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What foods unavailable in US not to miss in France?

Will be in Lyon, Provence region, and on to annecy July 24 to Aug 5 and wondering if there are interesting foods (dishes, drinks or single items like a sausage or cheese ) worth having that we can't find in the US or hard to find. For example years ago having Jamon iberico de bellota in Spain when it wasn't legal here.

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  1. Around Lac Annecy, many places that serve petite fritute du lac, tiny little fried fishies that you eat whole. Also dios, which are fat little sausages. Both delicious.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Steve

      1+ for Friture (typo fixing)

    2. Raw milk cheeses younger than 6 months old.

      2 Replies
      1. re: babette feasts

        Or just tell them at any serious fromagerie that you'd like to see cheeses that are 'liquide.' I'm sure you will find many types that are rarely seen in the US.

        1. re: babette feasts

          It's a good thing these are banned in the U.S.. People in France are dropping dead left and right from these cheeses....

        2. Blood orange juice, Schweppes Zero, any number of cheeses, local French wines, good French pastries, several kinds of packaged chocolate and nut biscuits, and really good butter.

          1. Besides what others have suggested:

            Foie gras, for certain parts of the US
            Fresh oysters at the fishmongers eat every neighborhood
            Breads baked fresh many times a day
            Biodiversity in general, like rare species of tomato, crosnes, topinambour
            Rilletttes d'oie

            Around Annecy, a special rich dish not for the faint-hearted: Tartiflette. I recommend you go to the farm Charbonnière ( 1539 Route de Thônes, between the beautiful lakeside village of Menthon St Bernard and the inland village of Buffy, on Route de Thones, across the lake for this ultra-fresh version, where all the ingredients from the meats to the veg and the butter, are from the farm. Last but not leats, the magnum opus reblochon is made fresh from the farm. If you reserve instead of showing up at the last minute, not only are you guaranteed not to be turned away, but the tartiflette can be pre-ordered, and the reblochon will have been drip drip dripping on the meats and oionn at your table for hours before your arrival. -- Be forewarned. This is a real farm. The setting is beautiful, but nothing is designed to be cute as in a cute farm or cute service. The service is definitely not cute. It is very no-nonsense. Do pre-order the tartiflette, as the rest of the menu - don't even remember if they serve much else - is not unique like the Big T. And you won't eat for days afterwards.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Parigi

              Mon dieu, I wish I could go there right now. Reblochon is one of my favorites, and the tartiflette sounds fab.

              1. re: Parigi

                There is also reblochonnade, yet another cheese and potato dish of the Haute-Savoie. If you want to eat nothing but cheese and potato for a week at a time, you could do that in the Savoie and still not eat every variation.

              2. I'll add white peaches in the summer which are better in France than the US, and also fresh figs. Tomato salad should be ubiquitous in the countryside. Farcement (aka farci savoyard), which is a savory cake of potato, prunes, dried fruit: the kind of thing you might find in a traiteur, though I am not sure if this is found in the lower elevations like Annecy.

                9 Replies
                1. re: Steve

                  So where do you find good peaches? I haven't had one in ten years.

                  1. re: souphie

                    head out to a cuillette....there are a couple in the 77 that produce really excellent products.

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      Please don't lynch me for asking ; where is 77 ?

                      1. re: Parigi

                        the rather large department that lies just to the east of Paris...Seine-et-Marne

                          1. re: Parigi

                            I shopped regularly at the 3 Chapeau de Paille locations -- Rutel has a large "recolte" board, but I only ever stopped into the large store, as I was typically on my way home from work.

                            Plessis a Chanteloup (sorry, for some reason, typing the accented a is resetting the page...!) is brand new within the last 3 years, so I don't know if their trees are mature enough to bear yet. I've picked at least my body weight in other produce, though.

                            My favorite by far was Cuillette de la Grange (conveniently reachable from the A104 at Brie-Comte-Robert) -- their farm store is HUGE, and bursting at the seams with all kinds of wonderful products -- the acreage is similarly enormous, and we picked peaches and succulent mirabelles there every year, then back in the autumn for more apple varieties than I can possibly remember.

