Friday, 12 July 2013

Paris - The gourmet and the boutique

*I have updated and revised this post slightly because I found a heap of more photos (which I had a feeling I was missing some when originally writing this post!). Enjoy.
Way back when I first went travelling circa 1998, I ashamedly admit that I did Europe on a bus full of 18 - 30 something's either on a backpackers trip, a gap year, a college break trip or just looking to see as much as you can in a small amount of time through a hangover.  The aim for many was partying all night and sleeping on the bus between stops.  I wasn't nearly that bad but I know I could have done better, but I was younger and 'naive' (okay maybe not naive). Yes I had a fantastic time and I loved it, but it did take a year of or so living in London to realise that I probably missed out on a TON of stuff and not the way I want to travel ever again.  My style of travelling and goals changed over the years and I either became a 'solo' traveller or at least if I was going to do a tour it would be grassroots travelling and supporting local communities (local transport, guesthouses and local guides back to the community).  Also over the years my passion for food and my thirst for knowledge on all things food has developed from that first European jaunt.
Anyway, while I was living in Dubai (there's an oxymoron right there re grassroots) circa 2009 I managed to get back to Paris for a week (with a few days at Disneyland Paris but that's another post!) and I did it the way I wanted to (it also helped that I had a little more money (a tad more) than I did back in my early 20's as a backpacker!)
I spent my days eating and drinking my way around Paris and I loved every minute of it.  Needless to say, I am desperate to go back and explore France day!  and I need to brush up on my 4 years of French from school....My bucket list is long!
I stayed in the Marais - a great little pocket of Paris.
One of the areas that I did explore was Place de la Madeleine which is known for its gourmet/ boutique food shops.  I was in for a treat (but my wallet wasn't) :).
Here are a few places I visited.
A gourmet heaven. Market style.
La Maison de la Truffe (The Truffle House) 
That's fungus gold right there at over 2,000 euros per kilo.  I couldn't afford to buy any, nor did I eat in the restaurant (EPIC fail on my part) but I did however get to taste the elusive truffe in a meal I had later in the week. 
Fauchon with its black and hot pink packaging it screams chic.....gourmet grocery store at premium prices! Think David Jones Food Hall (but pricier and more upscale!)


 Ham of the Gods
but they do have iberico ham also known as pata negra. The black hoofed pigs are raised mainly on roots and acorns and are the prize ham of Spain.

I popped into Maille Mustard* shop and ordered my own freshly poured from a tap (think beer taps!) into a pottery pot, corked and all.

Mustard on tap!

the mustard wall
* You can now buy Maille mustard at the grocery store, but there nothing like fresh mustard from a tap, and they have all sorts of other flavoured mustards too.

Mariage Freres - Stepping into this quaint tea shop, the smell of a variety of tea leaves wafted through the air.  I felt like was in an old apothecary shop.   which was wall to wall tins of fantastic blends of tea.  You can sample teas before buying. oh and there is a museum of all things tea related!

It's a tea tease
Other stores that I popped into around Paris was fromage shops (wonderful cheeses galore) which are found everywhere along with bakeries, with the glorious, wonderful smell of fresh bread and the markets were full of great fresh produce. 

cheese heaven
These strawberries were sweet and juicy and had the taste of summer, there were some strawberries at the market that were as big as my palm but sweet and juicy too!

fresh strawberries
Even though Dubai had a Paul's I did indulge in a fresh raspberry tart (and the raspberries haven't been flown in to make them!) and a macaroon.

chocolate macaroon
raspberry tart

I was in heaven when I visited Pierre Herme, who is the Zumbo equivalent for macaroons.  These little babies cost the earth but worth every little bite and crumb!  I got to the shop just as they were about to close and I was whisked behind the curtain (yes a curtain) which signals the shop has closed but there are a few customers still in the shop. I was the last one allowed in (which made up for the Notre Dame debacle the day before when I was cut off from the end of the line at closing time, literally the red rope was put in front of me...seriously!)  Anyway, here at Pierre Herme, I felt like I was given the VIP treatment!  This is macaroon mecca!

trays of macaroons
dessert heaven
macaroon mecca

Paris is a food lovers delight and I didn't even scratch the surface.  There is so much to explore, taste and discover.  More posts to come on champagne houses and restaurant meals and more foodie delights!

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