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What edibles or food related items do you bring home from a visit to Paris?

Hi Chowhounders - We're leaving for Paris in a couple of weeks and thanks to the tremendous help of the posters on this board, we're all set for restaurant recommendations. We'll be there for six nights so will have some more time on this trip to explore the city. Are there certain edibles or food related items that you always bring home from your trips to Paris that you simply can't find at home? (One that is on my list are salted caramels from Jacques Genin.) For those who live in Paris, I would love to hear of your favorite Parisian items that you've noticed aren't available elsewhere. I will be traveling to Chicago for one night from Paris and then back home to LA. I will have access to a small hotel fridge in Chicago.
Thanks so much!

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  1. We love artisanal oils from Huilerie LeBlanc (6 rue Jacob in the 6th). And mustard "on tap" from the Maille Boutique at 6 Place de la Madeleine.

    4 Replies
      1. re: jenn

        I love the LeBlanc oils, too. But I'm kind of partial to Hédiard's 3 peppers mustard, around the corner from Maille.

        Incidentally, although mentioned elsewhere in this thread, I just ordered a Cabri Arièois cheese from Alléosse to bring to the states next Tuesday.

        1. re: RandyB

          You do love that cheese.monsieur. Cabriolet is quite similar if not exactly the same. try to find Pechagos and La Petit Fiance des Pyrenees,both goat, both from near Foix, and you will love both of them.

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            I have not tried Cabriolet or Pechagos. I'll look for them. Thanks for the suggestion.

            Le Petit Fiancé is my next choice when I do not expect a group large enough to share a Cabri Ariègois, or when the C-A is not available. The Fiancé is also easier to find in other shops. Alléosse seems to have first dibs on available C-A Ariègois supplies.

            I almost made to Foix last April when staying in the Pyrenées, but my friends chose to go to the Pic du Midi for the views instead of a foodie trip.

    1. Usually some wine (natural and/or particular vintage or wineries that are hard to get here in Montreal)
      Some paté/rillettes/... from small producers that I find in markets.

      Other than that, not much.

      1. Foie gras in jars, not in tins.
        Confits d'oignons.
        Both preferably from farms, not from big brands.
        Honey from the roof of Opéra Garnier (I admit, for the novelty).

        4 Replies
        1. re: Parigi

          hey, where do you buy this honey? Is it for sale at the Opera gift shop?? And, has anyone bought the Luxembourg gardens honey?

          1. re: hearts_ease

            "where do you buy this honey? Is it for sale at the Opera gift shop??"

            Yup. It does not always stock it. I mean: there is a season. The jars of honey are all sold within weeks after arriving at the museum boutique.
            I had to reserve two jars in advance.

            "And, has anyone bought the Luxembourg gardens honey?"

            Yes, but that was 10 years ago.
            The best source of Paris honey I have had, I found it in the Spring Boutique, from a ruche on rue des Pyrénées.

            1. re: hearts_ease

              There's a very nice Frederick Wiseman documentary of the Paris Opera ballet, where the bees and their keeper make a brief appearance, along with the fish tanks in the basement. Wonderful for anyone with an interest in the building or the institution.

          2. Always a young Epoisses. A chunk of as aged comté as I can get my hands on. Chåtaigne liquour.
            Tarbais beans. Variouis unexpected oddments I come across at G. Detou and elsewhere.

            My problem is that I get so attached to these treasures that, other than the cheeses, I tend to squirrel them away and save them for...what?.... So my buyuing mantra has become: How and when will you use this?

            8 Replies
            1. re: mangeur

              Mangeur, I’m thinking that we are in synch with you; your first three are ours, too. (Our fourth has become Genin’s caramels.) But what really catches our attention is your mention of “Châtaigne liquour.” Ever since we had the regional aperitif “Pelou” (a dash of liqueur de Châtaigne along with the local sparking wine) at the delightful northern Auvergne “Chateau Ygrande” (http://www.chateauygrande.fr/#/en/acc... ) in 2007 and 2009 -- and bought a bottle there in 2007 (“Distillerie des Orgues et des Volcans”) -- we’ve searched in vain for a similarly good bottling in Paris. We've asked in fine wine and liquor stores; no luck. (I’d inquire in my poor French for “Liqueur de Châtaigne”? We’d get quizzical looks -- then, finally the person’s face would light up and say, “oh, you’re searching for ‘Liqueur de Châtaigne’ ”? Yes, I thought I’d said that, but apparently not; evidently I put the emphasis in the wrong place – I’m still not sure.) Finally, we got the bright idea to ask in Auvergne specialist stores. In those places, first we found “Crème de Châtaigne,” by “Couderc” – a nice looking bottle, but it turned out to taste like a chemistry project. Then we found “Liqueur de Châtaigne,” by Marius Bonal -- promising, and better, but still not approaching the golden viscous stuff that we had at Ygrande.

              So: can you recommend a maker and place to purchase this in Paris?

              1. re: mangeur

                Ah. Epoisses is my favorite.

                So then:
                Who in Paris has the best epoisses in the best condition?

                1. re: pauliface

                  You won't go wrong at either Laurent Dubois http://www.fromageslaurentdubois.fr/#... or La Ferme St. Hubert http://www.myspace.com/valent_ne/phot.... Both provide excellent product and sweet service. And not least, raw milk epoisses. Do watch out that you are not sold pasteurized epoisses at other places.

                  1. re: pauliface

                    There are currently three makers of Epoisses. Berthault, Champery(?) both make the cheese with thermalized milk only. Jean Gaugry from near Gevrey-Chambertin makes it both ways. It is getting very, very difficult to find the au lait cru though. Most Gaugry is thermalized in Paris as well. All that comes to the states regardless of manufacturer is thermalized. When you get the Gaugry at a store just check the package, if it does not say au lait cru, it isn't. Due to EU all swiss Vacherin Mont d'Or is now thermalized, at least what comes into France and US/Canada. The French Vacherin on the other hand is still usually au lait cru, yippee.

                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      Thank you both. This info will really help.
                      Only 1 week til I head to paris!

                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        I used to buy a nice Epoisses from Marie Ann Cantin. My daughter especially loved the mini ones that they called "Tru Cru" (I think). I have switched my primary allegiance to Dubois, though, so I haven't been to Cantin for a few years.

                        1. re: Nancy S.

                          The last one I bought from MAC was pasteurized. Whether they had raw milk also and I just was given the "other", I'm not sure. But I now stick with Dubois or St. Hubert.

                          1. re: Nancy S.

                            The name of the mini Epoisses 'Tru de Cru' is a riff on the French expression for a**hole, which is trou du cul.

                    2. Lots of goodies (including, of course, foie gras) from the Dubernet store in either Paris or Lyon, ditto for quenelles from Giraudet. Cognac from my favorite house which is hard to find here. Mustard... Cheese from Dubois or Richard. sometimes wine, depends where I've been. Chocolate truffles.

                      And next time, caramels from Genin!

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: ChefJune

                        The Dubernet store at 2 rue Augereau, across from Cafe Constant, is a wonderous place; don't walk in there when you are hungry. They are happy to advise as to those goods that Customs will waive on through. Not cheap however.

