Friday, July 24, 2009

Bringing Home a Taste of Paris: Flavorful Souvenirs

Awhile ago I watched a Martha Stewart episode in which she travels to Paris to meet the owner of the Poilane bakeries. They talked at length about his family, the shops, and (naturally) the breads. After nearly 5 minutes of discussion, she noted that he speaks of bread like it is an art to which he emphatically responded "But it is!"

The Poilane breads are a perfect illustration for how things-- and specifically foods-- are carefully prepared in France. Everything from bread to chocolate and wine to mustard are created with great attention to detail. All of this means that bringing back a flavorful souvenir is money well spent-- and memories that keep on giving!

Not everything can fit well inside a suitcase, but here are a few of my favorites:

- Maille: The prestigious mustard shop on the Place Madeleine carries several varieties you will only find here, along with their traditional fare. You can also have mustard on tap! Some of my personal favorite Maille mustards include Sundried Tomato & Chevre, Provencale, and Lime & Dill. (The Maille boutique is seen above)

- Fauchon: Also located on the Place Madeline, Fauchon is known for their exquisite packaged foods. Try some of their coffee or sweets to go. Also sold here are the little pots of honey from the bees at the Opera Garnier.

- Lavinia: The largest wine store in Paris is not far from the Place Madeleine and literally has everything you could ever want in terms of wine and spirits.

- Jeff de Bruges: With several locations around the city, this chocolatier is fairly easy to find. They have a line of chocolates specifically made to be souvenirs (in the shapes of airplanes, purses, etc.) and others that will leave your mouth watering.

I've also heard of people bringing back French flour (which is different from American flour), but I'm not sure that putting substantial quantities of a white powder in your luggage is a good idea, so I've yet to try it. Always be sure to have everything packaged carefully and note the travel restrictions on traveling with liquids.

Happy travels and Bon Appetit!

Maille: 6, place de la Madeleine; Metro: Madeleine
Fauchon:30, place de la Madeleine; Metro: Madeleine
Lavinia: 3, Boulevard de la Madeleine; Metro: Madeleine
Jeff de Bruges: 19 stores throughout the City