The French Trip
May 13, 2022: Calvados. Calvados, famous for its apple brandy, is a coastal part of Normandy. It contains most of the D-Day sights… and wonderful cideries!
“There was no way I could think it over without a second Calvados. After thinking it over, I decided that the really prudent thing was to go out and buy another bottle.”
― Michel Houellebecq
Pointe du Hoc
Jean and I had visited Pointe du Hoc. On D-Day, at the cost of many lives, US Rangers scaled the cliffs with grappling hooks and rope ladders to take out a menacing gun battery. It was a sobering visit that left us deeply grateful.
As we drove down the narrow road back to Bayeux and our hotel, we spied on the right a 10th-century fortified farm, home of Bernard Lebrec Cidre Buche’ & Calvados (corked cider and Calvados). We had to stop!
Calvados is a high-quality brandy made from apples (and sometimes pears). It is AOC, so producers can only brand it “Calvados” if it is produced in the region and with specific standards. Distillers have been working in the area since at least the 700s. Today, producers will use dozens of specific types of apples to get the right taste.
Bernard Lebrec Cidre Bouche & Calvados
Soizie greeted us at the small shop. We laughed as we tried to communicate with her limited English and our (very, very) limited French. After some time, she explained that the mobile distiller was chugging away out back, “would we like to see?”
“Oui, oui, s’il vous plaît!”
We had a dip of the distillate – it was knock-your-socks-off strong. Too strong to sell; Lebrec must dilute it with cider to meet standards.
So, of course, we bought three bottles – a dry cider, a sweeter aperitif (yum), and the brandy for those cool spring Normandy evenings.