Happy May Day, everyone! I made it to Normandy just in time for French Labor Day, which is also the day people offer their loved ones lily of the valley flowers. My mother-in-law got a bouquet, and M. Cheesemonger got one for me. The heady perfume filled up our dining room quickly. Just outside our house, there was also a brocante, or communal garage sale. We browsed tables full of secondhand clothes, toys, and household items, peeked at an antique car display in the main square, and stocked up on fresh bread and (of course) cheese.
On the lunch menu was M. Cheesemonger’s and my only real meal request—fresh boudin noir (blood sausage) with apple compote. We started off with a salad and wild boar pâté, accompanied with fresh bread (Fresh French Bread: Life-changing. It’s so hard to go back to American, even if it is Acme Bread. Le sigh.). Anyway, the two varieties of local boudin, apple and black pepper, were perfect. They were fresh and fondant, melt-in-your mouth good. Boudin noir to me is like the chocolate of the meat world. It’s got a bit of sweetness to it, a bit of umami. And with apple compote, the tartness of the apple provides a perfect contrast to the sausage.
Dinner was a classic from M. Cheesemonger’s family—galettes bretonnes, or savory crêpes from Brittany. Since M. Cheesemonger’s mom is from Brittany, she takes those savory buckwheat galettes and sweet crêpes very seriously! M. Cheesemonger’s aunt is even a certified crêpe maker. With a meal like this, classic is best. Today, that meant a savory galette filled with ham, cheese, mushrooms, and a marvelously orange-yolked fried egg with a glass of hard cider to wash it all down. Oh, and you can tell savory from sweet crêpes apart from the way they’re folded. Savory galettes are folded into squares, and sweet crêpes are folded into triangles. Happiness does come in small, buttered, packages.
OK, though, let me back up just a little! The first place I wanted to check out upon arrival was the local favorite pastry shop, Aux Délices de la Tour. There, I knew I could find their old standbys—calvados-filled marzipan apples and chocolate and hazelnut “grisons,” or “bricks” that resemble the blocks of local medieval fort ruins. We only took home 4 pastries this time: an unfortunately named “gland”, which was a large green cream puff filled with kirsch-infused cream (my favorite of the day); the “infiniment praliné” which was a huge powdered sugar puff of praline, another one of favorites; the “royal,” a fluffy chocolate concoction on a bed of crispy wafer; and the “lampion,” a hearty combination of frangipane, cream, and nougatine “wings.”
Tomorrow I’m looking forward to lunch with one of my favorite French lifestyle bloggers, Jennifer Greco of Chez Loulou! We’re going to meet up in Pont l’Eveque, homeplace of the eponymous cheese.
Take a look at the slideshow below for more photos!
Enjoy the day!