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Going to France, What to Buy??

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I am heading to France in a week (not Paris) and I am starting my wish list of kitchen items to buy. Right now it consists of the following:

(1) Good terrine pan.
(2) Chateau Laguiole (steak knives and corkscrew)
(3) Vintage Sabatier knife.
(4) Some wood butter molds.

Anybody have any suggestions on other items?

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  1. Jacquard linens (Provence, I think), ceramic pickling jars, maybe a proper cassole/casserole

    3 Replies
    1. re: grant.cook

      Ceramic pickling jars...that is intriguing. Never heard of that one.

      1. re: grant.cook

        And if you can find them, I would consider shipping home some wine crates if you like that kind of thing. I used to work for a wine distributer in England and used to bring home the wooden crates with the winemaker's mark stamped into the ends.At work, they used to just chuck them in the dumpster. I loved them. I used them for storage and wish I had sprung to ship them back here. Sigh.


        1. re: hillsbilly

          Have you checked your local wine stores? One very large wine shop in DE used to give them away; now I see they're charging $1.99 for them.

      2. Vintage champagne buckets, particularly if you like to drink champagne and have a favored brand or two.

        I also like vintage pastis, suze, vermouth water carafes.

        2 Replies
        1. re: souvenir

          Very good suggestion there with the champagne bucket. I like that.

          Where are the best places to find them?

          1. re: smkit

            Flea markets (les puces) and brocantes are where I've found the best prices. Antique and collectible stores are also good candidates.

            I like some new bucket styles too, so you may want to check out kitchenware, wine shops, and department stores for current items that aren't usually available in the US.

        2. From St. Jean de Luz in the Basque region, Jean Vier table linens are beautiful and durable. Hard to find in the US.

          1. Ignore this if you have a supply where you live, but I like to take home the Knorr cubes of fish fumet.

            1. Chateau Laguiole knives really are pretty naff, honestly. And screwpull makes a much better corkscrew, just my two centimes. WHILE you are here, please indulge in the lovely raw milk cheese, just pick 5 different cheeses and go for it with a baguette à l'Ancienne, just heavenly. I'll second the Knorr and Maggi stock cubes, there's a huge variety here. Plus Fond de Veau, makes spectacular gravy and is a lush, subtle ingredient in many different meat dishes or as a slight thickener. If you go to an Emmaüs, which is a countrywide charity, rather like Goodwill, with centres in all the largest cities. You can pick up terrine pans, linens, etc, for next to nothing. You'll be shocked. Check the Pages Jaunes for your nearest one, they're usually only open a couple days a week, but so worth the trip!

              5 Replies
              1. re: LaCheshireChat

                In street markets, you can find folding Opinel knives (many times cheaper than Laguiole). They won't last forever, but they take a very sharp edge as they are carbon steel.

                I can find both those knives here (Montréal) but they are a lot cheaper in France.

                Agree about Emmaüs. Wonderful stuff.

                1. re: LaCheshireChat

                  Thanks to everyone for the great recommendations, and I will definitely try to get to an Emmaüs. to look around.

                  And I can't agree more about the yogurt. When I was in Haute Savoie the cheese and yogurt there blew me away. I'll keep my eye out for those terra cotta pots.

                  1. re: LaCheshireChat

                    I checked near Lyon and it appears as if the nearest Emmaüs is bit out of town.

                    8 Avenue Berliet, 69200 Vénissieux, France

                    I'll check the yellow pages when I get there and see if there is a closer one.

                    1. re: smkit

                      Vénissieux is an old working-class suburb of Lyon; the métro goes there - line D. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia... http://tcl.fr/ Lyon has excellent public transport for a city of its size, click on the little Union Jack to view the site in Engish. Obviously thrift shops won't usually be in the poshest part of town.

                      You can check French Yellow Pages out online from anywhere in the world: www.pagesjaunes.fr It doesn't seem to be in English, but it is easy to navigate: "Quoi, Qui" means "What, Who" and "Où" means "Where". It has photos, maps, all sorts of features.

                      Lyon is a lovely place to visit - and eat! Do take notes and start up a thread on the France board!

                      1. re: lagatta

                        Thanks for the directions. From a quick check of the yellow pages, it seems as if that is the only one in the area.

                  2. There is yogurt from Marseilles that comes in little terra cotta pots, not only is the yogurt excellent but the little pots are perfect for pots de creme. I am kicking myself for only bringing back six.

                    1. What about (new or vintage) copperware? It my not be cheap, but it'll be cheaper than buying new in the USA. And--chief advantage--you can get premium, hammered, 3mm, tin-lined, iron-handled pieces that are no longer being imported to the USA.