                        1. re: Oakglen

                          no, but the brands of similar goods you can get in US are not up to Dubernet's standards, imho.

                        2. re: ChefJune

                          And what, pray tell, is your favorite cognac house, and where do you procure it?

                          1. re: pauliface

                            Marcel Ragnaud is the cognac house, and Caves Taillevent carries them. (or they did when I was there in 2008).

                            15 Rue Lamennais, Paris, Île-de-France 75008, FR

                            1. re: ChefJune


                              I'm also a big fan of Calvados, if anybody has any favorites...

                              1. re: pauliface

                                Julhès has very good calvados. And cognac.

                                1. re: pauliface

                                  Quoting myself, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/445935
                                  We stick with Natural Color brand calvados: smooth with a lovely, haunting finish.

                                  1. re: pauliface

                                    Chateau de Breuil makes some very nice old Calvados -- and it's available in the US, according to the folks there.

                            2. Oil from Leblanc (also their vinegar and mustard)
                              Christine Ferber jam
                              Jam from Spring Boutique -- I bought great blackberry jam in September
                              Speculous cookies
                              wine from Derniere Goutte

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Nancy S.

                                In Carrefours you can find Speculoos sort of peanut butter stuff, tastes like ground up cookies, and at the tea/coffee shop near St Sulpice around the corner from La Cornue shop they have Speculoos syrup.

                                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                  I love the generic "supermarket" brand from Leder Price.

                                  1. re: Nancy S.

                                    Tried both, the Speculoos brand tastes IMHO exactly like the Delta Biscottes that are served on flights. Was not as happy with the house brand.

                              2. We usually bring back Mariage Frères tea and Bernachon chocolate bars (from L'Etoile D'Or)

                                1. I second the mustard on tap from Maille Boutique and the little jars are make great gifts. I like the champagne vinegar from Huilerie LeBlanc and from G Detou I get dried mushrooms like cepes and morels as well as fabulous almond paste. We also bring back armagnac and framboise liqueur. For us I buy Genin caramels and for my co workers I get an assortment from Maison du Chocolat. Before going to the airport we go to Gerard Mulot and get some pastries to soften the blow of having to leave Paris.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                    Many things from the practical to the silly, and I have Mangeur's Squirrling problem too, in my case, hanging on to things past their peak, so this year I vow to use things up sooner. Always mustard (usually high and low - Maille, Amora) Roux caramels from Denise Acabo, LeBlanc oils, Tarbais beans (are they so expensive everywhere?) Perigoudine Walnuts, LU Sable de Flandres (not available in North America... oh, and I love 'em) cidre, vin, sometimes cocoa, always a big bag of course grey sea salt... and every year, a couple of empty, cleaned out, terra-cotta yogurt pots (http://www.lafermiere.com/Produits/Ya...) which pop up all over France as pencil cups, mustard cups, and custard cups at several well known restaurants.

                                    1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                      Thank you for suggesting Gerard Mulot! We did just as you described and stopped by on our way to the airport! We stocked up on macaroon, croissants and baguettes rustique! They were open very early on Friday morning ( I think we stopped in at 7:30am).

                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                        Good to hear that since when we go in March our flight back is on a Friday morning. Glad you enjoyed it.

                                    2. I am surprised no one has mentioned raiding the Pierre Oteiza shop on boulevard Saint-Michel. I would.

                                      1. There are long threads elsewhere, at sites on life support, but searchable, with lots of ideas of everything from chocolates to cheeses to mustards (I guess now a no-no if my strip search experience at Dulles is any indicator) to sugar (La Perruche, available at Fresh Fields/etc at double the price), etc.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: John Talbott

                                          "mustards (I guess now a no-no if my strip search experience at Dulles is any indicator)"

                                          Is this something we should know about...or not?

                                          1. re: mangeur

                                            Yes, I'll write you an email so as not to discuss non-food stuff here.

                                            1. re: mangeur

                                              Mustard as soft cheese are fine, but only in checked luggage. TSA issue not customs

                                          2. Last trip we made it ok with mustards, wines and chocolates. The apples we forgot to eat on the plane, however, agitated the search dogs.

                                            1. Ingrid, the suggestions posted already are excellent, but you mention "food-related items" also. If you haven't already been there, Dehillerin is an amazing store, and its website does not begin to display the astonishing inventory of kitchenwares there. www.e-dehillerin.fr

                                              For many of us, it is impossible to visit Paris without bringing something back from Dehillerin, whether it's a commercial grade saute or sauce pan, or something easier to carry, such as a specialty knife, whisk, chinois, whatever. A trip to Paris, for someone living in the States, is a treasure, and it can be nice to return home with not only consumables, but something that will last. Every time I prepare dinner with my Mauviel copper saute or roasting pan, it brings a smile and warm memories of Paris.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Greg in Chicago

                                                Greg, Iw asn't thinking of cookware! I have only to look up at my Bain a Fritures hanging on my pot rack to bring a smile to my face. ;)

                                                1. re: Greg in Chicago

                                                  I love my french rolling pin from E Dehillerin!!! Can be expensive there but you can usually find some small treasure that won't break the bank. One thing I always bring back is truffle salt - you can find it at any decent Carrefour or other market - you have not lived until you have made your own frites tossed with fresh truffle salt!!!! Also, like the above poster I love the terra cotta yogurt containers from La Fermiere. And if you can swing it, French butter with sea salt crystals - i managed to pack a pound successfully in my luggage. worth it.

                                                2. Under "food related items", I hanker for a tete de moine cutter, but am too cheap to buy a decent one. Does anyone have a handle of where to buy one in France at an impossibly low price?


                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: mangeur

                                                    Being a Swiss item a girolle (that's what it's called) might be cheaper in Switzerland.
                                                    Anyway it's 37,50 € at tombeaudelavaisselle.fr and 35 € on Amazon.fr.

                                                    1. re: Ptipois

                                                      Even Swiss products are more expensive here... factor in the recent currency movements, and it's even worse.
                                                      That said, Migros indeed have slightly cheaper girolles (about 26 EUR). Not worth a detour.

                                                      1. re: olivierb

                                                        I'm not so sure. I regularly go to Geneva/Annecy to see my best friend and he not only shops on the French side but has his dog groomed there and only uses the Migros for "forget'ems."

                                                        1. re: John Talbott

                                                          Sure, but does he have his dog groomed with a girolle?

                                                  2. On my recent trip to France, I picked up a whole bunch of Fleur de sel de Camargue at a large supermarket for less than 3 euro each. I gave them away to friend and family and they all loved it. I also went to a market and bought organic teas, unfiltered olive oil and some lavender honey.
                                                    I also brought chocolates from a shop called Puyricard. The best chocolate I've ever had...

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: Monica

                                                      Always stop at Dehillerin, Mora, Detou, and even though it is a packing nightmare, we always bring back breakable (not a chip yet) beauties (serving pieces, etc, sometimes with the blow softened by beautiful tablecloths and napjins too) from La Tuile a Loup, just about my favorite shop in all of Paris.

