As promised, more on the Normandie/Bretagne étape of the Joel Robuchon Tour de France Gourmand (now on at the Robuchon bakeries and stores in Tokyo/Yokohama)...
Alongside all the primo patisseries, they are selling a select line of foods from those two regions. Such as this range of canned sardines...
There's also some great Camembert (as you'd expect). But what caught my eye was the artisan butter. It's called Brut de Baratte and it's made by Jean-Yves Bordier, a brilliant butter specialist in the ancient port city of Saint Malo (Brittany).
There are two varieties. The one that caught my eye was the one with the label that says "…aux algues" — with seaweed. This demanded to be tried.
Open the wrapper and you find the soft, light-yellow butter studded with flecks of red, black and dark green. It doesn't say what kind of seaweed it is, but I'm guessing the red one is dulse, and the green is a species of laver (nori) which has been cultivated off the coast of Brittany for a couple of decades now.
According to the Bordier web site, he developed this butter together with one of Robuchon's top chefs, Eric Lecerf.
It doesn't taste of seaweed as such, but there is a wonderful light mineral-saltiness that goes beautifully with the smooth creaminess of the butter. Obviously you wouldn't want to slather strawberry jam all over it. But with a nice slice of good bread...
This is one of our year-round favourites. It's simply called the miche (which I understand to be a traditional French term meaning simply a 'plump loaf').
Forget the baguettes and batards. This is the real French bread (as far as I'm concerned) — and as close as we in Tokyo are ever likely to get to a classic Poilane, the yardstick by which all bread (of whatever nationality) should be measured.
The photos at the top (of the sardines and butter on the shelf) were taken in the Boutique de Joel Robuchon in Marunouchi Brick Square.