                      I bought a nice, thick copper saute in Italy as a memento, and I wish I'd bought 10 more pieces there! When you get home, the shipping is prohibitive.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        I need to look into copper pans more. Do you have any recommendations for a good versatile copper pan or style. Essentially, if I were to get one pan, what would be the most useful.

                        I know they are good for even heating sauces and beating egg whites, but I actually would love to bring back a copper pan, but want to make sure it will be one that I use.

                        1. re: smkit

                          Style? Heavier/thicker the better, but at least 2mm. Hammered over plain exterior. Tin lined over stainless (this may start a fight on this board). Cast iron handles over brass. Spend extra and get a lid

                          One pan? Hmmm.... If I was on a desert island and could have only one pan... I'd probably swim for it! No, seriously, I would probably get either a medium-large splayed saucepan (called a "Fait Tout" or a Windsor--see pic below); or an oval Dutch Oven only large enough for a large chicken or medium-sized beef/pork roast. You can do most sauces, risottos and saute-ing in the former, and boil/roast/braise/bake/stock in the latter.

                          If you find a pan/pot you like, but the tin is shot, BUY IT ANYWAY and have it re-tinned. Cheaper to do it while there, but not so bad here, either, for what you get. Likewise on the exterior polish--look for diamonds in the rough and polish it yourself, or just groove on a pan with character that might be 200 years old. Not so with loose handles/rivets--pass on those.

                          If you find anything by the (extinct) maker Gaillard, I'll buy it from you!

                          Have fun!

                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            Thanks for this quick and dirty tutorial on copper pans. I might just go for the Gaillard to make you squirm ; )

                            Actually, I would love to come back with some copper. We'll see how things go...I need do some ground work once I get there.

                            1. re: smkit

                              Thank me after your addiction takes root. Beware.

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                I just started an addiction to Japanese cutlery in the last year. I wonder if I can handle another one...

                                I'll do my best to make people jealous.

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  In France now and trying to locate my 'gear'. Someone is checking on copper for me, which is great, but I am not sure I will be able to find Gaillard. I'm still hoping though.

                                  I'm going to hit the antique markets tomorrow to look for copper, champagne buckets, and old knives.

                                  Still want to make it to Emmaüs.

                                  FYI -- I heard that Carrefour sells copper by weight. Sort of like bulk candy, but copper pans instead.

                                  1. re: smkit

                                    LOL! You leave for France and someone is selling 2 Gaillards on eBay right now.


                              2. re: kaleokahu

                                I definitely agree with kaleokahu . . . on some things ;-) Copper is at it's absolute best when it comes to sauces, especially delicate ones. I would (for sure) go for a curved or splayed saucepan and definitely tin lined. The dutch oven, on the other had, I would suggest stainless lined - sometimes you want to brown the meat prior to cooking it and tin will begin to melt at around 450 degrees. I'm not sure what temperature a pot reaches when browning meat, but personally, I wouldn't want to worry about the lining of my pot when I'm browning something. You should also consider either a stainless steel lined saute pan or a rondeau (this is basically the same shape as a saute pan, but with an extra loop handle instead of a long one). Extremely versatile shape - great for sauteeing, roasting, frying, and just about everything else (even things like shepherd's pie and casseroles). Honestly, though, if you came back with a bunch of hand hammered, tin lined, 2 or even 3mm copper cookware, you'd be the envy of every copper cookware lover here (and we'd all be begging for your number to make an offer on them - those things are hard to find here!!!!)

                                1. re: sherrib

                                  One man's Dutch Oven (or four ovale) is another woman's rondeau. ;) But you are right about the versatility.

                                  I brown in my tinned copperware all the time. To be safe, you need to put some fat in the pan before it comes up to temperature. And--true enough--best to use black cast iron for true sizzle-searing.

                                  I do not know, because I have no SS-lined copper pieces (the horror! ;) ), but I wonder whether even they are safe to use for searing. Common sense tells me that heating bimetals past the 500 mark might not be the greatest idea, especially so since there's no fixing a delaminated pan.

                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                    If you're ok browning in the tin-lined copper, then it's also perfectly safe to brown in stainless lined copper as well. As far as searing goes, I would make sure the copper is at least 2mm in thickness (2.5 and higher is even better) to ensure against warping. Having said that, I think you said it best, cast iron is the way to go for searing. I find copper is way too conductive (and responsive) and doesn't get hot enough for the kind of sear you can get with cast iron. Cast iron retains heat much better and is much less responsive - which means there's less of a drop in temperature when the food hits the pan.

