Oysters from Cancale
Seafood lovers are spoilt for choice in Brittany – in fact, its 2,800km of coastline accounts for almost 80% of France’s total seafood production, which you can buy straight from the fishing boats in some small harbours. The local oysters (rock or flat) are delicious and widely farmed, with those from Cancale near St-Malo considered the best. They can be eaten all year round but are at their best between September and April. Enjoy them with bread, salted butter and a spritz of lemon and red wine vinegar. Délicieux…
Simple but indulgent… most Breton cuisine revolves around this prized ingredient, flavoured with the salt harvested from the region’s marshlands. The finest is undoubtedly Fleur de Sel de Guérande, delicately harvested by hand; once you’ve tasted it, you’ll be reluctant to go back to using ordinary table salt ever again. Salted butter caramels (caramels au beurre salé) are one of Brittany’s most mouth-watering delicacies – don’t forget to take some home!
A type of rough pâté eaten all over France, this version made with mackerel caught off the Breton Coast is popular in the region as an aperitif served on small pieces of bread (tartines).
Crêpes & galettes
Traditional Breton cooking is simple and wholesome and the humble pancake is another speciality here – but do you know the difference? A crêpe is the popular thin, sweet pancake while a galette, made with buckwheat flour, is usually eaten savoury with ham or eggs. To be sure you’re tasting the best, choose a restaurant with the official ‘Crêpes Gourmandes’ label.
Traditional cakes/pastries: Far Breton & Kouign-amann
Heavenly Kouign-amann (a speciality in the town of Douarnenez in Finistère) is made like a croissant, with a layer of butter sealed into the sweet pastry dough and rolled and re-rolled multiple times. It’s baked slowly until it puffs up and the sugar caramelises. The name is derived from the old Breton words for ‘cake’ and ‘butter’… we challenge you to eat just one! Far Breton is similar to a clafoutis, made with a batter of eggs, milk and flour. Rum-soaked prunes or raisins are commonly added. Buy both of these from a local pâtisserie rather than the supermarket.
A form of mead made with honey brought to Brittany by the Celts, this popular drink contains around 14% ABV and is drunk chilled as an aperitif.