Tag Archives: groceries

In Search of the Right Ingredient: Ethnic Groceries

Many of the larger Paris supermarkets have international aisles.   Sometimes you can find what you need for that special recipe but most of the time, it’s just a pale shadow of the real thing.   Take heart.  There are a lot of specialized groceries in Paris and environs, perhaps one that speaks to the cuisine that’s close to your heart.  Here’s a list of some of my favorites and those recommended by friends from around the globe.  If you know of others, leave a comment with the details and we’ll add them to the post.

BRAZILIAN

Coisas do Brasil
22 rue Daniel Stern, 75015 Paris
Métro :  Dupleix
Phone:  08 92 70 18 64

CHINESE

See “Southeast Asian” below.

COLOMBIAN

La Tienda Nueva
57, rue Rodier, 75009  Paris
Métro: Anvers
Phone : 01 45 26 11 80

EASTERN EUROPEAN/POLISH

Adriana & Margot
14, rue des Goncourt, 75011 Paris
Métro: Goncourt
Phone: 01 47 00 64 50
Pastries, meats, herrings, prepared foods, and alcohol

GERMAN

Chez Tante Emma Laden
Marché de la Porte Saint Martin
20 rue Bouchardon, 75010 Paris
Métro: Chateau d’Eau, Jacques Bonsergent
Phone: 01 42 46 51 17
Sausages, beers, cookies, and other German products

GREEK

Heratchian Freres
6, rue Lamartine, 75009 Paris
Métro: Cadet
Phone : 01 48 78 43 19, 01 45 26 11 54

Mavrommatis

Chic, slick and delicious, it’s at once a fine foods boutique, traiteur (vendor of premade dishes), and restaurant featuring all your Mediterranean favorites.  Multiple locations including :

18, rue Duphot, 75001 Paris
Métro : Madeleine

89, rue de Rocher, 75008 Paris
Métro : Villiers

47, rue Censier, 75005 Paris
Métro : Censier Daubenton

In addition to the main locations, you will find a Mavrommatis counter inside the upscale Inno supermarket in Boulogne (5, rue Tony Garnier), les Galeries Gourmande in the Palais des Congrès at Porte Maillot, and in gourmet section of Galeries Lafayette (48-52, boulevard Haussmann).

Indian/Pakistani/Sri Lankan

VT Cash and Carry
11-15 rue de Cail, 75010 Paris
Métro: La Chappelle or Gare du Nord
Phone: 01 40 05 07 18
The area around Gare du Nord is thick with South Asian restaurants, sari shops, and groceries.  But you may be able to take care of all your shopping needs in this one shop, stuffed from floor to ceiling with spices, grains, beans, sauces, breads, and cooking equipment, all for very reasonable prices.  Also a good resource for British favorites.

Velan
83-87 passage Brady, 75010 Paris
Métro: Strasbourg-St. Denis, Château d’Eau
Phone: 01 42 46 06 06
Spices, herbs, lentils, rices, and much more.

JAPANESE AND KOREAN

Hi Mart
71bis, rue Saint-Charles, 75015 Paris
Métro: Charles Michels
Phone: 01 45 75 37 44
Stocks both Japanese and Korean products

Jyujiya
46, rue Sainte Anne, 75002 Paris
Métro:  Pyramides, Quatre Septembre
Phone: 01 42 86 02 22
Open seven days a week

Kanae
118, rue Lecourbe, 75015 Paris
Métro :  Cambronne, Vaugirard
Phone : 01 56 56 77 60

Kioko
46, rue des Petits-Champs,75002 Paris
Métro: Pyramides
Phone: 01 42 61 33 65
Good products but rather expensive

K-mart
6-8, rue Sainte Anne,  75001 Paris
Métro: Pyramides
Phone: 01 58 62 49 09 / 01 42 96 40 91
Open every day; a relatively new store with both Japanese and Korean products. Big, clean, and you can get sashimi, thinly sliced beef and pork, and Japanese delis.   (You can also eat sur place.)

MEXICAN

Mexi and Co.
10, rue Dante, 75005 Paris
Métro: Cluny Sorbonne
Phone: 01 46 34 14 12
Tortillas, salsas, and more

http://mexico.canalblog.com/archives/2007/09/04/1501979.html
Go to the link above for a long article (in French) detailing where to find ingredients used in Mexican cuisine in Paris.  The author recommends a number of different stores for different products (flours, spices, peppers, etc.)

