Lille _ Gaufre de la pâtisserie Meert _ Rue Esquermoise _ au bord du Vieux-Lille © CRTC Hauts-de-France - Jean-Luc VerbruggheLille _ Gaufre de la pâtisserie Meert _ Rue Esquermoise _ au bord du Vieux-Lille © CRTC Hauts-de-France - Jean-Luc Verbrugghe
©Lille, Gaufre de la pâtisserie Meert, Rue Esquermoise, au bord du Vieux-Lille |CRTC Hauts-de-France - Jean-Luc Verbrugghe

5 approaches to regional produce

We all have different tastes, and we are all moved by different things! The main thing is to cultivate the art of being happy. When you have a traditionalist and a trendy type together, one will try waffles by Meert or a macaron by Trogneux, whereas the other will gaze hungrily at Les Merveilleux (cakes) by Fred but they will both enjoy their feast just as much. If there is just one foodie memory from Hauts-de-France that you’ll take home with you it’s that of the skills of the many artisan-producers and the diversity of their culinary treasures. So, go and find comfort, magic, originality or simply a boost for your tastebuds.

Northern France _ Amiens _ Macaroon © CRTC Hauts de France - AS FlamentNorthern France _ Amiens _ Macaroon © CRTC Hauts de France - AS Flament
©Northern France , Amiens, Macaroon | CRTC Hauts-de-France - AS Flament

01. The trendy type choice

Located in an exceptional setting between two glitzy squares in Arras, you have found the place to be(er)! At Chez Marcel, Luka Antonic eyes twinkle when he tells you how his beers are brewed. This is a trendsetting place where you can have a drink or carry out these typical northern beers with their aromas of hops, flowers, spices, fruits, tinged with bitterness. For sweeter things, L’Impertinente, a tearoom in Lille run by the bearded guy and his wife Marine (see your social networks where they post their highly entertaining stories) will delight you with their sublime cakes, on order, of course. As you are ecologically minded, you will choose the gold medal winning apple juice from Oxelaëre near Cassel in the French Flanders. To round things up, the baker Alex Croquet, who has a shop in Lille and another in Wattignies, will help you choose a Poilâne country loaf.

02. The artist’s choice

Artists attract other artists! You are in seventh heaven when faced with the original sophisticated palette of chocolates by Guillaume Vincent in Lille. He is a fully-fledged designer who decorates each and every one of his chocolates by hand, as exceptional creations, and then sets them in a sleek, streamlined presentation box. These are veritable edible jewels. Captivated by the fragrance emanating from Atout Thé in Verquin near Bethune where the zen atmosphere is conducive to relaxation and restfulness, you make your selection from the 180 teas, infusions and herbal teas and let the effects wash over you in a wave of well-being.
Go for a walk in a market that sparkles like the local producers one staged by Thibaut Gamba, the chef at “La Table” in the Clarance, a town house in the heart of the old Lille. The fabulous produce can be found on the chef’s menu and will inspire you to create your own recipes.
You want new recipes for our famous chicory? At the Ferme aux Chiconnettes in Achiet-le-Petit near Arras, Véronique and Pascal grow them with love and sell chicory preserves with speculoos, gingerbread, walnuts, mango, figs … and you can sink your teeth into a chocolate-coated chicory too. How you fit it into your menus depends entirely on you. Rouse your inner artist and decorate your food with edible flowers and herbs, these tiny marvels of brightly coloured pigments that you can find at Hortus&Sauvageonnes in Quesnoy-sur-Deûle. Use them to enliven your dish, and you can pick them on the spot should you so desire.

03. The traditionalist’s choice

There are childhood memories of sweets with an unforgettable taste that you will remember all of your life. The Bêtises de Cambrai are in that category. As the name suggests in French, they were the result of a mistake and its minty taste is a part of the tale. Other fruit flavours have since been added to the collection and maybe to your basket too. As for cheeses, you have a soft spot for Maroilles, made from milk from our cows in Thiérache (Nord and Aisne), the most typical with a strong aroma and yet a subtle flavour. It’s irresistible in a tart or a flamiche, once you start eating it you won’t be able to stop! In your opinion, the only northern fish are those found around our coastline, with the herring way above the rest. These are smoked in smokehouses after having been soaked for a certain time in salt water. In Boulogne-sur-Mer, you can find this age-old technique at JC David’s establishment. Nearby, in the 4 seasons resort Le Touquet, when they cook fish, they serve them with a waxy potato, the subtly flavoured “ratte du Touquet”. For cakes, you have chosen “le gâteau battu”, a culinary symbol of coastal Picardy, a sort of brioche that is rich in butter and eggs. The dough is lighter and fluffier because it is beaten over and over again. Lastly, finish off with the Genever of Houlenear Saint-Omer, a spirit produced by the Persyns, from one generation to the next. Don’t forget to drink in moderation only …

04. The explorer’s choice

Everything exotic enchants you and makes you giddy just thinking about it. You might just be surprised to hear that saffron is grown in Somme bay. Anne Poupart’s red gold spices up the dishes prepared by restaurant owners who buy it from her at her saffron farm, Romiotte, in Ponthoile, a few miles from Le Crotoy. A treasure to take home with you!

As a fan of traditions, board a bacôve (a small flat-bottomed boat) to go to the floating market in the Audomarois Marshes in Clairmarais. As soon as you’re on board, the market gardeners will proudly show you the produce they grow there, especially their cauliflower, star of the marshes.

Did you know that the Vauban Citadel in Arras classed by UNESCO has delicious hidden treasures? Enter the “La Finarde’’ cheese shop and hear all about regional cheeses and how they are ripened from the master of the place himself, Jean-François Dubois.

Then head for the vine-covered Pas de Calais spoil tip in Haillicourt near Bruay-la Buissière. Who would have thought that a former mine site would be covered with vines? The spoil tip was planted with Chardonnay vines that give a wine called “Le Charbonnay”. If you’re a wine lover, you’d better hurry to buy some because it doesn’t last long on the market.

05. The dabbler’s choice

You are our Oscar Wilde – “I can resist anything except temptation”. And gourmet temptation goes hand in hand with the pleasure of eating and enjoying the multitude of flavours in our region. So, drink to everyone’s health because you enjoy a sparkling, joyful atmosphere and prefer our champagne, made in Picardy, by Belin or maison Pannier. As you appreciate spirits, the Hautefeuille whisky and gin from Beaucourt-en-Sancerre in the Somme are distilled according to traditions and taste and will tempt your demanding taste buds.

The picky chocolate lover that you are will melt for the delicacy of Beussent chocolate, produced in the Boulogne hinterland from cocoa beans. Your attentive ear of a discriminating gourmet will pick up, here and there, tips from a master foodie; those of the whipped cream specialist at Enghien castle on the Chantilly estate will make your mouth water. Once you have warmed up your wrists, the irresistible frothiness of the Chantilly cream will flatter your dessert as much as your palate.

You don’t have time to cook? Then make the excellent choice of a canned ready-made meal, a potjevlesch or a carbonnade, one of our Flemish culinary specialities to eat, of course, with crisp chips. Finally, what should you take home with you when you leave? Edible souvenirs that mark your foodie memory and that you’d like to enjoy in your own time. Why not take home a gift basket containing our regional products? They are guaranteed full of flavour that you can share with your food-loving friends and family.