Normandy Food and Drink *

Normandy Food and Drink

Introduction

Think of France and you immediately think of food and drink. There are Normandy specialities to be enjoyed thanks, in part, to its proximity to the sea and its agricultural heritage. Much of the farming is dairy; the black and white Normandy cows provide a rich array of products including rich and creamy butter and full flavoured cream. For those with a particularly sweet tooth, a thick caramel sauce known as confiture de lait is also produced in Normandy. It can be drizzled over pancakes, ice cream or yoghurt or spread on bread and pastries. For meat lovers, lamb pré salé is popular and gets its name because the sheep graze on the salt marshes surrounding Mont St Michel. Other Normandy favourites include buttery caramels from Isigny, a creamy and milky rice pudding called Teurgoule and a liqueur called Bénédictine. With so many tasty treats to choose from, you’re sure to find some firm favourites during your stay.

Normandy Food and Drink

1. Cheese

camembert

In Normandy there are 4 regional cheeses – Camembert, Livarot, Neufchâtel, and Pont-l’Évêque. Eating cheese seems to be a national past-time with the average person consuming around 25kg. That’s 25kg per year! So, how is so much of it eaten? Firstly, the quality of the product is excellent. Normandy’s extensive dairy industry means cows feast on lush green grass. Secondly, it is just the French way of life with most main meals including a cheese course. However, it’s eaten before dessert and with bread rather than crackers. In Normandy a dressed green salad is served with it. And, of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a glass of red wine or cider.

Camembert is the most well known of the Normandy cheeses. It’s produced throughout Normandy and takes its name from the town of Camembert which is in the Calvados region. Many producers in Normandy still make camembert by hand and pour the milk mixture into moulds using ladles. The moulds are regular turned until the liquid has disappeared. The cheeses are then left to mature so that the skin forms and the cheese improves with age. In La Manche there are factories in Lessay and Gavray producing Camembert.

Baked Camembert is my favourite way to eat this yummy cheese

Normandy Food and Drink

2. Cider, Calvados and Apples

cider

Normandy is renowned for its apple orchards which produce cider and Calvados which is an apple brandy. However, apples are also used to make vinaigrette, pommeau, apple tarts and apple pastries. Ferme de la Butte in La Meurdraquière is a local producer of cider, pommeau and Calvados. Pommeau is around 17% proof so between cider and Calvados in strength. Calvados is usually aged for 5 – 10 years in oak barrels. Calvados is drunk as a cocktail, an aperitif and a digestif. It goes very well with cheese, chocolate, dessert or ice-cream. There is also something called a ‘trou normand’ which used to be a glass of Calvados between courses to stimulate the digestion. Nowadays it’s Calvados poured over apple sorbet.


Normandy Food and Drink

3. Local Markets

One of the fruit and vegetable stalls at the Saturday Gavray market

Markets tend to sell fruit, vegetables together with local produce such as seafood, cheese, charcuterie and cider. Some of the larger markets sell artisan breads, honey, livestock, plants, clothes and household items. They are very sociable events as they are supported by locals. And they’re great for people watching if you can find a seat in a nearby bar. Markets are usually held in the mornings with stalls beginning to pack up at lunchtime. To find out where there’s a market in La Manche, this article has the complete list.

The big market day in Villedieu-les-Poêles is Tuesday morning

Normandy Food and Drink

4. Shellfish and Seafood

seafood

Oysters, mussels, shrimps, lobster, scallops, crab, langoustines, clams, winkles and whelks are all farmed along the Normandy coastline. The Contention coast experiences extreme tides and these favourable growing conditions contribute to the quality. The seaside towns and villages from Granville up to Pirou are dotted with restaurants serving seafood platters and the very popular moules frites (mussels and fries). At the end of September there’s an annual seafood festival in Granville called Toute La Mer Sur Un Plateau. Cookery demonstrations, tastings and produce are very popular.


Normandy Food and Drink

5. Andouille

A spicy smoked sausage called andouille is made throughout France with each region making it’s own version. In Normandy, it is called Andouille de Vire and is made from pork chitterlings. Locally it is produced in Gavray at La Andouillerie de la Baleine. They’ve been making andouille since 1950 and have recently expanded to new premises. You can book at tour to watch how it is produced or visit the shop where it’s sold together with delicatessen and local artisan products.


If you have any questions feel free to get in touch