                                                      1. re: Monica

                                                        I buy my fleur d'sel de camaruge from Costco for $7.

                                                        1. re: faijay

                                                          really? Costco carries it? for how many oz? this is a great tip. Thanks.

                                                          1. re: Monica

                                                            Please remember that fleur de sel de Camargue is salt gleaned from near Aigues Mortes, thus from Mediterranean water. Fleur se sel de Guerande or from Ile de Re is from water in the Atlantic. The water from the Atlantic due to its size is generally considered to be cleaner water than the Mediterranean, thus l rarely use Baleine or Camargue salts as l listened to the experts. l am not overly concerned with the usual purity of my foodstuffs, no organics unless better tasting etc, but the person who informed me about this item was very passionate about it, and have been using Atlantic products for decades.

                                                          2. About a year ago I asked the same questions, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6597..., here is the link. I bring back mustard and cheese, and bring little bubble bags or cooler bags to pack them in. From Bruno i get Kari Gosse spice, and have bought other spices. He is wonderful and loves to talk about his items. Have gone to Monoprix and brought home tins of cookies, espeically Jos Peron Kouign Breizh cookies, my favorite. They also have shopping reusable bags for less than a euro that makes a great gift for you and others. At Detou I brought back a big bag of Prunes, which I was told by the staff to keep in the freezer after opening. I am down to about 3 of them and look lovingly at them when I get some ice. I love the pimandes, chocolate coverd almonds with a bit of spice, from da rosa on rue de seine. If you go please bring some back for me. Laduree for macarons in a lovely box? of course. Tarbais beans? You bet. Fouquet candy, please.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: t14072

                                                              how do you propose travelling with macarons? ive never had luck. just shove them in my sweet little mouth in my hotel room.

                                                            2. What can you not bring into the US? I have heard the foie gras?

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. Thanks to everyone for their wonderful suggestions. I now have a list of places I'll certainly visit to pick up some yummy stuff for home. And stops at Dehillerin, Detou, MORA are in order. Some specific questions: (1) Anyone have a particular brand of French salt packed anchovies that they adore? (2) What is the shelf life of La Duree macaroons? My mom is dying to try some but we leave Paris early Saturday morning (which means I'll have to buy them on Friday) and don't return to LA until Sunday evening. Will they survive almost 72 hours? (3) Are there chef's tools that you've picked up in Paris that you can't live without? We'll have limited packing space so bulkier items (i.e., pots, pans, serving ware) are out. That cheese cutter (girole) looked pretty great.

                                                                26 Replies
                                                                1. re: Ingrid Ingrid

                                                                  My sis once bought a box of laduree macarons....I ended up eating stale crumbs...lol, I say don't do it.

                                                                  1. re: Monica

                                                                    haha so funny. that's what i said above. i think they dont store well, they easily stale. and in my experience, they are too delicate to make any sort of journey.

                                                                    1. re: monpetitescargot

                                                                      I have carried La Durée macarons a few times and they managed fine. I would suggest freezing them as soon as you get back from les courses and just take them out the minute you're leaving for the airport. Obviously stowed away in your checked luggage isn't ideal, so have a protective carry-on to transport them.

                                                                      1. re: MMTNYC

                                                                        I would not recommend freezing them after you buy them since they most probably were frozen before being sold.

                                                                        1. re: Ptipois

                                                                          i think i will just be sitting on my hotel bed, delicately savouring each bite of my pierre herme foie gras stuffed macaron. i dont think even if they made it on the plane without crumbling that i would be able to certify they would make the long flight back home without ending up in my gullet.

                                                                          1. re: Ptipois

                                                                            Wow -- when one buys Laduree macarons from the shop, for example on rue Bonaparte, they are not fresh?

                                                                            1. re: Nancy S.

                                                                              No, they're either refrigerated for some time or frozen and defrosted. Macarons need to mature before they're sold, at least according to the Hermé method (Hermé was chef pâtissier at Ladurée before he had his own shops).

                                                                    2. re: Ingrid Ingrid

                                                                      "And stops at Dehillerin"
                                                                      I'm committing heresy and political-incorrectness on this site but the stuff at Dehillerin is vastly over-priced and while they speak English couramment, it's so 1950's, search around a bit if you value qualite/prix.
                                                                      Please don't kill me Dehillerin-lovers.

                                                                      1. re: John Talbott

                                                                        I hesitated to reply as you did, John, because I've said the same thing here before, too. Dehillerin is out of date and hors de prix. Plus their knives are inferior.

                                                                        Having said that, I will mention one item I have bought there anyway. It's a little fish bone puller in the shape of a fish. It works well, is a very simple stainless steel design, and doesn't cost much. So it makes a great gift as well as being useful.

                                                                        As a pastry chef, I love visiting Mora, Bovida, and such. But if I want to buy French equipment, I get it online in the US. Costs less and avoids the bulk, weight, and any Customs questions.

                                                                        G. Detou is another story. There are so many varieties of chocolate for cooking (or eating) that are not available in the US. Also many intense flavoring extracts. I like the raspberry and coffee. It's also one of the few places to get pure vanilla extract, but that's mostly an issue if you live here in Paris. The supermarkets here only sell liquid vanilla in a syrup. I also always bring home a 1 kg bag of Cacao Barry Extra Brut pure cocoa. It's fabulous in any recipe that calls for cocoa.

                                                                        1. re: RandyB

                                                                          "But if I want to buy French equipment, I get it online in the US. Costs less and avoids the bulk, weight, and any Customs questions."

                                                                          Travelers seldom realize that this is often the case. Because of the intrinsic differences between the French and American distribution system, and because some manufacturers even give exports a price break, we can quite occasionally buy French goods cheaper here. Another case of "know before you go".

                                                                          1. re: mangeur

                                                                            I heard there are Europeans who travel to US to shop for European goods in America right before Christmas.

                                                                            1. re: Monica

                                                                              Oh for sure.
                                                                              The weak dollar has changed many of my buying habits..

                                                                            2. re: mangeur

                                                                              Also be advised that electrical goodies must be run on a transformer. For most items, this is not a problem, but for things that heat up with resistance heat, it's a mess...leave the things that heat up on the shelf and buy them properly wired at home.

                                                                            3. re: RandyB

                                                                              I buy Detou's vanilla beans (super fresh and super cheap) and make my own vanilla extract.

                                                                              But yeah, my husband cringes every time I say I'm going to Detou (I think he interprets it as "everything". ) :D

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                I had to get an extra duffel bag for my trip to the US next week. 1 kg Valrhona Venezuelan chocolate, 1 kg Cacao Barry Extra Brute, 1 kg pâte à glacer brune (to get a mirror shine to my Opéra icing), 6 jars of confiture from Furet-Tanrade, mustard from Hédiard, 6 small gift jars of truffle salt and a few organic chocolate bars with cranberries from Lafayette Gourmet, and of course several kg of cheese, to buy on the last day.

                                                                                All I have removed from the trip over is a pound of smoked wild Alaskan salmon, maple syrup grade B, Saran Wrap, and some gift calendars.

