Growing up in the 60s and 70s, my first exposure to Calvados -- apple brandy from France -- involved a bottle with an apple in it, or a pale astringent substance that could have been used as a substitute for paint thinner. The choices were limited, and for most of America what was available is something that the people of Normandy consider only fit for cooking, not consumption.
My trip to Normandy was not all bunkers and memorials. I had the chance to try a good bit of cuisine, and best of all I was able to visit two different Calvados distilleries. There, I learned about the process and was introduced to products to rival fine cognacs -- aged Calvados that combined the smooth texture of cognac with sweet buttery apple and more.
As a special treat for you, I arranged with Chateau du Breuil to do a video tour of their facility. I regret that the camera didn't come on quite fast enough a couple of times, but I think you will enjoy this virtual tour:
If you go to Normandy, I highly recommend a visit. Not only do you get to sample some of their wares, but the grounds are beautiful and if you have a group and make arrangements in advance, they can even provide your group with a Norman culinary experience at the facility. The guided tour is good, and staff I met very friendly and helpful. Also, if you don't have a group, there is a nice meat market/gourmet grocery nearby where you can find things to make a most excellent picnic meal.
As for a bit of what is missing in the video, most of it had to do with discussion of the unusually cold weather. Spring was in many ways just arriving at the time of my visit, so you get to see blooming apple trees and flowers you would not normally see that time of year. As some of you know from previous posts, it was indeed quite cold this year.
I've got more photos of the grounds and such up at Laughing Wolf for your viewing pleasure. I will also add that when I go back to Normandy, I will be going back to visit Chateau du Breuil again. In addition, I plan to buy several large bottles of their 20-year-old Calvados. While the video talks about the 15-year-old, which is excellent, the 20 takes things to a whole different level. The richness of taste and aroma, the spice and edge of sweet apple, and the way it fills the mouth show the best of what Calvados can be. If you can find it, it is well worth the try.
I want to thank Bénédicte Baude-Vattier, and Chateau du Breuil, for their time and outstanding hospitality. The willingness not just to have me come visit, but to give you a personalized tour of the facility, is very much appreciated.
This trip and other embeds sponsored by MilitaryLuggage.Com and B.N. Shape Clothing. My thanks to them and to everyone who has contributed to make this and other trips possible. Be sure to check out my Facebook Page and Laughing Wolf for other photos, stories, and more.
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