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Dave Hatfield

Best Butter -widely available

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Having just read Ptipois post on butter (here)

I am prompted to ask what is the best butter in France that is available in most parts of the country?

Much as I would love to be able to go to Saint-Coal every week to buy my butter its just too far from where I live.

So, what in your opinions is the best widely distributed butter available. I'm thinking of butter that can most likely be purchased from one or more of the big chains I guess, but I'm open to suggestion.

Both salted & unsalted are of interest.

PS: As we don't live in Paris, Parisian shops are out.

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Wow. Ptipois' blog on butter is amazing!

We also, would be interested to know the best butter.

Usually, we buy what looks like the best, put it in the freezer for a few days, and then carry it back to the States in our luggage-wrapped in plastic, of course.

By the time we get home in Philly, it's usually just become room temp. and we have French butter at home!


Philly Francophiles

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Thanks for the pointer to the butter post, Dave. I hadn't yet discovered the English version of her blog. And I too would love to know if any of the butters at Carrefour, Intermarché, or Utile is really something excellent.

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Butter is generally of high quality in French shops, as long as the origin is clearly stated. There is a personal rule I follow: when buying salted, buy Breton; when buying unsalted, buy Norman; when buying butter for pastry or cooking, buy Charentes.

For clarifying (I make ghee at home), use cheap butter but preferably from Charentes because the texture is drier and there is less residue. Tastier butters should be kept for eating raw.

In the category of demi-sel (lightly salted) Breton butter, I like Le Gall - beurre de baratte.

The generic brand "Reflets de France" (Champion, Auchan) is the very same butter.

In the category of unsalted butters, I like beurre cru d'Isigny, Lanquetot or Sainte-Mère-Eglise. If Bretons are the champions of salted butter, Normans are at the top for unsalted.

Charentes-Poitou or Vendée butter like Échiré, Baignes, Surgères, La Viette, Pamplie, is another category. I call it "butter for Parisians", which is not derogatory. It is just a particular taste, different from traditional butter. Very mild, it has a dense and dry texture because it is heavily rinsed and pressed. It is so hard when cold that it may be conditioned in narrow cylinders, which is often the case. This is the perfect butter for people who do not like the assertive taste of farm butter from Normandy or Brittany, and for making pastry. Especially flaky pastry.

FYI Pierre Hermé uses Charentes butter from La Viette for all his pastries, creams and viennoiserie. La Viette may be found at La Grande Epicerie. I never understood what makes it special. In that category, Pamplie is excellent, but rare.

Edit: Bretagne, Normandie and Charentes are not the only regions where butter is made. If you travel through France, you should know that local butters from Auvergne, Lorraine or Savoie can be of optimal quality. They will often have a slight taste reminiscent of the cheeses made in the region, for instance Auvergne butter has a hint of sourness like Cantal. I have had superior butters from Alsace and Lorraine as well. Those butters do not travel, not that they couldn't, but they are never sent outside of the region.


Edited by Ptipois (log)
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I just heard at school this week that Whole Foods sells an unsalted butter from Normandy, France. I'll check it out and let you know what I find.

-mark-


---------------------------------------------------------

"If you don't want to use butter, add cream."

Julia Child

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Ptitpois,

Great blog!

I really enjoyed reading it and was drooling at the descriptions of the butter.

The closest we get in NYC is President and Isigny St Mere, at $3.99 per 250g brick. I buy those because the taste is just amazing compared to even the best farmer's butters.

Merci for all the info!

Cheers! :cool:

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Vinotas, in addition to President and Isigny St Mere here in New York City, we also have a few others. At Fairway you can get Pamplie AOC-designated Charentes-Poitou butter, both unsalted and with fleur de sel, you can get a couple of variations of Echire, you can get Beurre Barratte de Celles sur Belle, you can get the Sevre et Belle goat butter, and a couple of others whose names I can't remember. I think last time I was there I counted ten choices from France (as well as several from Italy, Ireland, Denmark and elsewhere). They're all from pasteurized milk, though.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Celles-sur-Belle used to be found in French stores, not so much anymore. Same story with Sèvre-et-Belle. Pamplie is slightly more common.

It strikes me that all the butters Fat Guy mentioned are from the same region (Charentes-Poitou). They are the butters that travel the best because they are extremely purified and their taste is constant (they do not even change color according to the season, as farm butter does). They also were the first to get an AOC, long before Bretagne and Normandy, which becomes less of a mystery once you know that the butter producers in Charentes have been very good at organizing themselves and selling their product, although there was virtually no butter production there before the phylloxera crisis in the late 19th century. Former vineyards were turned in to grassland and butter production began soon after, immediately aiming at the national and international market through modern production and marketing methods. While other regions like Brittany and Normandy, which had been making better butters for centuries, missed the boat at the time.

It is already a good thing that you can get those fine products in NY. Echiré and Pamplie are IMO some of the best. One I never buy is Président.


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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I just heard at school this week that Whole Foods sells an unsalted butter from Normandy, France.  I'll check it out and let you know what I find.

-mark-

WF carries President which, is from Normandy. I'm not sure if they have other brands from Normandy.

