(Part One of Four)
The delicious aroma of cookies fresh from the oven hits you before you even get out of the car. You are steps from the famous D-Day Beaches, but this century-old bakery beckons. This is a Detour worth taking!
Every year Americans flock to see the Normandy Beaches. The American Cemetery, Omaha Beach, Utah Beach - it is a somber experience to visit these sites forever etched in our memories. The Normands are friendly and welcoming. The invite us to pay hommage to our shared past, but also to share the present. Normandy may be extremely rich in history, but it is a vibrant region with much to discover. It would be a mistake to leave without experiencing the local flavor.
Start in the small village of Asnelles, located steps from Arromanches. This bakery has been on the corner since 1904. Six different families have owned this bakery, providing the community and visitors with delectable cookies, using the same simple but delicious recipe.
Meet Jean-Francois Otter. He wasn't always a baker. He had a successful career in the frozen food industry, but wanted to have more personal contact with food. I find that many artisans have made a change from corporate careers to a more authentic, traditional craft. The life of an artisan is far from less demanding, but seems to be a lot more satisfying. You will see what I mean in the video below!
Tradition is important, but these artisans breathe new life into the bakery as well, adding new products and new flavors with the seasons. I love that every effort is made to use fresh, local ingredients. Berries are meant to be enjoyed in summer just as apples are in the fall. Each ingredient is carefully chosen from nearby farms and growers. This care and attention is evident when you take the first bite.
At this point, you probably have a sugar craving so let's see how it's done, shall we?!
It was truly a pleasure to meet Jean-Francois and his team. I can't think of a happier place to work! (I was given an honorary employee t-shirt, so I may have to give it a try!)
The next time you are in Normandy, find them at:
Les Sables d'Asnelles
17, rue de Southampton
Tel: +33 02 31 22 32 09
Be sure to say "bonjour" from French Detours!