What a wonderful excursion we enjoyed during Marina‘s recent call in Honfleur in the Normandy region of France. Normandy is known in the culinary world as the cuisine of “apples, cream and butter,” so what more fitting excursion to take in Honfleur than to a Calvados winery. We had a lovely bus ride across the Seine River to Deauville and then on to the Chateau du Breuil, where the specialty for many generations has been Calvados. When we arrived, we were greeted by one of the family members, who showed us where the apples were brought in the first phase of making Calvados – a shed where they are washed and then pressed into apple juice.
We then walked down a beautiful lane toward the distillery building, passing the small green Calvados apples along the way.
The distillery is a four-story brick building that was formerly a factory devoted to fabric making.
Once inside, we saw the equipment used for the double distillation of the apples, which was quite impressive in both size and modernization.
We then moved on to the barrel sheds, where our guide explained how the cider was then aged anywhere from two to 20-plus years.
He also pointed out that the roof of the barrel shed was actually the hull of a Viking ship, which was absolutely fascinating !
We moved from the barrel shed to the tasting room, where we were treated to a two-year-old Calvados and a 12-year-old Calvados. The alcohol content of the younger Calvados was about 17 percent, and many guests thought this was a delightful aperitif.
The grounds were lovely, and we all had a fabulous time visiting this unique property and sampling their treasured Calvados.
Following our outing, I wandered back to the town of Honfleur for a late lunch. And what a lunch it was! I started with a plate of 12 oysters, three with red wine vinegar and shallot, three with cream and Calvados, three with cornichons and tarragon cream sauce and three with onion confit and toasted bread crumbs.
Once the chef discovered that I was a chef – well then it was a full-court-press set to impress! Next came a local lobster specialty followed by the cheese plate and a rocket salad with a dreamy mustard vinaigrette. (Sometimes the simple things in life are the best!)
After that delicious lunch I needed a walk around the charming port town of Honfleur.
Even in August, this part of France enjoys mild temperatures. The shops had lots of local products and specialities, so I found myself picking up three local cheeses for our afternoon class so we could taste Calvados and a selection of Camembert, Pont d’Eveque and Livarot.
I am always delighted when I can share a taste of local wines and products with our Bon Appétit Culinary Center students. And this day in the heart of Normandy was no exception!