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WF carries President which, is from Normandy. I'm not sure if they have other brands from Normandy.

President is what I buy at Monoprix for frying eggs say but I'll have to check at Quatrehomme (ex-Fromagerie de Montmartre) to ascertain where the salted and demi I buy for putting on bread from are from Pti.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Vinotas, in addition to President and Isigny St Mere here in New York City, we also have a few others. At Fairway you can get Pamplie AOC-designated Charentes-Poitou butter, both unsalted and with fleur de sel, you can get a couple of variations of Echire, you can get Beurre Barratte de Celles sur Belle, you can get the Sevre et Belle goat butter, and a couple of others whose names I can't remember. I think last time I was there I counted ten choices from France (as well as several from Italy, Ireland, Denmark and elsewhere). They're all from pasteurized milk, though.

:wacko: Damn!

I was just on the UWS this afternoon, if I'd read this I would have braved the hordes to get some of those butters. In any case, Grace's, which isn't far from me, carried some of these I believe.

Cheers! :cool:

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We have Reflets de France in the fridge right now, and it does taste pretty generic, although not at all bad.  I really like cultured butter best.  Are any of those listed above cultured?

All marketed butters are cultured and only very few of them are made from unpasteurized cream.

Only on some markets and directly at farms you may purchase uncultured butters.

Is it the "beurre breton de baratte" that you have? If so, it is Le Gall, not outstanding but decent as industrial butters go.

About Président: it is probably the blandest butter available in France and should not be considered representative of Norman butter. It is okay for frying eggs as John does, but do not expect more from it.


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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About Président: it is probably the blandest butter available in France and should not be considered representative of Norman butter. It is okay for frying eggs as John does, but do not expect more from it.

Ah - should I admit that my real, genuine Amurican breakfast consists of my starting out by frying my cheapo Monoprix bacon in a tad pad of President butter and a splash of (oh gosh, Puget) olive oil - then the eggs.
Oooooh, butter snobs...
most unsnobby.
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John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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most unsnobby.

Hey, I love the stuff... took a butter making course once myself.


Edited by BigboyDan (log)

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Oops, sorry, it's actually Elle et Vire beurre de Normande doux that we have now. We have some other Reflets de France stuff and I was confused. It's still not special-tasting, though, and it was pretty cheap, so I'll be looking for an upgrade.

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Ah - should I admit that my real, genuine Amurican breakfast consists of my starting out by frying my cheapo Monoprix bacon in a tad pad of President butter and a splash of (oh gosh, Puget) olive oil -  then the eggs?

Puget is actually a very decent oil.

Abra: "Elle et Vire beurre doux de Normandie" is like Président (though a bit better), mainstream industrial butter with not much personality.

Look for mentions "beurre fermier", "beurre cru", "beurre de baratte", etc.


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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In the category of demi-sel (lightly salted) Breton butter, I like Le Gall - beurre de baratte.

The generic brand "Reflets de France" (Champion, Auchan) is the very same butter.

I found legall - Beurre de Baratte de Bretagne in one of my favorite cheese shops in Caussade today. It is truly excellent. Thank you for pointing me towards it, Ptipois.

He also had some local uncultured butter. I bought a nice chunk. Bland taste, but I'm looking forward to cooking with it later today.

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Abra, I've been buying this astronomically expensive ($14/lb? or more? I can't remember) French butter from DiLaurenti's. It has a mild, cheesy quality and large chunks of salt crystals...I will take a look at the name today and perhaps you can find it for much cheaper in France!

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Abra, I've been buying this astronomically expensive ($14/lb? or more? I can't remember) French butter from DiLaurenti's. It has a mild, cheesy quality and large chunks of salt crystals...I will take a look at the name today and perhaps you can find it for much cheaper in France!

That sounds like Breton butter and, I suspect, Bordier.

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you are killing me here

at least I have some Pamplie....

just for fun

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=60498&hl=

tracey


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President an "industrial butter" is what I quoted a friend, and I did feel a bit smug.

Anyway a recent trip to France and I bought various butter of which I know nothing as the man said.

Anyway on my recent trip I bought Isigny Ste Mere demi sel and beurre doux, both of which taste great.

My classic dish includes a "gravy" based on garlic, shallots, red wine stock and finished with butter. Any recommendations for the butter?

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My classic dish includes a "gravy" based on garlic, shallots, red wine stock and finished with butter. Any recommendations for the butter?

Hi stef,

I would recommend an unsalted butter (doux) with a fresh and creamy taste. A Norman like the "Isigny doux" or Charentes-Poitou butter would do the job.

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My classic dish includes a "gravy" based on garlic, shallots, red wine stock and finished with butter. Any recommendations for the butter?

Hi stef,

I would recommend an unsalted butter (doux) with a fresh and creamy taste. A Norman like the "Isigny doux" or Charentes-Poitou butter would do the job.

Many thanks for the advise I will be trying it out this weekend.

I did buy some butter beurre doux which I presume is unsalted butter

It say " Loyez Woessen Phalempin"

It tastes ok to me but not as good as some of the others I am trying

Looks like it will be Venison with my "gravy" tomorrow night.

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