Hidden Culinary Treasures In A Small French Town: The Classic Trou Normand Revisited

By La Cuisinière | French Country Cuisine Recipes

Feb 27

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Hidden Culinary Treasures – Searching for culinary treasures in rural France? Off the beaten path eateries offering inexpensive yet fabulous food?

Imagine the scene…  You find yourself somewhere between Paris and Roubaix, just off the Hell of the North cycling route.

It’s time to get a bite to eat and a place to rest your head for the day.  You happen upon a quiet town tucked inside the ruins of a medieval castle where the Hotel Belle Vue® welcomes all visitors.

northern-france-vista | food-crafting.com

Reservations Required!

This article focuses on my experiences in just one small town located in the Hauts-De-France but these culinary treasures are repeated in hundreds and thousands of small municipalities in every region of the country.

Our great grandmother ran such a small eatery in Senlis during the height of World War I.

So… It seems hard to believe that you need to make reservations at local eateries in a small town but you do. We found out the hard way.

We are privy to local “event” notifications via life long friends. Knowing we would be in the area for Valentine’s Day, my sister and I quickly made reservations for the fixed price Valentine’s Day dinner event.

Even in the smallest town, restaurants and bistros offer incredible value and quality for the price. The Belle Vue® two-course pork roast and veggies lunch cost 14 euros.

Gourmandise Noix de Coco Framboises

The Hotel Belle Vue® posts a daily menu on a sidewalk slate board at the door but this meal was a one-off celebration style meal complete with a printed menu.

Served over a three hour period, this five-course meal cost a fixed 48 euros per person. A steal.

Filet de Boeuf Sauce Bordelaise

Valentine’s Day Menu

The menu included selections in each category.

  • A champagne apéritif with shrimp avocado blinis
  • Entrée of Smoked Trout Carpaccio or Home Style Foie Gras
  • A Trou Normand with Calvados (it is not considered a course)
  • The main dish of Beef Tenderloin, Mixed vegetables and Pommes Duchesse or Monk Fish Fillet with shellfish in a cream sauce
  • The traditional cheese plate with a salad featuring the three favorite local pieces of cheese
  • A choice of the cool and refreshing Coconut Raspberry dessert or the “100% Chocolat” – a delectable version of death by chocolate!

Dinner guests came from out of town for this special Valentine’s Day dinner event. But the same is true for the only other local pub-style restaurant in town.

Carpaccio de Truite

In the coming weeks, I will prepare several recipes adapted from the menu so as to assemble a similarly spectacular celebration meal.

Terrine de Foie Gras Maison

The following recipe is a menu component I consider to be a “classic” part of any fancy multi-course meal.

L’assiette aux trois fromages

The Trou Normand

What is a Trou Normand? And why is it “revisited”?

Not only is it making a comeback on many menus, but it is also showing up in the most imaginative flavors! It’s not just the traditional tart apples topped with apple brandy anymore. Some of my favorite combos are listed below:

  • Tequila over lime sorbet
  • Rum over mango or pineapple sorbet
  • Vodka over cranberry sorbet
  • Gin over lemon sorbet
  • Prosecco over pear sorbet

While the champagne apéritif is designed to prepare dinner guests for the upcoming meal, the Trou Normand is intended to refresh and cleanse the palate in the middle of a multiple course meal.

An ancient custom, a Trou Normand, served between the principal courses prepares dinner guests for the rest of the meal. It stimulates the appetite and aids with digestion.

Think of it as a not too sweet apple sorbet topped off with a healthy shot of Calvados – a strong apple brandy. Use the real thing – a spirit flavoring does not count!

Pick A Premium Apple Juice To Enhance Flavors

Not just any apple juice will do for this recipe. Select an organic juice so as to boost the natural flavors of the fruit.

The juice does not need to be loaded with added sugar. The Trou Normand is not a dessert.

A Trou Normand is intended to refresh and cleanse the palate in the middle of a multiple course meal.  Think of it as a not too sweet apple sorbet topped off with a healthy shot of Calvados - a strong apple brandy.

Trou Normand Sorbet

Trou Normand Sorbet

A classic French recipe, the easy to prepare Trou Normand is a small apple sorbet topped with Calvados brandy designed to refresh the palate between the many courses served during a celebration meal.



  1. Place the chopped apples into a saucepan with the sugar and 150 ml / 5 oz.water.
  2. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until mixture is soft and pulpy.
  3. Press through a sieve, add juice to the apple puree, and stir to combine.
  4. Pour the mixture into a shallow container and place in freezer until frozen at the edges, then remove and beat with an electric beater.
  5. Pour back into the container and refreeze.
  6. Repeat 2 or 3 times. (or use an ice-cream machine following manufacturer's directions.)
  7. Serve a scoop of sorbet in each dish, and pour a tablespoon of Calvados over the sorbet.
  8. Serve immediately.


There are many beautiful footed dessert glasses on the market but a Trou Normand is designed to be a small serving. You are not looking for an 8 oz dish. A 4 to 6 oz. dessert glass is large enough for a small scoop of sorbet and a shot of apple brandy. Small (4 inch long) dessert sized spoons are a must.

Blender Trou Normand

My Oster® blender still functions and although it still crushes ice for a full fruit margerita, I hear it struggling.

I’ve been dreaming of a new blender for close to a year now but remained undecided about the brand or model.

These days, choices include the capability to make so much more than pancake batter, smoothies, and frozen desserts.

Some models include a heat feature to make quick soups. This particular feature is now important to me.

As a home chef, I need an appliance that will stand the test of time and function. Power too! I do not reach for a blender to make sweet dough but I often use my blender to make sauces, soups. and mayonnaise.

And now it will also be used to make a Calvados Trou Normand!

Old folks say that the original Trou was nothing more than a healthy serving of the best Calvados. A scoop of sorbet makes it classy!

Functionality Is Important!

Santa decided. Vitamix® won. The A3500 is everything I imagined in a top drawer kitchen appliance. Smart too with the self-detect feature.

And who does not like the self-cleaning setting? I’ll be the first one to admit that cleaning a blender is (was) not at all quick and easy.

 Vitamix (62850) Blending Cups Starter Kit:Salad Dressings, Smoothies, JuicesVitamix (62850) Blending Cups Starter Kit, Clear Vitamix A3500 Ascent Series Smart Blender, Professional-Grade, 64 oz.Vitamix A3500 Ascent Series Smart Blender, Professional-Grade, 64 oz. Vitamix Ascent Series 48-ounce Container with SELF-DETECTVitamix Ascent Series 48-ounce Container with SELF-DETECT

 Homemade Frozen Sorbet, Gelato, Ice Cream Maker Book for 2-Quart ICE-30BCHomemade Frozen Sorbet, Gelato, Ice Cream Maker Book for 2-Quart ICE-30BC Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Sorbet & Ice Cream MakerCuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker

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About the Author

1 Cook, 2 Countries & A Taste For World Cuisines: Cooking A La Mode De Chez Nous - Cuisine d'Hier Et d'Aujourd'hui! For the love of home style cooking and great food. Memories are made of this!

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