30 Regional French Dishes You Must Try (& where to eat them in London)

When it comes to French food, there are the classics everyone knows, and then there is the rest.

As a matter of fact, the world famous snails and frogs’ legs aren’t what French people eat on a regular basis.

Instead, the vast majority of French cuisine is a regional affair.

From the fish and tomato heavy diet in the South, to much cheesier affairs in the mountains, and duck every way in the South West, there’s much more to French food than your regular café might have you believe.

Below is a list of 30 lesser-known regional French dishes that are worth ditching up your usual steak-frites for!

1. Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal fish stew. It was originally made by Marseille fishermen to use the fish they were unable to sell at the market.

The traditional version includes at least three kinds of fish, and there usually is some seafood inthere as well. Vegetables and potatoes are also simmered in the broth. The whole lot is served with rouille (a spicy, saffron and chilli infused mayonnaise) and grilled bread.

Try it at: Brasserie Zédel, as well as many other London restaurants including popular chain Café Rouge and Brasserie Blanc.

2. Baeckeoffe

Typical in the French region of Alsace, baeckeoffe (“baker’s oven”) is a mix of sliced potatoes, onions, mutton, beef and pork which have been marinated overnight in white wine and juniper and slow-cooked in a sealed ceramic casserole dish.

The dish was a way for French women to have something to put on the table on laundry day. In the morning, they would drop the pots off at the baker, who would cook it in his oven during the day and the children would pick it up on their way back from school.

Try it at: Brasserie Zédel, where it’s the dish of the day on Tuesdays.

3. Canard au sang (ou à la presse)

Canard au sang (also known as pressed duck or duck Tour d’Argent) is a very extravagant dish, that was invented in the 19th century at Paris famous La Tour d’Argent restaurant.

The simple-looking yet devilish to prepare dish consists of various parts of a duck, served in a sauce of its own blood and bone marrow, which is extracted by way of a press.

Try it at: Otto’s, where they also serve a lobster dish along the same lines.

4. Canelés

A speciality from the region of Bordeaux, canelés are small French pastries flavored with rum and vanilla.

The recipe is very similar to that of a traditional French crêpe batter and results in small cakes boasting a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust.

Try it at: Babelle, or indulge your and your guests’ sweet tooth by ordering a few dozens from Yvonne & Guite.

5. Carbonnade Flamande

Popular in the northenmost parts of France, as well as in Belgium, carbonnade is a sweet and sour beef and onion stew, made with beer and usually served with fries or boiled potatoes.

Try it at: Bar Boulud

6. Céléri Rémoulade

This dish of grated celeriac seasoned with a mustard and vinegar flavoured mayonnaise is a school cantine classic, where it’s usually served as a starter. However, it’s best served alongside some grilled meat, especially pork and sausages.

Try it at: Terroirs, where it’s currently served alongside grilled eel.

7. Choucroute garnie

A German import into French cuisine, especially popular in the bordering region of Alsace, choucroute is a preparation of hot sauerkraut with meat and potatoes.

Though there is no fixed recipe, traditional garnishes include three kinds of sausages (Morteau, Strasbourg and Frankfurt) and salt pork in one form or another.

Try it at: Unsurprisingly, Alsatian-brasserie-inspired Bellanger is the place to go!

8. Coq au Vin

Coq au vin is a winter warmer kind of dish, made of chicken, braised with wine, lardons and mushrooms.

Traditionally, red Burgundy wine is used, but many other regions make their own version of coq au vin using local varieties, such as coq au vin jaune in the Jura (deeeeeelicious!) or coq au Riesling in Alsace.

Try it at: La Poule au Pot

9. Crêpe Suzette

A flamboyant take on the much-loved French pancake, crêpes Suzette are served with a sauce of caramelised butter and sugar, orange juice and zest and Grand Marnier, flambéed in a table side performance.

Try it at: Le Pont de la Tour

10. Cuisse de Canard Confit

Originally used as a way to preserve the meat by salt curing it, then cooking it in its own fat, duck confit is considered to be one of the finest French dishes.

