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Tastes of Brittany

Ah Brittany – how I miss you!! Even though it was bitterly cold some days and it rained on others, you made for a mighty fine New Year’s destination! The cider, the cheese, the crêpes, the salted butter caramel…. So here’s a tribute to some of the fine tastes we enjoyed thanks to you.

As we sped around the Breton coasts, we made sure to have some very appropriate reading handy:


So the person in charge of the map and directions for the day would also check to see if the towns we were visiting had any “must-eats” or “must-drinks”. Very important, you know! We also made sure to always have snacks handy in the car, because you never know when some shop, or even whole town, might be “fermé” for no apparent reason.


I mean, what’s a car trip without chorizo chips?


And Haribo? (C’est beau la vie!)


And some mini saucissons secs that even our backsliding vegetarian friend Cathy tried!


Oh and some leftover macarons. As you do.

Ok, then onto Brittany and its delices

Cider.



Honestly, we drank so much cider, I felt like it we could have passed for good Bretons. It’s the perfect drink – not too alcoholic and actually pretty thirst quenching. We had it most days with lunch and I believe our New Year’s festivities began around 3pm with a bottle between the four of us, just because…

According to Wikipedia, “French cidre varies in strength from below 4% alcohol to considerably more. Cidre Doux is a sweet cider, usually up to 3% in strength. ‘Demi-Sec’ is 3–5% and Cidre Brut is a strong dry cider of 5% alcohol and above. Most French ciders are sparkling. Higher quality cider is sold in champagne-style bottles (cidre bouché). Until the mid-20th century, cider was the second most-consumed drink in France (after wine) but an increase in the popularity of beer displaced cider’s market share outside traditional cider-producing regions. In crêperies in Brittany, cider is generally served in traditional ceramic bowls (or wide cups) rather than glasses. A kir breton is an apéritif made with cider and cassis rather than white wine and cassis for the traditional kir (and it’s VERY sweet – like Ribena – we had a couple during our stay – see below).


Galettes and Crêpes.

Again, we ate sooo many galettes during our stay but they really are the perfect lunchtime meal, we decided. Especially since they are generally not huge portions and prepared fresh on order, I think it’s a lot better than any fast food option. And so civilised sitting down to a galette and a bolée de cidre.

What’s this about a galette, I hear you ask? Well, it’s what most French crêperies call savoury buckwhat flour pancakes, (ones made from regular flour, and served with a sweet filling, are called crêpes. The galette is popular in Normandy and Brittany where buckwheat was introduced as a crop suited to poor soil. The Breton galette is cooked on one side only and filled with It is frequently egg, meat, cheese, vegetables etc… The galette is folded over the filling to leave some still peeking out. One of the most popular varieties is a galette covered with grated Emmental cheese a slice of ham and an egg, cooked on the galette. In France, this is known as a galette complète.

On our first night in Dinan, we were delighted to come across this place mere steps from our house:


Arguably the best galettes we ate all trip (though you know how it is when you taste something for the first time and it’s hard to get over how wonderful that particular dish is?) and the site of one of only two forays into dessert crêpes (thankfully for our waistlines!).


Savoyarde – with cheese, ham and potatoes. YUM! Raclette in a galette!


Um yeah. No words required.


Not much time required to polish it off, either!

Crêperies abound all over Brittany…


Mont St Michel.


St Malo.

In Rohan, we ate here:


Situated inside one of the last inhabited bridges in Europe, the Pont de Rohan (1510).



This one had blue cheese, walnuts and frisée.


And this one broke the galette/crêpe rules by being a dessert galette. Salted butter caramel sauce. Bliss.

I am excited to try making galettes at home since I managed to bring back a package of the buckwheat flour. (Yes, yes, I know I could probably have bought it here but it’s so much more fun shopping in France!)


Breizh Cola.


Ok, we thought this was a joke until we saw it in the supermarket! Breton cola! Whatever next? And why? Wikipedia offeres the same info we read in our “Tasty Brittany” book:

Breizh Cola, “the cola of Brittany”, is bottled by Phare Ouest. It is one of many new types of alternate cola, or “altercola,” competing with more established brands. These colas are currently produced in small volumes and are generally readily available in local markets only. Lancelot Brewery launched Breizh Cola in 2002, after one of the owners, Bernard Lancelot, noticed colas from the United States in a home in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle during a trip in 1997. Altercolas like Breizh Cola appeal to consumers because they offer different and unique flavours, and are also popular with those concerned about preserving diversity of choice in beverages.