                                    1. re: sherrib

                                      So... you think it is safe to sear in SS-lined copperware? That is the implication of your last post, and I think that may give some Chowhounds a VERY expensive lesson.

                                      I don't think that ANY thickness of copper will "ensure against warping" at high enough heat. And we're not really talking about warpage anyway--the danger is that the differences in coefficients of expansion between the copper and its bonded SS lining will cause delamination of the dissimilar metals at high heat.

                                      The relative advantage of tin-lined is that you can always have your pot re-tinned, but you can't re-bond a SS liner.

                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        Hmmmmmm. You're right, you can't re-bond SS lining while it is always possible to re-tin. But if no thickness will ensure against warping, then it would be an expensive lesson for both tin-lined and stainless lined copper cookware owners to sear food in their copper cookware at very high temps. I don't use my copper for searing anyway - I find it just doesn't get as hot as my cast iron does. I wonder if any stainless lined users have damaged their stainless linings this way. Could be an interesting new topic . . .

                                        1. re: sherrib

                                          I dunno, I have heard more about the possibility of delaminating than I have actually heard direct delamination accounts. I looked on google, couldn't find a picture or an account of a delaminated copper SS pan. Obviously, that doesn't mean it definitely is not happening.

                                          Although I hugely favour carbon steel or cast iron for searing,.. I have used SS lined copper loads of times too - when i want to do the whole pan sauce thing. The biggest problem seems to be the pronounced discolouration (through purple, into silvery sometimes) but some Copperbrill takes care of that.

                                          Most likely, if I left it empty on high heat and went to watch a movie, it would be a different story! If (or "When" - if you've already made up your mind) mine delaminates, I will post the story up on here and be the 1st google result for "copper stainless steel delamination"! :-)

                          2. Definitely table linens and dish towels -- they're beautiful and a bargain at the market in Isle Sur la Sorgue in Provence.

                            1. tinned pate en croute molds they now make only in non-stick

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: tim irvine

                                I'm with you on this one. Terrine pans top my list.

                                1. re: smkit

                                  For terrine pans a trip to a nearest SuperU supermarket or Leclerc might be a good thing, if you are into all kinds of Emile Henri dishes. If you happen to pass near a small Alsatian town of Turckheim, visit Staub store, right next to Staub factory . They have gazzilion pots and pans for all occasions, unfortunately most of them made of cast iron, which may be an issue when your bags are put on scales on the way to a plane...

                              2. I'll throw out a suggestion for getting a good carbon steel pan:




                                They're heavy (will eat into your luggage weight allowance), but it'll last forever and you'll always remember France when you use it. Which will be often.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Joe Blowe

                                  Carbon steel pans are fantastic! I'm not entirely sure if it will be worth bringing them all the way back from France, however. They're not extremely expensive and are very heavy. I picked one up this summer from my local Sur la Table store. They were on sale - I got the 12 inch for $27. Go over by a couple of pounds in your luggage these days and the airlines charge exorbitant fees (although I'm not sure if international flights have the same restrictions with weight). I don't know why these pans are so hard to find here - they definitely don't get the recognition they deserve - they're great pans.

                                  1. re: sherrib

                                    You'll get no argument from me on the weight issue! You definitely have to make sure you have enough weight to spare in your check-in luggage, or you have to find out if you can carry the item onboard. The OP sounds like they're bringing back quite a few items, so a heavy pan might be at the bottom of the list.

                                    When it comes to prices and availibility of certain makes and models, though, I believe it then becomes worthwhile to haul *some* types of cookware home. If you click on the first link I provided above, you'll see I saved 65%. (Some places that sell de Buyer in the U.S. are reaming their customers for even more!) The exact size pan I bought was only available through two U.S. sources at the time (other sizes are completely *unavailable*), and duties and fluctuating exchange rates are always leading to increased prices for someone buying in the U.S.

                                    As always, do your homework before you leave so you'll know what you *must* get and you can leave behind...

                                  2. re: Joe Blowe

                                    Weight isn't that big of deal when traveling internationally. 2 bags at around 50 pounds I think. I only took one bag and my wife only had one. But I will end up having to buy another piece (or two) of luggage and that costs. Then there is customs too. I think I am on their s*!t list. I was stopped 3 of 4 last times coming to the US.

                                    1. re: smkit

                                      The only reason Customs would have you on a list is if you've been caught smuggling fruits, vegetables, meats, etc. They barely move an eyebrow when someone fails to claim purchases (and pay the appropriate taxes).

