Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Our Taste of Normandy Continues with Calvados! June 23, 2015

After our freshly prepared lunch and stroll around town, we met up with our group again and moved on to our last stop of the day.  We would be visiting a Calvados distillery.  This region of France is the only region where no wine is grown, it's actually too wet for the grapes to grow to produce good wine.  So, when good wine can't be made, the next best thing is to make Calvados! Calvados is made from apples and is a cider type brandy.  It ranges from a lighter cider to a Pommeau drink to a much stronger reserve that is aged longer.

There are approximately 200 Calvados producers in the Normandy region who bottle and sell their Calvados, and they all have to follow the Appellations for Calvedos.  We visited the Pierre Huet distillery.

Our guide started by showing us the process from beginning to end and explaining how the Calvados products are made, starting from the apples, or sometimes pears.

This is the machine that presses the fruit

And then we saw some of the areas where the distilling takes place.

All of the different types of Calvados are aged, and depending what type is made, it will depend on how long it is aged in the barrel.

These are some smaller barrels also used for aging

It was all quite interesting!

And after our tour, it was time for our tasting!  We tried the Cider, which is a hard cider, the Pommeau, and the 8 year Reserve.  

I enjoyed the Cider and the Pommeau was strong, but not too bad, and the 8 year, but at over 70% alcohol, it's just a bit strong for me!

We had our tasting with this nice apple tart, which paired really well of course!

We had a bit of time and most of us brought some bottles or at least little sample bottles to take home with us.  And we boarded our coach bus very pleased with our choice for the day!  Our group enjoyed the time we spent together and we definitely got to see some beautiful countryside in the Normandy region!  And it was paired with a wonderful lunch and great company!

When we arrived back in Caudebec, we had a bit of time before we had to be back on board, so Carol and I walked around the town a bit before boarding.  

And then we had some time to relax and enjoy that great panoramic view out of our cabin before dinner!  This was definitely the way to see Europe!  I'm not sure that I'd ever travel another way, if there were rivers to sail on, again!

Tonight's dinner is the Chef's dinner.  The Chef's all came out during the meal, which was nice because they did a fantastic job!

This dinner was the dinner when we probably became closest to the people we met on board.  And it happened over shrimp cocktail.  As I mentioned all of the food was very good. Each night we had choices of appetizers, entrees, and desserts from the region, but there were always the standard choices available.  Tonight one of the choices was Shrimp Cocktail à la Normandy and most of our table ordered this.  We had made friends with another couple and had been eating most of our meals with them. At the end of the table, a new couple had joined us tonight and we hadn't really had time to talk much to them yet though. 

So, when the shrimp cocktail arrived, neither Carol, myself or our new friends quite expected to see this!

It looked like a lobster!  Eyes and all!  It was huge and again, eyes and all! I mentioned before that Carol is fairly picky when it comes to things like this and before you knew it, our table was laughing pretty uncontrollably, well, except our new table mates who weren't quite sure yet about us I think!  You can see here, how Carol is nearly in tears over the site of this shrimp!  

At about this time, our waiter, who we loved, got into the hysteria, making antenna eye and faces behind me to get Carol to laugh more.  By the end of the appetizer course, we had become close friends with the couple at the end as well!  They were from Australia and we thoroughly enjoyed talking to them and learning about each other's countries!

After dinner every night there would be some sort of entertainment in the lounge.  Usually a piano player or light entertainment.  And always a late night snack, at 10:30 or so.

Another great day comes to an end.....