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What Classic French Cooking Products Should I Bring Home to the US?

TLCooks Oct 17, 2013 03:24 PM

Hi Chow Hounds! My friend is returning from France in a few months and I've asked him to bring me some classic french packaged food products back to the US. This started because I was looking for Chestnut jam and couldn't find any - even in specialty stores! Does anyone have any suggestions on what I should ask him to bring back that can't be easily found in the US? Dijon mustards? Sauces? Baking products? Images of the products would be awesome! Just to note it can't be a meat, raw or dried, or fresh produce products due to US custom regulations. Thank you in advance!

  1. damonster Oct 19, 2013 05:58 PM

    May not be up your alley but I picked up a rather large can of escargot. Led to the first annual 'snail-a-palooza'

    1. y
      youareabunny Oct 19, 2013 04:31 AM

      Praline paste. I'll be bringing home some Sarassin as well. We have buckwheat flour at home but it's a bit cheaper here and less of a hassle to find in American groceries.

      1. t
        Ttrockwood Oct 18, 2013 07:52 PM

        There are many varieties of Maille that are not sold in the US, i can't remember the name but its green (!) and a very herby dijon flavor is my favorite.

        1. n
          Nancy S. Oct 18, 2013 06:58 PM

          I'm a fan of Bordier's salted butter caramel in a jar -- brilliant with vanilla ice cream!

          1. p
            pine time Oct 18, 2013 01:08 PM

            Mirabelle plum anything--I've had the jams and caramels, and they're sublime. Salts, too--types that I've never found here. Piment d'espelette, pepper powder (like paprika) that has a wonderful smokiness.

            1. Parigi Oct 18, 2013 06:21 AM

              My downstairs neighbor - Le Comptoir des Abbayes - sells excellent jams and apéritifs and wines and spirits and even shampoo and, yes, excellent chocotates, produced in monasteries by monks who obviously sublimated their libido, producing these pure and authentic and ace-quality products.
              Dijon mustards are wonderful but aren't they available world wide including in both Poles and North Korea ?
              On rue Lepic, two wonderful food stores Epicerie du terroir and Le comptoir colonial sell marvelous products from the provinces. My faves are black cherry (cérises noires) jams from the Basque country and confit d'oignon and various chutneys, fabulous for sausages.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Parigi
                VaPaula Oct 18, 2013 06:32 AM

                Agree on Le Comptoir des Abbayes - we loved that place. Thanks to your recommendation, I sure made some girlfriends happy when I showed up with some of those chocolates at a GTG earlier this summer in NY.

                OK, so this might sound crazy, and it probably has a lot to do with my romantic, rose-colored Francophilia, but I find dried spices & herbs from France to be better than what I typically have here (notice I didn't say better than anything in the U.S., because I know I haven't tried every brand). Herbes de Provence might be obvious, but even things like rosemary - the aroma, the flavor - just so much more intense. I open that bottle now (5 months after we bought it) and it smells like I have a rosemary plant in my kitchen.

                1. re: Parigi
                  John Talbott Oct 18, 2013 08:41 AM

                  "Le Comptoir des Abbayes"
                  It is a truly cool place; there's another like it called something like products of monks in or near the Square de l'Ave Maria in the 1st.

                  1. re: John Talbott
                    Parigi Oct 18, 2013 09:27 AM

                    Could be the Comptoir's branch, which opened not long ago on rue des Petits Champs.

                    1. re: Parigi
                      John Talbott Oct 18, 2013 11:46 AM

                      I don't think so, this is right near the Seine, some 20 feet from the Quai des Celestins.

                      1. re: John Talbott
                        mangeur Oct 18, 2013 11:55 AM

                        Perhaps this one, John? Monastica at 11 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe


                        In the 4th, however, but near Quai des Celestins.

                        Or, Magasin du Monastére, 13 rue des Barres


                        1. re: mangeur
                          John Talbott Oct 18, 2013 01:03 PM

                          Bravo, the second because it's a cobble-stone pedestrian street but the second looks familiar as well. Good honey.

                2. mangeur Oct 17, 2013 06:07 PM

                  Regardless of your eventual shopping list, you should visit G. Detou in Paris (rue Tiquetonne), a wholesale/retail shop that carries good brands at exceptionally low prices. We forage before heading home on every visit. Think vanilla beans, mustards, glace chestnuts, confitures, many brands of chocolate, tonka beans, sea salts and on and on.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mangeur
                    Jake Dear Oct 17, 2013 09:01 PM

                    "G. Detou." Yes, and they have it all -- well, almost. But also, as mangeur was recommended to us, "Bruno" a peach of a fellow, right down the same street, for great spices, including Kari Grosse from Auray, Bretagne. We have been happily using Bruno's spices for the last three weeks …. -- Jake

                    1. re: mangeur
                      Delucacheesemonger Oct 18, 2013 04:24 AM

                      The brand of confiture Detou carries, Noel Cruzilles, has a peche de vigne that surpasses all others l have previously tried.

                    2. t
                      TLCooks Oct 17, 2013 05:17 PM

                      Awesome suggestions so far! Definitely want to hear more! Has anyone tried any of the products from this website? http://www.yumsugar.com/Stocking-Fren...

                      1. bobabear Oct 17, 2013 04:14 PM

                        I just went to Paris for work in July and cited David Lebowitz' blog post about things to bring back from Paris:
                        http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/09/10-gifts-things-to-bring-back-home-from-your-trip-to-paris/. The grey salt ended up to be the most commonly used in my kitchen + most different. I also got many different sampler sets of mustard and jams which we use almost daily :) Made a note of my favs and will get big bottles of those next time I'm back.

                        I'm also a huge fan of all the different types of bouillon they have in Europe that they don't sell here. Mushroom, parsley/dill/basil (it's 1 cube with all 3, "bouquet garni" or something), veal, Maggi's Kub Or (http://www.coursesenfrance.com/compon...) which is great for adding to quinoa/pasta/whatever cooking water...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: bobabear
                          bobabear Oct 17, 2013 04:18 PM

                          Oh and dried mushrooms of different varieties that are dirt cheap compared to the states! I have so many mushrooms...

                          Since you mentioned packaged foods, my secret love are the powered sauces that aren't easily available here. Bernaise, chanterelle, etc... Really cheap and really fun to use on different things!

                        2. s
                          Stardustgirl Oct 17, 2013 04:09 PM

                          Lucky you! I'd ask for Michel Cluizel chocolate (my favorite), and baking items such as flour and sugar just to experiment with to see how they differ from what's offered here. If you'll see him soon after he arrives back in the US, Laduree macarons would be another thing to ask for (still on my wishlist!)

                          1. Veggo Oct 17, 2013 03:33 PM

                            He can bring unpasteurized young cheeses that we covet here, but can't be imported in commercial quantities. As much as he can carry. Make a mule out of him! Reblochon should be on the list, and Epoisses.

                            1. 7
                              75 percent cacao Oct 17, 2013 03:29 PM

                              Bonnat is still the best commercial chocolatier in France. Have your friend go to Lafayette Gourmet and get you its Chuao and Equateur varietals.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: 75 percent cacao
                                Ptipois Oct 17, 2013 03:52 PM

                                Excellent advice. Bonnat has a number of new single-origin chocolate bars that should absolutely be tried.

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