Normandy & Brittany

Normandy & Brittany

By
Luke Nguyen
Contains
10 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742707181
Photographer
Alan Benson

I’ve learned and seen so much, met so many wonderful people and tasted truly outstanding food, it’s appropriate that I leave some of the best of France for last — so I head north, to the spectacular coast of Normandy and Brittany.

These are ruggedly independent regions, where the crabs are epic in size, fat sheep graze on salt marsh pastures in the shadow of Mont Saint-Michel, and buckwheat crepes, or galettes, are a local obsession. And the towns are really, really beautiful. Especially Saint-Malo, whose massive city wall winds around a bucolic old town, just 10 metres from the beach. Flocks of kids take their Y-class yachts into the sea, lithe volleyballers punch balls over nets, and I cook the freshest, biggest, sweetest crab imaginable, bubbling away in tamarind sauce, on a wok set on the retaining wall.

Near Saint-Malo is a legendary beurrier, or butter maker, called Jean-Yves Bordier. I’m on his trail thanks to my many chef friends from all around the world who swear by his handmade butter. It costs a bomb to buy, but when I see how it is made (from slightly soured milk, sourced from local organic farms) and shaped (individually, using a pair of hand-held wooden pats), I appreciate why. Jean-Yves is wonderful, and so fastidious about his butter that he even tailor-makes it according to the particular taste preference of his clients.

I can’t wait to try it with some local scallops and fresh wakame seaweed, which came to these waters by happy accident from Japan about three decades ago. It’s probably the most fitting dish to go out on: butter is the most French of foods, the seaweed an imported influence from Asia, and my own Vietnamese touches fuse the whole affair together.

Eating this dish, with seagulls wheeling overhead and a fresh Atlantic breeze in my hair, I think of how life turns full circle. The French brought so much to Vietnam, and now I’ve been able to leave my own little flavour of Vietnam behind me, here in France.

Recipes in this Chapter

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