Dinan, Brittany, France
The Atlantic North-West Coast of France can be wild; you may get caught in strong blowing winds. Rocky coastlines provide the most delicious seafood and crustaceans.
Driving along the coast is simply beautiful, as are routes further inland. French farm country makes you want to take photos non-stop. Even the cows seem to have a smile on their faces. Agritourism for us meant staying on a working kettle farm in the fall, the weather not cooperating most of the time, but nevertheless an experience I wouldn’t want to miss.
One of my most unforgettable culinary surprises took place in popular Saint Malo though, where I would have expected the tourist-typical fare …. Sitting outside -I always do, even if I have to wear my coat- at a small bistro table, I opted for a ‘Lobster Cappuccino’, what I thought was going to be a cute little soup with some fresh bread. Out came, served in a fire red cup on a fire red saucer, an incredibly aromatic dish accompanied by house-made bread sticks and warm-from-the-oven croutons. Piping hot, creamy and topped with frothed lobster cream, sitting on it a generous portion of steamed lobster meat. I was afraid to taste it, worrying that the flavours would not deliver what the presentation promised. How wrong I was! To this day I can remember the heavenly perfection, the balance of the flavours, the textures, the smell …. this was the moment when I understood the term ‘food porn’. I have made promises to myself to go back and hopefully find that the Bistro still exists. I will definitely go there very hungry.
Contrasting the more contemporary approach to cooking, there are dishes offered in many towns made to old recipes, who have not changed much over time. Like a region-typical breakfast: Buckwheat Galette. Unlike its relative, the Crepe, the Galette is more often a savoury dish. I tried it with bacon and egg, a tempting version on a cool day. Fillings could be anything the heart desires, from meat to cheeses from smoked fish to vegetables and so much more.
Buckwheat flour has a specific taste and may need some getting used to. When I taste the batter, I can never really fall in love with it, but cooked and filled with goodies, it turns into a delicacy for me. Try it for breakfast or a light lunch with your choice of filling.
Buckwheat Galette with Egg, Smoked bacon and Cheese
- In a large bowl, mix the buckwheat flour and egg yolks.
- Add the water gradually while mixing.Whisk the egg whites until firm.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix in white flour and oil.
- Add this mix to your buckwheat mix.
- Rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Your mix should be almost runny, add a little water if necessary.
- Heat a heavy non-stick pan, lightly oiled, over medium/high heat.
- Pour only as much batter in the pan to spread thinly all over by tilting the pan in a circle.
- Cook for 1 minute and flip it or turn it carefully with a spatula.
- Cook for 1 more minute. – Take care not to overcook!
- Finish all the batter the same way, pile on a plate and keep warm.
- Slice your favourite ham (I like pancetta) very thinly and fry in a little oil just to crisp.
- Fry 1 egg per Galette. Sunny side up/over easy or scrambled.
- Shave your favourite cheese with a vegetable peeler.
- Set a Galette on a warmed plate, place the egg in the center, fold Galette from 2 sides in and garnish with meat and cheese.
- 250g buckwheat flour
- 2 tsp white flour
- 2 eggs separated
- 500g water
- 2 tsp oil