July - September I Brittany, France
Rarely seen outside of France, these pearly white beans come direct from Alexandre, an organic grower on the northwesterly Côte d'Armor. This is one of France’s richest growing regions, known for its rich mineral soil and gentle coastal climate. So prized are these beans that they've been protected by an IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) for over twenty years, in a bid to preserve the integrity of the seed and its unique profile. No other white bean comes close. Grown slowly in open fields, the sea breeze and mild temperatures help to produce thin-skinned beans with a dense, creamy flesh. Picked semi-dry - when the pods are almost dry but the beans inside are still moist and fresh - these beans are delicate and so must be hand-harvested, back-breaking work that few continue to do in these days of mechanised agriculture. Despite the limited supply and short season, Coco de Paimpol are undoubtedly worth the effort.