Americans go on quick coffee runs, Brits break for tea, but Swedes linger over fika. This daily (sometimes twice daily) ritual of coffee and pastries is more about socializing than refueling…though the refueling bit is of course my favorite part.
Within the first hour of being in Brittany, I sat down at a cafe and made my way through half a golden wedge of cheese, spreading it on a sliced baguette and marveling at its subtle flavor. It was slightly tangy, faintly sweet and laced with crunchy flecks of coarse sea salt. Totally addictive stuff. A full ten minutes passed before I realized that this magical cheese was not cheese at all, and that I’d been eating cultured, hand-churned butter by the mouthful.
It goes without saying that Saint-Émilion is known for its wine. Some of the top labels in the world come from here and, if I’m honest, I really don’t care. I mean, I love wine. A lot. But I’ve been on few vineyard tours in my day and, when you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all (when it comes to the big names anyway). The fact that I know how to say malolactic fermentation in several languages proves the overuse of horrifically lengthy informational videos in these places. Which is why, instead of being forced to ride in wooden barrels through a tunnel of dioramas using mannequins to depict the wine making process (I wish I was kidding), I go to itty bitty family operations instead.
I just returned home from a veritable odyssey through France while working on a personal project. I’ll elaborate on that a bit more at a later date, but the long and short of it is that I was hunting down traditional desserts. I had a long list of cities to sprint through and I initially thought of skipping Saint Émilion because I have an aversion to any place with a dedicated tour bus parking lot. In the end, I decided to stop through simply because this little ancient village is the origin of the canelé, my favorite dessert of all time. Of course, as with every place I visit, I found even more to love. Read more