It is made across France but is generally seen as a specialty of the duck-rearing region of Gascony. Traditionally, all the pieces of duck are used to produce the meal, though today, it’s most common to use the thougher leg meat that way.

Try it at: Chez Elles, where it’s served alongside another duck-enriched South-West classic, Sarladaise Potatoes.

11. Foie Gras Poêlé

Foie gras is a usual sight on french inspired restaurant menus, where it usually features as a terrine served with toast and chutney.

Less common is ‘foie gras poêlé’. A hot alternative to the luxurious cold slab, it’s made of raw foie gras that has been roasted, sauteed, pan-seared or grilled.

It’s usually served with pan-fried fruit such as fig or stone fruit, or atop roast beef tenderloin (Tournedos Rossini).

Try it at: La Poule au Pot

12. Galette de Sarrasin

In Brittany, a proper meal is constituted of traditional buckwheat galettes and cider.

Galettes are usually garnished before being folded. One of the most common variations is the Galette Complète, garnished with grated cheese, ham and a fried egg.

Try it at: Mamie’s

13. Gâteau Basque

Typically, Gâteau Basque is constructed from layers of shortbread pastry with a filling of either almond or vanilla pastry. Sometimes, preserved cherries are also added to the filling.

Try it at: Bar Boulud

14. Gougères

A gougère is a baked savory choux made of choux dough mixed with cheese (commonly grated Gruyère, Comté or Emmentaler).

Gougères are said to come from Burgundy, where they are generally served cold when tasting wine in cellars, but also warm as an appetizer.

Try it at: Colbert, Brawn

15. Île Flottante

Another school cantine classic, a ‘floating island’ is a dessert consisting of poached meringue floating on thin vanilla custard (crème anglaise).

Try it at: Brasserie Zédel

16. Kouign Amann

Kouign Amann is a Breton round crusty cake, originally made with bread dough that has been enriched with butter and sugar.

The strict, traditional recipe insists on a ratio of 40 percent dough, 30 percent butter, and 30 percent sugar, making it some sort of croissant on steroids and a very indulgent treat indeed!

Try it at: Dominique Ansel Bakery, where the DKA has gathered a following almost as strong as the trademark Cronut. Alternatively, Temper serves an extra-indulgent version with salted caramel sauce & dulce de leche ice cream…

17. Lapin à la Moutarde

“Rabbit is probably the biggest divider between our two nations” says chef Raymond Blanc. “The French on one hand view rabbit as food; the British as a pet”.

Which may explain why lapin à la moutarde is nowhere as common this side of the Channel as it is in France. Regardless, this dish is an absolute classic!

Try it at: La Poule au Pot

18. Moules Marinières

Moules marinières, a combination of super fresh mussels cooked in white wine, garlic and parsley is the quintessential French holiday dish.

For a bit of a twist, try Mouclade, where the sauce is thicken with crème fraiche.

Try it at: Chez Elles

19. Petit Salé aux Lentilles

The classic lentil and ham hock stew combines the advantages of being very easy to prepare, relatively unexpensive, tasty and filling, making it a very popular winter dish in France.

Try it at: Casse-Croute

20. Petits Farçis Niçois

Farçis are a Provence speciality and are usually prepared by emptying the insides of summer vegetables and stuffing them with a combination of sausage meat, bread or rice and herbs before baking them.

Try it at: La Ferme

21. Pissaladière

Pissaladière is a dish which originated from Nice in Southern France. It consist of bread dough, topped with caramelised onions, black olives and anchovies.

Now served as an appetiser, it was originally a morning snack.

Try it at: Blanchette

22. Poireaux vinaigrette

One of the simplest French recipes, yet most beautiful ingredient combination there ever was.

Try it at: Chez Elles, where it’s on the lunch menu.

23. Poule au Pot

Poule au Pot, just as Boeuf Bourguignon, is one of the most classic of classic French dishes.

