I ought to rephrase the title of this post because there is no such thing as a quick trip to Brittany. Set in the far north western corner of France, there is never a quick route to visit our family and a train journey from Zurich typically takes 12 hours door to door. And making this trip with an 11-month old baby somehow feels twice as long. But the trip is always worthwhile for the good, home-cooked food that eventually awaits us at the end of a long journey.
My great-aunt’s cheese soufflé is a particular favourite of mine. Despite the simplicity of the ingredients – eggs, milk and cheese – it makes for a spectacular meal, especially since her soufflé always rises magnificently each time. The same can’t be said about many of my own soufflés; they never rise so triumphantly, nor can I manage to get it to cook properly without stabbing it a few times to see if it has set, thus explaining why my soufflés tend to be a bit deflated, much like my pride on such occasions. My great-aunt has shared her recipe with me so I must make it my mission in the coming winter months to master this French classic.
My mother-in-law makes a lovely apple cake using the apples which are grown in abundance on their small farm. The cake is rich with apple, held together by a light batter. It looks simple enough but I have to confess that I haven’t had much luck recreating the same recipe at home. Perhaps my cake tin is too big or I am overworking the batter? Or, more likely, my French isn’t quite up to scratch and I have mis-translated her recipe. For now, I’m happy to indulge in this Apple Crumble Tea Cake.
Chouquettes are also a common treat at dessert. My mother-in-law prefers to buy hers from the local bakery for a stress-free option, but she will always serve them with some freshly whipped cream and homemade jam on the side. If you are not lucky enough to have a bakery nearby which sells freshly baked chouquettes, they are relatively easy to make at home, and these Chocolate Chip Chouquettes are hard to pass up.
And a dish which I frequently look forward to when in France is confit de canard, a dish comprising of duck legs slow-cooked in duck fat until meltingly tender, and served simply with either roast or boiled potatoes and a green salad on the side. Duck, when cooked confit, takes on a different texture and taste to duck which has been roasted; the meat is more succulent and flavoursome, and it should fall apart at the mere prod of a fork. Now that I have discovered duck fat at my local grocer, I can’t wait to experiment with a few recipes at home. If anyone has a favourite recipe for duck confit, I would love to hear from you!
If you are a collector of vintage kitchenware, especially vintage French crockery, this brocante or antique store in Paimpol is stocked floor to ceiling (literally) with a beautiful and diverse collection that will tempt your purse strings. Plates, footed bowls, casserole pots, soup tureens, spice jars, vintage linen and the like can be found in this cluttered, but charming, shop. In fact, when we last visited, the shop itself and all of its inventory were for sale …
I first visited the store in 2011 and mentioned it in this post. It is a food prop paradise but, realistically, their fragile crockery is not the most practical souvenir if you are travelling from afar. Not that that has ever stopped me … I’ve managed to collect a few pieces on each of our subsequent trips to Brittany but I fear this hobby might have to come to an end as our own kitchen could be described as a mirror image of this shop. Although, I haven’t yet resorted to using the floor as a place to stack kitchenware, so there might still be room for a few more soup tureens 😉
Shops like this one are a rare and treasured find. Their existence provides a nostalgic charm to the vicinity and serve as a historical timekeeper of a bygone era, much like how a museum would preserve relics of the past. But I would choose to go to a brocante like this one over a museum any day.
You can find the shop here:
Pratique Brocante “L’Émotion du Passé”
10 rue des Huit-Patriotes
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Thanh, What a spectacular array of photos and descriptions. I can always taste each dish as you describe it! Bon Appetit!
Thanks, Gwen! Hope all is well in your neck of the woods 🙂
A photo of YOUR kitchen please Thanh! I’m sure it would be a beautifully stocked as this shop.. How you can restrain yourself in a place like that I’m not quite sure!!
Oh my husband has an annoying habit of talking me out of buying a lot of things 😉 Maybe I’ll ask our family to choose my Christmas gift this year from this shop? I wouldn’t mind a few more sauce bowls and a couple more cake stands would be lovely too 😉
Beautiful pictures! I would love to visit that store and start collecting some of those beautiful plates too but indeed, it’s a long way to Brittany from Zürich unfortunately. I understand your mother-in-law completely..why bother making chouquettes at home when amazing ones are readily available in most bakeries in France? Since it is not the case here, I really need to try your recipe!