                                                                                1. re: RandyB

                                                                                  the International Herald Tribune (back when it was a worthy site to read) had a great article about how much food gets shuttled around the world in people's suitcases..it was a hoot to read, because it was SO true.

                                                                                  1. re: RandyB

                                                                                    lf you like maple syrup as hard to find in France, try 'Shagbark', from Indiana. Mail order only, IMHO even beats Blis maple syrup. Shlep that back to France.

                                                                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                      thanks for the tip. Always nice to knwo what is good to bring as a gift.

                                                                                    2. re: RandyB

                                                                                      Being from Québec, I am required by law and custom to take tins of maple syrup to my friends in Paris and elsewhere in Europe. Those tins are bloody heavy!

                                                                                      1. re: lagatta

                                                                                        Maple syrup is readily available in Paris. It is your supermarket standard, Grade A, light amber. I bring Grade B, dark amber, which they can't get.

                                                                                        I also bring smoked wild Alaskan King salmon, since I'm from the Pacific Northwest. They have nothing like it. It is warm smoked in chunks, so it is flaky, not oily and semitransparent like lox style, cold smoked.

                                                                                        You can get a packaged, lox-style wild Alaskan smoked salmon at Monoprix (supermarket chain), species not indicated.

                                                                                        1. re: RandyB

                                                                                          if you go to Naturalia or Biocoop, you can get Grade B -- and I think I paid €23 for a litre of it the last time I bought it in Paris.

                                                                              2. re: Ingrid Ingrid

                                                                                "(2) What is the shelf life of La Duree macaroons? My mom is dying to try some but we leave Paris early Saturday morning (which means I'll have to buy them on Friday) and don't return to LA until Sunday evening. Will they survive almost 72 hours?"

                                                                                While the shop wraps are pretty, I bring my dedicated macaron box (approx. 9"x12"x1") each trip, along with precut parchment paper, (Talk about malice aforethought!), repack and seal the macarons and ship them in checked luggage. The ones shown are the large size from Gregory Renard; with some juggling, small ones fit in the spaces. They arrive home roughly 72 hours from purchase and are excellent for several days. (I have a half dozen in the freezer also as we speak.)

                                                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                                                  Is your "dedicated macaron box" simply an airtight tupperware type container? (I can't tell by looking at the picture.) If so, it's a fabulous idea. Snacks for the plane ride to Paris; little treasures for the trip back home!

                                                                                  1. re: Ingrid Ingrid

                                                                                    Airtight tupperware type container, yes. I also take one for bringing home cheese so that it doesn't get mashed.

                                                                                2. re: Ingrid Ingrid

                                                                                  Where does your flight depart from? There are six Laduree kiosks in Terminal 2 of CDG...sadly, I was stuck at Terminal 1, which had much fewer shops. If you are leaving from Terminal 2 that might be your best bet for freshness.

                                                                                3. - x3 for the Maille mustard. We are bringing our empty crocks back for refills this year.
                                                                                  - x2 on the salt. Fabulous gift and about 60% off the price for the same salt in the US
                                                                                  - 1848 brand candy bars - all of the dark chocolate ones including orange and hazelnut
                                                                                  - pate in cans, mousse de canard also in cans
                                                                                  - spice blends - we have found some interesting blends in grocery stores
                                                                                  - wines - small producers and/or blends/varietals that are not imported in great quantities to the US
                                                                                  - fruit jams in unusual flavor combinations

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: rosepoint

                                                                                    Re: Fruit jams in unusual flavor combinations:

                                                                                    "Sous le Soleil" is three citrus (orange, lemon and ??) plus lavender. Other jams are fantastic, too. Best raspberry in the world (not that I would ever exaggerate), but they sell out by the end of summer.

                                                                                    le Furet-Tanrade, 63, rue de Chambrol, 10ème.

                                                                                  2. I can't believe no one has mentioned walnut vinegar (not oil). Maille brand is available for about $2.50 a bottle in any grocery store. You can get more "artisanal" varieties in specialty food stores, but you pay more. Officially "vinaigre aromatise aux noix." I also love cleaning supplies from other countries--spongy kitchen cleaning cloths from France. I didn't buy any of this, but I enjoyed finding Laughing Cow cheese--La Vache qui Rit (the cow who laughs) in grocery stores.

                                                                                    23 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: paloaltogirl

                                                                                      That sounds interesting. What do you do with the vinegar? Besides salad dressing.

                                                                                      1. re: rosepoint

                                                                                        Lots of marinade possibilities.
                                                                                        Mixed with soy sauce and garlic, it is brushed on chicken before roasting and makes a great tasty skin.

                                                                                      2. re: paloaltogirl

                                                                                        When you go the the Maille store, the point is not to buy the plain mustard!! You are there to get the death's head mushroom-and-hazelnut variety, for example (this is not a joke - it's really delicious) or cognac and orange, for example. There are literally dozens of wonderful flavors. These are most assuredly NOT available in any grocery store - at most, grocery stores will only have a handful, even at Bon Marche's Grande Epicerie, and they are worth the trip to the Maille store.

                                                                                        1. re: hearts_ease

                                                                                          Then slip around the corner to Hédiard. They have a lovely 3-Pepper mustard. Too bad they don't make their Poivre Vert mustard any more. That was my favorite.

                                                                                          Also at Hédiard, if you don't make your own Herbes de Provence, they have the best prepackaged variety I have found.

                                                                                          There is one other thing you can rely on at Hédiard, by the way. They will always be expensive.

                                                                                          1. re: RandyB

                                                                                            The monks' store (Comptoir des Abbayes) downstairs sell a very good honey mustard. Great for making the honey-based vinaigrette of the sud-ouest.

                                                                                          2. re: hearts_ease

                                                                                            You misunderstood, I think. I'm talking about walnut vinegar, not mustard...
                                                                                            Re: foods you can bring thru customs, the government website is
                                                                                            http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vac... "Know before you go. " I tried to bring some lovely saucisson from Megeve into San Francisco, but got ratted out by the beagle that sniffed a tangerine in my mother-in-law's pocket (a tangerine from California, by the way). The store where I purchased them told me they were legal to bring back. I was so sad.

                                                                                            1. re: paloaltogirl

                                                                                              "The store where I purchased them told me they were legal to bring back."

                                                                                              You mean you declared it and it was confiscated?

                                                                                              1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                No meat products of any kind, no way, no how, period, the end. Sausages, hams, pates -- all will be confiscated, no questions asked.

                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                  "No meat products of any kind"
                                                                                                  It is about the 9th time I explain that I have declared many jars of foie gras every time I went to the US. Absolutely no problem with any customs agent, ever.

                                                                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                    but they don't, in some otherworldly sense of logic, consider foie to be meat. I've had the argument with them nonstop (is it meat? It's goose liver. But is it meat? It's the liver. Of a goose. But is it meat? No. it's goose liver. Okay, have a nice flight." WTH?)

                                                                                                    I guess they only count meat to be actual muscle fiber - I don't know.