It consists of a vegetable-stuffed chicken, poached with pieces of beef meat and simmered until the meat falls of the bones. It’s similar to Pot au Feu in the way it’s cooked, though the latter is made with salt pork as its main source of protein.

Try it at: The eponymous La Poule au Pot

24. Quenelles de Brochet

Lyon and Nantua are famous for their quenelles de brochet (pike). They may be served sauced and grilled, or with a variety of sauces.

Try it at: Pique Nique, where it’s served as a very elegant Vol au Vent with sauce Nantua.

25. Raclette

Raclette is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese, that is most commonly used for melting. In the eponymous Franco-Swiss dish, the cheese is heated, either in front of a fire or by a special machine, then scraped onto diners’ plates.

The term raclette derives from the French word racler, meaning “to scrape”.

Raclette is usually served with boiled or steamed potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions and dried meat.

Try it at: the Borough Market, where Kappacasein serves theirs with all the trimmings, street-food style.

26. Rillons

A speciality of Touraine, these slow-cooked cubes of pork belly are usually purchased from your local butcher and make for the perfect snack.

So good in fact the last piece usually starts up a fight (that I would totally win, would my brother not be freakishly strong).

Try it at: Bar Boulud

27. Salade de Chèvre Chaud

An absolute classic of café and bistrot cuisine, this simple goat’s cheese on toast focused salad doesn’t seem to have quite made it over here just yet. Which is surprising, considering how much people seem to looooove cheese anything in London!

Try it at: Chez Elles, where it’s a lunch menu favourite!

28. Salade Lyonnaise

Another classic on the menu of bistros and small restaurants throughout France, this typically French salad hailing from Lyon is all about contrasts. Salty lardons, creamy poached egg, crunchy croutons and bold mustard dressing make it simplicity at its very best.

Try it at: It’s currently on the menu at Bon Vivant, and a good lunchtime pick from Paul.

29. Saumon à l’Oseille

A symbol of French ‘New Cuisine’, the classic salmon with sorrel was created in 1962 in Roanne’s famous Maison Troisgros restaurant by some sort of happy accident. It quickly became so popular the local train station was painted in similar pink and green shades and that taking the dish off the menu could only be done under the condition that customers could still order it regardless.

Try it at: La Poule au Pot

30. Tarte Flambée Alsacienne

Tarte flambée (or flàmmenküeche) is an Alsatian-Mosellan and South German dish made of bread dough rolled out very thinly, covered with crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and lardons and cooked in a wood-fired oven.

There are many variations of the original recipe, the most common being the addition of grated cheese (gratinée) or mushrooms (forestière).

Try it at: Bellanger serves the traditional version, as well as cheesy and sweet twists on it.

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30 Regional French Dishes You Must Try (& where to eat them in London)

The Balcon at Sofitel

Do you ever find yourself hungry near Piccadilly Circus?

If you appreciate shopping, love theatre-going or (god forbid) are hosting guest that insisted on dragging you to Leicester Square on a weekend, I’m going to go ahead and assume that yes, yes you do!

 

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + WhiskyThe Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

Of course, there’s plenty of not-so-great chain options nearby, but if you look around, there are also absolute gems to be found.

My latest discovery? The (rather grand) Balcon at Sofitel.

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + WhiskyThe Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

A stone’s throw away from Trafalgar Square, with windows overseeing Pall Mall, The Balcon is just the place to trade the business of London’s most tourist-y area for elegant surroundings and excellent French-British cuisine with a contemporary twist.

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

Starting, as all good (French) stories do, with bread & (salted) butter.

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

Followed by a not-so-classic yet absolutely excellent Steak tartare…

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

At The Balcon, the French classic comes adorned with artichoke crisps and drizzled in truffled egg yolk.

A brilliant update if you ask me.

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

For mains, the ‘Grill’ section seemed to be the most popular (but then again, can you blame anybody to ever fall for Rossini steak?), but having had a sneaky peak at the dessert menu, I decided to keep things a bit lighter…

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + WhiskyThe Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

That said, the Crispy skin sea bream with samphire, fricassé of salsify and chive beurre blanc was still very indulgent while allowing me to save some room for pudding.

