Snapshots from France: Nutty Sweets and Biscuits from Brittany
"Almost every nut is represented here."
While traveling through northwest France, I was on the hunt for new, nutty discoveries in Brittany. Strolling through the tiny historic tourist village (or "petite cite de caractere" as the French call it) of Rochefort en Terre, I stumbled upon a tiny shop, L'Art Gourmand, and was blown away by all the nutastic treats.
In this little sixteenth century stone building, Hubert Levaufre, a Frenchman from Normandie, showcases some of France's best traditional biscuits and sweets, many with a nutty twist.
Levaufre was trained through the French apprenticeship system, the "Conpagnon du Tour de France," where young artisans travel to different towns and work side by side established masters. A 20-year veteran of the pastry and confection arts, Levaufre's creations are impressive.
Levaufre's main shop is in the town of Thionville in the northeast part of France where he and his four assistants create everything from scratch on a daily basis.
Almost every nut is represented here: almonds, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, even humble pignolis, not to mention one of the largest, most playful assortments of marzipan I've ever seen (and I've seen a lot of marzipan). Puppies, dinos, bunnies, pigs, and an assortment of fruits—all in marzipan form. The 20 varieties of homemade ice cream were also delicious.
About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.