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Breizh salted butter caramels

Sometimes I think I am living in the wrong département of France. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be able to walk out my door and get a baguette Parisienne or a sachet of les macarons, libremente (freely). But Breton food is all the flavors I crave: buckwheat, honey, sardines, oysters, fleur de sel, seaweed, and sparkling apple cider. Oh yes, and butter.

Bordier Butter

The popular Breizh Café in Paris has expanded into the space next door, creating an épicerie, featuring the best products from Brittany.

Ocean tartare

buckwheat flour

Such as Bordier butter, which the refrigerator was stacked full of because it has attained ‘cult- like’ status. (Don’t you love a country that has a cult around butter?) Bordier has branched off into a few newer flavors, like butter scented with Madagascar vanilla, lemon-olive oil, smoked salt, seaweed, and yuzu, a flavor which has become very trendy in Paris.

buttered sardines

Bordier butter also figures into the tins of sardines I saw, flavored with seaweed (les algues) or yuzu. They were a bit pricey, but I didn’t think they’d let me open up a tin and fry them up in the store to show they to you what they looked like. So I bought one to bring home, thinking they’d make a quick, and nutritious lunch, since sardines are so good for you. I peeled back the top of the tin, emptying the contents into a skillet, and fried the little fellas up. (At least I think they were fellows. It was hard to tell with all the butter on them!)

Cheese from Morbihanbordier butters
Bordier Yogurt sardines in Bordier butter

Immediately a swarm of yellow richness bubbled up and took over the pan – which I entirely take all blame for since I maniacally scraped the every bit of butter from the tin into in the pan. After the fish bobbed around for a few minutes in a fragrant puddle of butter, I placed the sardines on unbuttered toast (since the tin of sardines were already quite well-buttered, adding more butter to the toasts would have been redundant), and made a nice lunch, although am thinking perhaps some of that butter counter-acted the Omega-3s from the little fish. But a pile of salade de crudités (raw vegetable salad) helped. Well, kinda.

buttered sardines

At the shop, in the “healthy” category, there are little pots of Bordier yogurt, including one with the strawberries of Plougastel which I tried once and they were the best strawberries I ever had. Can’t vouch for the yogurt, though, since this was the first time I’ve seen it in Paris.

farine de bléLait Ribot : buttermilk
Raphael ConfitureBreton Whisky

Not everyone appreciates it, but like my Breton compatriots, I love lait ribot (buttermilk.) It’s served in a bowl alongside crêpes and galettes, and I’ve never been able to discern the right way to drink it. I usually pick up the bowl and drink it like one does with Breton cider, but was told to spoon it up, like soup. Yet in reality, doesn’t everyone know that no matter where you are, lait tastes best chugged from the bottle? Well, assuming that no one is looking ; )

Speaking of Bordier, I’ve never seen the full line-up of their salted butter caramels anywhere else, flavored with (of course) yuzu, sesame, or chocolate-honey-pimente d’Espelette (Basque red pepper), as well as everyone’s favorite – nature, or plain. Well, mine at least.

Bordier Caramel au beurre salé

I noticed they were also offering bags of the same salted butter caramels served in the crêperie next door. I asked why they had two kinds and they told me that the Bordier ones are cooked less so they’re softer in texture and a bit mellower, whereas the Breizh Café ones were as dark as espresso, and firmer.

So I channeled smart – and thrifty – consumer and shopper advocate Judith Beasley, and asked “Is there a difference that’s discernible by…taste?” which prompted them to unwrap a few to let me see for myself. Conclusion: Go for the darker ones if you – and your molars – can handle it.

salted butter caramels (Bordier)

And while we’re on the subject of caramel, when I saw chocolate oysters stuffed with praline packed in a sweet little wooden crate, I had to buy a box. They were lovely to look at, although when I tore into the bag later at home, the filling was too sweet for me. So I think I’ll keep my enjoyment of oysters to the non-chocolate varieties.

chocolate oysters

Everyone seems to like jams, and their Raphaël jams, made in Brittany, with beautiful painted labels of rhubarb plants, purple figs, and pears, an ingredient in the Pear-Earl Grey Tea confiture artisanale.

fig jam

Breizh Cola

I suppose I could go on and on (and on), but it’s making me want to get on a train to Brittany, to admire the stunning ocean and to enjoy galettes made with organic buckwheat flour (the same used in the buckwheat galettes at the café next door.) Perhaps one day I’ll get around to trying a Breizh Cola and a slug of Breton whisky, because now I know where to get all those things – right here in Paris.

