Manoir de La Villeneuve

Manoir de La Villeneuve

Donna and I are staying at a B&B (aka “chateau”) called Le Manoir de La Villeneuve near the small town of Lamballe in Brittany. Yesterday we visited the Lamballe morning market, then drove to Dinan for their larger market. Lunch was galette saucisse, a sausage wrapped in the characteristic Breton buckwheat crepe, which we ate walking around the market. (See end of this post for all the rest of the photos.)

For dessert, Donna had rice pudding flavored with caramel buerre salé (salted butter caramel), and I had a crepe dripping with caramel buerre salé. You can see a theme here; caramel buerre salé is a specialty of Brittany. And no, I’m not bringing any home, despite jars of it on sale everywhere.

We’ve also fallen in love with Breton cider. It’s 5% alcohol, so you drink quite a bit of it, and we always do. It’s traditionally served in cups, not glasses, and Donna and I can kill a bottle of brut in one meal. The organic versions can be surprising; they often have a faint aftertaste of…I can only be honest here…manure. So we’ve learned to always taste before buying.

As we drove through the countryside, we often turned off into a dirt road to a farmer’s house to taste their homemade ciders, calvados and pommeau (a light liqueur made from apples, of course). Donna carted off quite a few bottles.

We arrived at one farm too early to see the goats milked, and at another, too late for the cows. I’m definitely yogurt-averse in the US, but I love the Breton yogurt. It’s creamy smooth, with no bite and no slimy texture.

For dinner last night, we returned to Lamballe, where what looked like the entire population had gathered at long orange picnic tables in the town square for a régalade. Smoke rose from the huge grills at the edge of the square where men turned whole pigs on spits. No vegetarians allowed; it was grilled meats night in Lamballe. For about $8, we had a plate of ribs and pork chop, boiled potatoes, bread with salted butter, and sweet yogurt for dessert. The local people are proud of their agriculture; around here it’s beef cows and potatoes.

The village does a régalade every Thursday night from July 15 to August 19. We can’t eat like this every day, but for one day, it was Breton heaven.

One section of our huge two-level room at the manor.

One section of our huge two-level room at the manor.

Radishes in the market (the sausage crepes -- though tasty -- just weren't that photogenic.

Radishes in the market (the sausage crepes -- though tasty -- just weren't that photogenic.

M. le Billy Goat and his groupies.

M. le Billy Goat and his groupies.

We didn't meet these cows personally, but you know I have a cow fixation, and these were so beautiful...

We didn't meet these cows personally, but you know I have a cow fixation, and these were so beautiful...

Only one of the places where we stopped to taste (and buy) cider.

Only one of the places where we stopped to taste (and buy) cider.

Those lines in the ocean are mussel and oyster farms.

Those lines in the ocean are mussel and oyster farms.

Was anyone in Lamballe not there for dinner? Only the grumpy people.

Was anyone in Lamballe not there for dinner? Only the grumpy people.