They also have a cool advertising campaign!


But what of the taste? Well, I never drink full sugar pop (actually never really drink pop at all unless I am travelling because I like to taste the different local flavours) but this was very reminiscent of the Coca Cola of my childhood (we didn’t get to drink that much either). It’s less fizzy than Coke and sweeter. It was actually pleasant to drink in small quantities – kind of like a sweeter chinotto.

Seafood.

Of course, being close to the sea, there is a lot of seafood.



I enjoyed looking at the pretty sardine tins in a store in St Malo. Pity I don’t like sardines…






Butter and biscuits.

French butter. Yum. I am not a huge butter on bread fan in my real life but in France I do indulge. Especially when it’s butter with chunks of sea salt crystals… Brittany is full of wonderful butter too. David Lebovitz waxes poetic about all things Breton including the butter here.


We also enjoyed lots of buttery cookies, including those from the famed Mère Poulard in Mont St Michel.


Yes some of these made it home too….


Because we discovered they were a third of the price in the hypermarché!!!

I’ll leave you today with a great big “cheers” from a wonderful bar we discovered on our first night in Dinan, L’absinthe, on the Place St Sauveur.


We stopped in for a quick apéro and were regaled with tales of the owner’s “pet” black radish. Yep. I guess they don’t call it L’absinthe for nothing!!! Think someone might have been overindulging in the stuff…


To Brittany! Vive la Bretagne!

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30 Responses to Tastes of Brittany

  1. Divina Pe January 30, 2010 at 15:56 #

    Lovely post Mardi. I want to visit Brittany one day and taste the real galette and of course the other food. You have lots of interesting finds there too. It's worth making the trip again. Thanks for the tour.

  2. Travel Eat Love January 30, 2010 at 16:04 #

    Oh my goodness, everything looks amazing! Brittany is added to my must visit list, and being a short flight from Ireland should happen soon. I will print out this post when I go!

  3. Janice January 30, 2010 at 16:18 #

    Oh you are too cruel. I love all that french food, we had a gite in Normanday one summer and the people who owned it put a bottle of their home made cider in the fridge to welcome us. I've never tasted better cider. Brittany sounds much the same but with crepes! Great post thanks for giving so much detail.

  4. Amanda January 30, 2010 at 16:34 #

    Oh those crepes look amazing!

    I just finished watching Anthony Bourdain in Brittany and was drooling. Never been, but hopefully I'll get there this summer.

    Fingers crossed!

  5. Linda@saltyseattle January 30, 2010 at 17:02 #

    Ph wow, Mardi- from the highbrow snacks in the car (chorizo chips!) to the gorgeous gallettes to the absinthe wrapup, I am in love! And I'm seriously considering brittany as a culinary destination next time I'm on the continent!

  6. Simply Life January 30, 2010 at 17:18 #

    Oh wow those crepes look sooo good!

  7. Table Talk January 30, 2010 at 17:28 #

    So nice to live vicariously through your travels. I am full just reading about all of the amazing treats you encountered!

  8. Cookin' Canuck January 30, 2010 at 21:19 #

    What a fantastic trip! My goodness, those galettes look amazing. Those chorizo chips have my name written all over them. Where did you find those?

  9. Trix January 30, 2010 at 22:00 #

    What a great trip report! You know, it's funny, of all the fantastically yummy things you've mentioned here it's the butter with sea salt that I cannot get out of my head. Unlike you, I AM a butter on bread girl!! (Well, until the jeans don't fit then I have to pull back …)

  10. Lyndsey January 30, 2010 at 22:17 #

    I loved your post, and I really want to visit Brittany! All of the food look fantastic…even the snacks! It is so nice that you took us along with you, with your lovely photos! Thanks!

  11. penny aka jeroxie January 30, 2010 at 23:27 #

    Cider and crepes? I am so there! And thanks again for another great post and we can enjoy the experience with you.

  12. Ellie January 31, 2010 at 08:48 #

    Loving your journey through France! All the lovely pictures and great food kept me hooked!

  13. The Real Dish January 31, 2010 at 14:31 #

    Thank you so much for sharing your travels to Brittany! Wonderful post. I concur; I must get to Brittany soon. I love crepes, probably too much, and your tour de Crepes looked like fun!
    Thanks again!