L’Épicerie Breizh Café
111, rue Vieille du Temple (3rd)
Tél: 01 42 71 39 44
Métro: Filles du Calvaire or Saint-Sébastien- Froissart

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    • The Celiac Husband

    Some of those butter creations around this country are so exceptional, they deserve cult status.

    My current favorite is Echiré butter from around here.

    • Sam @ The Second Lunch

    I wish we could get sardines in butter around here! Though I’m thankful that Trader Joe’s carries them in olive oil instead of water, because sardine infused oil makes for the best salad dressing!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      These came packed in quite a bit of Bordier butter (hence the price!) – which I saved and use it to make Sardine Rillettes. Glad you’re thrifty with your sardine oil/butter, too!

    • Philip

    So ‘ble noir” is buckwheat flour?

    • Monica

    So pleased to hear about this! Am coming to Paris in less than 3 weeks and was planning to go to the Breizh cafe for lunch, and now I can shop the deliciousness too!

    • Stephanie

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you saying that the chocolate oysters were too sweet. I am so tired of reading gushing reviews of absolutely everything and when I see some criticism, I am then able to trust the entire post :)

    Also, I have been in France long enough to be bored and suspicious when someone says that everything is wonderful!

    • Heather G

    When we visited Paris in February we followed many of your restaurant recommendations, including the Breizh cafe where we had our last Parisian meal. It was the perfect place for a late lunch, great people watching and a bit of comfort food before being stuffed like sardines on a plane for 9 hours. The butter in France is unbelievable, next time I’m bringing a separate suitcase for dairy souvenirs.

    • Christina Grace

    You got me hooked on Bordier butter – and yes, nothing less satisfies nowadays. Thanks for this post, at least I have an alternative location to stock up on my beloved butter from Monsieur Bordier apart from Le Bon Marché!

    And I cannot begin to tell you how much I love the gariguette strawberries of Plougastel….its a pity I will not be able to get any once I move back home!

    • thefrancofly

    I love it how Brittany smells like either butter or fish, depending on how the wind blows.

    • The Food Hound

    My husband and I ate at the Breizh Cafe when we were in Paris 2 years ago and LOVED it! We totally forgot to make a reservation and ended up sitting outside in the 50-degree weather for a late dinner, but it was worth it. So, so worth it. Brittany is next on my list of areas to hit in France… those caramels make me want to hop a plane yesterday.

    • Carol

    I di–I die. I would totally be in heaven in that store. I think I’m in actual physical pain right now looking at those pictures and being stuck in Toronto with no way to taste it all.

    • Dana

    Aside from making me salivate, your beautiful words and pictures are a wonderful go-to not only for culinary things to try but also for gifts! Thank you!

    • phanmo

    Yup, blé noir is buckwheat. It’s also sometimes known as sarrasin.
    One of the classic English translation errors on menus here is “black wheat pancakes”

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I was told that in different parts of Brittany, they call buckwheat either blé noir, or sarrasin. But am not sure. I’ve seen Crêpes de blé noir in the Finistère and Galettes de sarrasin elsewhere.

    • Dale Coykendall

    Oh my, what ingredients…I am laughing thinking about bringing your list of amazingness to my local “Price Chopper” grocery stor – pardon the expression as the manager said he’s always open to getting in new products …thank you for the day dreaming Dale

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      When I lived in California, the manager of the Safeway said to tell him any products that I wanted, so I started requesting things like aluminum-free baking powder, and better chocolate – and they started carrying them! Of course, you need to make sure to keep buying them in order to keep them interested in giving them shelf space, but it never hurts to ask.

      (Although I don’t think the Price Chopper is gonna carry Bordier butter…sorry!)

    • Debra

    So lovely to hear of these lovely treats, all of which are a few of my favourite things. The sweeteness is enhanced for me as my maternal grandfather is from Brittany. I never got to sample but my Mother often spoke of how her Dad had her and her brothers hand-pull caramels to an creamy consistancy. Sardines pan-fried in butter washed down with buttermilk to soften the saltiness and change up the palate with a caramel whisky whilst chewing on caramels is divine dining I’d happily endure. Thanks for sharing the dream.

