When I go to my favorite restaurant, I am a creature of habit. I always order the same dish the same way. I always look at the other menu items, but ultimately I decide to stick with what I know. My coffee is no different, which is why Selena or Adam always have it ready for me when I walk into Dunkin in the morning. I wish I could be more adventurous when it comes to dining out, but I hate spending money on food and then being disappointed.
There’s one exception to this rule and that is when I travel. If I’m travelling abroad, aside from my coffee habit, my creature of habit and safe food choices go out the window. To truly experience another culture, you have to delve into their cuisine and local dishes even if it is a bit scary. One rule we have in our house is when travelling abroad, you only get one McDonald’s trip so you can experience the different menus across the globe. All other meals should be eaten in local restaurants.
Most places are known for a specialty dish or two. In the Brittany region of France, they’re known for the delectable Kouign-amannn cake. This wonderful pastry is a round, crusty cake that comprises of layers of butter and sugar between layers of pastry. I know – it sounds awful right? I have craved this dessert since leaving Saint Malo in 2011.
Saint Malo is an incredible seaside city, where my husband’s grandfather happened to have landed in 1944 as part of the allied forces. Despite coming into the city under heavy Nazi fire, he was enthralled with its beauty and brought back two paintings of Saint Malo with him to the states when the war had ended. Saint Malo is also the city that Jacques Cartier departed from when he discovered Quebec. I never knew how much I would grow to love Jacques Cartier.
In 2016, we had the opportunity to travel to Quebec City for Peewee Quebec, which was one of the most incredible trips I’ve ever taken. Thank god for Jacques Cartier discovering Canada because les petit pains au chocolats and other pastries in Quebec City tasted like they had been baked in France. The food in Quebec City. The cuisine of Quebec City is heavily influenced by Breton cuisine and what a tasty treat.
One night two of the moms, a hockey sister and I walked off the beaten path looking for a local bistro. We found the cutest little place that would seat us at their bar, so we wouldn’t have to wait too long. My friend Inga and I let the waitress order us her favorite dishes. I ended up with veal sweet bread dish and Inga ended up with a seafood dish. The food was incredible, though the sweet bread was a bit rich for my tummy. Quite frankly if I had known what it was, I probably wouldn’t have ordered it, but then I would have missed out on the experience.
The most important part of dinner, however, was dessert. After 5 years of waiting and searching high and low in North America, I found a restaurant that served Kouign-amann. It was absolutely amazing. As I ate it, it instantly took me back to Saint Malo and the gite in Normandy. The taste of the cake, combined with the memories of France and the new memories being created that night in Quebec City made for an incredible culinary experience. If we hadn’t gone off the beaten path, we would have missed out.
I look forward to exploring Norway and its foods with my boys this summer. The food, much like the land and the cities we will visit, is a connection to our Norwegian heritage. While my boys are pretty picky eaters at home, I’m hoping this trip abroad will broaden their taste buds.