It is a day snatched straight from the pages of Wuthering Heights: the frigid wind is whipping our hair into our faces and ominous clouds have turned Braidwood’s landscape grey.
But as we enter the courtyard of Provisions Deli & Creperie, it is as if we have been transported to France. The outdoor tables are set to face the street, Parisienne-style. Warm blankets hang over each chair. When a staff member welcomes us, the charming purr of her French accent further immerses us into the experience. We later learn that most of the staff here are French.
Seated inside, next to a crackling fire, we sip hot chocolate and breathe in the heady fragrance of sizzling butter and raclette cheese coming from Provisions’ open-plan kitchen. All three crepe pans are on the go, billows of steam nearly obscuring the chefs from view. The authentic galettes they are making smell absolutely amazing. Made from gluten-free buckwheat flour, a galette is the savoury version of a crepe and a specialty of Brittany in the northwestern region of France.
My lunch? Of course, it is a galette stuffed with fillings I wouldn’t use at home. I order the Blue Cheese Galette. We can smell our lunch cooking well before it arrives – rustic squares of deliciousness. My galette’s thin, crisp edges fold in towards the centre: walnuts, figs and smoked chicken set into grilled blue cheese and cheddar. Topped with a delicate zigzag of honey drizzle, salad greens rest on one corner of the galette. The crunch of crepe, honey drizzle and sweet bursts of figs are delicious against the melted cheddar and the intense hit from the blue cheese. C’est vraiment délicieux!
So how does an authentic French creperie, creating authentic Breton galettes, come to be in rural NSW?
Julien Besnard, the creperie’s operations manager, hails from Montreuil-le-Gast, a charming country town in the heart of Brittany. Along with his wife, Romy, general manager of Braidwood’s Mona Farm, Julien returned to his small-town roots, relocating from Sydney to the heritage-listed town of Braidwood. The couple adapted quickly to country life in this close-knit community. So much so that in August and mid-pandemic, together with the owners of Mona Farm, they embarked on an exciting new project: taking ownership of the already established Provisions deli and establishing a French creperie within it.
The creperie, well-loved by locals and discovered with delight by Canberrans travelling to the coast, has enjoyed thriving patronage from the start. This is the creperie’s first winter and its very first Bastille Day!
Bastille Day is on 14 July, and Julien is excited to bring the festivities to Wallace Street. Newly arrived French chef Roma and chef Stephane Yau have dreamed up a special Bastille Day Menu:
Confit Duck Galette: With field mushrooms, red wine jus, carrots and Paris mash.
The French Snail Galette: Slow-cooked snails and bacon marinated in garlic and parsley butter, served with potatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes and cheese.
Pêce Melba Crepe: Poached pears, whipped cream, toasted almonds and raspberry coulis.
Paris-Brest Crepe: Praline sauce, whipped cream and toasted almonds.
With French flags flying, the staff donning berets, and French music playing* and an exquisite French meal on its way, Bastille Day at Provisions sounds like the closest thing to European travel that will we have for a while. I cannot wait!
Only a 50-minute drive from the capital, break at Braidwood en route to the coast. Enjoy French hospitality at Provisions before exploring Braidwood’s charms. Have your galette with a boule of Kerisac Brut Cider, and finish the meal off with a sweet crepe and hot chocolate. If you visit Provisions midweek, try Thursday the French Way, a unique French offering each week.
*UPDATE: This article originally referenced a band playing on Bastille Day. Due to COVID-19, the band has cancelled their appearance.