Things I’m Liking…
I love my everyday bowls, which were gifts from my friend Kate who lives in Gascony. They’re from a semi-local potter which makes cassoles, the bowls for preparing Cassoulet. But I’ve loved these little fellas forever and use ’em for my daily soup and noodle bowls. I’ve posted pictures of them on the site and folks have asked me where oh where they can find them. (Here’s one site.) But because they’re somewhat fragile to ship, and rather heavy, you might want to consider hauling them back from France yourself if you don’t live here*. However I came across them at the J’Go stand in the Marché Saint Germain des Près in the 6th. If you want them, and are coming to Paris – bring bubble wrap! (And some extra cash; they’re €24 each.) They also stock cassoles in multiple sizes at La Tuile à Loup, a great French pottery shop in Paris.
Arbequina Olive Oil
A few years ago I discovered Arbequina olive oil. Made from extra fruity-tasting olives, it is the base for a wonderful vinaigrette to pour over salads. But it’s also excellent drizzled over chocolate with flaky sea salt and the mingling of all those ripe, juicy flavors in the oil with bittersweet chocolate and salt is astounding. You can get Arbequina oil from presses in California (the one shown was a gift from them) or Spain (I like soTaroni which they usually sell at Da Rosa in Paris) – but your favorite olive oil or gourmet food store might have one. It’s great stuff, wherever you get it.
Osmo Top Oil
I have wood countertops and like how they get aged, with various nicks and stains and so forth. It gave the person who installed it fits when I started chopping directly on it, but tant pis. However the counters do need to be treated and nourished. I used mineral oil, but it just soaked in and the wood kept begging me for more. (I hear mineral oil presents some ecological problems, too.) So I wasn’t sure what to do. Until along came my pal Meg, who mentioned to me Osmo Top Oil. It’s a food-safe blend of oil and wax that you brush on in two layers, and protects the wood so much that liquid beads up on it and I can wipe it away. Spilled cocktails for everyone!
Oddly, it’s made in Germany, and available in the United Kingdom and the United States. But I could not find it in France. (So for those who see things in France that they can’t get elsewhere, I feel your pain.) Happily Meg gifted me two bottles from merry old England, and my counters, and I, are moist and happy – respectively.
I’m a sucker for anything mini. (Blame it on how much I coveted my sister’s Barbie Dream House – and maybe a few other things as well.) So I couldn’t resist this teeny, tiny, little jar of petroleum jelly that I got at Bed, Bath & Beyond last time I was in New York. Which was, of course, right by the register. And, of course, I had to pick it up. (And, of course, my French traveling companion could not understand why I was walking through this store, throwing everything I could in my shopping cart – until he tried on my memory foam slippers when we got home, then, of course, begged me to go back and buy a pair – as well as quite a few other things, for himself.) I have heard rumblings that petroleum products can cause all sorts of things, like turning your lips into unicorns or something. Yet it was too adorable to resist. And then, there’s those memory foam slippers…but I’ll spare you a picture of my happy feet.
Paris can get kind of loud at night, with bars, cafés, and people holding jump-roping contests on the hardwood floors above you at 4:45am. This nifty white noise sound conditioner blocks out most city noise –including rowdy folks getting out of bars and Parisian motor scooters that have had their mufflers removed because teenagers think it’s fun to ride around and blow out their eardrums. My Dohm is da bomb.
The one I mail-ordered here in France came from Germany, and came with an American plug. Um, okay. So I wrote to the company who responded immediately and let me know they have a distributor in France (a slightly hidden store Audilo, which is a good place to know about – and the staff is super-nice…I’m considering giving them my CV or resumé.) It takes a bit to get used to the constant whooshing noise, then it’s bliss.
Bordier Piment d’Espelette Butter
Butter flavored with Basque piment d’Espelette from Bordier is spicy…and some kind of amazing. This beurre has been rocking my world lately and is great spread on bread or tossed with pasta for a quick meal. From the “things you don’t want to hear”, it’s only available in France. (Enterprising DIY folks elsewhere could approximate it by kneading dried pepper powder into top-quality softened butter.) But if you’re in Paris, you can find it at La Grande Épicerie, Pascal Trotté fromagerie (97 rue Saint Antoine, closed midday), who also has excellent Comté cheese, Laurent Dubois, and L’Épicerie Breizh Café.
Galette fines au blé noir
Ok, so who’s a big tease, again? A Bretonne neighbor brought me a box of these simple La Bien Nommée buckwheat cookies and they were in-croy-able! Unfortunately I gobbled them down before I could show them to anyone else. (And I, uh, had to eat them before the expiration date.) But if you love buckwheat as much as I do, you can try to track some down. (I wish buckwheat wasn’t such a royal pain in the patootie to roll out, otherwise I’d try my hand at making them myself.) They only have five ingredients; buckwheat, butter, sugar, butter, eggs, salt, and butter. Oops, was that more than five?
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*UPDATE: I got a message from the company that I listed that they do ship to the United States. They assured me that that they are well-packed and they haven’t had any problems.