“Walk in, waddle out” was how a woman I met on my trip to Normandy and Brittany put it, referring to how we often felt after a particularly wonderful meal.
Looking back, it’s hard to single out one spectacular food or dish. Would it be the oysters eaten on a sailboat off the coast of the Cancale peninsula near Mt. St. Michelle, shucked as fast as we downed them by Jerome, the boat captain, an “I’m too sexy for myself’ type? The pudding-textured fresh, young Camembert, ordered and very kindly shared at Coeur Verte, a family-run restaurant near Mont Dol in Brittany—the cheese the consistency of Greek yogurt with a taste like heaven. But I’m omitting my pigeon at the same restaurant, served with the feet sticking over the edge of the dish (very chic, très French) and cooked
to perfection. Also overlooked, the ubiquitous Kouign-amann, (pronounced “queeen amon”), a classic Breton pastry whose name comes from the Breton words for “butter” and “cake.” It looks unpreposing but that caramelized top is TDF. Let’s not overlook a particular Grand Marnier soufflé or the
tiny fish packed with bits of pimenton we ate as part of a semi-impromptu picnic, as well as every really good croissant that was often part of a breakfast that might also include a special quiche and homemade preserves.
Lest this sounds like all I did was eat, I also climbed the three hundred fifty steps to the top of Mt. Sainte
Michelle as well as the 17th century bell tower in Batz-sur-Mur complete with narrow, winding steps and a dubious rope handrail, walked around the Normany beaches and the Guerande salt marshes where the famous Fleur de Sel is produced, and hiked through various parks and around lakes.
At home I think of butter as something I occasionally use on bread and often cook with. In this part of France where La Brun, French Simmental and Jersey cows graze the fields, butter is a religion. It has a totally different taste from American butter and I often ate more (delicious) bread then I’d planned simply to have a platform for the butter. And why not?
Although I did not eat this lovely sandwich on this trip, I’ve enjoyed it many other times. It’s easy and looks as good as it tastes. If you can get French butter, by all means do so. Ditto something close to a real baguette.
Radish and Butter Sandwich
This makes enough for two servings as a nice hors d’oeuvre.
2 tsp. unsalted cultured butter. (The recipe suggests Plugra although real French butter has it beat every way)
1⁄4 tsp. sea salt (Fleur de Sel would be good)
2 slices baguette, cut on the bias (see picture)
2 large radishes, scrubbed clean and sliced into 1⁄8” rounds
Fresh ground black pepper
In a small bowl, with a small spatula blend together butter and salt until butter is soft and airy. Spread baguette slices with butter, arrange radish slices on top, and finish with a grind or two of pepper.
And of course you’ll eat this with a glass of good (preferably French) white wine. Á votre sainté! Vive la France!