MIDDLE EASTERN

Les Délices d’Orient
52, avenue Emile Zola, 75015 Paris
Métro : Charles Michels
Phone: 01 45 79 10 00
In a city with many Lebanese traiteurs, this large shop in the 15th is among the best: plenty of prepared foods ready to serve and all the unique ingredients to make your own.

Sabha
140, rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75012 Paris
Métro: Ledru Rollin
Phone: 1 40 01 01 04
Great selection of Middle Eastern and north African ingredients.  Tons of grains, beans, spices, nuts, pastas, and condiments at terrific prices.  Just around the corner from one of Paris’s great open air markets, Marché d’Aligre.

PERUVIAN

Inti Peru
17, rue de Picardie, 75003 Paris
Métro :  Temple, Republique or Filles du Calvaire
Phone : 01 42 78 25 82
Peruvian handicrafts and a modest selection of foods (no fresh foods)

PORTUGUESE

Ferreira
2, rue au Pain
Carré aux Herbes, 78000 Versailles
Phone :  01.39.51.08.78

Transmontana
8, route des Fusillés de la Résistance, 92800 Puteaux
Pasteis de bacalhau and leitao assado are house specialties.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN

Tang Freres
45, avenue d’Ivry, 75013 Paris
Métro: Porte d’Ivry
Open Tuesday through Saturday ; free parking
If you like southeast Asian food, seek no further.  Although there are several Tang outlets around town, this giant warehouse is the mother ship.   Canned, bottled, bagged, frozen, or fresh, Tang Freres has everything you need for your favorite southeast Asian meal at a fraction of the price of anywhere else in town.   A large bottle of soy sauce, for example, will cost you no more than 1.35 euros here compared with about 3.50 for the same bottle in the “international” aisle of larger supermarkets.  The meats are also excellent and well priced.  The array of fresh Asian herbs, fruits, and vegetables is amazing.   Bring your own bags; no free bags and the ones for sale at several centimes apiece will likely break before you reach your destination.

Asia Store
81, avenue d’Ivry, 75013 Paris
Métro: Maison Blanche

SPANISH

Bellotta Bellotta
18, rue Jean Nicot 75007 Paris
Metro : Pont de l’Alma, La Tour Marbourg
Phone : 01 53 59 96 96
Ham, wines, cheeses, and seafood products

Cap Hispania
23, rue Jouffroy D’Abbans, 75017 Paris
Metro :  Malesherbes, Pont Cardinet
Phone : 01 46 22 11 60

El Bierzo
29, rue de l’Ouest,  75014 Paris
Metro : Pernety
Phone. : 01 43 20 41 52

SWEDISH

Affären
17, rue Duperré 75009 Paris
Phone: 01 42 81 91 75
Metro : Pigalle

Gustaf
13 rue Danes de Montardat 78100 St Germain en Laye 
Phone : 09 62 39 91 91

Maison LeBon
13, rue Lebon 75017 Paris
Phone : 01 45 74 29 17
Metro: Ternes, Perreire, Porte Maillot
In addition to the usual French products, this bakery also sells some fresh-baked Swedish specialties like kanelbulle (cinnamon rolls), princesstårta (a marzipan covered cream cake, knäckebröd (crispy bread, like Wasa), and smörgåstårta.

OTHER

Agha
21 rue Montorgueil, 75001 Paris
Métro: Sentier
Phone: 01 42 33 72 39
Spices, grains, beans, nuts, a little bit of everything.

La Grande Epicerie de Paris, Le Bon Marché
38, rue de Sevres, 75007 Paris
Métro: Sèvres-Babylone
A little bit of everything and sky high prices.  Still you might find just what you’re looking for, and it’s worth a visit even if you’re not in a buying mood.

Izraël
30 rue Francois-Miron, 75004 Paris
Métro: St. Paul
Phone: 01 42 72 66 23
This spice shop, tucked in between the rue St. Antoine and the Seine River in the Marais district, carries a little bit of everything. In the front room, you’ll find barrels of nuts, dried fruits, and grains. The shelves are stacked with oils, condiments, sauces, and spices from all over the world. Beware: some of the more exotic bottled and canned items may be a bit dusty.

