The summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I studied abroad in France, in the small town of St. Brieuc, located in the Celtic region of Brittany (or Bretagne). At that point my French was largely untested -- I had only had three years of high school French, an introduction in middle school, and some lessons in elementary -- but the program would soon to change all that. The main rule dictated that as soon as the plane hit the ground in Paris, we were not allowed to speak English until we had completed the program seven weeks later...or else we got sent home. So when we finally pulled into the town parking lot with the host families waiting outside, I remember being a little scared to get off the bus. But I didn't know then the wonderful home I'd be welcomed into by Anny, Jean-Marie, Simon, and Clément Lachevre.
I'm not sure if the program just did a superb job matching students with hosts, or if I was just lucky, but despite my piecemeal French, I felt immediately comfortable -- the Lachevre's home felt so similar to mine and there was a piano to play, a yard to kick around the soccer ball with my host brothers, and a room all my own with a view of the garden and a desk where I could write letters and leaf through back issues of French Vogue that Anny had set out for me. The Europe Cup was that summer, so we watched a lot of soccer, went on excursions to nearby fishing villages, and every Friday, we ate Breton galettes.
These are not the galettes that we eat here in the U.S. Breton galettes are, in fact, a savory crêpe made from buckwheat flour and stuffed with Emmental or Gruyère cheese, jambon (ham), and a fried egg. Sometimes other ingredients are added (Clément, for instance, always requested tomatoes in his). The meal is traditionally enjoyed with a glass (or two) of hard Breton cidre, which was indeed another compulsory item on our Friday dinner table. I remember once when Jean-Marie and Anny had plans to go out on a Friday, Anny specifically taught me how to make galettes, just so Simon, Clément, and I wouldn't miss our tradition.
Back in November, I headed down to North Carolina for my friends Lora and Joe's baby shower. On the way home on Sunday, we all took a trip to Foggy Ridge Cider, a women-owned orchard and hard cider producer outside of Floyd, VA. Unlike the overly sweet cider varieties common here in the states, Foggy Ridge makes a European-style cider: complex, and more dry than sweet. Throughout our tasting I was reminded of those Friday night dinners at the Lachevres.
So on my ride home from the orchard, a new member of the Foggy Ridge Cider Club with a few bottles in tow, I decided I would make a Breton galette-inspired galette to pair with the cider I'd brought home. I've made this a few times now -- for our Southern Friendsgiving, as an appetizer for Christmas dinner, and for a Sunday brunch. The rye crust is adapted from 101 Cookbooks. —Nothing in the House // Emily Hilliard
WHO: Nothing in the House is a folklorist and freelance writer who has a blog all about pie.
WHAT: A galette inspired by a different kind of Breton "galette."
HOW: Make a hearty crust out of rye flour and beer, then top it with mustard, caramelized onions, Gruyère, and ham. And, as if that weren’t good enough, fry an egg and lay it on top.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Anything is better with a fried egg, and this mustardy, cheesy galette is no exception. It's our pick for a holiday morning breakfast -- and who knows? We might even get crazy and add an egg for each guest. —The Editors