Pardon my absence, but I’ve been away in France, studying an intensive course about taste. And who can resist food shopping in Paris? I’ve bought home a bag full of Paris food souvenirs.
I’m baaaack! Sorry to vanish off the airwaves for such a long time, but I’ve been in France, studying the HEG (Advanced Studies in Taste) course with Le Cordon Bleu Paris, and collecting some Paris food souvenirs.The course involved two incredibly rigorous weeks of deeply concentrated lectures, focusing on all aspects of taste and the things that impact it – physiology, sociology, culture, microbiology, physics and culinary techniques – as applied to food and wine.
The course content was compelling, compulsive, challenging and utterly exhausting (I don’t believe I have ever studied so intensively ever before), but I’ve arrived home with a distinctive and elevated skill set in the field of food and wine – and a bag full of Paris food souvenirs.
I’m not much of a one for too much shopping when overseas, and there was certainly very little spare time during our course, but seriously – what kind of person doesn’t make time for food shopping in Paris. I thought you might like a peek at what I bought home with me.
As regular readers will already know, I’m a tea addict and France is one of the few places I regularly visit where I can actually get a decent cup of it. On my first visit 11 years ago I discovered Palais des Thés and, given that they don’t ship to Australia, I always drop by – especially for their almond flavoured tea which I adore. On this Paris trip I discovered that famed pastry chef Pierre Hermé also has a tea range, so a tin of that also fell into my bag. On my way home I stopped off in Singapore, where I’ve been known to visit tea establishments before, to spend a couple of days with a friend. Of course, I added a little to the haul there too, with both tea and a gorgeous, tiny, fishy dishy.
Another weakness of mine is chocolate, and in this city what is a girl to do?! Patrick Roger is a very famous chocolatier and one of his stores was just around the corner from me. I’m only human …
One thing I always pick up, no matter where I see it, is Persian saffron, and I was thrilled to find a tiny little Iranian shop down a Parisian back street. Iran grows the very best saffron in the world, but it’s labour-intensive, pricey and hard to find here in Oz, so when I see it, I grab it. I’m always especially cautious when buying saffron as it’s often not genuine, but this is – so, winning!
If you’re a foodie and happen to find yourself with a spare afternoon, spare cash and a hankering for some unique Paris food souvenirs, I’d urge you to check out one very happy destination indeed – La Grande Epicerie. When it comes to food shopping in Paris, this place is heaven on a stick. It includes a bakery, fresh fish, meat and cheeses, fresh fruit and vegetables and an enormous range of gourmet food items.
I visited three times in the space of one and a half weeks, and came home with some very special, interesting (and slightly extravagant) bits and pieces that I haven’t seen here.
One final thing that I bought home with me was something that I didn’t purchase, but I was desperate to ensure it survived the journey. I’ll get around to sharing some of the extraordinary experiences that were part of my course, but one that stands out was an afternoon spent in the cellars of Mumm Champagne, where we indulged in a generous amount of their vintage champagne. On leaving, they kindly gave each of us a bottle and, as The Bloke was holding the fort here at chez nous (see what I did there?!), the very least I could do was to bring it home for him. We’ll be sharing this very special taste of France while enjoying our own, much loved, piece of the Adelaide Hills.