                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                      You are correct. NO MEAT. Poultry is not considered meat. Except by those inspectors who don't understand the difference. It is really a crap-shoot. And as I've written elsewhere, almost all customs and USDA law is written with the addendum that inspectors have the right to interpret it as it seems appropriate at the time. A crap-shoot with loaded dice.

                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                        I will tell my vegetarian friends that they can eat foie gras. Yeah, win win !

                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                          I brought duck confit, declared it. No problem, but mangeur is saying poultry is not meat according to custom laws...

                                                                                                          1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                            Yep - I've been hauling confit and foie to the states for years without a hitch.

                                                                                                            But the flesh of a four-legged critter is interdit, no matter what.

                                                                                              2. re: paloaltogirl

                                                                                                Our corner (San Francisco) market carried LVqR Apero-Cubes for a short while but discontinued them when they didn't sell. :( I've often planned to bring some back as a lark but we always finish them off before they get packed.

                                                                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                  mangeur, what are those Apero Cubes? sounds interesting.

                                                                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                    LOL http://www.groupe-bel.com/bebel/en/ou... Aperi-Cubes. Sorry for the initial misspelling. They are little wrapped cubes of flavored soft cheese that are often served in a bowl with drinks. Tomato, ham, blue, garlic... really addictive junk food. Sold in boxes of mixed flavors.

                                                                                                    1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                      Think cream cheese with flavorings sprinkled on them...yet somehow everyone eats them.

                                                                                                          1. re: paloaltogirl

                                                                                                            Actually no... it IS laughing cow, just in small cube forms instead of the traditional shape, and with flavours (probably not natural...).

                                                                                                            I hate apericubes, they used to be at every party in France, but it's been a while since I have seen them.

                                                                                                            1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                              Gah. My mistake -- I was describing AperiFRAIS, not AperiCUBES.

                                                                                                    2. re: mangeur

                                                                                                      They are fairly common in supermarkets in Montréal. Yes, they are just processed cheese with interesting flavours.

                                                                                                  2. Last weekend I had dinner at Blue Ribbon in Brooklyn and the drink of the day was a straight up Brooklyn cocktail. Rye, vermouth, bitters and maraschino liquor. The bitters is something called Amer Picon, which is not available here but is in France. So I have added something new to my bring home list: Amer Picon. If anyone is going and would like to bring a bottle back for me, I will supply the Rye!

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: t14072

                                                                                                      Here, in Paris, they lace beer with it - a beery Spritzer. Amer Picon is a fine drink!

                                                                                                      If you're into such things there's a gentiane flavoured bitters made by the Salers company, though it's very difficult to find.

                                                                                                    2. Pate foie gras in those weird-shaped tins.
                                                                                                      and...I always bring back this Nestle's Instant Coffee--Cafe Noir. I'm not a fan of instant coffee at all but this stuff is really decent.

                                                                                                      16 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: jarona

                                                                                                        I'd go for real foie gras and not pâté de fois gras.

                                                                                                        1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                          LOL..I would not attempt to bring the real deal home on a plane!

                                                                                                          1. re: jarona

                                                                                                            I have brought it to the US and to HK on a plane and declared it at customs.
                                                                                                            And if foie gras were a problem, pâté de foie gras would be too.

                                                                                                            1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                              Umm..I'll stick with the weird-shaped tin:) Besides, we have a can opener especially made for those weird shaped tins. It gives my fiance the chance to curse in his native tongue every time he has to open it!

                                                                                                              1. re: jarona

                                                                                                                Foie gras comes in tin form and in jar form.
                                                                                                                Pâté de foie gras also comes in tin form and in jar form.
                                                                                                                What I declared at customs were jars. No problem at all.

                                                                                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                  I've never seen it in jar form. Wouldn't it melt if the plane gets too hot since it's like butter? Now you have me obsessed. I hate when I get like this. Next trip I'll be bugging him to bring fois gras home in jars. ugh.

                                                                                                                  1. re: jarona

                                                                                                                    Where you find foie gras in tin, you will find foie gras in jar. Here is what it looks like:
                                                                                                                    If your boyfriend has trouble opening the tins, he will swear in languages he doesn't even know he speaks with jars.
                                                                                                                    Jars are the only way to go. They are much fresher and always have a freshness date.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                      P, am I understanding you to say that passport agents will sign you off if you list/proclaim jarred foie gras and that you do not have to go through agriculture inspection? I try not to import anything that prolongs our entry procedure.

                                                                                                                      At present, I check "food", then list in fine writing what I am declaring: chocolate, cheese, herbs, sauces, etc., verbally adding "no fresh fruits and veggies, meats, fish or fowl products." We zoom through and I hope to keep it that way.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                        if pates, foie, etc., is packaged in a metal or glass jar or tin that is hermetically sealed, and has an expiration date at least three years past the date of importation STAMPED on the label or container, it's legal. (this would negate the stuff I bought a couple of weeks ago with a handwritten expiration...but I'm not bringing it to the US.)

                                                                                                                        Declare everything...and I'm with Parigi...I've been hauling all sorts of goodies to the US for going on 15 years, and have never had any of it confiscated. Only thing I've ever lost was on a business trip to London - I picked up an apple at the checkout desk and stuck it in the pocket of my overcoat for later, then forgot about it. The beagle at Orlando indicated that I should throw it away, and his handler agreed.. (it was pretty banged up by that time, anyway)

                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                          First, I have no idea about meat products like paté or fois gras, tinned or jarred, so no advice from me there. As to checking "Food," the USDA supervisor at ORD told me years ago that the checkoff box refers to fresh products. She said for things like chocolate, jam, cheese, cookies, etc., I should check "No" on the front side food box. These do not require Agriculture inspection. This does not affect the requirement to declare all purchases on the back.

                                                                                                                          Until I got on Global Entry with the touchscreen declarations, I always checked No to food on the front, and declared Chocolate and Cheese on the back. One time the customs guy even asked: "You only bought chocolate and cheese?" and then waved me through.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                            Chalk it up to cowardice or my wish to keep my Global Entry, but I don't " carry " anymore.
                                                                                                                            That last intrusive, abusive patdown was the last straw.

                                                                                                                            1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                                              Have you not found that recent patdowns are little different from what they were before November? I had no problem at SFO, CDG nor our reentry at IAD, one of my least favorite ports.

                                                                                                                              We do "tote", but only in checked luggage.

                                                                                                                              1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                                Well mine at Dulles early November was totally different from earlier ones at either Dulles or CdeG.

                                                                                                                                1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                                                  I had no problem or patdown at Dulles coming from France a few days ago. Going out from Seattle is much worse, since they have the full body xrays and much longer delays as a result.

                                                                                                                                  My checked bag (with 3 kg of cheese and 6 jars of Fûret-Tanrade jams) was opened by TSA, as it has been on every trip for years where I had cheese, with or without jams. I could tell because of the TSA note left in the bag.

                                                                                                                          2. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                            At customs, the magic phrase is "commercial packed". Say your foie gras is C.P. I have no idea what it really means but I show the foie gras jar, say the magic words and am let through. I think in parallel English it means "leave me alone and let me eat whatever I want or I'll have you fired or worse."

