Like in the other parts of France, Brittany is also famous for its culinary traditions and a place to enjoy the tastes of Brittany. Every week, many local markets take place in different villages. Locals sell fresh daily food, seafood, prized ingredients, and local specialties. Traditional Breton cooking is simple and uses most products that one can buy from the markets.
While admiring the picturesque landscapes during our two-week road trip in Brittany, we sampled several typical Breton food products: mussels, Breton cider, oyster, galette, Breton cakes, and canned seafood.
Brittany has thousands of kilometres of stunning coastline, it is not surprising that the seafood is part of Breton cuisine. Mussels are the common dishes on the menu of bars and restaurants throughout Brittany. I have tried a larger-sized mussel with flesh that varies in colour from yellow to deep orange. The small-sized mussels have rich orange colour and flavour. Typically, mussels are steamed and served in a little broth made from herbs and Breton Muscadet wine. But what I like the most is the crème Fraiche version.
Ciders are produced from many orchards all over Brittany, from the Rance valley, Vannes region, to the Cornouaille Cider Route. One of the outstanding Breton cider labels is Cidre de Cornouaille AOP. Pretty much like wines, to get an AOP, cider produce has to meet specific criteria. You can meet the local producers and sample their products. At the gateway to the Rhuys Peninsula, the Cidrerie Nicol is another excellent cider with a delicate flavour made from a single apple variety, the Guillevic.
In restaurants, French accompany galettes or dessert with a glass of cider. Besides, cider is also an ingredient for Breton cuisine. A typical example is in a mussel recipe. In a restaurant from Concarneau, I also ordered a pork dish cooked in cider. It was surprisingly tasty.
Southern Provence has the famous Cote D’Azur coastline. It is common to eat fresh oysters from the local markets at affordable prices. It is worth to mention, that oysters produced in the Brittany coastline account for a large amount of France’s production. Local oyster farming is sizable, and the well-known oysters are from Cancale near St-Malo. But the local people told us that the oysters farmed north of Sarzeau also have the best quality. Les Fruits De Mer is an oyster farm near Pointe de l’Ours on Rhuys Peninsula. It sells fresh oysters and also runs a restaurant with a sea view.
Restaurants offer oysters as starters or as part of a seafood plate. Enjoy them with bread, salted butter, a drizzle of lemon, and a glass of Rose. They are delicious!
One of the tastes of Brittany has to be the galette. We could not neglect the famous galette during our trip. Unlike Crêpes, galettes are made with buckwheat flour filled with a savoury filling such as ham, cheese, and a fried egg. When served, galettes are folded into rectangles. They are tasty meals and are the perfect choice for lunch.
The best galette I had was from the restaurant Crêperie Glacier des Embruns in Port de Sauzon, a small fishing village in Belle Île en Mer. I ordered galette with Anchovy, cheese, and an egg. The hot galette were crispy outside and had savory fillings.
Breton Cake (Kouign-amann)
Nothing is better than finishing a meal with a Breton sweet treat. In Brittany, butter is an essential ingredient in pastries. Breton pastries are such as Far Breton and biscuits. But the Breton cakes are the perfect treat as a dessert or for an afternoon tea.
Breton cakes are round multi-layered pastries made easily from bread dough with added sugar and salted butter. During the baking process, the sugar caramelizes, and the butter melts. The final product has a structure similar to a puffy pastry with a light caramelized glaze on the outside.
In the shops and supermarkets you will find many canned fish preserved in all kind of herbs and olive oils. One of best fish canneries is La Belle Iloise cannery in the Quiberon peninsula. It produces the best canned sardines in the area. Since 1932, the canning techniques haven’t changed. Today, sardines are still filleted and tinned by hand. The majority of sardines come from the Bay of Biscany (from Douarnenez to La Turballe). Freshly caught sardines are processed within the day. The traditional processing technique guarantees the best quality and flavour of sardines. The canned sardines are flavour, for example, in herbs, olive oil, and wine.
La Belle Iloise cannery also produces tuna cans, mackerel cans, and lobster soup cans etc. The French eat them as a bread spread, aperitif, starters, or small meals. The shop at the entrance of the cannery sells all fish products. And customers can join a free guided tour and sample their latest products.
Tips for the tastes of Brittany
There are many weekly markets throughout towns and villages in Brittany. They are the best places to experience the tastes of Brittany. Check with the local website to find out the schedule. You can buy freshly caught oysters and mussels on the markets. In the local supermarkets, you can also get the pre-made galette. Local supermarkets sell some of the Breton sweets. However, to find more Breton food specialties and other local products, you should visit one of the Breton specialty shops, where many daily products are also available.
If you come from Paris, Brittany is a perfect weekend gateway and a short vacation destination. You can join the 2-day Normandy & Brittany tour from Paris and enjoy a different lifestyle at the coast area and the tastes of Brittany.