It is well known that the French produce delicious butter, an ingredient that is used generously in many of their recipes. The butter case at a French epicerie will reveal a vast selection from which to choose. However, within the world of French butter making, one man is known to create what many believe is the most delicious butter in all of France. His name is Jean-Yves Bordier and he is the founder of Le Buerre Bordier located in Saint Malo, Brittany.
La Maison du Beurre Saint Malo
In this walled city, down the charming cobblestone Rue de l’Orme you will find La Maison du Beurre. Here, Monsieur Bordier sells his world famous butter from a blue painted store front. Since founding his company in 1985, this famous Brittany butter-maker has used a traditional method of kneading butter using a teak frame and wheel. This technique dates from the end of the 19th century and serves to both homogenize and soften the butter. Salt is added by hand and the kneading time is dependant on the season – longer in winter and shorter in summer. The butter reacts to the salt and releases water, prompting people to say the butter is “crying”.
After the initial kneading process, flavourings are then added, some of which are quite unusual. These flavours can be as peculiar as seaweed, buckwheat and yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit. Flavoured butters are often meant to complement a specific dish. Monsieur Bordier developed the seaweed butter to be used in a fish recipe. Other flavours include smoked salt, framboise (raspberry), sweet Madagascar vanilla, lemon olive oil, garlic, herbs and Szechuan pepper, and Espelette chili.
Once flavoured, the butter is then hand shaped using paddles, another traditional technique that Bordier has kept. Many well known chefs across France and abroad use Bordier butter in their establishments and have become loyal customers. Monsieur Bordier often works with chefs to create customized butter using their preferred amount of salt, shape and sometimes even stamping the butter pats with a restaurant name or seal.
On a recent visit, we waited with quite a few others for La Maison du Beurre to open. At the rear of the sotre is a petite museum. The exhibits describe the history of butter, the butter making process and many old tools and images are on display.
We tried Le Beurre au Sel de Fume (butter with smoked salt) – it was absolutely delicious. Spread on a baguette still warm from the boulangerie, it is a heavenly mix of creamy, salty with a hint of smoke – an unusual but wonderful combination.
If you are visiting Saint Malo, I encourage you to visit this interesting and unique shop. Choose a butter and pair it with a baguette from the boulangerie on the corner of Rue de l’Orme. You will have a lovely gouter to enjoy along the ramparts or on the beach just outside the walls. If you are unable to visit in person, Monsieur Bordier’s butters are available across France and Europe. Visit www.lebeurrebordier.com to find the nearest location.
Annie Caldwell is renovating a Normandy village house and traveling in France as much as she can.