                    2. re: souphie

                      I had very delicious ones from a fruit stand in the 11th near Nation. Might have been at the weekly outdoor market where I also had some good manakish. I doubt they had any kind of special supply.....

                      I think you can get supremely juicy, soft, ripe, and fragrant white peaches in so many places in France. This would be an extreme rarity in the US where we don't get that many, and the ones we do get ripen poorly.

                      1. re: souphie

                        Amazingly enough after a decade long peach aversion, at the small asian market near the courthouse in San Francisco, found 10 varieties of peaches l had never seen before, took three of them on the plane and was heard moaning over 5 states.
                        Yeh, yeh, yeh l know it is off topic.

                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          Even more off-topic, but with further information: DCM refers to the Wednesday Civic Center farmers market. -- Jake

                    3. Nothing specific but in general I find the labelling of sources of products from vegetables to beef to be refreshing in the markets even though I violate the locavore code in occasionally buying avocados from Israel and beans from Kenya if seized by an urge.

                      1. Very tasty, Tete de Veau, fleshy morsels of calf's head meat, Beef Tongue prepared braised with golden raisin sauce (a strasburg favorite), spinal marrow (Amourette);
                        Cheval, horsemeat extremely tasty when prepared as a steak, thyroid glands from lamb, sweetbreads from calves are available in U.S. but I rarely have found lamb sweetbreads.

                        1. How much do you love great cheese? In Lyon be sure to visit the stall of Mere Renee Richard at Les Halles Paul Bocuse. She is an amazing affineuse. her St. Marcellin is offered in the top restaurants all around the city, but you can have your own. There simply isn't any cheese like it in the US. What we get called St. Marcellin should not be sold. Her Reblochon -- shooot, all their cheese -- is just mind blowing.

                          I would also recommend lunch at Daniel et Denise (the original, not the Old Town location) and order the Gras Double. I am SO looking forward to doing that again soon.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: ChefJune

                            Absolutely second Chef June's rec for Gras Double at Daniel et Denise.

                            Note also that the various shops at Les Halles don't open awfully early. In order to make sure your targets are up and running, I'd aim no earlier than 11am. Especially Mere Richard and huitre counter.

                            1. What I love about France is the profusion of good local foods. Lots of shops and market stalls full of local and seasonal delicacies makes it really easy to see and understand what is good in the area. My advice is to literally follow your nose (and eyes) and try the obvious things that are in front of you...these will be the best.

                              1. Thanks everyone for sharing advice. I drooled, mostly, at the reccos, and had heartattacks just reading about others (tartfillete). I'm working out 5 days a week for the past several months just to allow myself to try everything without guilt! Thanks to being an omnivore, all the reccos are on my list to hunt down (and in Lyon I'll be next to les halles paul bocuse, so will seek the cheesemonger mentioned)

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Goldemi1

                                  Tartiflette is the correct spelling. I don't mean to be a spelling Nazi. But if you spell it correctly, you will have better research results.
                                  The farm Charbonnière that I mentioned also sells the farm's own reblochon cheese. But one has to buy the whole damn piece. If you are staying in an apartment, why not.
                                  All the locals dining there have a reblochon "baggie dog".

                                  1. re: Parigi

                                    When you visit Alsace, there is a version of tartiflette there made with muenster, not at all shabby.

                                  2. re: Goldemi1

                                    Goldemi, Lyon has some notable hills, so you can keep working off the yummy food just by walking up Fourvière and la Croix Rousse.

                                    1. re: lagatta

                                      I've found I always lose weight when traveling in Europe, in spite of what I eat...

                                  3. Mirabelle plum anything. Very hard to find in my neck of the woods (so. Cal.). I even researched planting the tree here, but they won't grow in this climate.

                                    Especially Mirabelle plum jams or caramels. Incredibly good.

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: pine time

                                      I made a mirabelle plum liqueur a few years ago. YUM.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        You sell ? I'll buy the moonshine.

                                        Another thing I don't see elsewhere is goose (or pork, but goose is better) rillette.

                                        1. re: Parigi

                                          I practically OD'd on duck rillette this summer at my favorite French bistro in Berlin.....

                                          1. re: Parigi

                                            heh, it's long gone.

