Interlude: Saint-Malo

18 06 2011

I don’t know about you, but it seems like these days the weekends are even busier than the weekdays. While I enjoy having a full social calendar, sometimes I just want some time to sit and do nothing. Last night we had a last-minute cancellation, freeing up the evening to do some clean-out-the-fridge cooking (cheese raviolis in leftover tomato sauce, zucchini baked with breadcrumbs and jamòn iberico) and some good old lounging on the couch with a beer and a movie. It was just the kind of Friday night I needed after a hectic week.

A few weeks ago, Nick and I spent the weekend in Saint-Malo with a group of his colleagues.  It was a nice getaway, but there was a fair amount of running around – trying to make it to our lunch reservation on time, figuring out when the buses to Mont St. Michel were, coordinating schedules with 16 other people, and then there was my insistence on making pilgrimages to both of Jean-Yves Bordier’s shops.  I mean, why buy butter at the cheese shop when you can buy it at the butter shop?

Bordier cheese shop

Since the cheese shop was closer to our hotel, we went there first (following a little postprandial nap on the beach).

Goat cheeses at Bordier

Firm, mountain cheeses at Bordier

We were planning to have a little picnic on the train home the next day, and we were sharing with another couple, so we got to indulge and bought about seven different cheeses, including a Trois-Cornes d’Aunis, which I’d been dying to taste, and a Breton specialty cheese with seaweed in it, which tasted much better than it sounds.  We watched as the saleswomen lopped portions of fresh butter from the large slabs sitting on the marble and then used a special set of paddles to beat it into rustic rectangles before wrapping it up in waxed paper.  We didn’t buy any butter, though, because I really wanted to see the mothership butter shop, somewhere in the tangle of streets intramuros.  (The historic center of Saint-Malo is a walled medieval city, now filled with mostly touristy stuff, but there’s still plenty worth visiting.)

On our way there, we passed by the Larnicol pastry and chocolate shop.  And we couldn’t help but to stop.

Maison Larnicol, Saint-Malo

Here’s why:

Kouignettes at Larnicol

Bin after bin of mini kouign amanns in all sorts of flavors.

So much butter and sugar...

We filled up a bag with almond, pistachio, salted butter caramel, and “plain” kouignettes, then found a sunny spot to sit and clog our arteries enjoy them.  Extremely buttery and sweet, they were also a little tough, and the nut-based ones had a disappointingly artificial-almond flavor to them.  Except for the nature.  The plain, non-gimmicky one was soft delicate, and as light as a thing with that much butter and sugar can be.  If I were to go back (and I recently learned that Larnicol has locations in Paris), I’d fill my bag with nothing but these.  And the little bags of sablé butter cookies were not bad at all.

Thus fortified, we continued our search for the Bordier butter shop, only to find it shuttered – we’d missed opening hours by five minutes!  As a result, I had to run back to the cheese shop in the morning to buy butter (500 grams each of salted and unsalted, and 250 grams of butter with smoked salt, which is a pure delight with radishes) before heading to the train station to catch the bus for a day trip to Mont St. Michel, on the border of Brittany and Normandy.  (What?  Do you really think I was going to leave St. Malo without the famed Bordier butter, direct from the source?)

And that is how I ended up carrying a bag of butter around an abbey on a mountain in the sea all day long.

Stained glass at Mont St. Michel

Is it me, or does this stained glass window feature scallop shells and cupcakes?

On this day in 2008: Monte Cristo Sandwiches! (And Another Salad) includes my recipe for French-ified coleslaw.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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16 responses

18 06 2011
hungry dog

I want your life. Or at least to live and eat in France…

18 06 2011
Michel

Sounds like a great place to visit and you visited the type of places I visit when I go to a new town. I agree with you; the window sure looks like scallop shels and cupcakes. Bon appetit.

19 06 2011
Hannah

“I mean, why buy butter at the cheese shop when you can buy it at the butter shop?” I feel like that’s some sort of metaphorical guide to life, right there. I’m not sure entirely how, but I feel it.

So envious of your time away, even if it was hectic. Like you, life right now has no breaks or downtimes for me – work is insane, weekends are insane, and my body is telling me so by giving me this sickness that is getting steadily worse rather than better. Oh, the gloriousness of blogging – I can still “talk” to my dear friends despite having no voice! Stay warm and well yourself, my dear :)

19 06 2011
Jessica

I can’t believe you went to “the source”! I’m jealous! I really want to make it to St. Malo and Mont St. Michel before I leave.

19 06 2011
Hopie

Wow butter shop! I’m sad you missed that. But glad you got your butter anyway. Sounds like some delicious artery-clogging fun :-)

20 06 2011
nanciemalmquist

and you two continue to live the dream!

20 06 2011
croquecamille

hungry dog – Believe me, there are days I would trade anything to eat and live in San Francisco! :)

Michel – It was a great visit, I only wish we’d had a little more time…

Hannah – Thanks, I’m trying, but I’m afraid my throat might have heard your suggestion. So shhhhh! Don’t give it any more ideas. ;)

Jessica – It’s only about a three-hour train ride. And I bet it’s lovely in the summer.

Hopie – Yes, the important thing is that the butter is now happily residing in my arteries. :)

nancie – We do our best!

20 06 2011
Ryan

Oh, that cheese. And those pastries….

My diet makes me want to cry. :(

At least I can look, right?

22 06 2011
croquecamille

Ryan – Looking can’t hurt… except maybe your willpower. Good luck!

24 06 2011
Ann

Butter with smoked salt! Wow!

27 06 2011
croquecamille

Ann – I know!

27 06 2011
Chez Loulou

How did you like the fromage?

28 06 2011
croquecamille

Loulou – The fromage was awesome! Thanks for the recommendation!

29 06 2011
Chez Loulou

Yay!

9 07 2011
Pauline

So relieved when you got your butter! Too good. nice post.

10 07 2011
croquecamille

Pauline – Thanks!




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