                                                                                                                2. re: jarona

                                                                                                                  Why not? Vacuum pack it and it should be fine in the checked in luggage (it won't get through security for carry on).

                                                                                                            2. We've talked here and on a couple of other recent threads about Dubois' cheeses. I alway ogle the dressed cheeses in the case on the left as you enter: bries and others split and stuffed with walnuts, figs, etc., or covered with truffle or marc soaked raisins. I usually avoid tarted up cheese, preferring to add garnish or accompaniments at home. But these are so lovely, and the sweet saleslady really touted them.

                                                                                                              Has anyone bought them, and if so, how are they? If I lived in Paris and entertained, I'd be sure to add one to my table at some point.

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                Yes, there's nothing like 2 ziploc bags surrounded by clothes to get past those Basset Hounds.

                                                                                                                1. re: menton1

                                                                                                                  I wasn't questioning importing them, rather whether they were as good as they looked. We'd probably scarf them by tiny slices in our hotel. :)

                                                                                                                  Vis a vis your response, we've never had a problem importing any kind of cheese and we do always declare them under a general classification of "cheese". No agent at any of several ports of entry has questioned us further.

                                                                                                                  1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                    In the past several years coming through Customs at the end has always been a wave through. It seems they save their big searches for non US-citizens. I've brought in all sorts of naughty stuff!

                                                                                                                    1. re: menton1

                                                                                                                      That's different. That JT looks soooo suspicious. I'd search him too.

                                                                                                              2. Another 'fun' stuff I brought is a box of cube sugar that's wrapped in different pictures of wrapping paper. Some are flowers...some are birds..butterfly...i picked it up from a random supermarket and whenever I have a guest in my house, they all go, awww...this is so pretty!

                                                                                                                  1. re: SIviyo

                                                                                                                    I brought home countless things- cheese, kouign amann (one of the best things on earth), fish sauce from Brittany (highly recommended), sel, rillettes in glass jars, cookies and cakes in tins, etc. etc. etc.

                                                                                                                    Not nearly enough.

                                                                                                                    1. re: t19103

                                                                                                                      I am suprised no one mentions bringing home cans of Duck confit! My Parisienne BF and I always go to the supermarche for at least 4 cans to lug home. Less than $10US per can, and all that lovely extra duck fat to cook with after scraping the legs to dry them before sauteeing!
                                                                                                                      We can of course get Confit here, but it is packed in little vacumn bags, and doesn't have any duck fat for free, and is twice as expensive at least. I get about a cup of duck fat for cooking from each can we open... and fortunately, we can renew supply several times a year.

                                                                                                                      1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                        What brands of duck confit do you recommend?

                                                                                                                        I can't seem to find a brand I like in North America, and am thinking about getting it through my friend from Paris when he goes back home to visit.

                                                                                                                  2. This is a very handy guide for what is allowed to be brought into the country food wise...

                                                                                                                    apologies if this is not the correct board for this.


                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: annie

                                                                                                                      Pretty useful site, Annie. The allowable cheese description is pretty good but doesn't reflect the real world. There is no FDA presence at any airport and no one who can measure or tell (or care) if an unpasteurized cheese is more or less than 60 days old. I always bring in a range of cheeses from unpasteurized milk and have never had them questioned. In the past couple of years I've had them vacuum packed but for years before I did not.

                                                                                                                      1. re: RandyB

                                                                                                                        There is USDA presence at all entry points. However, there is not universal understanding or application of import restrictions. In fact, the fine print in customs law usually says that individual inspectors may use their own judgment.

                                                                                                                        When we have been subject to ag inspection, they have sent all of our baggage, carry-ons, handbags, briefcases, outerwear through some kind of nuking machine. This has not happened, though, for several years.

                                                                                                                        1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                          USDA has no rules for unpasteurized cheese. This comes from a USDA supervisor at ORD. She said a really smelly, wet cheese *might* be a problem.

                                                                                                                          Remember that TSA will consider a soft cheese to be a gel, so check any soft cheeses.

                                                                                                                          1. re: RandyB

                                                                                                                            Here is an amazing amount of information from one of our own: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/353902 He is truly The Man.

                                                                                                                            1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                              That was a great thread. Thanks for the link, Mangeur.

                                                                                                                            2. re: RandyB

                                                                                                                              Cheese terrorists! Oh, they don't kill anybody or blow up planes, just make a stink.

                                                                                                                      2. My favorite thing to bring home (other than cheese) is pate de fruit from Hediard.
                                                                                                                        I get athe 25 piece box and we share one a night after I return back. Almost a month of joy...

                                                                                                                        1. Before I read this thread, I was planning on using the smallest of luggage for my first trip to Paris. Now, I'm considering taking Tupperware and cooler bags with me to bring home all the goodies! And I also love perfumes, so I have to find space for all those I buy as well. I am in trouble....

                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: MissLori

                                                                                                                            Hope you have a separate suitcase for the cash you'll need. Paris goodies are wonderful -- but cheap has never been in the description, particularly for perfumes.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                              Remember, particularly when buying perfume or other expensive items, foie gras, etc, that if you spend (somewhere in the neighborhood of) 200€, you should ask the salesperson for a detax form which you will submit at the airport while showing the article you bought (i.e., you have to do this before checking your luggage if you wish to put the item in checked luggage). I will often buy a bigger size than I normally would just to get back the detax which can be around 15%, not chickenfeed.

                                                                                                                              As sunshine842 says, France isn't cheap. It behooves you to "know before you go": check prices at home since, amazingly, sometimes French goods are as cheap or actually cheaper here than there because of the differences in distribution systems among other factors. Perfume often is a push. One buys there scents and forms that one can't find here.

                                                                                                                              1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                                I believe the détaxe is at 175€ - at least that's what it was in September 2011. And you need to make all your purchases in the same shop, so, MissLori, if you don't think you can hit that amount in one place, go to Galeries Lafayette (where you can buy perfume AND foie gras).

                                                                                                                                1. re: boredough

                                                                                                                                  I would like to humbly submit the awesome item that is vinniebag..


                                                                                                                                  We have used it to carry WA wine to France, and bring delicate items home; perfume, Walnut oil, vinagers - of assorted provinence - and wonderful assorted oil marinated delights; such as sardines from Britanny, Vinagres, etc.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                    Neat, l take a 12 wine pack of styrofoam with me in a dedicated suitcase, put wine, glasses, anything breakable and never had an issue, perfect and very inexpensive.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                                                      and we've been traipsing back and forth with bottles wrapped in a plastic bag, then a layer of bubble wrap, then stuck into a sock and cushioned with clothing

                                                                                                                                      The only breakage was when we got separated from our luggage and the guy who delivered it threw the bags onto the porch -- the one with the wine landed perpendicular to the edge of the concrete step, and we heard the bottles smash (no tip for that one...) - We dug out the broken bottles immediately, and only threw away a couple of stained stocks.

                                                                                                                          2. Two additions:
                                                                                                                            - "nasty cheeses" vacuum-pakced by the famous Nasty Cheese guy (the cheeses, not the guy, silly) in marché St Quentin.
                                                                                                                            - fancy napkins and tea towels. You can find beautiful vintage damask weave kind in street markets, and there will be a colossal street market the coming weekend on rue de Bretagne. Gifts that are fabrics and cloth are the lightest-weight and fold into nothing. What not to like?