                                            I do still have a few bottles of my apricot liqueur and limoncello squirreled away, though!

                                            You can make your own, though: http://www.supertoinette.com/recette/...

                                            1. re: Parigi

                                              Parigi, do you know about the ethereal plum elixers at Issy Workshop? Not inexpensive but worth every penny.

                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                  Are you referring to the umeshu (plum apéritif), or the fantastic ume plum drinking vinegar (which is my favorite addition to a bowl of strawberries)? Or to both? :)

                                                  Isse Workshop requires some warning: it is very difficult to enter the place and spend less than 100€.

                                            2. re: pine time

                                              On the subject of plums - my first choice is Reine-Claude (aka Greengage). I've only ever found them once in North America (at a Farmers Market).
                                              Also found in jams, but much better au naturel.

                                              1. re: estufarian

                                                We practically eat ourselves sick when Reine-Claudes are in season. They are far superior to any Greengage we've found at home.

                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                  that's part of the back story behind my icon -- I love fresh plums, anyway, and this time of year, there's a cacophony of fresh plums in the markets -- Reine-Claudes, mirabelle, quetsches --every color and flavor profile you could imagine.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    You guys made me hungry, I hope they'll have them at my market tomorrow morning !

                                            3. Eel in parsley/garlic butter!

                                              1. Absinthe?
                                                I was reading that you can now buy and even import this, but there are so many requirements and qualifiers (including labeling restrictions and the absence of a key ingredient) that I don't think I'd risk it, which may well qualify it as a "not to miss in France".

                                                37 Replies
                                                1. re: non sequitur

                                                  there's not a lot of thujone in the French stuff, either.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    Thujone doesn't make an absinthe good, nor does it make you trip.

                                                    I could go into details, but I'm afraid it would get boring, suffice to say that scientific studies have shown that the great absinthe of the Belle Epoque (like Pernod Fils), barely contained 10mg/liter of thujone (the legal requirements are of 25mg/liter max today).

                                                    1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                      exactly -- that was my point -- that drinking absinthe in France because of thujone levels is a non-starter.

                                                      Because you can get a wider variety of small producer absinthes, perhaps, but not because of the thujone levels.

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        Good to hear we're on the same page!
                                                        Sorry I misunderstood your comment.

                                                        1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                          No worries!

                                                          A lot of the "madness" exhibited by the artists wasn't from the thujone, by the way -- but very often the result of alcohol dependence, bathtub absinthe made from suspect ingredients, or the effects of adding alcohol to pre-existing mental/emotional conditions that we now know don't play well with alcohol abuse.

                                                          (I'm guessing you know that, Rio, but adding it for the discussion)

                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            Alcohol was of poor quality at the time, and cheap wine drilled holes in the head.
                                                            That seems to be the origin of the "madness" cases, to which one could add crass poverty and social misery, the hereditary conditions left by generations of overdrinking parents, venereal diseases or the sequels thereof, and other afflictions that were not so easily cured at the time as they are now. Still, the absinthe of long ago seems to have been particularly addictive.

                                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                                              that much hasn't changed -- mouthwash, shoe polish, and cough medicine are still high-theft items in some supermarkets located in economically-challenged areas. (sad, but true)

                                                              1. re: Ptipois

                                                                "Still, the absinthe of long ago seems to have been particularly addictive."

                                                                Especially since after the phylloxera epidemic a glass of absinthe at a neighborhood cafe was cheaper than a glass of wine...

                                                                Having tasted more than a few vintage absinthes (hundred years old), aside from being quite tasty (absinthe, ages really well !), I noticed no difference in the addiction to it (although some of my friends do consider that I am addicted to absinthe... so who knows...).

                                                                1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                  "(although some of my friends do consider that I am addicted to absinthe... so who knows...)."

                                                                  Maybe it's because of all that poetry you write.

                                                                  1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                    absinthe was a truly bizarre back-door gateway for me.

                                                                    I hate black licorice. Embarrassed the daylights out of myself at a Pastis distillery because I literally gagged on a sip of pastis. (I tried not to, honestly....)