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

Pudding that came in the form of a glorious Passion fruit and Sauternes creme brulée with mango sorbet.

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

Rich, creamy, and topped with an ice-thin layer of caramelised sugar it was everything a great brûlée should be.

And then some, thanks to the addition of sweet Sauterne wine and tangy exotic fruit bringing in some very welcome freshness.

The Balcon at Sofitel • London restaurant review • Cake + Whisky

Absolutely flan-tastic from the beginning to the end!

Food, service, atmosphere, decor; everything’s done the classic way to an excellent standard, making The Balcon perfect for a business meal, a romatic date… And also all those times when central London’s crowds get too difficult to handle on an empty stomach!

The Balcon at Sofitel, 8 Pall Mall, St. James’s, London SW1Y 5NG
The Balcon at Sofitel

Winter Pistou Soup

Soooo, I might have gone a teeny tiny (huge) bit overboard with sales shopping in January.

Which has made me the proud owner of two sets of guest towels (how very grown up!), a beautiful breakfast tray, some very un-seasonal tshirts and a dozen candles amongst other things. And a little bit broke in the process.

I swear I’m gonna try and be better this month (spring collections look bloomin’ lovely though!), so a little bit of budget cooking is in order.

No, don’t do that face. Budget cooking doesn’t have to be bland and boring.

Proof if there ever needed one with Voucherbox’s amazing e-book, which just launched today and is filled to the brim with tasty, colourful recipes created by some of my fave food bloggers (and yours truly #blowingmyownhorn).

Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky

As far as I’m concerned, vegetable-laden soups are the best way to cook healthy yet comforting meals on a budget. And my absolute favourite one is pistou soup, a thick and hearty (almost like a stew) South of France classic.

I love this soup’s delicate, almost sweet taste. But I love it even more with a good drizzle of the fresh, pungent basil & garlic oil on top. #GarlicIsMyFave #SoFrenchItHurts

Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky

The end-of-Summer version of it was my birthday meal of choice and a very convenient way to tackle the glut of courgettes, green beans and tomatoes my parents’ garden would always provide in August.

Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky

The pistou recipe shared below is a cold-month variation on this childhood favourite and it’s just as good as the original.

Super easy, warming, vitamin-packed, low GI and extremely good value for money, it’s great for the cold winter nights.

Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky

Winter Pistou Soup (vegan or not, GF)

Serves 4 – cost per person £1.7**

Ingredients:
For the soup:
  • 1 big brown or yellow onion (about 170g), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 big garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks celery (about 100g), roughly chopped
  • 2 big carrots (about 170g), peeled and roughly diced
  • 1 small winter squash (about 170g), guts removed & diced
  • ½ can chopped tomato
  • 1 can cannellini beans, well rinsed
  • 2 medium-sized potato (about 150g), peeled and roughly diced
  • 2 handfuls leavy greens (about 60g – I used curly kale but spinach, spring greens, cavolo nero… would work equally well), roughly torn
  • 100g fresh green beans, cut in bite size pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
  • Tap water
  • Not compulsory: 1 small slice pork belly (about 150g), diced
For the basil & garlic oil:
  • Small bunch fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic (if you find the taste of raw garlic too pungent, blanch it for a minute or so in boiling water and drain well before proceeding)
  • 200ml olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
Method:
  1. Wash, peel and chop all the vegetables. Remove the top layer of fat from the pork belly slice and dice the meat.
  2. In a big saucepan, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil. Add in the onion, garlic and celery, season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes or until translucent.
  3. Throw the carrot (and pork belly dices if using) into the saucepan and cook until the pork is well caramelized on all sides (about 10 minutes).
  4. Add in the canned tomato and winter squash and water to cover, then bring to a small simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Add in the cannellini beans and potato chunks, top with more water if necessary, then put the lid back on and cook for another 10 minutes before adding the torn greens and green beans, and more water if necessary, then put the lid back on and cook for another 10 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning accordingly.
  6. Make the basil & garlic oil: Blend together all the ingredients using a food processor or a hand blender, then pour into a small bowl, ready to serve.
  7. Serve the hot soup with the oil on the side for guests to spoon to their heart’s content onto the soup.

