Fine Dining in Northern France
Produits du Terroir
Like any other region in France, the Nord & Pas de Calais offer an abundance of local specialties. Look for the "Produit du Terroir" and you with find a treasure of cheeses, vegetables, fruit and even bread.
La Boulangerie = the bakery
The Baguette is the symbol of France. Usually depicted under the arm of a mustached man in an striped jersey, wearing an alpino
. The baguette still is the most common of all breads, and every village has a bakery where you can get it fresh from the oven ("fournil"). Every self-respecting bakery will offer freshly-baked baguettes, so don't be surprised to get a warm bread in the afternoon. Even supermarkets will bake their own bread, but these are no match to the baguette from an artisan bakery.
Along the baguette, their will be "le pain" (the bread) a large loaf, sometimes in the form of an over-sized baguette. Then there is "la ficelle" a smaller variety of the baguette, the name literally translates as "the string". Baguettes can be found topped with poppy seeds or sesame seeds. And finally there is the "baguette tradition", sometimes called a "Tradinord": a more rustic version of the baguette. Along these long breads are a number of more common loafs, like "le boulot", "le pain de campagne" and "le pain de mie". This last one is a slightly sweet bread, that makes a great toast. And last but not least there is "le croissant", the French will typically eat it at breakfast, and only
Most bakeries also sell "la pâtisserie" from which the English word "pastry" is derived. In the local lingo puff pastry is often called "une couque", a Flemish word. And a pain aux raisins is called "une Suisse". No Danes here, but Swiss instead...
La Boucherie = the butchers
The most authentic "Flemish" dish sold everywhere in the Nord is the "Potjevleesch": an aspic with chicken, rabbit and veal, sometimes finished with bacon. (which is called "poitrine", "lard" or even "speck". The French use the word "bacon" for pork loin!) Potjevleesch can be served cold or lukewarm.
Another local delicacy is "le museau", in English "head cheese". It is not a dairy cheese, but a terrine or meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig.
Pâté is available in lots of flavourings. The other day, my local butcher proudly offered me a wild boar pâté, made from meat a friend-hunter shot himself. "Pâté en croûte" is pâté in a crust of pie, a bit like Cornish pasty. Pâté can also be called "terrine", when cooked in a mold.
And last but not least, there is the "Boudin". These sausages come as boudin noir (black pudding, made with pork blood) and boudin blanc, a white sausage made of pork, with milk instead of the blood.
À la Ferme = on the farm
Get off the motorway, onto the Routes Departementales (the "D" roads on your Michelin map) and you will see small road signs offering "pommes de terre" (potatoes), "endives" (in English NOT endive, but chicory, also called sugar-loaf or the Flemish witlof), "pommes" = apples, "fraises" = strawberries, "cérises" = cherries, "groseilles" = redcurrant.
To buy fruit at the farm, you can be assured that it has been freshly picked. The difference with supermarket (imported) fruit, that has been in transit for several days, will blow your socks off.
Brasseries = breweries
This part of France is a true beer-region. No vineyards here (except a tiny one in Hondschoote), but plenty of breweries. I've listed two below, an interesting one is Brasserie Thiriez, where you can buy (bio) beer, and get a guided tour of the brewery. They also offer lodging in "Chambres d' hôtes".
The brewery is located at 5 minutes drive from Ferme Joos (see list) and at walking distance (1km) of the Wormhout Massacre Monument, where the mass murder of 80 British and French POWs by Waffen-SS soldiers from the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler during the Battle of France in May 1940 took place (Google Map).
Fish & shellfish:
Along the D940, the scenic route between Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer, there are a number of food stands and shops that offer fresh seafood, such as fish, mussels, lobster, crab, and oysters.
In Boulogne-sur-Mer, the fish stands near the harbour are often sold-out, so be early!
Best fish restaurant with its own fish shop, oyster bar & traiteur service is Restaurant Perard, 67 rue de Metz in 62520 Le Touquet.
See also review on these pages.
Some of the shops I frequent:
||"Au Phare Gourment"
863 Boulevard Georges Pompidou, 59123 Bray-Dunes
Their king-sized "Suisse" (pain aux raisins) are gooooooooood
||"Au Pont Saint Jean"
2 Rue Port
17 Rue Eglise
Delicious artisan bread
||"Pâtisserie Artisanale Devos"
37 rue de la Libération
Specialty "Gauffres Fourrées" waffles stuffed with a cream-mixture
58 la Place
Artisan butcher with "traiteur" (prepared dishes)
||"Boucherie Charcuterie Traiteur Talleu"
12 Rue de la Poste
My favourite butcher: Monsieur Thierry visits the abattoir to hand-pick his meat. Try his "entrecôte". Home-made ham: "jambon blanc" (wet cured), "jambon fumé" (smoked) or "jambon à l' os ("on the bone") Lots of prepared dishes, and not to forget rotisserie chicken and home-made lasagne
||"J. B Ronckier"
6 Chemin des Moeres
Artisan cheese factory offering "Fromage de Bergues" & "Palet de Killem", also butter and yogurt
600 Route de Furnes
Very limited assortment, high quality : Asparagus and Sweet Corn, cultivated on sand dune soil, supplier to many top restaurants
3281 Route de Bergues
A small shed along the D916 between Bergues and Cassel Own-crop vegetables, free range chicken and eggs, strawberries and fresh apple juice from local suppliers.
||"La Brasserie du Caou"
67 Rue Valentin Duriez
Assortment of artisan beers, also on sale: beer glasses and apparel. (sweat shirts)
22 Rue de Wormhout
Family business, nice assortment of artisan beers, including "bio" beer, for sale at the premises.
A 1 hour tour of the brewery, including beer tasting
fee: €4 (adult) or €2.50 (children)
Also offering B&B ("Chambres d'hôtes")
|"La Ferme des Récolettes"
150 Chemin de Terdeghem
59670 Ste Marie Cappel
(near Cassel, from where the panorama photo at the top was made) Raw milk, dairy products, meat, fruit and vegetables. Offer "self cueillette ou non" e.g. you can pick the fruit and vegs yourself if you prefer to. Limited visits to the farm on Thursdays in July & August, check website:
Only a few of these shops have a website. However, there is a website (in French) with lots of local producers and shops: http://www.ouacheterlocal.fr
Local market days:
Monday morning: Bergues, Hazebrouck
Tuesday morning: Arnèke, Bailleul
Wednesday morning: Bollezeele, Ghyvelde, Merville, Womhout
Thursday morning: Cassel, Estaires
Thursday afternoon: Brouckerque, Eecke, Renescure
Friday morning: Hondschoote, Sailly-sur-la-Lys, Watten
Friday afternoon: Socx, Fleurbaix, Thiennes, Uxem
Saturday morning: Nieppe, Steenvoorde
Sunday morning: Hazebrouck