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Many products from Normandy gastronomy are famous throughout the world and their flavours range from coastal to lush green countryside produce. The Norman people are very proud of their cuisine and food is one of the key reasons why many come to visit the region, renowned for being one of the best culinary destinations in France. The region's local producers and chefs combined with produce from the rich landscape means that you will enjoy authentic flavours and preserved traditions.
Terroir is an important word in French meaning land, it is often said with intense pride and is very much linked to the country’s national identity. Particularly in Normandy, their terroir has produced an exciting and high-quality gastronomical variety with 600km of coastline and large, bountiful agricultural land. The Normandy coast boasts a range of luxurious seafood dishes which contain oysters, scallops and lobsters freshly caught from the English Channel. Whilst further inland, for hundreds of years the terroir has raised the famous Normandy cows which produce milk in abundance, used to create rich creams and delicious cheeses that are featured in many of the region's emblematic dishes. Not to forget, the succulent fruits grown in orchards around Normandy used to make a variety of delicious drinks like cider and calvados. As you pedal through this beautiful French region, make sure you try a dish or two to discover Normandy’s gastronomic excellence. To give you a head start we’ve put a list together of 4 dishes that are a must-try when visiting the region.
A marmite in France is traditionally known as a potbelly-shaped casserole dish, not to be mistaken for the household spread enjoyed on toast in England! Comparable to a fish stew, Marmite Dieppoise combines freshly caught seafood with a creamy broth of crème fraiche, cider and butter. The dish takes its name from the beautiful fishing town of Dieppe in the north of Normandy. According to Norman legends, the hot dish was originally created in a tavern to feed mariners and sailors after their long days at sea. The traditional meal was prepared using leftovers of the daily catch or varieties of seafood which were easily delivered. Similarly, nowadays the dish doesn’t discriminate and uses all different types of seafood from molluscs and crustaceans to varieties of fresh fish. Creamy and flavourful, it is a real pleasure for both the eyes and palate.
Whilst being a seafood heaven, Normandy is also a paradise for meat eaters with many main courses often being meat-based. Poultry, lamb and pork frequently feature on menus; however, some dishes aren’t for the faint-hearted. For example, Tripe à la mode de Caen is a Norman speciality from the commune of Caen which consists of all four chambers of a beef cattle’s stomach! These cuts of meat are placed on a bed of carrots, onions, leeks, garlic and peppercorns in a casserole dish and then covered with a bottle of cider and a glass of calvados and simmered in the oven for fifteen hours. Tradition tells that the dish dates back to the late Middle Ages when a monk from the Caen abbey created this irresistible recipe. Tripe à la mode de Caen is one of the reasons why locals like to spend their weekends down in Lower Normandy and is highly appreciated by gourmet tourists from around the world. Locals will tell you that the best time to try this dish is in Autumn when the apple trees have blossomed. Some of the apples fall to the ground and are eaten by the cattle, and, along with the rich grasses, give the beef a distinctive flavour in this season. Best enjoyed with a glass of apple juice, cider or calvados, this dish is definitely worth a try.
Normandy is indeed known to be the “orchard of France” with 750 different varieties of apples and just fifty alone used for producing cider. This fruit seems to thrive in the oceanic climate of the region, offering many gustatory possibilities. These apples are used in both savoury and sweet dishes but also boast a large range of mouth-watering beverages such as cidre (apple cider), Pommeau (apple liqueur) and calvados (apple brandy) or simple but delicious Norman apple juice.
A favourite dessert in the region is the Tarte Normande, named after Normandy itself because it uses heavy cream and calvados which are two staples of the regional cuisine. This simple, homemade apple tart is promised to be a showstopper. Apple slices are baked under a buttery crust and covered in a blanket of calvados-spiked cream. This melt-in-your-mouth dessert is a perfect treat to enjoy after a day of cycling.
Normandy’s cheese board is undoubtedly an impressive one. With an abundance of farmland and dairy cows, the region creates some of the best cheeses in the whole of France. Its most famous cheese is arguably Camembert which is named after the village where it was first made and now holds a PDO certification which legally binds the produce to its place of origin. Other cheeses that are PDO-certified include Neufchâtel, Pont-l’Evêque and Livarot and are all an indulgent experience with a smooth and creamy texture. Cheese in Normandy is usually served between the main course and dessert and is well paired with apple-based beverages.
For more information about our tour in Normandy, give our cycle experts a call on 020 7471 7760, or view our Normandy cycling holidays here.
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