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Friday, November 20, 2015

Foodie Gifts to Bring Home from Paris

Like many, I can’t stop thinking this week about beloved Paris.  Rather than to dwell on the obvious, I’m changing the paradigm and paying homage to the fantastique food-related products that this gourmand’s paradise offers.  And, for those of you attending next year’s trip to Bordeaux, I’m including only items that can be brought home in your suitcase.

                                                           Fauchon's pastries are art.

If you’re looking for one-stop shopping, the area around the Madeleine church is a gold mine for foodies.  Within a few blocks, you have culinary nirvana.  Let’s start first with the food emporium extraordinaire, Fauchon (Place Madeleine #24-26).   Fauchon has become so popular that it has purchased a nearby property and expanded.  The original location serves up Paris’ best window shopping for gastronomes…if you can possibly find a space to window-watch.  (It’s not unusual to wait several minutes in a line just to be able to photograph the window.)  Fauchon’s window display is mind-boggling:  everything from an Eiffel tower shaped foie gras studded with truffles to baked lobster on the half-shell topped with a small mountain of beluga caviar. Inside you’ll find a mind-blowing cheese department and cases of prepared food products for the most discerning gourmands. There’s even a small restaurant.

                             The makings for a perfect take-out lunch in the nearby Tulleries.

A second Fauchon (just a few doors down at #30 Place Madeleine), is a large grocery store.  Inside you’ll find packaged food products from all over France such as black truffles, lentils from Puy, candied chestnuts, and a mind-boggling selection of fleur de sel.  There’s also a good selection of kitchen gadgets and even cookbooks in English.

                       Who wouldn't be pleased with a small tin of pate as a souvenir?

Also on Place Madeleine (#17) is Caviar Kaspa.  You have to ring to be buzzed in the door of this spot, but don’t let that deter you.  For those who want to splurge for lunch, try the attractive restaurant upstairs with lovely windows that overlook the Madeleine.  Last, there’s even a mustard boutique (#6 Madeleine) where you can sample many different blends...several of which are unknown outside of France.

For serious cooks there’s a serious kitchen store that is frequented by many of Paris’ Michelin star chefs.  Don’t miss Dehillerin (18-20 Rue Coquilliere) but also don’t expect a lot of help from the staff. While there are sauce pans larger than a human,  there is also a great variety of small gadgets that make perfect gifts for foodie friends.

                                                Dehillerin is a chef's dream.

Last but not least, if you’re a tea lover you are obliged to make the trek to Mariage Freres.  While Fauchon carries Mariage Freres products, there’s nothing as special as visiting the original Mariage Freres shop at 30 Rue du Bourg Tibourg in the charming Marais district.  This old-world style boutique offers a mind-boggling selection of teas and a professional staff that are exceeding helpful.   My favorite is their Marco Polo blend but there must be over 50 to choose from...and the staff will let you smell them all.  If it’s lunch time, their jewel-box tea salon is a gorgeous spot to dine.   Better yet, take an afternoon tea break here---it will be one of your highlights.

                  Tea at Mariage Freres is one of the most sublime experiences in the city.

Viva Paris.  Viva la France.  You are in our hearts.

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