I’ve been quiet on Instagram over the last couple of weeks because I’ve been away in France, specifically Normandy and the Loire Valley (with a quick trip to Perche). As a lover of independents and good food, the weekly French markets and farm-based producers are a joy to visit. Here’s a couple that I loved.
Finding independent alternative milk producers in the UK is really hard. I personally drink goat’s milk and since starting nearHome, I have found several goat cheese producers but I’m still on the hunt for somewhere near me to buy goat’s milk. However, through complete luck (like discovering most independents) I found a goat’s cheese and milk producer near where we stayed in Normandy.
Ferme de la Biquetière is family-run dairy located in the picturesque Normandy countryside just north of Vimoutiers. Vincent and Leá are extremely welcoming (as are their gorgeous golden retrievers) and the quality of their produce is unmatchable.
They make all their cheeses on the farm and these are available in their shop. If you would like milk, ask Vincent during milking time and he will fill litre bottles straight from the milking parlour. It is warm and utterly irresistible. Whilst waiting for your milk, you can say hello to the goats who are patiently (‘ish!) waiting in line to be milked. These wonderful creatures are such characters – friendly, inquisitive and just a little bit cheeky.
Vincent and Leá’s shop is over the farm yard from the diary. They sell a range of homemade goat cheeses that are of different ages. It all depends on how strong you like your cheese.
My favourites are the ones coated in herbs. They are the mildest (only about a week old) but are absolutely delicious. Alongside their cheeses, you can also buy goats ice cream, also made on the farm as well as their eggs and other local products including apple juice and cider.
Opening times: Monday – Saturday in March, October, November & December: 17:00 – 18:30. April – September: 17:00 – 19:00. Open every day of the week during July and August.
On hearing we were heading to Normandy, our neighbour in England asked us to bring him a bottle of Calvados – Normandy’s famous apple brandy. Vimoutiers, the small town where we were staying, is at the heart of Calvados and cheese country, surrounded by apple orchards and dairy farms, so we were in the perfect spot to fulfil his request.
Les Vergers de la Moriniere is also family-owned and has been producing Calvados for more than 150 years with their know-how being passed down through 5 generations. Tucked down a small country lane, a discrete sign marks the farm entrance. On arrival, the shop may look shut but just call the phone number displayed on the door and Astrid will willingly come out and open up. The small farm-based shop offers a range of aged Calvados made on the farm, as well as other apple and pear products including cider and vinegar.
We bought a bottle of their 2009 Calvados, one of their apple cider vinegar, two bottles of their cider and a taster bottle of their apple balsamic vinegar. Astrid told us that once we had tasted this balsamic vinegar we would be ‘hooked’. And she was right! It is smooth and thick with all the qualities of a wonderful age balsamic with added fruitiness of apples – it is quite exquisite!