There is a sacred time in France during the day, sometime after four and before six…
It’s called l’heure du goûter… this is the time when children all over the country arrive home from school, they sit at the kitchen table after bags are dropped and coats pulled off to eat a sweet snack (a baguette filled with chocolate squares or jam, pastries, biscuits and even fruit) before homework. The exact translation of l'heure du goûter is taste time, but just as important is the much needed break after their long day and a time for them to chat about what they did at school.
I first became aware of this little ritual after attending a really enjoyable French food tour of Dublin http://frenchfoodieindublin.blogspot.ie. At the very end of the tour Ketty, our tour guide, gave everyone a beautifully wrapped madeleine to take home to eat at 4pm ‘l’heure du goûter’. And I thought I knew a lot about France!
Madeleines. Source: www.thevintagemixer.com
It dawned on me then we had been having our own version of l’heure du goûter here and it started after asking my good friend Norah, a school teacher, for advice about homework for Ross my 7 year old. This year his school day was an hour longer and also his homework time had increased. She suggested giving Ross something nice to eat as soon as he came home, a snack like bread with jam, and some time out after his day at school. When he was finished this then start homework – always beginning with the subject he enjoyed most. Talk about a miraculous transformation. Within a few days homework went from taking a grumpy 40 minutes after dinner to nearly half that, it was done properly and most importantly he enjoyed it (as much as he could!). Our version of something sweet and nice to eat is usually a scone, pastry, pretzel, french toast or even pancakes some days. However I always include a piece of fruit - to help him run faster, especially during football matches!
Pancakes with lemon, vanilla sugar and mixed berries.
French toast Loaf.
French toast with confiture de lait and blueberries.
We don’t always have a sweet snack at 4pm, sometimes it’s a bowl of soup on a cold day but as long as he’s eaten a substantial lunch in school more times than not he will have ‘l’heure du goûter’ to get him through until dinner.
Great-aunt Gracies recipe books.
Her scone recipe from 1956.
Another thing I realised was it’s not just children who enjoy this much needed sweet snack during the day, you only have to glance around the streets of Dublin between 4 and 6pm to see people scurrying back to the office with their take away coffees and treats. So here is a list of three great places to have l'heure du goûter in Dublin, or close enough!
1. FIXX COFFEE HOUSE, DAWSON STREET, DUBLIN 2.
Fixx coffee house on Dawson Street in the heart of Dublin serve their own blend of great tasting coffee. They bake their croissants on site every morning, and their handmade cakes are a perfect pick me up to enjoy anytime of day, especially 4pm…
Fixx coffee house, Dawson Street.
2. LE PETIT PARISIEN, WICKLOW STREET, DUBLIN 2.
Probably the most authentic of the three is this little gem situated on Wicklow street. As soon as you walk through the door expect to feel like you have been transported to an ornate Parisien coffee shop from the 1920’s. Le petit parisien serve delicious sweet treats from their mouth watering display at the counter. So when you arrive sit at a table, drop your bag, pull off your coat, and have a much needed break over a coffee and one of their delightful desserts.
Le Petit Parisian, Wicklow Street.
3. MAYFIELD, TERENURE, DUBLIN 6.
Mayfield is one of my favourite local eateries in leafy Terenure. The coffee here is very good but extremely strong so watch out. All of their cakes and desserts are sinfully delicious, believe me I’ve tried them all. I’d highly recommend a visit to this great place especially during this time of year when their outdoor courtyard is a great spot on a balmy summers day.
I’ll see you back here in about two weeks time for my next blog post on my upcoming trip to Cavalaire-sur-Mer in the south of France. À bientôt!
Details of the French Food Tour of Dublin can be found here: http://frenchfoodieindublin.blogspot.ie/p/book-tour.ht