Super Chef discovered the glorious food and drink of Windfall Le Perche, in Lower Normandy at the Windfall event at Glynwood last week (See Glynwood Apple Exchange Between New York and Le Perche).
The event took place inside Glynwood’s barn. One row of tables was reserved for the visiting French farmers. A second row was reserved for American cider makers. As the East Coast celebrates Cider Week, one thing was clear: Normandy’s farms make exquisite Cider, Pommeau (apple wine), and Calvados (apple brandy) and have much to share with American producers.
The tasting event for chefs, restaurateurs, mixologists and the press was meant to introduce the best of both US and French producers who are involved in an exchange of techniques and technology. Super Chef focused on the French side of the barn.
By far the smoothest and most complex Calvados was Maurice Levier‘s Cave de Vieillissement de Calvados. Swirled in a snifter or with tonic and ice, the Calvados has a whiff of apples and deep, rich flavor. His Pommeau is a sweet wine, with a deep caramel color, also reminiscent of the complexity of a fine apple – excellent with food.
La Maison Ferre has a pear cidre, Les Secrets de Camille, that is light and refreshing, as well as apple cidre from semi-brut to extra brut that all have a slightly funky flavor of apples and orchard.
The sweet cidre from Gilles Michaudel‘s La Ferme du Chene was like a bubbly apple juice that had the caught all the flavor of fall apples.
Jean-Francois LeRoux‘s Cidre Fermier du Perche had a delicate apple taste and a
lovely golden color, with a lovely aftertaste of sweetness. Then, tasting Michel Aguinet‘s cider and Pommeau from Les Vergers du Chouquet, it’s easy understand why he recently won a gold medal in Paris.
Luckily, the event had plenty of artisinal products from Le Perche to try with the alcohol.
Les Escargots du Perche are amazing. Philppe Couvreur raises these traditional gros gris and imports them in glass already prepared with crème fraiche, parsely, garlic, and pepper. On toast, with a glass of Cider or Pommeau, they taste delicate and luxurious.
There were also slices of smoked fillet of deer meat from the Ylaaf farm, run by Michele and Sylvain Lebrun. It is deep mahogany in color and rich but not greasy. They also run a bed and breakfast at their farm.
Next to them is le Safran de la Chapelle Vicomtesse that makes some of the best saffron in the world. But it is the ingenuity of its products that got Super Chef‘s attention, especially a lemon-saffron infused sauce that has an intense taste and aroma of bright lemony, deep saffron flavor. According to Stephane Tevenet, it’s meant to be used in mixed drinks, or in salad dressings, or as a finishing sauce, dribbled on a dish of delicate fish. He also has intensely flavored fruit jellies flavored with saffron, like pear that goes with oysters instead of the more typical Sauce Mignonette, cherry for red meat and strong cheese, apricot for Conte, and Mirabelle for game or sausages.
Bruno Debray‘s Rillettes de Poules from Les Delices des Petites Guignieres are a marvel – unlike traditional pork rillette that can be filling and heavy – these lighter free range chicken rillettes, especially one flavored with Calvados, are full of flavor, but much less fatty. On crackers or on a baguette (the event featured Baguette du Perche from the Café le Perche) the spread is a terrific foil for the apple flavors of the region.
Take a tasting trip to the region or look (and ask) for these products in restaurants and specialty shops:
Cider, Pommeau & Calvados:
Cave de Vieillissement de Calvados du Perche
Ciderie Traditionelle du Perche
Domaine du Ruisseau
La Ferme du Chene
La Maison Ferre
Les Vergers Chouquet
Michael Shunik Wines for Domaine Pacory
Photos: (courtesy of Lisa Meloni Ragusa)