In advance of our recent holiday in France, I did (as always) a lot of internet research on gluten free options in France. Since it was our wedding anniversary I was looking for a special restaurant (Burgundy is considered a gastronomic centre in France). I didn’t find a Michelin starred restaurant within easy distance of our gîte but I did find a gluten free bakery a short drive away. Further research determined that this seemed to be the only gluten free bakery in France. What are the chances?!
Aux Biscuits d’Antoine is a traditional French organic bakery which produces gluten free biscuits made from buckwheat. I found some details of the bakery on another gluten free blog and understood this to be a bakery shop in a small village. In reading the blog, the true artisan nature of the biscuit production was not fully explained. So I shall attempt to do so.
Mr D and drove into the tiny village of Etivey. The village was so quiet without a single person to be seen but we noticed the ‘Aux Biscuits d’Antoine’ sign hanging outside a beautiful and traditional looking French shuttered house. We approached and pulled gently on the big, long metal bell outside. No response, so I yanked it hard. So hard it seemed to wake all the inhabitants of the house. Sorry!
Artisan. It’s a word often bandied around on premium goods both gluten free and not. In the case of ‘Aux Biscuits d‘Antoine’ this is genuinely the case. In advance of the visit, I’d contacted the owner (Francoise) to see if I could visit the bakery and what times they would be open. I was glad I did. The production of their biscuits is handled in a standalone facility adjacent to their house rather than a bakery shop. Fortunately for us Francoise happily invited us in to take a look at their biscuit production. This window into another world was really exciting for me, it’s about as far from my day job as it gets!
Francoise showed us how they milled the husk free buckwheat by hand themselves using a mill stone thus preventing any chance of cross contamination and ensuring her buckwheat flour is truly gluten free. Despite the name, buckwheat is naturally gluten free fruit seed. Her assistants were busy at work producing a tray of delicious smelling sesame and fig biscuits.
After chatting to Francoise about her business and the health benefits of their biscuits, Mr D and I left clutching packets of the sesame and fig biscuits, coconut and cheese straw-esque biscuits.
I have to admit my purchase of coconut biscuits was a slight accident. I don’t know what I was thinking, I usually avoid coconut. It turned out to be a very happy mistake which I was glad I’d made. The biscuits were fabulously light in texture, slightly salty and not too sweet. The buckwheat gave the biscuits an earthy, nutty flavour and they had a nice crunch to them on the bite. Delicious.
The cheese flutes tasted of pleasantly strong cheese mixed with the nutty taste of the buckwheat. They were perfect as an apéritif.
I’m saving the sesame and fig biscuits for Christmas to try with some lovely stinky cheese such as my favourite, Epoisses, which was also local to the area of Burgundy in which we were staying.
It was a genuine honour for me to take a look around this type of small scale production and I thoroughly enjoyed the unique opportunity. Many thanks to Francoise for taking the time to show us around Aux Biscuits d’Antoine and the chance for me to chat with her in my (somewhat rusty!) French.
Aux Biscuits d’Antoine products are currently sold in France through organic stores and via online retailers both in France and selected European countries. I hope that these biscuits become available here soon so I can buy some more, they are truly delicious.