Flavors of France > A culinary journey to Brittany
For a true taste of Brittany, be sure to try mackerel and sardines, Guérande fleur de sel (fine sea salt), pork rillettes, cider, “sablés” (shortbread) and the flat cakes known as “galettes.”
And for the flavor of Cancale, sample the famous oysters (flat or cupped), the fresh catch from the bay each day, and the cuisine of its imaginative chefs… but make time to admire the picturesque landscapes as you walk along the coast, breathing in the various scents of the gorse, hawthorn, mimosa and the briny sea air, all changing with the season and the tide.
And of course we cannot neglect the famous little shell-shaped cakes called madeleines that launched Proust’s famous literary remembrance. Then there is seafood, served raw or in sauce, crustaceans, fish soup, dishes with “armoricaine” sauce, cured meat products, smoked raw ham, buckwheat galettes, crêpes, cakes such as “far breton” and “kouing-aman,” pound cake, butter cookies, dairy products and, to wash it all down, dry or sweet cider, ending with coffee… spiked with a little cider eau-de-vie.
If you love the sea, Brittany offers gastronomic delights that vary by season. Below we’ve paired them with the fishing ports where they’re auctioned in order to familiarize you with some of the best-known names of the Breton coastline.
• January – spider crab from Saint-Malo
• February – scallops from Saint-Jacques d'Erquy and Saint-Quay-Portieux
• March – John Dory from Le Guilvinec
• April - monkfish from Brest
• May – langoustines from Lesconil and Loctudy
• June – crab from Roscoff
• July – lobster from Quiberon and the islands
• August - sardines from Saint-Guénolé
• September – sea bass from Audierne, Douarnenez and farmed mussels from Le
• October - cod from Concarneau
• November – whiting from Lorient
• December – oysters from Cancale
Brittany has many other specialties and products to discover.
You might be familiar with its famous crêpes or its fine sea salt (fleur de sel), but have you tried:
Gavottes are lacy crêpes from Brittany, delicately rolled up and wrapped in gold paper. Gavottes coated in milk or dark chocolate make their way onto the most prestigious tables, both in restaurants and homes. You can find this delicacy in the heart of Dinan’s medieval town.
"Corbelets de Dinan"
An almond paste-based confection coated in white chocolate and chopped hazelnuts, lightly flavored with mint. Produced exclusively by three pastry makers: P. Mazoyer, P. Loyer, and Ph. Guillot.
Vitré, the county seat of Ille-et-Vilaine, is a fortified town that has preserved its architectural heritage and medieval flavor. Brittany’s “city of steps” houses many treasures. If you have only a few hours to explore, it’s natural to head for the castle in whose shadow the city grew up. Here are recipes for two of Vitré’s culinary specialties that are offered in most restaurants in the area.
Roulade Sevigné (rolled stuffed guinea fowl)
and Vitréais – sponge cake with almonds and caramelized apples
Capital of Brittany. Medieval lanes, fortified gates and royal squares await you in this ancient ducal city. Here are some of the local dishes:
A former local breed… striped like the wild cuckoo, this bird is appreciated both for its meat and its eggs.
Made with buckwheat flour, these cakes or “galettes” are eaten simply with good salted butter, in a bowl of “lait ribot” (fermented milk, similar to thin yogurt) or topped with an egg or other local product.
Little cakes filled with an apple and cider compote topped with almond nougatine.
Petit gris snails
These escargots are renowned for their gastronomic qualities: delicious cooked with parsley and garlic butter.
A dark green melon, lightly speckled with white, that turns greenish-yellow when ripe. Served with either sweet or savory foods, it’s a taste treat!
Principal town of the Morbihan district. This port ranks second in France in terms of the quantity of fish and seafood unloaded here. It was also once the headquarters of the Compagnie des Indes. Now it’s the place to stop to sample the cuisine of Jean-Bernard Pautrat at the Château de Locguénolé.
Jean-Claude Pautrat draws his inspiration from the sea beside Lorient. In the summer his menu offers briny ocean flavors: fish, shellfish (langoustines and lobster), crabs presented in "mille-feuilles," sea bass, bream… When it comes to spices, Pautrat covers the spice route from the Orient to Lorient. Turmeric, curry… all inspire his creativity.
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