                                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                              I am a sucker for the "sheet-sized" napkins that young girls used to embroider with their initials before marriage. These were often either "too good to use" or used only at very important occasions, so are new still in excellent condition. They are, if you buy 6 or more, rather heavy but worth every ounce once you get them home. You can buy matching stacks or, for very little money, pick up singles and put together your own collection.

                                                                                                                              My husband has to keep reminding me that we don't need more. They are all so beautiful and need homes.

                                                                                                                              1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                                I used those oversized napkins, esp the heavier kind, as tea towels or table mats.

                                                                                                                              2. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                                Parigi, Do you mean this coming weekend? A certain area of rue de Bretagne?

                                                                                                                                1. re: ScottnZelda

                                                                                                                                  Yes the coming Friday, Saturday, Sundy, covering the whole of rue de Bretagne plus side streets.
                                                                                                                                  Plus, this weekend there is also a huge farmers' market of sorts in Paris, where farmers from all over the country - esp the sud-ouest - come up, selling lots of different meats (some cooked), foie gras, veg, fruit, fruit juice, wines, cheeses…

                                                                                                                                  You're going to miss your plane!
                                                                                                                                  Wait, anyone with a name like ScottnZelda must be taking the Cunard. (And the captain will wait for you 2.)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                                    Parigi,we.ve arrived and there were already a few stands set up on r. Bretagne today., but we didn't shop there today. Too tired to do many mkts. Tomorrow will be big if we don't get rained out. Don't worry about us missing a. Flight. We're former airline execs. AndScott and I only sail westbound. Fiirst trip in '72 was on the s.s.France. Forgive typing.,svp. Not used to iPad for this.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: ScottnZelda

                                                                                                                                      See you tomorrow on rue de Bretagne.

                                                                                                                                      "There was an orchestra—Bingo-Bango
                                                                                                                                      Playing for us to dance the tango
                                                                                                                                      And the people all clapped as we arose
                                                                                                                                      For her sweet face and my new clothes -"
                                                                                                                                      By the original Scott

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                                        I'm impressed. We'll tango down the Rue.

                                                                                                                              3. I am bookmarking this.

                                                                                                                                1. I'll bump this post to add information about the FDA easing restrictions on French cheeses, originally posted here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2827...

                                                                                                                                  I saw it on another forum -- but it checks out:

                                                                                                                                  (scroll to page 448) This document is dated 04/2012 -- so this is a brand-new change.



                                                                                                                                  both say Brie and Camembert are allowed with no mention of age or raw milk.

                                                                                                                                  "-Cheese- Solid cheese (hard or semi-soft, that does not contain meat); butter, butter oil, and cultured milk products such as yogurt and sour cream are not restricted. Feta cheese, Brie, Camembert, cheese in brine, Mozzarella and Buffalo Mozzarella are permissible (USDA Animal Product Manual, Table 3-14-6). Cheese in liquid (such as cottage cheese or ricotta cheese) and cheese that pours like heavy cream are not admissible from countries affected by foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Cheese containing meat is not admissible depending on the country of origin."

                                                                                                                                  (ETA: This is ONLY for what's in your luggage by the way -- shipments via mail or commercial carrier fall under different rules)

                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                    That's it !
                                                                                                                                    If I ever open a restaurant it will be called "Foot & Mouth" ! I'll start working on the logo right away.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                      At least for cheese (including raw milk cheeses), this has been the informal USDA and Customs policy for years for individual travelers. Nice to see it in writing and expanded to other formerly questionable products.

                                                                                                                                      It would be really nice if commercial imports of younger, raw milk cheeses (brie, reblochon, etc,) are similarly allowed. I wasn't sure how to check that.

                                                                                                                                      Ok, I did a little further checking. The reference to commercial importing of raw milk cheeses being allowed links to regulation 9 CFR 94.1(a)(2). It allows imports of "not solid or not pasteurized" cheeses from countries that have no rinderpest or foot-and-mouth disease. This includes France and many other European countries. However, some kind of certificate from a national veterinary service of the country is required with those imports. I am not sure, but this certificate sounds like a regional formality rather than something each individual producer has to obtain for their own product.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: RandyB

                                                                                                                                        I was more than happy to be an exporter who didn't have to deal with phytosanitary certificates -- the rules get very muddy and very blurry very quickly...and I wouldn't even want to hazard a guess as to the what the regulations actually mean.

                                                                                                                                    2. I tend to bring foie gras, duck confit, pate de madame du berry, mariage et frere tea and wine, especially hard to find stuff.

                                                                                                                                      I had duck confit for a friend on my last trip and was only having carry on luggage for a weekend in Paris from Canada. The french security confiscated the duck confit since it was not allow in carry on and it was too late by the time I tried to go out of security to try to check the bag (just under 1 hr before flight when I got back out). End up giving them to the check in staff at air canada so check those cans!!!

                                                                                                                                      I thought you cannot bring foie gras in jars so have always brought tins.

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Snoopyoo

                                                                                                                                        I thought you cannot bring foie gras in jars

                                                                                                                                        We have brought in, and declared, jars of foie gras to the US many times. All I had to do was to answer yes to the question whether it was commercially packed.
                                                                                                                                        I don't know about Canada though.

                                                                                                                                      2. I know this is old, but any new favorites?

                                                                                                                                        I am hoping to bring back loose tea, coffee, and pate de fruit. Maybe also some caramels for friends (I would have hoped to bring friends chocolates or macarons, but I think they would get ruined, as mentioned above).
                                                                                                                                        Perhaps also: the sheet-napkins and small kitchen towels (based on ideas above).

                                                                                                                                        25 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: GraceW

                                                                                                                                          skip the tea and coffee. You can find at least as good anywhere.

                                                                                                                                          Chocolates travel fine -- the hold area for the checked baggage keeps it plenty cold enough, but no, macarons don't travel well.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                            Got back a few days ago. I brought chocolate and cheese. It was getting warm and I had some runny cheese (brie filled with walnuts from Laurent Dubois). I decided an ice pack with the cheese in checked luggage might be a good idea.

                                                                                                                                            The French term for what I call Blue Ice is "Freeze-Pack." Yup. I found it at BhV, after many stores gave me blank looks and said it didn't exist in France. Look for the picnic department "rayon picnic".

                                                                                                                                            At Seattle customs, I dutifully checked "food - yes" on the Global Entry kiosk screen. All that meant was when I was exiting customs after picking up my valise, the customs guy asked what food I was bringing in. I said "chocolate and cheese." He said "Uh, oh" and gave me a sad look.

                                                                                                                                            Then he gave me a big grin and waved me through. The customs dog was also uninterested in my cheese.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: RandyB

                                                                                                                                              it's been legal to bring in small amounts of cheese for a couple of years now.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                Even before it was technically legal to bring in not-aged raw milk cheese, I always brought some back and declared it. Customs and USDA never cared.
                                                                                                                                                The raw milk rule was from FDA, which had no presence at the airports. It was also ambiguous whether the FDA raw milk applied to noncommercial imports. In any case, it is now legal, as you say.