Leftover soup will keep for a few days in the fridge. And believe it or nor, is even better the next day! Leftover oil should be used quickly. It works really well with all sorts of things. Steamed vegetables, in tomato sauces, with pasta or baked fish (…) so get creative!

*This post was created in collaboration with Voucherbox but all words, images and garlic spirit animal my own.

**based on average supermarket own-brand prices

Winter Pistou Soup

Le Relais de Venise, Marylebone

One of London’s worst kept secrets, Le Relais de Venise is a bit of an institution amongst steak ‘n’ fries lovers for a very simple reason.

They do really good steak at a really good price.

Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote review | Cake + Whisky

You don’t come for the decor.

To be honest the place feels like a somewhat-dated French café and has that same busy atmosphere as Paris’ local favourites.

Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote review | Cake + Whisky

You don’t come for the service.

It’s better than what you’d get from most grumpy French waiters though. In a efficient, to-the-point, almost transactional sort of way.

Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote review | Cake + Whisky

No, the only reason that keeps people queuing for both lunch and dinner is the quality of the food.

Now, if you don’t want salad, steak and fries, don’t go. That’s really all they serve at Le Relais de Venise.

The only thing you do get to choose is how you’d like your steak cooked: rare, medium or well done.

Though that last option is strongly frowned upon (sacrilège!)

Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote review | Cake + Whisky

You might also have to take your pick from the 10-something strong wine menu.

Featuring 3 reds, 3 whites, 1 rosé and some bubbly, all really quite good both in terms of taste & value for money, it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.

Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote review | Cake + Whisky

And then that’s it.

All that’s left to do is sit back, relax and get your teeth sunk into the set menu.

Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote review | Cake + Whisky

First, Walnut salad with French mustard dressing and fresh baguette.

Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote review | Cake + Whisky

Followed by the pièce de résistance, Le Relais de Venise’s signature Steak-Frites.

Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote review | Cake + Whisky

Trimmed entrecôte steak, full of flavour and cooked beautifully, and drizzled with a generous amount of the ‘secret sauce’ (a herb-y, creamy concoction I’d swear contains sorrel) the place has become famous for since its Parisian early days.

Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote review | Cake + Whisky

And a mountain of fries.

Don’t be fooled by how small the portions might seem from the above pictures. It’s only the case because at Relais, they do that amazing thing of only serving you half a portion at a time, thus garanteeing you get to eat every single bite while it’s still warm!

Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote review | Cake + WhiskyLe Relais de Venise L'Entrecote review | Cake + WhiskyLe Relais de Venise L'Entrecote review | Cake + Whisky

The dessert menu is full of homemade French classics including brilliant Profiteroles (choux buns stuffed with vanilla ice cream and served with hot chocolate sauce), but on our last visit, we couldn’t resist the traditional Crème Brûlée.

Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote review | Cake + Whisky

Good food, great value (we paid about £60 for two including drinks and service) & no agonising menu-pondering choices to make, Le Relais de Venise is just the spot when you want to focus on the people you’re sharing the meal with, whether it’s for a date, a long-time-no-see reunion or a casual business meeting.

The only down side? It’s a strictly no-reservation business, but since the company will be top notch, a little bit of queuing should be not problem…

Le Relais de Venise120 Marylebone Ln, Marylebone, London W1U 2QG

Le Relais de Venise, Marylebone

Classic Beef Bourguignon

For most of last week, I wondered what had happened to the weather and why it was so bloody cold all of a sudden.

And then I remembered. November.

Beef Bourguignon | Cake + Whisky

So, I suppose it’s only fair that days are getting chillier every week and there really is no point complaining about it.

