The Secret Side of Pont Aven

In the culinary world, Pont Aven is a designated “Site of Exceptional Culinary Taste” for being the delicious epicurean land of melt-in-your-mouth butter cookies – “les galettes et les sablés beurrés”.

While traveling through Bretagne one very cold January, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in the small picturesque village of Pont Aven. This charming fairy-book town of modest, thatched granite houses, a flowing river and old mills, is known for being the home of artist Paul Gaugin.

pont aven learn french

The Traou Mad Cookies of Pont Aven

The butter of Brittany produces savory and sweet crisp cookies, baked in Pont Aven since 1890.  “Traou Mad” means “good things” in the local language and among the good things of Pont Aven are incomparable thick butter cookies, baked from natural ingredients.

The recipe is a closely guarded secret. These delectable delights have no preservatives and are packaged so you can easily bring them home in a brightly decorated Brittany style tin – a perfect souvenir after visiting a biscuiterie, the workshop where the cookies are made.

For a unique taste treat, you can also buy the famous fleur de sel butter caramels from Brittany – unlike any caramel you’ve ever tasted and quite special because of the combination of local sea salt and butter. Sweet, savory, salted or unsalted butter… butter in everything throughout this part of France. You can smell it in the air!

learn french in brittany

An Amazing Dinner in an Incredible Breton Inn

On a rainy cold Saturday evening, I was a guest at Le Moulin de Rosmadec, a 15th century stone mill that is now a quaint inn. Flanked by two branches of the swift flowing river, the inn has a fabulously romantic restaurant. As my husband and I entered the candle-lit dining room for dinner, the enticing warm atmosphere and aromas of Chef Frederic’s gourmet cooking welcomed us.

After a friendly greeting by the maître-d’hôtel, we were seated next to a blazing fireplace burning with giant logs. As the rain pounded on the roof above us, I took in the beauty of several oil paintings in the cozy room and our surroundings of antiques and tables set with pink tablecloths.

The cuisine at Le Moulin de Rosmadec is everything anticipated. The chef and his brother, Frank, along with his wife, run the inn and restaurant with a welcoming air. Sipping on a Chouchen, a local drink made with honey, the soft chatter of the other guests and the warm inside air worked magic as the drink began to warm me.

For an entrée, we ordered gougères, cheese-filled puffs made with – of course –  lots of butter.  The plat du jour was lobster, le homard (click the link to see Olivier’s recipe), and since seafood is a specialty of the region, this was an easy decision for me! The waiter brought a live lobster on a silver platter to the table for us to see before taking it back to the chef.

While we waited, we ordered a bottle of Sancerre wine from the Loire region that paired perfectly with the succulent homard grillé Rosmadec et ses deux beurres (grilled lobster with 2 butters). The beurre au tarragon and beurre au citron were rich and exceptional with the sweet and exquisite lobster!

For dessert, I couldn’t resist the soufflé chaud au Grand Marnier  – simply sensational. A small glass of Calvados capped off the evening.

How sweet it was that evening to retire upstairs to our cozy room  – warm, full and satisfied – after enjoying the incomparable cuisine of Brittany.  Mon rêve that night?  Butter cookies of course!

The inn:

Le Moulin de Rosmadec
Venelle de Rosmadec
29930 Pont-Aven, France
www.moulinderosmadec.com
02 98 06 00 22

Some Biscuiteries to visit:

Traou Mad
10 Place Paul Gauguin
Pont-Aven
02 98 06 01 03
02 98 06 01 03
Open Monday – Friday

Delices de Pont-Aven
http://www.galettes-penven.com
Biscuiterie Penven
BP 10
ZA de Kergazuel
29930 Pont-Aven
02 98 06 05 87
Open Monday-Friday

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