Butter of Europe
Butter, butter, butter. Is there anything better? Speaking strictly in terms of the realm of the food world, not much else can top it. Well, quite literally, butter is usually what will top something else, like a nice slice of baguette. 😉
I’ve recently had the pleasure of sampling some wonderful butters associated with Butter of Europe. Some I had tried, but most were new and exciting for me! (Yes, butter *is* exciting.)
These butters have received a PDO – Protected Designation of Origin – indicating that they’re a specific product unique to the region they come from. The best example? Champagne! It can only come from the Champagne region of France, everything else is just sparkling white wine. (And yes, I learned that from “Wayne’s World” as a child. Ha!) Some of these butters I’ve had the pleasure of sampling, such as Isigny Sainte-Mère, is from a region in Normandy and has had its PDO designation since 1986. Namely, the designation zone for Isigny circles the edges of Veys Bay, between Cotentin and Calvados, with this region’s proximity to both rivers and the sea help keep pastures green and robust, allowing cows to produce milk that have a unique creaminess and flavor.1 I’ve always had a great appreciation of products to which I can easily trace their origins, seemingly impossible for – in this case – the average four-pack of butter I’d normally buy at the grocery store. Who knows exactly where the cream in that butter is coming from! Some other examples of butters with PDO are Charentes-Poitou since 1979, and Bresse which received its relatively recent PDO designation in 2014.1
On a personal note, I am a huge fan of Isigny Sainte-Mère butter. Unsalted yet undeniably creamy, I’ve used it quite often while baking at home prior to me drafting up this blog post, and I have been so pleased with the end result! And I have a used it to grill a grilled cheese sandwich in the past, made with French cheeses? But of course!
Many bakeries around NYC have used butters associated with Butter of Europe in their creations, which is blatantly obvious in the folds of their tender croissants or the crisp of their buttery palmiers. Not to mention that these butters – be it unsalted or delightful flavorful compounds – go well with the various baguettes and bouIes had the pleasure of experiencing. There are three bakeries, in particular, that are firm users of some of these butters: L’Appartement 4F, Pastissere Claude, and Le Fournil.
L’Appartement 4F is a two-person operation, a cottage bakery based out of Brooklyn that makes tender sourdoughs and delectable croissants. My personal favorite treat from them was their chocolate croissant, its layers buttery and wavy, dare I say it was almost too gorgeous of a croissant to eat! Co-founder Gautier has a background in engineering, and he – along with his partner Ashley – have certainly engineered some amazing pastries!
Patisserie Claude was originally founded in 1982 in the West Village by – who else! – Claude. Pablo Valdez took over in 1998 as the long-time assistance to Claude, and they’ve continued to make their from-scratch treats daily, many from Claude’s original recipes! Their simple bricohe, paired with a spread of the La Conviette butter roll with its Charentes-Poitou PDO, makes for a simple yet comforting snack that elicits the feeling of being at the bakery itself, even when at home.
Le Fournil was founded by Jean-Francois Hebert, a third-generation baker from Normandy, France. It opened in the East Village during the pandemic, a risk for some that has luckily paid off with this boulangerie. Their treats are fantastic, but their rustic baguettes and boules are fantastic. Yes, I went the grilled cheese route with some of them, using some Président to add some butteriness, and thinking about that sandwich again is giving me hunger pangs as I type!
Having these PDO butters is a treat; I’ll call out the naysayers, but I can absolutely taste the difference in these. Especially with the Isigny Sainte-Mère; it’s unsalted yet has an undeniable creaminess and unique depth of flavor to it that makes me think, “I wouldn’t even need this butter to be salted!” When I enjoy a product that is PDO – whether it’s butter, cheese, et al – I know that I’m having something special. I know that I am enjoying a product that has been well-curated and crafted over many generations. I know that I am having a product that I could literally never get from any other region in the world. Finally, I know I am supporting a culture, workers, farmers, and their families when I make that extra effort to find a PDO product. So cheers to these butters and to the wonderful NYC bakeries that incorporate them to make culinary delights that are absolutely extraordinary. 🥂
NOTE: I received all butters and pastries complimentary from Butters of Europe for editorial consideration. All opinions, as always, are my own.
1 – Annotations taken from the Butter of Europe communication packet I received with my butter packages.