The joy, and indeed pride, I get from knowing Corentin is enormous. When it comes to people who do creative work, there is little that gives me more pleasure than seeing an outstandingly gifted artist-cum-artisan successfully plying his trade. At 24 years old, Corentin (see first illustration) must now be amongst the top chefs of his age. And, more importantly, the exceptional cuisine at Haut-Linage will certainly fill the vacuum left by Ty Pin’s closure.
Throughout these various episodes and without thinking, I have found myself singing Pete Seeger’s haunting “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (please listen!). The song is based closely on verses in Ecclesiastes (3:1-8) and tells how “To everything there is a season” and how, for example, “there is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”. We hear how all these emotions are the natural parts of the cycle of life, a sentiment that so closely echoed how I felt as I took possession of the tumblers and when I found a new venue for celebrations that would replace the one now closed.
The first illustration is a photo of Corentin Ogor, the outstanding 24-year-old chef standing in the kitchen of the Brittany restaurant which he has named Haut-Linage. His is a venue fit for celebrations.
The second illustration shows my nine green tumblers now in their new home. On some, one can see the fine fluting.
For helping me write this blog I would like to thank Nathalie, Corentin, Chris, Armelle, Rohan and Vivien.
18 thoughts on “Turn, Turn, Turn”
What a delicious read Joe!! LOVE your green glasses, a weakness of mine also. Great pleasure.
Dear Elona, I am glad you like the colour of the glasses. What did you think of the fluting? Love, Joe
I love those tumblers too! And the story of Corentin Ogor – god speed the Haut-Linage! I look forward to eating there one day. Joe, if you were a GenZ person you would post a photo of the food you ate there… maybe you will yet.
Dear Merrily, I am glad like both the tumblers and the story. It would be lovely to go there with you one day – but we will need something to celebrate – then you can take the photo! Love, Joe
Thank you for sharing another wonderful story. I think your phrase “artist-cum-artisan” is so apt to refer to some incredibly talented people who successfully use their talent to turn our worldly activities (such as eating or drinking) into an exceptional experience.
Dear Thierry, Thank you for your kind observation. Obviously we are of like minds. Yours, Joe
A sensitive, and, at the same time, wistful account. I always admire a writer who can write both amusingly, and simultaneously with an elegiac tone in the same piece. Another undoubtedly charming narrative from, ‘everyday life’. Loved it!
Dear Whatever, All I can say is thank you for your king comments. Yours, Joe. PS can I know who exactly you are?
Dear Joe, I have replied with what seems to be a DM facility- don’t know how this works, so if you don’t receive anything from me, can you let me know?
Dear Rissoles, I did manage to find your note about you – thanks. I certainly feel happier addressing you as “Rissoles” rather than “Whatever”. Thanks too for your comments – all very much appreciated. Yours, Joe
Thank you for letting me know.
Cher Joe, Mercredi dernier était venu le temps de découvrir le Haut Linage. Le vent soufflait fort et il faisait froid au pied du Phare d’Eckmuhl, Rohan et moi étions accrochées l’une à l’autre en riant, et ce restaurant nous a embarqués avec un grand sourire, dans un voyage culinaire pas ordinaire : tout était si beau, si surprenant et si bon ! Ce moment magique s’est terminé par le passage en salle de Corentin, ce jeune Chef, qui venait s’assurer que tout s’était bien passé, avec la gentillesse et la simplicité des grands. Merci Rohan et Joe de partager avec moi les belles découvertes que vous faites dans le pays Bigouden ! Annie
Dear Annie, Thank you for your comments. How clever you were to comment on Corentin’s demeanour when you note that he spoke with the “gentleness and simplicity of of someone exceptional’. Love, Joe
Oh such a lovely blog Joe, the Byrd’s version of Turn, Turn, Turn is now constantly turning in my head!
Everything within this blog is special and uplifting, and I really want Corentin to have some green drinking glasses to create instant joy and pleasure at Haut-Linage.
We look forward to going there with you and Rohan to celebrate and enjoy this young man’s artisan achievements.
Dear Carolyn, Thank you for your kind comments. It’s a date, when you stay next time, celebrating at Haut-Linage is a given. Love, Joe
What a lovely blog! I wondered whether Rob and I had been to Ty Pin with you and Rohan. Somehow the green glasses looked familiar but perhaps my imagination. Hoping you have some excellent meals at Haut-Linage!
Dear Robin, Thank you for your kind comments. Yes, I think we did eat there with you and Rob. Rohan even remembers where we sat! Love, Joe
Lovely linkages Joe, thank you