    • Vincci

    L’Epicerie has been there for a while! I was in Paris in April and made a stop there – they do have a lot of yummy treats; thanks for bringing back all those memories!

    As for the yogurt, I did buy a pot (just plain though) and it was good but not life-changing. Next time I’m in Paris will definitely try the strawberry!

    • Y

    What a great shop! So many beautiful things I’d love to get. And those sardines in butter!!

    • Axelle the french cook

    I cook a “caramel au beurre salé” … Terrific !! I would love to discover Bretagne. MAybe when our children will be older.

    • T. Tilash

    I always thought Breizh Café, although pretty good, was overhyped. I do respect the chef and his passion for good products, and his épicerie got me intrigued as soon as I heard about it. So I will definitely check it out !

    As for Bordier butter, I also feel it is overhyped (damn…). I mean, it is excellent, and if you pop out of a plane from any other country and start with some good baguette and Bordier butter you will feel all fuzzy and warm, but we’re lucky to have so many good butters in France, readily available at the supermarket, so the price difference for Bordier doesn’t really seem worth it.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I like the Bordier butter, but I don’t use it for cooking because of the price. I am more of a fan of the raw milk butter at Beillevaire, but you’re right that a lot of the supermarket butters (like the salted butter with the big crystals of salt in it, with the blue wrapper) can be pretty great.

    • OB

    The colour of those caramels tells it all – dark and smoky as they should be. We had a French sweetshop called La Cure Gourmande open recently here in Dubai, but their caramels have an unpleasant almost synthetic aftertaste and they are nowhere near as dark as the ones in those photos.

    • Evitaa

    Gosh, I’m terribly hungry :)

    • ron shapley

    Pardon my ignorance but I’ve always seen people eat sardines right out of the tin. Basically I’ve found sardines to be un appetizing but when you reported you fried them, suddenly, my mouth began to water.. Is frying sardines common to the cuisine ?? I’m going to get some quality sardines today, maybe at Dean & DeLuca and fry them up.. Can’t wait..

    • Cynthia G

    Too bad the choc. oysters were too sweet, I would have bought a box simply because it is a charming idea. How long did it take for you to learn French and feel comfortable speaking the language? Mrs. G

    • Nazneen|Coffee and Crumpets

    A cult around butter? I need to live in France. Love the pictures and all the amazing food. I especially like the butter and the little jam pots.


    • Nikki Fein

    Having lived in Brittany for two years and now living in the south of France, I definitely miss the food…but don’t miss the constant grey gloomy weather. Guess there is some truth to the ‘grass is always greener’ saying.

    • Jayne

    I just bought those caramels this week-end. A brand-new meat and cheese shop in my neighborhood in Sweden started carrying them and I could not resist. Mmmmm.

    • Tricia @ Saving room for dessert

    Oh my – yes I do love a country that loves butter so much! Everything looks amazing. The caramels, the jam – yes please!

    • zoe

    Wow, I never thought of actually frying sardines, I have mashed up those in a tin, seasoned with some paprika, lemon, spread on toast and grilled /broiled but I think i’ll have to straight up fry them next time!

    • Aurumgirl

    Don’t worry about your omega 3’s, the butter doesn’t counter act them but gives you a trunkload of other fantastic vitamins and minerals too. Think of it as making the omega 3’s taste like the be all and end all they ought to be. That whole shop is a reason to leave Canada for good.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I eat a wide variety of foods so I’m not too concerned about certain things, although vitamin D deficiency is a problem in Paris, where there is not a lot of sunlight, so I try to eat sardines as much as I can – mostly because I love them, though! ; )

    • Kristin

    Darn it…why didn’t I think of bringing buckwheat flour home? Of course I would still have needed a huge crepe pan, the wooden paddle thingie, some Breton butter….

    • June

    I swear I never thought to eat a sardine…doesn’t appeal to me. However, THIS photo and description has completely changed my mind…now I just need to replicate the idea of the flavored butter drenched packed up sardines, without the little tin from France..himm…I can figure this out.
    In the meantime all I want to do is make every kind of jam I can think of…you are so utterly inspiring to me…thx for the visit, june

    • Margie C.

