Gastronomy and Drinks of Normandy
Find out more about food events and cookery lessons in Normandy on www.normandie-tourisme.fr
Normandy is haute-cuisine heaven for food lovers and visitors seeking authentic culinary experiences.
Normandy is a region with stunning treasures of heritage, and endless rural escapes provide an incomparable backdrop of elegance and beauty for unforgettable, lingering lunches and romantic candle lit dinners in classy, stand out restaurants and hideaway inns.
Normandy is well known for its superb gastronomy, using its signature apples in many regional dishes.
Apples also feature heavily in the local traditional drinks such as Cider, Calvados (apple-based brandy) and Pommeau (a mixture of two thirds apple juice and one third Calvados).
In 1942, Calvados received the AOC label: Appellation d’Origine Controllé. This is given in France to assure quality for the buyer. Visitors are welcome to taste the celebrated tipple and take a tour of the many Calvados and cider distilleries throughout central Normandy. But these are not the only alcoholic drinks that hail from Normandy.
The history of Bénédictine liquor is a fascinating one, dating back to the Renaissance when a Venetian monk, Dom Bernardo Vincelli, brought together 27 plants and spices from around the world to create an elixir at the Abbey of Fécamp. The drink was produced by monks until the 18th century. During the French Revolution, the secret recipe was almost lost, but was discovered by Alexandre Le Grand in 1863 who decided to re-create the mysterious liqueur. This can be drunk with ice before a meal, or afterwards, as a digestive. Bénédictine is also often used as a base for numerous cocktails.
Normandy’s cheese board is of the most impressive in France, and contains the best-known types of cheeses outside its local area. Its most famous cheese is Camembert which comes from the village of the same name near Vimoutiers, but you can also try Neufchâtel, produced in a variety of different shapes and sizes, Pont-L’Evêque and Livarot. Cheese is in France usually served between the main course and dessert.
With its extensive coastline, seafood is one of Normandy’s specialities, from shellfish, to lobster, clams, whelks, scallops, mussels and oysters from the Manche and Calvados. Oysters are classified, like cheeses and wines, with their own AOC (Controlled Origin Name). Seafood will feature on most menus from Dieppe to Alençon which often combine fish with the region’s other culinary specialities, such as Sauce à la Crème or au Camembert. Particular treats is Dieppe’s fish stew, called Marmite Dieppoise or Port en Bessin’s famous scallops or Coquilles St Jacques.
Normandy is the chief oyster-cultivating, as well as biggest scallop-exporting, region in France. The seaside towns offer plenty of Seafood restaurants, as well as a variety of other food types, and in bustling areas such as Deauville and Dieppe, restaurants line the streets making your choice that little bit harder.
Meat eater paradise
Normandy’s main courses are often meat-based. Poultry is common on regional menus, including the tasty Canard à la Rouennaise using local duck from the Seine valley, but other types of meat such as veal or pork feature too. Another treat is Pré Salé lamb, given this name because the sheep are reared on the salt marshes surrounding Mont St Michel. Tripe is another Norman speciality, traditionally from Caen.
As with alcohol, many of Normandy’s sweet dishes are based on apples, such as the ever popular apple tart. Another Norman speciality is the milky rice pudding. Rouen’s Sucres de Pommes pleases those with a seriously sweet tooth as do the buttery Isigny toffees.