A gastro-journey in a French region known for its excellent foods and producers.
Finistere – or Penn-ar-bed in Breton – is located in the extreme west of France. It is known for its spectacular countryside and magnificent wild coast which is hugely popular with nature lovers, ramblers and fishing fans alike, no to mention board sports enthusiasts with a penchant for surfing, windsurfing and even kitesurfing.
Finistere’s local heros
Pork is the essential ingredient behind a number of cured meat specialities in Brittany. The most famous of all is paté, which is made entirely by artisan methods. Incidentally, 40-50 kg of paté js made each week in local charcuteries. Each specialist fabricant prides itself on its secret recipe. Among the most legendary in its own right has to be the famous Henaff paté from Pouldreuzic, with its famous blue and yellow packaging which has become an integral part of Breton culture, now exported around the world. Finistere is also France’s leading producer of seaweed, and the region is also known throughout France for its famous AOP Roscoff onions, while sardines have put the town of Douarnenez firmly on the map. Finistere is also known for its cheese – think tome des monts d’Arrée – and jam, boasting France’s top jam producer in 2011, Atelier des Saveurs in Benodet.
Plougastel strawberries: Finistere’s red gold
The first strawberries of the season, available in April. Flourishing in the local microclimate, strawberries have been grown around the region of Plougastel-Daoulas since the 18th century. Back then, local growers crossed Chilean strawberries with varieties originating from Virginia. The resulting fruit met with huge acclaim, to become one of the region’s most emblematic exports.
Two iconic dishes: Kig ha Farz and crepes
The local cuisine along the coast is essentially seafood-inspired, together with regional products, so generous quantities of pork inland, butter, and salted butter caramel. One of Finistere’s most popular dishes is Kig ha Farz, which is a kind of meat stew and dumplings. The only two points on which the locals agree is the translation of its name (meat and stuffing), and its origins (from le Leon, a region to the west of Morlaiz and north of Brest). Another typical dish is the classic crepe or pancake, which is synonymous with the lower Brittany region in general. Pancakes can be sweet or savoury, but you won’t find galettes in this part of the region.
Le gâteau phare : le kouign-amann
Réputés bons mangeurs, les Bretons gardent toujours une place pour les pâtisseries. Parmi elles, vous trouverez le kouign-amann, littéralement gâteau au beurre, qui a été inventé vers 1865 dans le port de Douarnenez et que l’on trouve un peu partout en Bretagne aujourd’hui. Il est particulièrement apprécié légèrement réchauffé à l’heure du thé et on le trouve de plus en plus en format individuel. Fondant à l’intérieur, craquant et caramélisé sur le dessus, ce gâteau rond, qui se déguste tiède, est constitué d’un feuilletage de pâte à pain, de sucre et de beaucoup de beurre.