Happiness at Le Bréard in Honfleur

Many casual visitors to Honfleur congregate on the restaurant terraces around the picturesque Vieux Bassin. You can’t blame them for soaking up that glorious view, but take the trouble to explore the narrow streets that lead gently uphill behind the wooden church of St Catherine and you could be in for a treat, especially if you’re lucky enough to bag a table at Le Bréard at 7 rue du Puits.

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© Restaurant Le Bréard, Honfleur

Billed simply as a ‘Restaurant Gastronomique, Le Bréard’s motto translates as ‘Gastronomy is the art of using food to create happiness.’ And what happiness! Read the menu beside the door and it’s impossible to imagine the subtle flavours and creativity that chef Fabrice Sébire puts into every dish, a fusion of French and Oriental cuisine.

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© Restaurant Le Bréard, Honfleur / Honfleur Tourist Office

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© Restaurant Le Bréard, Honfleur

Local lad Fabrice trained in Caen before working under some of the top chefs in Paris, but he has also been heavily influenced by time spent in Japan. In 2004, Fabrice and his wife Karine – who manages front-of-house – took over Le Bréard and made it their own. Today it is one of the must-try restaurants in Honfleur.

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© Restaurant Le Bréard, Honfleur

The décor is elegant but understated, decorated with soothing, natural colours, but this is an address where all are welcome. A French family with two impeccably behaved small boys ate dinner at the next table to us and we could hear the odd contented gurgle from a baby beyond the partition wall, whilst a solo American businessman tucked in at a nearby table.

Seasonal local produce features prominently on Le Bréard’s menu, which offers sufficient variety without being overwhelming, and spices and textures make every course into a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Menus are priced at 32 euros for three courses and 48 or 58 for four, with amuse-bouche and gourmandises included.

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© Restaurant Le Bréard, Honfleur

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© Restaurant Le Bréard, Honfleur

I began with salmon with beetroot and radishes a delicate balance of flavours which complemented each other perfectly. To follow, I couldn’t resist the breast of guinea fowl served on a bed of Chinese cabbage and bacon, with vegetable ravioli and ginger – a thoroughly good choice. And after the cheese plate, my hot passion fruit soufflé proved a dream dessert, fluffy and flavourful with a delightful hint of decadence.

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© Restaurant Le Bréard, Honfleur / Honfleur Tourist Office

Le Bréard is closed all day on Monday, as well as lunchtimes from Tuesday to Thursday. Every table was taken when we visited on a Thursday evening, so it clearly pays to book ahead – it would be a real shame to miss out on such satisfying but subtle food!

This post was written by our lovely guest writer, Gillian Thornton. To read more of Gillian’s work, visit her website.log_normandie_gb1

For more details on food and drink in Normandy, visit the Normandy Tourist Board website.

The Wilde Kitchen Cooking School

Last year I travelled through Normandy with a group of Irish journalists to explore the region’s culinary highlights. We’d booked in for a cooking workshop at Wilde Kitchen, a cooking school run by Irish lass Sinéad, at la Blonderie, her home in the village of Benoistville.

We arrived on a Sunday evening and after checking into our rooms, we headed over to the main house for a supper of local Norman cheeses and delicious wine with our hosts, Sinéad and her Belgian husband, Philippe.

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© Normandy Tourist Board / M. McNulty

Over the course of the evening Sinéad and Phillippe, entertained us with stories of rural life in Normandy, local characters and the many culinary traditions on the Cotentin Peninsula.

The next morning we started our day bright and early with coffee and croissants before heading off to the market in the medieval town of Bricquebec. We hadn’t even left the car park before we stumbled across a sheep pen surrounded by farmers talking business – there was a real sense of a rural community here.

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© Normandy Tourist Board / M. McNulty

The market was small in comparison to other village markets but the produce was outstanding. A couple of old ladies were selling hens, a dairy stand was ladling out the richest crème fraîche from an old clay pot and huge bags laden with seasonal vegetables were going for a bargainous €5 a piece. Once we’d done the round and made our purchases, we stopped by a lady offering generous samples of her delicious homemade cakes and bought a bag before heading back to the kitchen.

market and cooking classes

© Normandy Tourist Board / M. McNulty

Back at La Blonderie, Sinéad talked us through the menu and we each picked a course to prepare. As we peeled, chopped, mixed, and cooked the ingredients into our three-course feast, Sinéad flitted amongst us to offer tips and check our progress. A force of nature, this Irish lass has a good story for every occasion and had us laughing all morning. We stopped to sample some of her neighbour’s illicit 40% calvados followed by a local cidre fermier and merrily cooked and chatted as the kitchen filled with mouth-watering aromas.

wine and cooking classes

© Normandy Tourist Board / M. McNulty

A couple of hours in the kitchen whizzed by and it was soon time to sit down to eat. We were all impressed by how well each dish had turned out and how delicious it all was. I’d worked on a squash and vegetable soup served with andouille (chitterling sausage), crumbled chestnuts and a good dollop of crème fraîche. For the main course, Carolyn had expertly prepared cockerel cooked with apples, cider, calvados and cream whilst Liz had prepared a lentil casserole as a vegetarian option. For dessert, Ailish (who claimed she wasn’t much of a cake maker) pulled off a fabulous Normandy apple tart.

After a wonderful meal with our delightful hosts, Sinéad accompanied us to the nearby Ferme Auberge where François, a fellow foodie, runs a rustic restaurant.

François uses an authentic bread oven that dates back to 1789 to cook meat and teurgoule (Normandy rice pudding) that he serves at his restaurant. Sinéad has collaborated with Francois since she started her cooking school and when guests book in for the three-day course, they spend an afternoon at the Auberge, drinking cider and learning about the ancient bread oven whilst their meat is slow cooked.

Before we knew it, it was time to hit the road in search of more Normandy foodie delights. As we said goodbye to our hosts, it felt like we were leaving old friends – we would have to return again soon!

log_normandie_gb1For more information on cooking workshops at the Wilde Kitchen, visit: www.wildekitchen.net

For information on food and drink in Normandy, visit the Normandy Tourist Board website.