Resources

Paris Culinaire

Italian traiteurs in Paris

Making Sense of the Supermarket Part VI: Home Delivery

I didn’t discover home grocery delivery until well into my first year in Paris.   One day, I noticed a sign on the door of my corner market noting it would be closed for renovations for six weeks.    So no more running down to the market for more milk, a missing ingredient, or simply dinner.   Once I got over the shock, I pulled myself together, got out my French-English dictionary, headed to the bigger market some distance away, and signed up for home delivery.   In the end, it was easier than I thought it would be and now I only wish I had taken the leap sooner.

Most supermarkets in Paris deliver for free if you buy over a certain amount.   If you are single or a couple, you probably don’t buy enough stuff each week to reach that figure (see below) and given the limited storage space in many Paris apartments, you might be wondering where you would put it all if you did.    But think about it for a minute.    Between the staples (such as pasta, rice, flour, and toiletries), the bulky items (toilet paper, paper towels, bottled water), and the heavy stuff (laundry detergent, canned goods, and beer), you can usually ring up to the limit without much trouble.   And even if it’s only once a month or once in a while, how liberating to simply walk away from the register at the end of your shopping trip!  No shlepping a cart down the street or juggling bags or trudging up stairs or jamming into a miniscule elevator. 

The details for each store vary but the themes are the same.  Most stores advertise the amount for free delivery, usually between 70 and 100 euros.   In the larger stores, you typically go to the customer service desk (accueil)  to register, giving them your name, address (including floor and entrance codes) and your phone number.   On subsequent trips, you may only need to give your phone number and name before you do your shopping.  You will then get a piece of paper with a number or perhaps a computer generated form to give to the checker when you are finished shopping.  In smaller stores, you may just have to tell the checker you will be doing home delivery and the process is much less formal.

Go about your shopping and then head for the checkout lines marked for home delivery (livraison à domicile).   You will go through checkout as normal except that someone will load all your groceries into large plastic bins lined with plastic bags.  If there’s something you’ll need immediately, just go ahead and put it in your own bag.  And heads up:  frozen foods cannot be delivered.  But then you didn’t want that ice cream to melt, did you?

Most stores deliver within three hours.  The van that comes to your door will not necessarily be marked with the name of the store as most markets contract out this service.  But the fellows who handle the groceries will usually be uniformed or badged.   They will bring the boxes into your apartment and unload them onto your kitchen floor or counter.  A tip of one euro for each bin is always appreciated and to my way of thinking, well worth the price!

Thanks to Heidi Inder for sharing her delivery experience with me.

A Taste of Home

You may be rhapsodic over the bread in Paris and swooning over the cheese, but trust me, sooner or later, you’re going to be looking for molasses to make your favorite ginger snaps or corn meal for muffins when you’re making chili.  And maybe, just maybe, your kids will be crying for Pop Tarts or a Dr. Pepper.  There is a time to be a purist and enjoy what’s available locally but there are also times when a little taste of home is just what’s needed.

There are several sources for your favorite American food stuffs in Paris and without exception, you will pay a premium for these products.  Look closely and you may find peanut butter, maple syrup, Tabasco, and Oreos in your local supermarket.  For the rest, you may need to travel further afield.   More on American-style eateries in a future post.

La Grande Epicerie de Paris, Le Bon Marché
38, rue de Sevres
75007 Paris
Métro: Sèvres-Babylone

The Real McCoy
194, rue de Grenelle 
75007 Paris
Phone:  01 45 56 98 82
Métro: Ecole Militaire

Thanksgiving
20, rue Saint-Paul
75004 Paris, France
Phone: 01 42 77 68 29
Métro: St. Paul

My American Market is an on-line source for American groceries.  Based in Toulouse in southwestern France, they will ship throughout France with rates beginning at 6.89 euros for shipping. 

Homesick Brits may find their favorites at any of several small shops around town. In addition, the W.H. Smith book store on rue de Rivoli stocks some British comfort foods.

The English Shop
10, rue Mesnil
75016 Paris
Phone: 01 45 53 11 40
Métro: Victor Hugo

This shop also has a larger location on 96, rue du Connetable in Chantilly (Phone:  03  44 57  22 20).

Epicerie Anglaise
5, cité du Wauxhall
75010  Paris
Phone: 09 53 75 41 07
Métro: République

Making Sense of the Supermarket, Part III: Eggs

If you’ve found the eggs in the supermarket, congratulations! The next step is figuring out the difference in all the varieties.    The packaging always shows a consumption date of 28 days after the eggs were laid; they cannot be sold after 21 days have elapsed.  Only eggs less than 9 days from being laid may be labeled as oeufs frais (fresh eggs).