I wish chouquettes were also readily available in Zurich but I find they are quite easy to rustle up. But I wouldn’t say no to a chocolate éclair from Sprüngli as an alternative!
Oh, 12 hours. I use 3-4 by car to visit my parents, and I feel that trip tired us!!
But, you’re right, it’s worth. And, looking at the pictures, even more of what you say 😛
I hope you ‘master’ your great-aunts recipe 🙂 🙂
Last year I tried a quick&easy version of duck confit, this year I’ll take my time, so I compare the results, it will be nice to share with you… and seeing what you prepare!!!
It would be better for me not to go to that shop, god knows what would take me. My boyf suffers when returning from a travel, when he (yeah, I say he) have to put things I bought in the suitcases. It comes to my mind our (his) last odyssey, Switzerland. I bought every thing that could break 😛
Thanks for sharing, it’s always nice reading you 😉
A trip to Brittany is about as long as a flight from Europe to Asia! It takes about 4 hours by train from Zurich to Paris, then we have to change train stations and travel an additional 4.5 hours from Paris to Brittany. Once you add up the time to get to and from the train stations, plus inevitable delays with the TGV, it’s a good 12 hours or so. So a very long journey if you attempt it all in one day! Driving by car from Zurich to Brittany would also be about 12 hours non-stop, although it’s always a little longer with breaks for petrol, lunch, etc.
Seems like we share a habit of buying fragile souvenirs whenever we travel 😉 But I like to think that our respective partners benefit in some way from our purchases eventually.
I have found a recipe for duck confit by Stéphane Reynaud and I hope to start it today 🙂 I have to marinate the duck for 24 hours before cooking it, so I’m already looking forward to dinner tomorrow night!
As for the soufllés, I add a litlle steamed carrots + cumin or cauliflower in it, which gives a nice color for the former.
That’s a really great suggestion! I once made a soufflé with spinach which was quite nice … but it tasted a bit healthy, ha ha 😉
Oh dear – vintage kitchenware … there’s a naughty habit! Beautiful photography, as always. My family is from Brittany, originally, though we have lost touch with our French kin. I had hoped to get there on my trip to France this year. It’s firmly at top of the list for next time. A lovely post. Thanks for sharing.
I loved reading about your travels through France this year and hope you will post a bit more about your time there. Brittany is a lovely region to visit, and it seems you have good reason to visit next time!
Oh, pretty props! Jealous 🙂
Ha ha 😉 I’ve been joking to my husband that we should buy this store so I could use it as a big prop room! I’m still thinking about my next few purchases …
beautiful photos.. glad am following you on instagram.. !
Thanks, Anita! I’m also having fun following people on Instagram – I think I’m addicted to it at the moment!
What an absolutely gorgeous store! I could see I could get lost in it for hours, and well, I’d want to buy pretty much everything.
Your photos are stunning too Thanh. Such beautiful light.
I think I will go alone with the car next time and stock up 🙂 Even if I can’t bring everything back to Zurich, I’m sure my in-laws wouldn’t mind if I left a few items at their place. Oh no … maybe this means by hobby is spinning out of control if I am even contemplating decorating other people’s homes with my kitchenware, LOL!
How I wish I could have joined you on your trip to Brittany, especially to that cookware shop. The pieces are so beautiful…. A girl can never have too many cakestands or well that’s what I keep telling myself and my collection is really small. Mmmmmm Chouquettes, love ’em. I prefer getting them from the boulangeries too but now that I have the elusive pearl sugar, i just might make a few at home.
Is pearl sugar hard to find in France? I thought they would have been quite easy to find? Thankfully, they sell them readily in the supermarkets here in Switzerland. If you like chouquettes, you will love them even more when they are homemade 🙂
Well I didn’t know where to look for pearl sugar but I found a huuuuge back in G.Detou all thanks to you 🙂 Haven’t seen any in the supermarkets close to home though.
I wish the vintage kitchenwear shop had an online shop or delivered to Paris….
Ooh that would be dangerous if the brocante had an online shop!! I hope we can visit the shop again when we are there over Christmas, although it’s a bit more difficult to travel with fragile items now that we have a small child …