It’s not even that bad to be honest. Biting & dry. Pretty much the best you could expect, really.

Beef Bourguignon | Cake + Whisky

And then there’s the feeling of going back home to a steaming bowl of beef bourguignon and a glass of smooth red wine (my new fave, Pascual Toso’s Cabernet Sauvignon, in case you were wondering…)

Beef Bourguignon | Cake + Whisky

Rich, intense and incredibly comforting, this classic French stew is much easier to make than you’d expect.

If you’re after a beautiful warming dish, try it; I’m sure it’ll meat all your expectations!

Beef Bourguignon | Cake + Whisky

Beef Bourguignon (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 10g butter
  • 500g beef shin, diced
  • 4 slices bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 40cl red wine (I used Pascual Toso 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon*)
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • salt & pepper
  • spring onion, finely sliced (to serve)

1. Put the olive oil and butter into a big pot or Dutch oven. Fry the meat on all sides until well browned, season and set aside.

2. In the same pot, fry the bacon until slightly golden, then add the onion and garlic and cook until slightly golden.

3. Put the beef back in the pan. Add the carrots and the stock cube, then pour the wine on top, then sprinkle with the corn flour and mix well.

4. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 1.5h.

5. Remove the lid and cook for a while longer to give the sauce a change to thicken a bit.

6. Sprinkle with spring onion and serve immediately (it goes especially well with mashed potatoes or steamed rice and a little bit more of that red wine on the side) or pack & refrigerate/freeze, then reheat on a low heat, adding a bit of water if required.

*the bottle I used was gifted to me by the brand but all love for the age-old stew-and-wine combination my own.

Classic Beef Bourguignon

Chocolate Madeleines

There are few dishes that everybody loves.

And while I have met a few of those people with rather unusual dislikes (apparently, some people do find ice cream repulsive. Shocking, I know!), I am still to come across anyone that doesn’t like madeleines.

Chocolate Madeleines | Cake + Whisky Chocolate Madeleines | Cake + Whisky

But then this small, bite-size cake originating from the Lorraine region in northeastern France is utterly irresistible.

Chocolate Madeleines | Cake + Whisky Chocolate Madeleines | Cake + Whisky

With its distinctive shell-like shape, domed top and light, delicate sponge-like texture, madeleines are commonly served as a mid-afternoon snack in France and make for the perfect bite-sized treat.

Chocolate Madeleines | Cake + Whisky Chocolate Madeleines | Cake + Whisky

Based on a light sponge batter, madeleines can be made into many different flavour variations, from plain vanilla to more extravagant combinations such as chocolate & orange.

Chocolate Madeleines | Cake + Whisky

The chocolate-enriched version below lays somewhere in the middle and makes for a brilliant, indulgent tea-time treat.

Chocolate Madeleines | Cake + Whisky

Chocolate madeleines (makes 30 small madeleines)

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 130g granulated sugar
  • 60ml milk
  • 75g melted chocolate
  • 185g self-raising flour
  • 3 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp chocolate extract
  • 175g melted unsalted butter

1. Prepare the batter: In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar. Stir in the milk and melted chocolate, then fold in the flour, cocoa powder & chocolate extract. Add the melted butter and mix until well combined.

2. Cover and refrigerate for at leats 2 hours or overnight.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 230°C (gas mark 9) and grease a madeleine tray or tin.

4. Scoop the batter into the prepared tray, filling each mold to about three quarters (about a small tablespoon in each).

5. Insert into the oven and immediately lower the heat to 180°C (gas mark 6). Bake for about 15 minutes, until the madeleines are domed and set, then remove from the oven and unmold immediately.

6. For subsequent batches, get the oven temperature back up to 230°C before inserting the tray, then down to to 180°C after inserting.

