When we think of Brittany, the first things that come to mind are the characteristic little villages by the water, the multiple shades of sea blue contrasting with the leafy green landscape, the easy way of life and, of course, its gastronomy! Indeed, the region’s culinary tradition has made a name for itself well beyond the borders. Here’s a quick review of the sweet and savoury Breton specialities to be experienced – or re-experienced!
1. Buckwheat crêpes
Unmistakably Breton, the famous buckwheat pancakes are a treat for gourmets of every age. They are eaten as a main course and everyone can pick their preferred filling (cheese, egg, ham or the famous Guémené andouille sausage). And for dessert? Crêpes again, this time made from wheat flour and topped with salted butter caramel, apples or simply sugar. To be savoured in a GENUINE Breton crêperie for true flavour and authenticity!
Take more than a generous dose of salted butter (again!), plenty of sugar, mix it all into bread dough that has been folded on itself several times... that’s just part of the very special recipe for this Breton culinary institution that goes straight to the hips, it has to be said! It’s pure indulgence, crispy and melt-in-the-mouth at the same time... a heavenly sweet treat to be enjoyed at any time of day!
3. Far Breton
No need to go far... for the Far Breton! Indeed, you’ll find this delicious treat all over Brittany. So, what is it? A distant cousin of the custard pie, which owes its distinctive flavour to the salted butter and a drop of rum. To suit all palates, there is a plain version or one with fruit.
4. Breton shortbread
Gourmets and the sweet-toothed are no doubt familiar with the Palet Breton, a lovely crisp but crumbly biscuit. Well, meet its big brother: Breton shortbread, recognised by its distinctive criss-cross pattern. For the recipe, you take the same ingredients (sugar, flour, eggs and, of course, Brittany semi-salted butter) and mix them all up! The whole family will be MAD about them and wolf them down in no time! And they’re even better straight from the bakery oven. Mmmmm, just yummy!
5. Salted butter caramel
If there is one product that embodies Breton gastronomy, this is it! It can be found everywhere and is enjoyed in a multitude of ways: simply straight from the spoon, spread on a slice of bread, in crêpes or in the form of sweets or lollies. And what makes it extra special is that every Breton village has its own recipe, so it’ll be different each time you try it! Although you can be sure to find the sheer indulgence and splendid creaminess, courtesy of the touch of salted butter, every time!
Each region has its emblematic fish soup recipe: in Marseille, it’s bouillabaisse and in Brittany, there’s cotraide! The Breton take on fish soup contains spices and vegetables and is eaten with croutons. A comforting dish that showcases the best of Brittany’s seafood. Give it a try – if you haven’t done so already!
Its name might be difficult to pronounce but this traditional dish is very easy to enjoy. The name literally means “ meat and far” (far is a kind of savoury pudding) and this Breton stew is rich in flavour and... calories! It is made up of a portion of buckwheat dough wrapped in a fabric pouch and cooked in broth for several long hours. This is the “far” and is served with salted pork shank, beef and vegetables to form a hearty dish, served with a butter (yes, again!) and shallot sauce known as “lipig”. Tuck in!
8. Plougastel strawberries
Sweet or tangy, strawberries grow particularly well in the Brittany climate. In fact, several varieties are grown in the heart of Brittany’s golden belt. With the fruit’s extraordinary taste and juicy flesh, it has become the star of the market stalls and top-class restaurants. And every June, the strawberry is celebrated at a special festival! The perfect excuse to feast on this gorgeous red berry!
9. Cider and lambig
What better to wash down your crêpes, far or kouign amann than a glass of wonderfully cool, sparkling cider? Whether you prefer it sweet or dry, this amber-coloured beverage is the ideal accompaniment to your Breton specialities. And if it comes from an organic or craft cider house, all the better! If left to distil, however, cider becomes “lambig”, a spirit typical of Brittany. To be enjoyed in moderation, of course!
Let’s round off our review of culinary specialities with another gastronomic staple from Brittany: chouchen. This Celtic beverage is obtained by fermenting a mixture of water and honey with added apple yeast, and will lend a lovely sweet note to end your sampling of Breton specialities. Cheers!