So, I had lunch today with my dear friend Lyndi (nwaFoodie.com), and we had a little pre-Bastille Day celebration. I served my take on the croque monsieur or croque madame: a croque mademoiselle, along with an adaptation of a salade Niçoise (here’s a great recipe post with beautiful pictures from Simply Recipes if you’ve never tried one) and a fresh berry tarte. But, I’ll let Lyndi tell you all about lunch in a separate post.
She noted, as do most visitors to my home, that I’m a little overboard with the Frenchie stuff. Men of a certain generation (like my grandfather) still have a good deal of contempt for the French, and Paul Greenberg has even expressed his disdain for those who are overly committed. However, I have to offer the disclaimer that I’m pretty darn dedicated to the old U.S. of A. France is just my hobby.
So, after perusing the francophilia ad nauseum, Lyndi told me I needed to do a blog post on where to find the best French ingredients and kitchen gadgets. Always happy to oblige, I’ve done so. As Julia Child would shrilly shriek: Bon Appétit!
Joie de Vivre: This is far and away the top spot to go for authentic French specialties. The owner, Sylvaine, does everything with that certain je ne sais quoi. Make note of the website: www.FrenchSelections.com, so that you aren’t led astray if you do an online search for the shop. At first glance, it may not seem like much, but take the time to deeply explore the site or browse the catalog online. It’s well worth it to receive it by mail annually – this is not like all the sites that pummel you with frequent mailings. It’s a compact little catalog that is a plethora of French treasures. Meats, cheeses and specialty cookies, sauces and hard to find items that are staples in the traditional French kitchen are all found here. The customer service is fantastic – I remember Sylvaine personally responding to an email when I had a quick question several years ago. Check the site out and try some new and interesting delicacies!
The Paris Market: Last fall, my husband and I took a six state coastal driving vacation. As we drove through Savannah, Georgia I spotted this gem. He agreed to wander in with me, but quickly saw that all hope was lost. Since the store was nearing closing time, he bribed me with dinner and the incentive to come back the next day to stay as long as I liked. As in, he knew I’d be a while. I visited with the charming Parisian owner and tried not to inhale the entire contents of the store. From glass jars filled with French candies, confections and marbles to the traditional Laguiole products I’ve mentioned before (Kitchen Covet), it’s a dream. Allot plenty of time to shop the website, or better yet – get thee to the store! The kitchen selection is lovely, and I probably spent an hour looking through all the vintage postcards, knobs and other finds in the store’s basement.
French General: Ok – this is technically not a foodie site at all. In fact, it is predominantly textiles, notions and general adorableness. However, because it is bar none one of the most adorable e-commerce sites ever, it’s a great place to get your wheels turning à la française. Trust me.
Remodelista: Also not technically a kitchen site. This is a fantastic daily compendium of beautiful homes, kitchens, gadgets and sites. The word curated is often overused, but that’s exactly what happens here. Check out the site and, in particular, the kitchenware section. Also, peruse one of my favorite posts about Unpackaged in Clerkenwell, UK (a cute shop itself). Subscribing to the daily missive is well worth it if you’re seeking unique products and a litany of shops and homes for review.
I’m sure there are others, but that’s all I’ve got on my mind for now. Share your additions, and I’ll post others as I think of them!