    David, the L.A. Times food section has a piece by Irene Virbila on the new Coltellerie Berti chocolate knife. Thought you would be interested.

    • Margie C.

    Have any of you ever brought butter back from Paris on a plane? I can see from the US Customs website that it is possible and they will probably (though things change) let you in with it, but how to keep it from melting? Can one get it vacuum packed over there like they will do for cheeses? I’m going to Paris next week and am debating whether to attempt bringing some back.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I have brought butter back to the states and it made it just fine. Some people advise packing it with coolers, but I know French people who don’t refrigerate butter for a day or so (like pastry people, to keep it ready for baking) but you could use a freezer pack. As you mentioned, customs rules change so you might want to check first. I know fresh fruits and vegetables are forbidden, as well as many meat products.

      (I posted 10 Things to Bring Back from Paris a while back, which also has more information and other things you might want to pack to bring home as well.)

    • Steve

    Last time I was in France I bought a hard sided cooler at the local megadepartment store and jammed it full of stuff and those cold ice packs, put fragile stickers all over it, and checked it as luggage! Everything made it just fine!

    • parisbreafast

    I walked into this shop by chance and melted – a landmine of caramel goodies.
    I learned ot love Echire butter in the Poitou-Charante – another butter/caramel haven + plenty sel de Fleur.
    France is too too much!

    • Alli@peasepudding

    My goodness, I’d be happy living in any ‘department’ in France for a while, the further I got through your post the lower my shoulders sagged wishing for all those products we don’t get here. If you ever want a house swap the beach we live at in NZ is really quite beautiful if remote ;o)

    • Sharyn Dimmick

    It looks like I’ll be in Paris again in June 2013 (miracles happen!). This is one of my first stops, I think.

    • Emma

    I live my life in France vicariously through your blog. Keep up the good work and the food porn. It’s as close as ill get to my dream for now.

    • Ruthy

    The entire beginning of this post was like one big page of butter porn and I loved every second of it! But- chocolate oysters? No actual oysters, right? Am I sounding like a dumb Yank with this question?

    • Milsters

    I am a huge fan of Breton food and ingredients!! I was just there a few weeks ago with my partner (whose mother’s family is Breton) and fell in love with all the caramel au buerre salé and other yummy goods!

    Thanks so much for sharing this! Now we know where to go to get our Breton fix in Paris.

    • sharon

    As always David, you made my day brighter :) Tnx for your wonderful posts and photos. We’re leaving for Italy in a couple of days, wish you’d have recommendations for Florence and Venice ;)

    • Margie L

    I haven’t had a sardine in ages and I don’t believe I’ve ever been blessed to have eaten them bathed in butter. My market is not as intriguing, but surely I will find a tin of fishes and some French butter. Yum, yum, yummy. ;)

    • joanna

    I bought a few tins of those sardines last month and schlepped them to New York. Delicious, but I eat them straight from the tin spread on my Eric Kayser bread (now in NY!!). By the way, I grew up in Poland and a great childhood meal were cooked potatoes that were crushed and served with a glass of cold buttermilk, so, so good!

    • Bonnie Powers

    Going to print out your gorgeous Breizh photos and blow them up and tape them to the shelves in my frigo David, so I can play like I live in Brittany!
    Oh yum—love that Bordier butter and yogurt, had it at Yves Cambdebord’s place in the 6th.

    • caitlin

    I will be in paris next summer for a month with my family and would like to explore Brittany region for about 3 nights. Would you recommend the train from paris and then rent a car or just all trains? We are thinking Rennes , Cancale, Dinan, Sillon de Talbert , Pont-Aven, Riec-sur-Belon as some areas to visit. Did I mention we will be traveling is a 4 and 1 year old children.
    I know you are not a travel agent, but I respectfully ask anyway because after reading your blog for a few years now, I respect your opinion. We are looking for beautiful landscapes to explore and good food (oysters). I have done so much research already my head is spinning.

    • Fork and Whisk

    YUM!!! Sardines in butter, awesome.

    • angela

    Sardines are not one of my favourite things, but you’ve made me want to go out and buy a tin for lunch today!

