You say "Tomato", I say Tomahto"

Has anyone else been frustrated by not being able to find familiar varieties and products? For instance, what do you use in place of Bramley apples? Granny Smiths work okay but perhaps you know a variety that works brilliantly for crumbles etc.

Also, who knows their way around French potato varieties? I knew where I stood with Maris Pipers, King Edwards and Desirees but I have never been able to lay my hands on these varieties here only Agata, Charlotte, Lisa, Caesar, etc. I’d love to know which varieties work best for mashing, roasting and pour faire les frites.

Really don’t want to “call the whole thing off!”

That’s really helpful, Alanna. I’ve grown the waxy ones but I’ve struggled to work out which varieties to grow for good baked spuds.

Some varieties of Reinette are very similar to Cox’s Orange Pippin. I like Braeburns which the French grow. And there are also Russets. I saw beautiful big Belle de Boskoop in the market here the other week which is a good apple for cooking. I actually don’t think a Bramley is good for all cooking (heresy I know) but you don’t always want the apple to completely collapse. It depends what you are making. Apple sauce? It’s perfect and has the acidity. Apple tart? No, I’d pick something else.
As for Desirees - I use Franceline…which are readily available in Lidl.
Cheddar I buy from them when in stock but otherwise I find 18 month Comte or Beaufort a good substitute. There are lots of wonderful French cheese but the texture isn’t always what you want for a particular dish so I understand the desire for a cheddar or cheddar substitute.
And as for those tomatoes - what a fabulous choice we get! Last year when I wrote an article for The Connexion I sourced 16 different types from one small shop!!

Hi Katherine,

I think I have the potatoes figured out! Caesar, Bintje, Manon and Marabel potatoes are floury potatoes (with a fluffy, dry texture) and so good for things like mash and chips. Also any bag of potatoes labelled “pour frites” will be floury potatoes.
There are loads of varieties of waxy potatoes including Rattes, Amandines and Charlottes. These are good for steaming, salads and gratins.
There is a third category called fondant (somewhere between waxy and floury). Agata and Nicola are fondant potatoes and French cookery writers recommend using them for baked potatoes (I quite like them that way although I prefer a floury baked potato)
Hope this helps.

Good to know it’s possible to grow Bramleys, although I think the winters here in the NE might be a bit much for them. I use Gris de Canada as a substitute - they don’t go as fluffy as Bramleys but bake beautifully. I use pretty much anything people give me for crumbles and often mix pear and apple, which works very well. I avoid Pink Lady because I think they’re a bit of a marketing creation…maybe I’ve become a bit immune to rounded pink shiny-ness with the nobbly, marked, home-grown oddities around here!

I’ve not particularly missed cheddar because there’s so much else to enjoy here but Cantal is the closest I’ve found. It’s hard, slightly crumbly with a rather nutty flavour.

Agree with you, Jane, that forgetting English food is best! Not sure if I could do the reverse if I was forced to go back to Blighty, though. I’d really miss Mirabelles, for one thing!

By the way My sister read an article last week end saying Marks and Spencer is returning to France at the end of the year then you will be able to get strong cheddar cheese

You can get cheddar in Monoprix and Auchan not bad at all but the thing is we should forget english food and buy French .Rubinete and pink lady apples are good but not to be compared to cox orange apples which are not easy to find

There is no good substitute for a good Bramley or any other kind of cooking apple, so I planted some Bramley apple trees of my own about 4 years ago. Last year we had our first good crop and were able to make the best crumbles!
We live in Cotes d’Armor, the perfect climate for growing apples, but most of the trees around here are for cider.
Does anyone know where I can get a good strong cheddar cheese?