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A taste of normandy

Part Three of four

Does your Brioche come with a seal of authenticity?

At La Brioche du Vast it does!

In the idyllic village of Le Vast, a tradition is being kept alive by a new generation. Meet Antoine, a dynamic entrepreneur whose vision and dedication is putting a new spin on a century-long tradition. Antoine's father was a baker for 45 years, but this secret recipe, and the technique, were new to both of them. Tenacious yet personable, this young man ensures that new generations will get to experience this classic brioche.

When we drove the 2CV into Le Vast (an impressive feat in itself as we found ourselves being passed by every make and model of car on the autoroute) we fell under the spell of its charm. The gently cascading river, the stone wall following its meander, the traditional Normandy houses ... I immediately picked out my new home (please inform the owners they must move!) The bakery has been situated on the corner for more than a century.

Inside you will find the old bread oven ... photographs ... antique baking tools ... and then there are the freshly made jams, confits, pâtés and terrines ... You will need some time here!

But you have come to try the brioche. THE Brioche. "Not like the others". It's true, we are guilty of over-using the term to make a bread or roll sound more delicious - more French. But what is in the traditional Brioche of Le Vast? Butter, traditional French flour, eggs, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt. Sounds easy, right? Well, Antoine said it took a few months to perfect his technique - check out my attempt in the video!

When you see the golden crust and the soft yellow center, you realize right away that this isn't your "typical" brioche. This is not only delicious but decadent, and really needs nothing on it.

After the first bite, you see why people drive more than 50 kilometers to buy THIS brioche. Yes, it's THAT good.

The final step after they are pulled out of the oven (which is also not as easy as it appears!) is to receive the seal of authenticity. I think one of the reasons I love French regional specialties is that they are AUTHENTIC - and not mass-produced. There is a respect for tradition. Even if improvements are made along the way, the essential qualities remain intact. And how inspiring is it that this new generation values the time-honored traditions, even if this means a lot more work!

Come for the Brioche, but try the other pastries as well. Some keep longer than others, and you will have sweet treats for a few days - or as long as your willpower holds out!

Perhaps a picnic by the Saire River? You may catch a glimpse of the locals playing pétanque. You will be looking for your country house in Normandy by the time you finish your last bite. (We can be neighbors!)

Find Antoine and his team at:

La Brioche du Vast Les Moulins 50630 LE VAST Tél : 02 33 54 13 35

You may want to forgo the 2CV so they aren't sold out when you get there! Say "bonjour" from French Detours! Bon Appetit!

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