August 03 2011
It’s possibly because I spend a lot of time in France, but recently I have become a butter snob. Received wisdom has it that the best beurre in France, if not the world, is by Jean-Yves Bordier, a master butter-maker in Brittany, whose round individual pats of butter are regularly a fixture in many top Parisian restaurants.
But in my patch of France, the Poitou-Charentes, the locals beg to differ. Ask any Poitevin and they will tell you that the best butter is by Echiré. Maybe I’m biased – the village is not far from where I live – but having tasted many artisan-made butters since moving to the land of the long lunch, I, too think that Echiré is the best.
Apparently, it owes its superlative taste not to the breed of cow that provides the milk but to the quality of the local grass. Like Bordier butter, Echiré is churned in traditional teak wood barrels to give it depth of flavour and a “silky, magic texture”. The result is a butter that tastes super-refined and smooth and that seems to stay edible for longer.
I prefer the green label (salted) to the blue label (unsalted) and the best way to savour its delicate flavour is, in my opinion, tout simplement to spread it thickly on a piece of Poilâne bread.
Echiré, which is protected by AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlée) status, is available in the UK from Ocado (£2.99, 250g), and also from Real France in London’s Borough Market.