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Artechockes a la Lucia at Maison de Granit, Treguier, France

In 1985 when I signed the lease to open my tiny 36 seat restaurant, Lucia's, I never imagined that 20 years later I would still be creating weekly menus, selecting delicious wines and greeting my wonderful customers! I set out to provide delicious, well made food in a comfortable setting and I wanted to do this with a sense of fun, hospitality and attention to detail. The restaurant is bigger now, with a bar and small bakery/café, but it is still my love of food and cooking that guides and inspires me; the seasonal, nurturing and cultural properties of cooking continue to be my passion.

Like most chefs, I had traveled to France, tasted as much as possible there and studied its culinary heritage, but when close friends called and invited me to join them on a wild adventure and purchase an old house on the north coast of Brittany, near the beautiful Côte de Granit Rose, I just had to accept! I knew that Brittany was something different and wonderful. It had an historic, independent and mysterious culture unspoiled by tourism, along with fabulous agriculture and a complex tradition

of cooking. So I decided to make Brittany my second home and together with my friends we began the extensive renovations. We named the house Maison de Granit for its typical 4-foot thick granite stone walls. Now that all of the dust has settled, literally, there is no greater pleasure for me than to arrive at the maison, jet-lagged and happy, and look forward to a time of shopping, tasting, and cooking the best food available with my friends and family.

When I am at Maison de Granit my favorite day is Wednesday, market day. Gathering our baskets, we step out of the front door into the best and freshest that Brittany has to offer. The fabulous open cheese cart with its assortment from all over France, including a tomme from the small black and white cows local to our region. Great mounds of Beurre Normande: salted,

unsalted and demi sel. The two fish ladies, the mother and daughter Gouriou, shiny rubber aprons, tables covered in crushed ice, tossing sea bass, urchins, skate, and clams with their rough and red hands. The stalls brim with every size of artichoke; gleaming white piles of cauliflower; pink, yellow and rose apples; tall jars of honey from local hives; giant bouquets of aromatic flowers; all accompanied by the great cathedral bells ringing and people taking time to exchange news of the village with news from the farm. Sometimes for lunch I succumb to the temptations of the smiling Philippe Renault, stirring a giant brazier of sliced apples, juicy sausages, and onions. Over an open and delicious smelling flame, he holds on high a bottle of the local hard cider and deglazes the entire pan in a cloud of steam. He then spoons the mixture into a small paper container for me to eat. It’s rich, savory, and delicious.

As a chef, my passion and the gold standard for my restaurant has been to cook with the best and freshest possible ingredients with an objective of warm hospitality. The food can then speak for itself, with little manipulation from the cook, maybe only a shy “introduction.” To share the food, fire and amiable companionship at our Maison de Granit, I truly feel like I have come home.

On October 9th, 2009, Lucia Watson graciously accepted the rank of chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérit Acricole, knight of the French Order of Agricultural Merit. The Mérite Agricole dates to 1883 and is France’s oldest civil award and recognizes people who have made a significant contribution to the field of agriculture as well as the broader fields of food and culinary arts. It is the agricultural version of the famous military award, the Légion d’Honneur. Recipients in the U.S. include noted chefs (including Julia Child), leading French wine importers and distributors, such as Kermit Lynch, and other food scientists and historians.