                                                                    Tried a sample of absinthe because of the romance, and found I actually quite liked it....and now adore absinthe, pastis, and fennel. (still can't eat black licorice candy)

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                      I was a bit like you, except I still dislike pastis, and will only like fennel when it is cooked "right".
                                                                      I'm ok with liquorice candy, but it's definitely not my favorite.

                                                                      When I discovered absinthe, I found it to be way more complex than any pastis I'd tried... but to be honest, even in the absinthes I choose I tend to favor herbal or woody, or "candied fruits" flavors, rather than the more anise-y ones (I really like all the "Parisiennes" line of absinthes created by Luc Santiago from the shop Vert d'Absinthe).

                                                                      1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                        I'm with you there-- if it's really, really anise-y, I don't enjoy it nearly as much

                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                          I love pastis - getting in touch with my inner prolétaire.

                                                                          1. re: Parigi

                                                                            one of the fun things about visiting Chez Janou is their enormous pastis selection -- they've always got a selection for the week and month, among the dozens on the pastis list.

                                                                            (It's crowded and raucously noisy, but the food is solid and the service at least efficient)

                                                                            1. re: Parigi

                                                                              A good stiff Richard is the start of a great evening.

                                                                              1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                You mean Ricard !
                                                                                (Was thinking: who the eff is Richard ?)

                                                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                                                  Actually it's from a joke I wouldn't dare post.

                                                                                2. re: Parigi

                                                                                  Me too. Totally love pastis. Cheapest drink, when holding up the zinc. Mostly drink wine, but always got two bottles open, and I don't care which brand neither; 51, Ricard, Pernod, Casanis...

                                                                                  1. re: Busk

                                                                                    and really refreshing when it's hot and muggy and the cicadas are buzzing.

                                                                                    I'm semi-embarrassed to admit that we made it back to the US with a bottle of absinthe, but not a stinking drop of pastis.

                                                                                    (makes mental note to rectify that on the next visit)

                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                      THE summer drink par excellence. In the south, you sip a pastis, play pétanque with the local geezers under plane trees. Adding "eh con" to the end of every sentence is an option.

                                                                                      1. re: Parigi

                                                                                        venerables or vulnerables perhaos.

                                                                                        1. re: Parigi

                                                                                          "Adding "eh con" to the end of every sentence is an option."

                                                                                          But a recommendable one.

                                                                                    2. re: Parigi

                                                                                      Half a pastis and I'm shluring my worths...

                                                                                      1. re: mangeur

                                                                                        you say that like it's a bad thing.

                                                                              2. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                Still have a bit of a Pernod absinthe from late 19th C. You can smell it a block away when the cork is pulled. Find alcohol too much for me, happy with smells but drink little. Definitely on the other side of the argument on licorice ( liquorice ). My fave gelato is liquoricia at Grom, and reglisse at Bethillion, with passionfruit of course.
                                                                                You can bring back to us any absinthe on US ok list which means no thujone and less than 70% alcohol. The ones l have are higher alcohol and have some thujone. Get them from Caves Bossetti and other shop devoted to Absinthe alone both in Marais.

                                                                                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                  You know you are supposed to dilute the absinthe with 3 to 5 parts ice cold water... If it is too strong for you, maybe you just need to dilute it a little more ?

                                                                                  1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                    it's futzy and time-consuming, but I love the whole pomp and circumstance of drizzling cold water over the sugar cube balanced on the absinthe spoon, then watching for that magical point where it becomes the pale green of moonstone.

                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                      Yes me too, I actually have a replica absinthe fountain which I love to use. Or if I'm just making one glass for myself I will use the "brouille à balancier", it's also quite charming.

                                                                                    2. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                      Of course and have whole setup as well.
                                                                                      Was brain fart on alcohol, thinking of Chartreuse VEP at 54%

                                                                                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                        Ok, enough said. Next Chowmeet will be an "Heure Verte" !

                                                                                        1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                          I'm IN!

                                                                                          (absinthe, pastis, and chartreuse? Dear God, pray for our souls)

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            Personnally I was more thinking about absinthe (blanche), absinthe (verte), absinthe (feuille morte)... but we have time to plan. ;)

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              Chartreuse jaune VEP 54%, my hard drug.