                                      If you're bringing in tons of cheese, butter, and other food, then carefully plan your route to avoid the sniffing beagles who sometimes hang out in baggage claim. I usually just let me luggage go around once or twice until I see a route that avoids the beagles. Then again, I don't bring meat into the country because that's just too easy for the dog to sniff and the agents to care about. They don't care as much about dairy products, but I still play it safe.

                                  3. Well, I looked at some antique copper today. A local was able to track down a shop in the antique district that had copper pots available. A lot of the items they had were pretty thin, but one sauce pot was enormous and thick, around 3mm. It must have been 10+ qts and was HEAVY. I found no markings on it.

                                    I also found a very nice vintage champagne bucket, but I am still going to look around before pulling the trigger on that.

                                    Lastly, for now, I picked up some Forge Laguiole steak knives and corkscrew and a couple of Opiinel knives (one carbon one stainless).

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: smkit

                                      Just out of curiosity, what was the asking/purchase price of the 10Q pot, and was the tinning OK? Did it have the original lid?

                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        No lid. It would have to be retinned, and it was 110 Euro.

                                        1. re: smkit

                                          Still not a bad deal. Think about what Ruffoni gets in USA for their 1.5mm stockers. Lids can be found that will match. A couple of the French eBayers specialize in that, actually. Can you picture it on your stove in 30 years? I say dicker if you like it.

                                      2. re: smkit

                                        smkit, one thing I always loved to pick up in France was those little tempered-glass Duralex tumblers (for wine at home, fruit juice or even coffee). Duralex seems to not be producing right now; there is Arcoroc though I prefer Duralex.

                                        How on earth are you hauling all this stuff home?

                                      3. smkit- When you get back, please do a full report of what you purchased, great recommendations for cookware/cooking lovers, etc. I'd love to hear all about it! I'm a true Francophile and will be going there in a couple of months...

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: CookingwithMochi

                                          Well, my kitchen shopping went pretty well, but there were a few things that hindered it:

                                          (1) I forgot to measure for linens before leaving and convert to centimeters. It would have been easier if I had a quick reference for my tables sizes. I found some Jean Vier table linens, but the selection was small, and I wasn't sure about size.

                                          (2) I got sick one day and that was when I was going to go to both the copper dealer and the Emmaüs, so that didn't happen. : (

                                          (3) Also, never underestimate the other stuff that you will want to bring back that will compete with kitchenwares. Bernachon chocolate, wine, my wife's shoes, and baby clothes were also competing for space. I could have bought another bag as I had plenty of baggage allowance, but it just didn't happen. Who wants to go luggage shopping in Lyon when you can eat at great restaurants instead.

                                          So what did I get?

                                          * A very nice maple wood set of Forge de Laguiole steak knives.
                                          * 2 (No. 10) Opinel knives (one carbon and one stainless)
                                          * 2 (.5 litre) Mostrad silicone terrine molds. The ones with the lid with thermoprobe hole and terrine press.
                                          * 1 tin break-away terrine pan
                                          * 1 Forge de Laguiole corkscrew
                                          * 2 dessert molds

                                          I gave the copper pot my best crack, but they were hard to find. In the end, I wanted something I would use, and the sizes I found were just not good for how I cook.

                                          All in all, it was a lot harder to find vintage goods as I missed the big brocante/flea markets, and the antique shops I found didn't have much to offer. There were a lot of antique shops but the antiquity shops sell different things than the brocante antique shops. And I didn't see an old Sabatier knife my whole time in Lyon.

                                          The only thing I left that I sort of wish I had brought back was the vintage champagne bucket, but it was really really heavy and I would have had to buy another bag to cart it back -- or ship it separately. And I never got to a good grocery store to pick up the epicerie items I wanted. Oh well...next time.

                                          I had a great time and ate very very well.

                                          1. re: smkit

                                            That's great! Thanks for sharing this adventure with all of us. I'm glad that you had a great time and had an overall great epicurean experience.

                                            1. re: smkit

                                              Thank you so much for telling us all about it! Now I really REALLY want to go!!!

                                              1. re: smkit

                                                You did get the Bernachon chocolate, right? They are heavenly. I love Lyon.

                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                  Yep. That is some amazing chocolate. I took back a bunch of their bars and a box of some other smaller candies.

                                                  1. re: smkit

                                                    The dark chocolate bar is amazing in a chocolate tart if you're that way inclined. I remember one of their pralinés that had at least 3 different textures and as many flavors in it...and we were there when they still had their marrons glacés (right after New Year's) so a bunch of them had to come home with me too.

                                            2. I imagine myself knee deep in vintage carbon steel Sabatier knives and vintage heavy copper cookware...............

                                              My idea of heaven on earth.