I’m sitting here, drinking my coffee and thinking about how today marks the halfway point in our trip to France.
In a way it marks the end of part one of the trip as family starts arriving today and on Saturday and we will go from a quiet household of two to a bursting at the seams party of seven. In reality we won’t all be here at the same time for more than a couple of days. My parents are leaving on Tuesday for a five day trip by car up to Normandy and Strasbourg and Glen and I are taking the train to Avignon next Friday where we will head off on a five day cycling trip through the South of France.
Max will be spending time with my sister Lisa and her partner Paolo doing every cool, kid-friendly thing there is to do in Paris while we are gone. Then we will all be reunited on the 12th of June and are planning on going out for dinner at one of our favourite small bistros to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary. Then it will be home sweet home on the 15th.
While both my Mom and I are excited to see the rest of the family we will miss the easy routine that we have fallen into. Our quiet, mellow mornings, talking over coffee. The afternoon walks, exploring the neighbourhood and every bakery, chocolate shop and specialty food store we can find. We have made many discoveries together on this trip. That some of the best chocolate in the city can be be found at a tiny shop run by a woman in pigtails. That we both might be over the whole macaron thing. That while we both love French cheese we love French demi-sel butter more. In fact, we have both become somewhat obsessed about this exquisite butter that is so different from anything we can find at home.
At home all the butter tastes pretty much the same. Avalon butter is my go to brand at home as it is locally made and has a decent, if neutral, taste. I also have access to a locally produced raw butter and have on occasion even made my own. All good but all pretty much the same…
In Paris we have discoverd that while we are both partial to French butter we each favour a different brand.
For my Mom:
For me, I prefer:
There was also this butter from Normandy, sold from une motte ( a mound) that was also a top contender:
I was going to try to explain the difference between these butters and how and why they taste so very different from the butter at home but instead I am going to send you to a New York Times article that explains it far better than I ever could. That link is here.
What I will say is that my love for French butter is not only a flavour thing but a texture thing too. The butter tastes tangy and rich and crunchy from the salt that is added. Some that we tried are quite a bit more salty than others. I preferred the Echire as it is not super salty and has very good flavour but is still somewhat nuanced. It would be great for cooking as well as slathering on a baguette. My Mom preferred the Bordier which has a slightly more pronounced tangy flavour and a slightly bigger hit of salt. With the many, many choices available at the market we are going to have to keep trying and see if there is another brand out there that might just come out on top!