Obligatory food post. After all, I’m just back from France: home of the gastronomes.
There’s something about eating in company that makes it very difficult to take photographs of the food. (Anyone else keep their food blogging a secret from work mates?) So, I’ll have make do with a list of salivating dishes and a discreetly snapped steak tartare (eating with P that day, which made things easier).
Being in Normandy, a lot of the food had a strong apple theme, with butter, cream and cheese being the backing singers. One meal that stood out in particular was a lunch during the conference, at which braised chicken was served with slices of baked apple. Dessert was a light, baked cheese mousse layered with apples, and garnished with what I first thought was a green cherry, but turned out to be a preserved miniature apple. I’ve since found out that there are very few producers of preserved mini apples, which made it even more special.
We were also treated to a banquet in a proper château, which, while impressive, was outdone by the food and the entertainment (two wandering magicians). The highlight of that meal, for me, was the palette cleanser of a shot of calvados poured over two scoops of apple sorbet. (There’s a name for this, but I’ve forgotten it… Something to do with alcohol killing the neurons that were making the synaptic connection… Update: It’s called Trou Normande.)
Speaking of alcohol, I’m no fan of cider/cidre, having had the standard fresher’s (next-day) reaction to a night of cheap pub cider. My second attempt involved a bottle of Scrumpy Jack from Cornwall, which left my tastebuds complaining for the rest of the evening. In fact, the only use for cider in my household is for the annual end-of-year baked ham. And it was even supplanted in recent years by coke (another awful drink I’ve never truly understood). So it came as a pleasant surprise that cidre is not only be drinkable, but also hangover-free. So that makes it three decent drinks you can make from apples…
Other delights of Normandy include huitres (oysters) (although I’m informed that those from Brittany are just as good) and cheese. I’m not one of life’s creative fairies, but a box of Pont l’Evêque could give me cause to write a symphony in ode to the sublime fromage.
And for those with a sweet tooth, those Normandes do some fine chewy caramels, along with a rock; flavoured with apples, naturally… The galettes (buttery hard biscuits) are also pas mal.