    • Caroline (Oysters & Oxtail)

    Jars of salted butter caramel – get me to Paris now!

    • T. Tilash

    I will try to check out the butter at Beillevaire (not very far from where I live), I also need to try the butter at my local fromagerie once, I’m sure it’s quite good.

    • Zeeona @ Basil and Strawberry

    I will give this sardines au beurre a try, they look fabulous!

    • Dina

    Butter!!!!!! The first thing I got the moment I had my room in France was buy baguette and butter with sea salt crystals! I try to not eat bread & pastries as much, but a bite of crusty baguette and salted butter to finish a meal is all I need! Now I will have to go hunting for this one! Darn… butter flavoured with vanilla?! Where???

    • phi

    When I lived in Paris ages ago… we decided on Bretagne as our destination for a winter trip. Now, when people ask me my favorite place to visit in France, I always insist on Bretagne… Mont St. Michel, savory crepes, and misty beaches (I was waiting for a knight in shining, white armour to come riding down the coast to save me from nothing). Thanks for the great memories David. I love your blog and French stories.

    • KT

    Hi, David:

    Love ths post, thanks!
    What was the butter wrapped in?


    • Lauren

    This post made me miss living in Bretagne! I haven’t been able to enjoy ordinary store bought butter from the U.S since. I miss galettes and salted caramel and the Kouign amann! Thanks for sharing this!

    • Maurine Fischel

    I visited L’Épicerie Breizh Café a few weeks ago and stocked up on some butter and flour to bring home. Happily, the customs officer overlooked them as she confiscated my beef heart tomato and little gem lettuce seeds.

    • Kelley

    We have a branch of Breizh Cafe here in Tokyo that I love to visit. It’s on one of the top restaurant floors of the Takashimaya department store in Shinjuku. We can buy cidre, caramels, dishes, and many other things from the Bretagne region. It also serves wonderful galettes! I wish they carried the butter as well, because a good fleur de sel butter will set you back around $20 here!

    • Lombier

    Hi everyone,

    Breton food is really good. I also eat very well in the Loiret valley in France. I did a food holiday there, I discovered many specialties and eat in very good restaurants. If you’re a fan of food I suggest you to go for a ride in this area. Go to the website of the tourist office for more information: tourismeloiret . com

    Bonne appetit ;)

    • lilia

    I have brought butter back; in fact, I have some Bordier in my freezer right now which I use sparingly (thanks to David who introduced me to Bordier at least a couple of years back).
    One advise – make sure you carry the butter in your checked bag. The French customs/security confiscated my butter and Tentation de Saint Felicien (cheese) because they are too soft to be inside the cabin.
    Oh and thank you David, I bought some Raphael jams last December (can’t remember where I got them) and they were so good – I am reusing the empty jars. Now I know where to go next time!

    • Olivia

    I died and went to heaven with this post….oddly as it seems, I’m a real fan of buttermilk too and Kafir. Love it with dates.

    • Link

    David, we’ve all been lied to about butter being bad – butter from grass fed cows is high in Omega-3, CLA, and other beneficial nutrients. It’s one of the healthiest fats you can eat. Considering the high quality and abundance of french butter from grass fed cows, don’t feel guilty slathering it on.

    Here’s a nice infographic with more info:

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve never had a problem with eating butter. Like anything if you eat a few pounds a day, it’s not going to be good for you. But I eat butter daily and don’t feel guilty using it. I like duck fat, too, which is great for sautéeing potatoes.

    • Coco Marie

    David! How appropriate that the day after I stock up on butter here for my Bordier addiction you write a post! I love this place. It is quite dangerous that have access to this butter so easily though ;)

    • Maria

    I’m from the northeast US but I’m spending the fall semester abroad in Paris, and you can imagine my dismay when I realized I would be missing out on the New England apple bounty this year. But after a weekend in Normandy, I realized I wouldn’t be missing anything at all. The apples from Bretagne are absolutely fantastic! And there isn’t a better way to eat apples than sliced on a toasted Parisian baguette with some Breton honey and camembert. yum.

    • Andrea

    So sorry I left Paris before I got to go to the epicerie. If I move back I think I’ll look for a place within walking distance of the Breizh Cafe.


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