The fishermen of Seine-Maritime ensure a plentiful supply of fresh fish and seafood for local restaurants and the traditional Normandy country fare based on dairy produce and apples is as much in evidence in Seine-Maritime as elsewhere in the region.
The green hills and apple orchards of the Pays de Bray area north-east of Rouen produces AOC certified Calvados (cider brandy) and pommeau and the oldest of Norman cheeses made from cows’ milk - Neufchatel.
The grainy texture of soft white Neufchatel is saltier than Camembert with an aroma of mushrooms and found in all sorts of shapes including ‘Coeur de Bray’ shaped like a heart and said to have been created by farm girls in love.
The well known ‘petit suisse’ cream cheese is, perhaps surprisingly, another creation from the department of Seine-Maritime and the brainchild of Swiss dairy woman Madam Herould working in Auvilliers in the 1850s.
Lovers of goats cheese should seek out Le Valaine produced near Etretat at Manoir de Cateuil and available at shops and restaurants in the area. Sole Dieppoise and duck ‘au sang Rouenaise’ (blood thickened sauce) are great local specialities which can now be found throughout Normandy.
Fecamp is known for its cod, smoked herring and mackerel, scallops and, of course, Benedictine. The distillery at Palais Benedictine is open for tours and tastings - check www.benedictine.fr
The recipe of course is a closely guarded secret.
Chocoholics may prefer to indulge in ‘les caiques’ - unique chocolates laced with the famous golden liqueur! Sugar apples from Rouen will delight those with a sweet tooth and could make a lovely gift.