According to legend, Henry 1 of England died on 1 December 1135 from eating “a surfeits of Lampreys”. If like poor Henry, you are a fish lover to the extreme, Bordeaux can offer you some weird and wonderful fish specialities, which will have you gorging yourself in glee for hours on end.
Come winter, this famous Lamrery is to be found on many a Bordeaux restaurant Menu, cooked in the traditional style “a la bordelaise”. Sea lamprey is fished between February and May, when it swims towards the estuary. A black eal- like creature, that can grow up to 50 cm’s in length, lamrey may seem like an unapetising prospect. Yet, as a regional speciality it is definitely worth a try, and cooked in the Bordeaux style is exceptionally tasty. The fish is marinated in a rich red wine sauce with leeks and various spices, provided a rich flavour to accompany the meat like density. La Tupina, one of Bordeaux’s oldest and best known bistros seasonally specialises in serving up a Lamery or two. From a cozy corner table, soak up the atmosphere of this authentic French restaurant as you watch your fish being cooked over a big wood open fire.
If the lamrey doesn’t tickle your fancy, other fishy treats are in store. Only a few miles away from the bay of Arcachon, Bordeaux cuisine is definitely skewered towards the sea. An indulgent splurge would certainly be an oyster feast. Les huitres (oysters) are traditionally served with bloody sausage, known as crepinettes and some fresh bread and butter. The Restaurant La Boite a Huitres is by far the best place to sample this aphrodisiacal delicacy, and where you can choose from a range of oyster types, sizes, and sauces. The fish soup as a starter is also a must.
Monkfish and turbot are also regulars on a Bordeaux restaurant menu. The best in town can surely be found in restaurant Fernand, which is located in the elegant place to the bourse on the waterfront. The bustling bistro atmosphere makes you feel instantly at ease, the staff readily at hand to advice you on which wine to complement your fish, and the food is exquisite.
Yet for more original mouthful, why not buy your own fresh fish from Bordeaux’s fantastic fish sellers. The Sunday morning farmers market along the river front sells top local produce- local confitures, breads and pasteries, homemade wine, and it is here that you can find fresh muscles, langouistine, muscles and much more. There is also an option to buy pre-prepared paella which is a perfect option on a sunny day, to eaten on a picnic rug on a shady spot in the beautiful Bordeaux public gardens.