Every egg sold in France is marked with a code, for example: 0 FR ABT01.  The first digit (between 0 and 3) indicates how the chicken who laid the egg was raised. The two letters following indicate the country of production (here FR for France). The final digits signify the specific producer. In this post, we’ll focus on the meaning of the first digit.

0: Ninety percent of the food eaten by the chicken who laid this egg was organic (no chemicals or pesticides were used).  The chicken was raised en plein air,  that is, allowed to graze in an exterior area with 4 square meters per chicken.   There is an indoor shelter where the chicken sleeps and lays eggs, but there is a limit to the number of chickens living in the interior area. The carton will be marked “AB” indicating that this is a fully organic product.

1: This egg was laid by a free-range chicken allowed to graze in an area at least 4 square meters per chicken. 

 2: This egg was laid by an uncaged chicken but one allowed only to graze indoors.   There is a limit of 9 chickens per square meter for eggs from this location to be marked “2.”

3: This egg was raised by a caged chicken living indoors.  There may be up to 18 chickens per square meter in this location.

Eggs marked “0” are considered to be of the highest quality and are priced accordingly.

Eggs are also labeled on the packaging by their size from petit (less than 53 grams) to XL (more than 73 grams).   For comparison purposes, an American egg classified as large weighs around 57 grams.

French Frozen

by Ann Mah

Today’s post is republished with permission from the blog of Ann Mah, an author and journalist based in Paris. She has written for Conde Nast Traveler, the International Herald Tribune and many other publications. Publishers Weekly called her recently published first novel, Kitchen Chinese, ” a great start for a writer of much promise.”

It’s taken me over a year, but I think I’ve finally cottoned onto the French secret to eating well at home. Is it shopping at the farmer’s market every day? Making the daily rounds of butcher, baker, and green grocer? Lovingly slaving over a hot stove, preparing delicious and nutritious meals every night? Ha — who has time for that? No, the secret, mes amis, is Picard.

For example, there are herbs, chopped and frozen into cubes — single herbs like cilantro, dill, or thyme, or herb mixes to toss with salad, or sprinkle on fish. There’s also garlic, onions or shallots, all finely minced.

What is Picard? Simply put, it’s a chain of stores selling frozen food. But not just any frozen food. Alongside the usually icy suspects, like pizzas and readymade meals, are an array of frozen products designed to ease the busy gourmand’s lifestyle.

On my last visit, I counted at least 22 types of vegetable purées. Some of these are ready-to-serve side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, or more adventurous combinations like potato and artichoke, or smashed parsnips and jerusalem artichokes. There are also purees of vegetable — i.e. carrots, pumpkin, broccoli, green beans — with no added oil, fat, or salt (rare in this butter-loving nation) which means you can doctor them any way you wish.

This being France, there are many complicated and buttery sauces to serve with meat or vegetables, things like béarnaise, hollandaise, or beurre blanc, which usually take time and skill to whip up from scratch, are here ready to be defrosted.

My favorite section is called “apéritif,” where you can find all manner of tiny foods to pair with a glass of champagne. There are the usual suspects like pigs-in-a-blanket, or savory mini tarts, or gougères, which are like cheese puffs. But there are also unexpected finds like escargots wrapped in puff pastry, or cuillères apéritives (cocktail spoons) — individual Chinese-shaped spoons filled with things like mango-melon chutney and foie gras, or avocado puree and a shrimp. You simply defrost the spoons before serving, no heating required.

Don’t expect a lot of ambience from your local Picard — the shops are very sterile, with fluorescent lights and frozen food cases and very little else.

Here’s a photo of my shopping from last week’s Picard visit. I purchased: frozen soups (packed with puréed vegetables and not too salty), frozen peas and broccoli (good to have on hand in case I don’t have time to go to the store), a few ready-made meals, which are good for lunch (I’m excited about the braised rabbit in olive sauce), a bag of vegetable tagine (eggplant, courgette and tomato, which I plan to eat with couscous), and a box of oven fries (a little treat).

 And Picard offers so much more! There’s a whole section devoted entirely to desserts, from tarte tatin to molten chocolate cake. Or, the aisles of frozen fish and seafood — it’s the only place I’ve been able to find raw shrimp. Or, the assortment of meats — from chicken breasts to burgers to steak.

I realize this post is starting to sound like an infomercial, so I’m going to stop here. Besides, it’s almost lunchtime and I need to go defrost something.

