The food specialities of Brittany, Normandy & The Loire
If you like good food that's full of fresh, natural tastes then try this list of delicious dishes and delicacies from our favourite regions of France. Discover the wonderful food specialities of Brittany, Normandy and Loire regions which you could try for yourself on your next holiday…
Patés and seafood of Brittany and the Loire
RILLETTES OF THE LOIRE
A favourite food of the Loire Valley is a Le Mans' speciality dish, rillettes! Rillettes are a thick paté-like paste usually served with crusty bread or toast. Made from pork that has been slow-cooked over a low heat until it shreds easily, the meat is then salted and mixed with the fat it was cooked in so that it creates a smooth paste.
Rillettes, a type of patê from the Loire
Usually the mark of a good pot of rillettes is the smoothness of the texture but you might find some more rustic, coarser ones too. You'll also discover there are some regional variations - Tours and Anjou are also known for their rillettes and there are other varieties using meats such as duck, and even fish.
BRITTANY'S CANCALE OYSTERS
A Breton food speciality is of course seafood and specifically oysters in Cancale. The Breton seaside town of Cancale is renowned for its oysters - in fact, it produces over 15,000 tonnes of them every year! Farmed by individual farmers on huge oyster beds that you can see at low tide, the oysters grown in Cancale are some of the most famous gourmet produce from Brittany.
Let the natural flavours of the sea sing out by enjoying them simply with a squeeze of lemon. Head to the port area in Cancale where you'll find lots of wonderful restaurants serving the freshly-caught oysters as well as platters drowning in all kinds of seafood. Enjoy with a crisp Muscadet white wine from the area around Brittany's historic capital, Nantes.
Concarneau, Quiberon and Dournanez are the places to go if you like sardines - and I don't mean your supermarket variety on toast! Tinned sardines go gourmet in Brittany with a huge selection of tastes that are a far cry from just tomato sauce with varieties of oils, herbs, peppers and spices just some of the flavours that you'll find in Brittany's speciality food shops.
Did you know that good tinned sardines actually have vintages as they get better with age? The best ones, from manufacturers such as La Quiberonnaise, will have already been aged for around a year when you buy them and the time allows the oils they are canned in soak into the fish.
SCALLOPS IN BRITTANY
The best scallops in Brittany come from the bay of St Brieuc and you'll find them served in restaurants all along this section of the coast from Paimpol to Erquy. The traditional way of enjoying Brittany's scallops is soaked in a buttery cream sauce in a dish known as Coquille Saint Jacques.
Scallop dishes are all over the restaurant menus in Brittany so you're bound to find a new favourite recipe from the multitude of different dishes. You might even discover some in an omelette or on top of a galette!
Traditional main courses of Normandy & Brittany
CRÊPES & GALETTES OF BRITTANY
A timeless classic that needs little introduction, Brittany's signature dish comes out of the many crêperies that line the streets of the region's towns and villages. Crêpes containing all kinds of sweet fillings from simple lemon juice and sugar, or chocolate spread, to concoctions filled with cream and fruit are what the area is known for.
But if you want to make a meal of it, start out with a breton galette, a buckwheat pancake with a savoury filling (not to be confused with the delicious buttery galette biscuits!). A galette complête is the traditional dish filled with ham, cheese and and an egg. Rennes also has the galette saucisse - a sausage wrapped in a galette and eaten like a hot dog.
MOULES FRITES FROM NORMANDY & BRITTANY
A famous food speciality of Bretagne you are sure to of heard of is moules frites. This hugely popular dish, in Brittany and Normandy especially, is a simple but delicious main meal. Steamed mussels, usually cooked in white wine with shallots and known as moules marinières, are served with crispy fries for a filling and tasty meal that you might even get the kids to try.
If you are looking for something a little more decadent, try your frites with mussels cooked à la normande - in a creamy sauce with a base of white wine or local cider. Sometimes known as à la creme, this dish is one for those who like their seafood dishes a little richer.
Speciality sweets and cakes of Brittany & Normandy
Slice of Far Breton
This flan-type cake is a favourite dessert throughout Brittany. Made from a smooth, dense custard of eggs and milk, similar to clafoutis in the Loire, Far Breton usually contains prunes and can be found in patisseries all across the region. Not to be confused with Gateau Breton, a crumbly, buttery cake that is also delicious.
This slightly chewy and richly buttery cake is another one of Brittany's classics. Somewhere between cake and pastry, it is made with a venoisserie-type dough, similar to croissants. The dough is layered with sugar and butter and the cake is best served warm to enjoy the temptingly caramelised taste - and it smells divine!
These are not just normal caramels, they are a real cut above. Made in traditional copper pots from whole milk, butter and cream that comes from the Normande cows at the farms around Normandy's Isigny-sur-Mer that have AOC status, these are some of the most scrumptious salted caramels you will ever taste. Even the salt has a quality label and is from the salt flats at Guérande.
And a favourite you'll find all over France...
For those with a real sweet tooth, this quintessentially French confection is the perfect Gallic treat. Made from two small almond meringues with a filling of buttercream, ganache or jam, brightly-coloured macarons sit enticingly in patisserie windows across the country. Find your favourite flavour, there's so many to try - chocolate, coffee, lemon, orange, rose, pistachio and many, many more.