(For an even more indulgent version, dip the cooled madeleines into melted chocolate and allow to set on a sheet of baking papper before serving)

PIN FOR LATER:

Chocolate Madeleines | Cake + Whisky

Chocolate Madeleines

10 souvenirs to buy from a French supermarket

(or the reason why I always go to France with an empty suitcase)

Let’s be honest. The end of the holidays always sucks.

You might be happy to go home and stuff, but the prospect of going back to the routine of everyday life? Not so much.

One thing that’s good about it though? Souvenirs shopping!

And when in France, there’s no better place for that than the supermarket! (unless of course you’re planning on decorating your flat with Eiffel Tower replicas of all sizes… in which case, enjoy!)

10 souvenirs to buy in a French supermarket | Cake + Whisky

Now, I will admit that I have a bit of a thing for foreign supermarkets, and in my opinion, nothing tops bringing back home the flavours you enjoyed during your holiday…

So if you want to keep the French Summer holiday vibes going, below are 10 brilliant things you should pick up at the local French supermarket!

10 souvenirs to buy in a French supermarket | Cake + Whisky

1. Milk chocolate with hazelnuts: A staple of French snacks, it’s proving surprisingly difficult to find in the UK. Most supermarkets will sell some under their own brand, or you can always splurge for some Milka or Côte d’Or bars… When you’re at it, you might also want to pick up a few bars of Nestlé baking chocolate (the one wrapped with brown paper). You’ll never bake a chocolate cake with cocoa after that.

2. Speciality mustard: The French do love their mustard and, from the classic Dijon to more unusual blends, there’s a wide range to choose from. If you can get your hands on it, I highly recommend anything from family-owned, Burgundy-based mustard company Edmond Fallot.

3. Le Petit Marseillais Milk shower gel: My favourite shower gel in the entire world. Not only is it one of the most moisturising ones I’ve ever tried, but it’s also super cheap (about 2€ for 400ml) and it smells like my childhood.

4. Lotus speculoos: The one and only way to turn your coffee break into a proper Parisian experience. Also really good dunked in tea, crushed on top of baked fruit for an instant crumble, with yoghurt or instead of biscuits in a tiramisu… So you better get a few extra boxes, just to be safe (and maybe add a jar of speculoos spread as well…)!

5. Cornichons: NOT your usual pickles! The French cornichons are smaller in size and have a more ferm, crunchier texture, and the taste is somewhat more sharp. Perfect in sandwiches and with cold meat platters!

6. Levure Chimique “Alsacienne”: Now, that’s a rather weird one, especially since self-raising flour is so easy to come by in the UK. BUT despite my effort, I find that cakes simply don’t raise the same way when I don’t use the little pink bags, and taste weirdly chemical-ey when I add some British baking powder to my batters… or am I just doing something wrong?

7. Skincare from the parapharmacie: Parapharmacies are where all my money disappears the second I set food in France. Offering all sorts of skin care products, there are any beauty addict’s dream come true and very good value for brands such as La Roche Posay, Avène, Caudalie etc.

8. Crème de Marrons: Now, this is rather niche. Coming from the beautiful middle-of-nowhere region of Ardèche, this chestnut spread is simply divine. My favourite way to eat it is mixed in yoghurts, but it also has multiple uses in pastry (and I won’t rule out the idea of eating it by the spoonful…)

9. Wine: Because when in France… but put down that bottle of Chardonnay (nobody in France drinks that) and go less obvious labels. If you’re into white wine, I suggest you try a nutty Côtes du Jura (excellent with hard cheese and stone fruit), or an easy-going Sancerre. As far as rosé goes, you can’t really go wrong with a Bandol. And if red’s you thing, maybe a Bourgogne or a Saint Nicolas?

10. Herbes de Provence: This mix of dried herbs (usually marjoram, rosemary, thyme and oregano) simply tastes of Summer. It is a staple of southeast France cuisine and perfect on grilled meat and fish, as well as in Provencal stews such as ratatouille.

 

What sort of souvenir do you like to bring back from holiday?

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10 souvenirs to buy in a French supermarket | Cake + Whisky

10 souvenirs to buy from a French supermarket