(Note: I am in no way affiliated with Picard. I just like it.)

Making Sense of the Supermarket: Part II, The Produce Section

This is the second in a series of posts about the typical French supermarket, a place where I spent many hours during my first months in France.  Today, we tackle the produce section.

Let’s start with the biggest difference between the French supermarket and the one you left back home;  in many supermarkets in France, you have to weigh and tag your own fruits and vegetables.  If you can’t find a scale anywhere, you are off the hook.  Many Monoprix stores, for example, now have a scale at the register just like you’d find in an American supermarket.  But if there’s a scale, here’s what you do.

Put your bag of fruits and veggies on the scale.

On the screen above the scale, select “fruits” or “legumes” (vegetables). 

You’ll then come up to menu, usually a bunch of squares with pictures of different fruits or veggies, and a code number.  If you’ve got broccoli, punch the square marked “broccoli” (same in French as in English!), and the machine will spit out a self adhesive tag.  Stick it on your bag of broccoli and you are good to go.

For apples, oranges, pears, and any other item of which there are multiple varieties, look for the square identifying the variety you’ve selected.  If you’re not sure, look back at the sign over the produce bin where you got the item in the first place.  Usually, there is a code (something like “305”).  Take a look again at those squares appearing on the scale screen and look for the square with that code.

Some items are sold by the piece (la pièce), the bunch (la botte) or the unit ( a l’unité) and thus do not have to be weighed.  Such items might include a head of lettuce, a bunch of parsley, or a large piece of fruit like a mango. You also do not have to weigh anything that is prebagged such as prewashed lettuce, plastic bags of apples, or string bags of onions.  Anything that needs to be weighed will be marked vrac (bulk) or with the price per kilogram (kg).

Bio is the French term for organic.  Many supermarkets offer both conventional and bio produce.  As in the U.S. bio items are often more expensive, but not always.

Making Sense of the Supermarket: Part I, The Basics

You gotta eat and therefore you gotta have food.  While one of the joys of Paris is learning all the individual neighborhood shops for meat, produce, and cheese plus spending time at any of the wonderful open-air markets, it can all be a little intimidating at first, especially if your French is not that strong.    The supermarket is a much easier place to start but even so, it won’t be exactly like the one you are used to back in the States.  

If you are ready to shop and you want to use a cart, you will need a one-euro coin to liberate the cart.  To prevent their disappearance, carts are linked together.  Putting a one-euro coin in the device on the handle will allow you to pull out the chain connecting your cart with all the others.   When you return the cart after you’ve finished shopping, you reconnect the chain and you will get your euro back.  Some bigger markets offer plastic tokens (jetons) the same size as a one-euro coin that can be used in the same way.  You may be able to ask for one at the customer service desk; if you’re lucky, they may even have a bowl of them sitting right out in the open.  I like having a jeton in my change purse; I can’t spend it so it’s always there when I need it.

Every supermarket is a bit different so it’s hard to give good advice on where to find what.  But here are a few pointers:

  • The eggs are not in the refrigerated section.  You will find them on a shelf.
  • Sugar may not be next to the flour and other baking supplies.  In one store where I shop, the sugar is next to the coffee.  In another, the sugar is next to the bottled water.
  • If you don’t find canned tomatoes with the other canned vegetables, look next to the pasta sauce.
  • Canned chicken stock does not exist.  Make your own, use bouillon cubes, or better yet, powdered fond de volailles which usually can be found next to the bouillon cubes.

Perhaps the most dispiriting part of the supermarket experience comes at the end when you find that you have to bag your own groceries.  In some cases, you even have to bring your own bags or be willing to pay for the store’s bags.   You will likely find it very nerve wracking to try to bag and pay for your groceries at the same time.  Just a few tips here:

  • Take a deep breath and take your time.  If you look around, you will notice that many French customers bag all their groceries before getting out their wallets.
  • If you brought a grocery caddie with you, shop using the caddie instead of the store’s cart.  Take everything out of the caddie and put it on the conveyor belt, and then put it back in the caddie when the checker has scanned it.  If your store does not allow you to bring your caddie into the store (you may have to check it when you enter),  put everything back into the grocery cart after it is scanned, pay, reclaim your caddie, transfer the groceries from the cart to the caddie, and then return the cart.
  • Use the store’s free home delivery service which bags your groceries for you.  More on home delivery in a future post.