Pastis, Calisson d'Aix, Pain d'Epices
As I mentioned elsewhere, I'll be in along the Mediterranean for five weeks very soon and I'm preparing my shopping lists. Something on my mind is whether to buy most things in Paris a day or two before I leave, or pick them up along the way. For example, two things I can probably find in Paris are Pastis and Calisson. I'd like your opinions: buy in Paris, or buy in Marseille? (And if someone could recommend a shop, I'd appreciate it.)
Also, on my last trip to France we had the most delicious Pain d'Epices in Dijon. I can not remember the shop name but it was well known and the salesman told me it takes a year to prepare their loaves. If I understood, they ferment the honey and rye flour for a year. If anyone knows this type of pain, do you know where I can get it outside of Dijon?
Pain d'épices is a Dijon specialty so it must have been one of a few houses: Mulot & Petitjean, Toussaint, Auger, etc.
A year, no. The batter of honey and rye flour ferments for a few weeks, most likely a month, but I have never heard of such a lengthy fermentation.
As for pastis and calissons: pastis is sold in a bottle, and it's all over France, so any place where you buy a bottle is OK.
However, rather than the generic 51 or Ricard, you might want to try the more herby, complex, local artisan versions made in the hinterland, near Draguignan.
If you go to Marseille, don't miss La Maison du Pastis http://www.lamaisondupastis.com/ which has 95 different pastis and absinthes. You'll certainly find the rare ones there.
Calissons are somewhat nicer when they're very fresh, so perhaps it would be a good idea to buy them around Aix (not Marseille, where they don't make them), but basically they're food for keeping, based on candied fruit and almonds, so it does not really matter where you buy them. However, you'll have more choice close to the source. ('Roy René' or 'Reine Jeanne' are two reliable old brands.)
Thank you for the reply.
It sounds like I can get most anything in Paris but I'll be able to find better variety in the individual regions. Does that about sum it up?
Well, I better bring the suit case with wheels. :-)
BTW, with so many varieties of pastis and absinthes, how to whittle it down to a good election?