This probably won’t include recommendations for the kind of goods and services you’re used to seeing in a blog about France. Certainly not the sort of things that I would have had time to experience during my previous, shorter visits. These are the things I’ve stumbled upon in the course of being here.
I’ll be continually adding to this as I continually stumble. And if you have something specific you want me to check out, let me know.
Nectar of the gods, I tell ya! Monoprix makes one that’s equally delish under the “daily monop” label. And not terribly easy to find outside of big cities. So far, I’ve only encountered it in Paris, Nice and Marseille. It’s fresh and so good you want to savor it like a fine wine (or in my case, chocolate milk). With every sip I take, I’m boggled by its deliciousness anew. I think there must be something in it like crack.
A friend of mine tried it when she was visiting France and is showing signs of a burgeoning addiction. Now when she calls me, her first question is “are you drinking that juice?” her voice cracking with the same lust my ex-boyfriend used to use when he’d call and ask what I’m wearing. She’s now planning to retire here, in part, I believe for this juice.
I am by no means a wine connoisseur. In fact, I never been a big wine fan. Until I met roses (someday, I’m going to have to figure out how to do a accent grave on my computer). I always thought they were the white trash of wines, but boy was I wrong (well, either that, or I have white trash taste). They’re dry but refreshing. Light, but fuller bodied than white. They’re jush desilicious.
So far, this is my favorite. It’s hauntingly good. I find myself thinking about it at various points during the day, looking forward to the moment my lips touch its cold, dewy glass. And the best part is, it not only tastes ambrosial, it gets me drunk! I never want to be without it ever again.
I can’t vouch for all of them, since every recipe is different (and they often have different names such as bagnattou, or croistillade.” I’m in love with one at the Antibes Marche Provencal that has olives, sun dried tomatoes, basil, anchovies and god knows what else. They call theirs “bagnattou d’angele”, which seems apt.
Everytime I eat it, I’m surprised at how utterly freaking good it is. I find myself having it for dessert. Who knew something without chocolate in it could be so addictive?
I have yet to eat a chicken as perfect as those from a truck in France. I don’t know if it’s that the chickens are better, or fresher, or better prepared but dang, those are good chickens. Perfectly seasoned, moist, flavorful. I have sought tastier chickens all over the world and have yet to find one. Particular kudos to the hot guy and his pretty wife at the Vidauban market (not pictured here). The best of the best, IMHO.
Oreillettes de Languedoc
I happened upon these babies while waiting in line at Monoprix to pay for my Ulti jus d’oranges, pamplemousse et frambois. They’re one layer of pastry drizzled with lemon juice and sugar. I ate the entire box in an hour an am now planning to go to Nice first thing in the morning to stock up on more (I’d go right now, but it’s Sunday). I guess they’re a specialty of the Languedoc, which is making me consider moving there.
I always thought honey was honey. And lavender honey just sounds like so much BS. So when Gilli told me people travel from far and wide for this honey, I took it with a grain of salt (or pollen).
Well, over here they have honey degustations (the next gourmet preoccupation?) which I’m glad to take part in (hey, free food!). After tasting honey from across the land, I’ve come to revise my thinking. Honey is not honey, and this stuff is amazing!!! I wish I could describe what it is exactly that makes it taste above and beyond every other honey–a subtle hint of spicy-ness? The round, almost buttery depth of flavor? Yes, it’s a miracle honey. I think it probably cures illness and eliminates wrinkles when applied topically.
I love this market more than life itself. Located on the Boulevard de la Bastille (and Blvd Richard Lenoir) in the 11th arrondissement, it’s blocks and blocks of amazing food fresh fish, fowl, gorgeous produce, clothes, hardware, crafts that ends at the Bastille.. It’s here I got some of the best olives I’ve ever had (lebanese). So good I’d eat them as a main course. I also got a gorgeous grey 80% cashmere blazer for $20. Great place to pick up baby clothes–petite bateau for E1/piece. Another great discovery: petite bateau cotton underwear. If you get the largest kid’s size, it’s like E2. A bargain, I tell ya! The market is open on Thursdays and Sundays. Have I mentioned I love this market?
I’ve yearned for these fruit gems at places like Dean and DeLuca and Hediard, but they were like $20.00 for six so I just kept yearning. Imagine my surprise to find these at Shoppi, the Auvers grocery store for about 2.50E . The box contains 12 sugar coated squares of condensed fruit chewiness in apple, blackcurrant, mandarin, passionfruit, raspberry and quince. Mandarin is my fave. They’re a little like those gum drops we had as kids, but these are made made with real fruit, so you know they’ve gotta be full of vitamins, fiber and other healthy stuff. Americans are familiar with Bon Maman’s jams, but she’s also a great little confectioner.
My neighbors, Carole and Jerome forced me to try this. I’m not a huge fan of wine, but dude, when you put just a tiny drop of creme de cassis in a glass of dry white wine, it’s a refreshing ambrosia of the gods. I’ll have another. The recipes I’ve found call for waaaay too much cassis (usually a teaspoon or more), making it waaaay too sweet. Just a drop, I tell ya! The beauty of kir is you don’t have to be in France to enjoy it, although I’m sure it helps.
Bahlsen petits gâteaux chocolats
Another chocolaty delight found in the Auvers grocery store. Eight little cakes of dense, rich chocolate. The inside is so soft and slightly gooey, it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced from a baked good that wasn’t either homemade or from a bakery. Around 2E for a bag of eight. Another bargain!!! I realize that Bahlsen is a German company, but these petit gateaux are too good to let that stop me.
The Sunday market is a great place to discover fruit you’ve never heard of. Mirabelles are a cross between a plum and a cherry (the greenish-yellow with a dash of pink fruit on the bottom). About the size of a quarter, they’re the perfect pop in your mouth snack. Sweet and juicy with a manageable pit. They’re only available in August and they’re the pride and joy of France. No wonder.
Nestle La Laitiere, Chocolate Pots au creme
Who knew such joy could be found in the dairy section of a grocery store? I’ve been pretty bitter about the lack of good ice cream available here (unless you want to pay $7.00 for a pint of Haagen Dazs). This more than makes up for it. Four rich chocolaty puddings, only creamier in individual glass cups. Ingredients are oeufs, sucre and lait. No syrup de corn to be found. They come in other flavors like creme de caramel, vanilla and pistachio. Someday I’ll get around to trying them too. About 2.50E for a pack of four. Totally a bargain. Hell, I used to spend that much on a single cupcake.