  14. jen laceda January 31, 2010 at 16:25 #

    This reminds me of Quebec City – with their butter and cream. I guess there are lots of Bretons there! And crepes! LOL. Nothing like a trip to that part of France, though, and experiencing the real thing! How good was the butter? LOL. I got a pot of Beurre d'Isigny from Cheese Boutique the few weeks ago…so creamy…just a different taste than our supermarket Lactantia ones :)

  15. pierre January 31, 2010 at 18:16 #

    hi there
    Oui vive la bretagne on y mange bien connais tu le koing aman plein de beurre et de sucre ; a kilrler !! bizz from paris !Pierre

  16. Chow and Chatter January 31, 2010 at 19:02 #

    love galettes I brought the same flour home and made some looking forward to seeing yours, oh and I found galettes in Saint Martin!!

  17. Juls @ Juls' Kitchen January 31, 2010 at 21:40 #

    Mardi, I love travelling through your pictures and words!

  18. Carolyn Jung February 1, 2010 at 05:36 #

    I am so dying to go there, especially after watching last week's "No Reservations'' episode all about Normandy. Gawd, the food looks amazing. And I already LOVE crepes. Sigh. Some day….some day…..

  19. Fuji Mama February 1, 2010 at 23:50 #

    Brittany is one of my all-time favorite areas of the world! LOVE St. Malo! Oh, and pet black radish? I'm going to be laughing about that one all week!

  20. Kate at Serendipity February 2, 2010 at 09:41 #

    LOL, Mardi, I love the crepes. We once spent two weeks in Brittany and ate crepes for every meal. YUM!

  21. Nepal travel February 2, 2010 at 09:59 #

    supper.whats delicious food. mouth watering

    thanks for sharing

  22. Tasteandshare February 2, 2010 at 10:35 #

    Brilliant! I really feel hungry now and I sure I will try it this weekend.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Carsten @tasteandshare
    food & wine social network

  23. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite February 2, 2010 at 22:09 #

    Divina – of course we can make the galettes at home but it's just not the same as being there, right?

    Travel Eat Love – oh and the scenery is a lot like Ireland too – very rugged.

    Janice – I love Normandy too – they are very similar in fact and oh, the cider….

    Amanda – I just watched that on iTunes too and we loved it – it's great to see places where you where too! Let me know if you go and I will give you some recommendations.

    Linda – nothing but the best snacks for OUR rental car!! And you would LOVE it – there's SO MUCH SALT in those parts – you'd be in heaven!

    Simply LIfe – thanks!

    Table Talk – they're actually surprisingly small and don't make you full (all the better to eat dessert ones!!!)

    Cookin Canuk – oh those chips just come from the service station!

    Trix – French butter is to die for!

    Lyndsey – thanks!

    Penny – My pleasure!

    Ellie – you're welcome!

    The Real Dish – Crêpes are so much better for you than most fast food here so I say go for it! One at every meal!

    Jen – yes, the Cheese Boutique for some real French butter is on my list!!! Yum!

    Pierre – Vive la Bretagne et le beurre et le sucre! Merveilleux!

    Chow and Chatter – yay for bringing flour home from a vacation!!!

    Carolyn – it is, indeed, impressive!

    Fuji Mama – Ah yes, the pet black radish…

    Kate – nothing wrong with that!

    Nepal travel – thanks for stopping by!

    Taste and Share – thanks!

  24. Gourmantic February 3, 2010 at 00:40 #

    I haven't been to Brittany yet. I think I'd need to diet on lettuce leaves before making it there. There's no way I would resist the temptations you're presenting!

  25. Kitchen Butterfly February 3, 2010 at 21:52 #

    Love this post. Love this post. Love this post. Gorgeous photosssss

  26. French Cooking for Dummies February 4, 2010 at 18:06 #

    Great post on my homeland! Vive la Bretagne ;)

  27. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite February 5, 2010 at 02:04 #

    Gourmantic – it's a wonderful foodie destination for sure!

    Kitchen Butterfly – thanks so much!

    French Cooking – was worried I wouldn't do it justice!

  28. Cajun Chef Ryan March 17, 2010 at 12:49 #

    Oh a week in France will not be enough….note to self…add another month to our itinerary.

    Merci beaucoup!
    CCR
    =:~)

  29. Sarah, Maison Cupcake May 15, 2010 at 16:45 #

    Lovely post, I have had several enjoyable holidays in Brittany and hope to go again this summer.

    I went to Mont St Michel when I was 13 on a school trip but not been back yet.

  30. Val Outmezguine May 18, 2010 at 16:37 #

    I remember travelling around in Europe. The one thing I regret is not eating better :( I’d love to go back and eat everywhere! Congrats on your blogs birthday!!! (P.S. I’m not trying to win the book ;)

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