When we were packing, I asked the family whether I should make a batch of our house-muesli to take with us but was assured that when in France, anything anybody would want to eat for breakfast was a croissant. So croissants we ate, either from a bakery in Gaillefontaine or from the market in Gournay-en-Bray. All was well until Thursday when I had the Ispahan croissant from Pierre Hermé which raised the bar so much that it effectively ended all croissant-eating for me. Sigh. Good thing I live 600 km away from Paris or this rose-flavored almond cream and raspberry gelee filled croissant baked to perfection might threaten to become an addiction.
And as we are on the subject of Pierre Hermé – yes, we did taste his much fawned over macarons. We bought a box of 12 different flavours and had a very serious tasting session. Every macaron was quartered so that we all could taste each and every one and then we gave marks. “Céleste” (passion fruit&rhubarb&strawberry) got the highest marks not only from me (which would not be surprising considering my passion for rhubarb well documented on this site) but also from Remco and Esther.
In my (admittedly very limited) experience, French restaurants are usually not very vegetarian-friendly, so we ate at a restaurant just once and otherwise shopped at a market and cooked in the well-equipped kitchen in the house. The kids got excited by the sight of artichokes at the market, so that’s what we brought home, among other things. I used to grow artichokes in my garden until all the plants succumbed to our cold &wet winters but that was many years ago and I was surprised (and happy) that the kids still fondly remembered them. Esther and Sebastiaan even prepared the artichokes themselves (after watching an instruction video on Youtube – how did we do things before Youtube anyway?).
The house we stayed in was surrounded by meadows with grazing cows and our only neighbour was an organic dairy farm with a farm shop selling not only the local specialty heart-shaped Neufchâtel cheese but also unpasturised salted butter, fromage blanc and an assorment of yogurts.
The cows diet is suplemented only by corn, grains and alfalfa grown on the farm and possibly the grass is better in Normandy than anywhere else because the butter and the unpasturised cream I bought by accident (but did not regret) were the best I have ever had.
So the souvenirs we brought home were half a kilo salted Normandic butter, lots of cheese, some baguettes and a couple of bottles of wine. On Sunday after our return, we had a lovely indoor picnic with our Dutch friends.