                                                                                                                                                I just thought it was funny how the customs/TSA guy acted.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: RandyB

                                                                                                                                                  It was funny. I thought that story was going to end much differently as I was reading it.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: GraceW

                                                                                                                                              We brought home some flavored mustards (and Bloody Mary ketchup) in aluminum tubes from Sur Les Quais, an epicerie run by Paul Vautrin in the covered market (Beauvau) at the Aligre market. I just googled and it appears some of his vinegars/oils/mustards are now sold at La Grande Epicerie.

                                                                                                                                              Also brought home some excellent jams and jars of salted praline caramel from La Chambre Aux Confitures.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: GraceW

                                                                                                                                                No need for Speculoos! So many blogs advised bringing that home, so we did, only to see it for sale on the shelf at Fairway in Brooklyn days later. It's delicious to be sure, but also global.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: chompchomp

                                                                                                                                                  (Smiling while writing) also no need to bring home Speculoos spread (by Lotus), which on someone's recommendation we did. Tossed it after one taste. It is truly vile stuff!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                                                    You tossed the spéculoos spread? Didn't anyone tell you the secret is to mix it with Marmite?

                                                                                                                                                    For those who didn't know, including me until a few minutes ago, spéculoos spread is made at home from butter, vegetable oil, lemon juice, crushed Spéculoos biscuits (like Petit Beurre ??), sweetened condensed milk, and gelatine. No idea what additional chemicals go into the commercial variety.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                          They just look like Petit Beurre. I don't have any idea what they taste like.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: RandyB

                                                                                                                                                            they taste slightly butterscotch-y (yes, that's a technical term!) -- they're delicious -- and widely available at nearly any seller of food in Paris -- and pretty easy to find in the US.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: RandyB

                                                                                                                                                              They are a sort of pain d'épices.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tmso

                                                                                                                                                                loosely, I suppose -- hard to compare, though, with the crisp texture of the Speculoos...

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                                                          Love speculoos cookies itself but can't stand the spread.

                                                                                                                                                          I tasted my first Biscoff cookies like 10 years ago in the airplane to Europe. I was like, what is this thing??? it's so good. Then I spotted the cookies in local CVS..but I stopped buying them as I can eat the whole thing at one sitting. I still have my biscoff spread...i don't like that I put sweet carb based spread onto bread. it tastes funny to me.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Monica

                                                                                                                                                            The spread is actually based on how speculoos are eaten in Belgium. My mother used to tell me that they eat them on buttered bread (yes, the whole cookie, on a slice of buttered bread), but I have never seen that with my own eyes.

                                                                                                                                                            They do not contain a lot of flour, the basis is brown sugar (raw beet sugar that is called vergeoise in Northern France and Wallonie, or brown cane sugar), which gives a very crispy texture, baking soda, butter, salt, and plenty of spices (white peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger). Simpler versions include only four spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves). The quantity of sugar is almost equal to the quantity of flour.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                                                                              Interesting. I would be willing to revisit the concept using your mother's description. The idea of Biscoff with good butter is rather intriguing. The stuff in the jar I thought was sickeningly unctuous. (Even DH wouldn't eat it and he is notoriously drawn to nutritiously evil stuff.)

                                                                                                                                                              From their website: Ingredients: Biscoff 57% (wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oils [one or more of soy bean oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, palm oil], soy flour, brown sugar, sodium bicarbonate, salt, cinnamon), canola oil, sugar, soy lecithin, citric acid.

                                                                                                                                                              So they take something sweet and rich and add oil and sugar...

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                                                                  Even as a kid, I thought speculoos was a totally yuck... I'm totally mystified by its current popularity. Especially when there are so many excellent food products (i.e. fleur de sel de Guérande... $14 for under 6 oz at Whole Foods in USA vs 20 € for half a kilo in France) for tourists to take back home from France

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                                                                                  Perhaps once upon a time, or in families (like pain au chocolat) but I've only had speculoos in Belgium and in the Netherlands as normal biscuits/cookies with coffee or tea (working at conferences).

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                                                                                    my Dutch friends say they ate it that way when they were kids, too. (I'm guessing your mom is Flemish?)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                      The LU brand makes a tasty speculoos -- I've bought other at La Grande Epicerie. I've also bought lovely "bakery" versions in Belgium.

                                                                                                                                                          2. We considered sending wine home and decided against it because of the shipping costs...95 eur per case made Costco Chile and California wine much more attractive. We are still looking into larger purchases, which MIGHT make French wine shipped home competitive from a price perspective. However, there are legal issues with that we are looking into.

                                                                                                                                                            After moving nine times we ended up so tired of moving our bags that we only brought home the following per my declaration at customs...
                                                                                                                                                            one really neat wine bottle opener,
                                                                                                                                                            one bottle of white wine purchased for 4 eur we couldn't drink the night before we left,
                                                                                                                                                            one jar of Mirabelle jam (fantastic stuff!),
                                                                                                                                                            one bottle of Schweppes Tonic Zero we can't get in the US and couldn't drink on the last night,
                                                                                                                                                            boxes of special chocolates for the staff,
                                                                                                                                                            One stuffed rabbit for the youngest grandchild.

                                                                                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hychka

                                                                                                                                                              Good to hear you have your grandkids eating game - was it a wild rabbit and what was it stuffed with?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                                                                HA! I'll tell her mother about my faux pas and your response.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: hychka

                                                                                                                                                                This is probably a stupid question--pardon--but I haven't traveled internationally since I was ~10 years old.. would it be best to bring chocolates/food-items back to the USA in my checked-bag or carry-on?

                                                                                                                                                                Again, apologies, if this is common knowledge.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: GraceW

                                                                                                                                                                  depends on what it is -- jams and jellies have to go in your checked bag.

                                                                                                                                                                  Chocolates are okay in your hand luggage, but it stays colder in the hold -- so I tend to put them there.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GraceW

                                                                                                                                                                    Anything that TSA might consider a liquid (jellies) or a gel (thicker jams, soft cheeses, etc.) has to be in checked luggage for security reasons.

                                                                                                                                                                    I summertime, given the possibility of delays before takeoff and a resulting wait before the baggage hold of the plane is cool, you may want an ice pack ("Freeze Pack" brand in France). Again, that goes in checked luggage.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: RandyB

                                                                                                                                                                      Caramels and pate de fruit.. checked?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: GraceW

                                                                                                                                                                        I would definitely check them. Especially if they are Jacques Genin caramels or similar. In the warmth of your carry-on in spring/summer, those babies will be mouth-melting soft. TSA would not like that.

                                                                                                                                                                        Note: I wonder what if you had a small enough quantity to put in a plastic bottle in your carry-on ziploc for liquids. I don't have an answer, except that I always have checked my caramels.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: RandyB

                                                                                                                                                                        Don't forget to check any mustard. It will be confiscated if you try to carry-on.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ScottnZelda

                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks! By the way, I adore your Username!