Friday, December 17, 2010

Grain de Vanille

Grain de Vanille - Highly Recommended
12 Place de la Victoire, 35260 Cancale, France

Anthony Bourdain wasn't kidding when he recommended this place on his little TV Show.
It is the epitome of what you imagine a local French bakery in the countryside would be like.
Within a few blocks from the place, you get a whiff of the most fragrant warmed butter scent ever.
Staffed by local high school girls, and not a lick of English spoken, it was an experience to say the least.

Getting to Cancale took some chutpah on our part.
I rented a nice ride, but unfortunately the rear wheel drive wasnt' the most opportune with weather conditions as random as Lady Gaga's outfits.
One moment, it would sunny and warm, and in a few hours, we would experience blizzard like snow conditions.

So basically, this little coastal town called Cancale is Chef Olivier Roellinger's painting canvas.
He and his wife run a myriad of high-end restaurants and shops under the umbrella Les Maisons de Bricourt.

There is a local strip down by the water that has some nice bistros, but for the most part, the high-end joints in town fall under Roellinger's reach. I couldn't get a rezzie at his flagship place, but that was OK. I enjoyed Cancale for it's oyster farming community and ate a great meal right on the waterfront.

Once at the bakery though, there still was a language barrier, and I had to resort to hand gesturing with a lot of broken Spanish, Italian and French.
But where there's a will, there's a way.

We were sat down and I think I ordered just about 1 of everything.
All were great, but here were the highlights.
Apple Tart, Butter Cookies, Macarons, and Caramels.

The Apple Tart was nothing like I ever had. They weren't going for flaky crust like in a Mille-Feuille, but more like a cobbler type of texture, but thinner and for a lack of a better more scientific work, just "better".

The Butter Cookies must have been baked in an Alien Kitchen galley because there had to have been a pound of butter in every cookie. I don't know how they made those cookies so crisp and perfectly baked, and yet, absorbed butter like a ShamWow.

Macarons were quite amazing as well. the Pistachio and Raspberry Macarons in the picture were the best I've ever had. Just so fresh and vibrant in flavor.

And finally the Caramels. Vanilla, Butter, Sugar, and a hint of some Spices made this childhood candy unforgettable. I grew up in Japan, and pretty much every kid enjoys Morinaga Caramels.
These caramels in Cancale brought back memories from my childhood while also giving me several more layers of refined enjoyment. Wonderful!

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