Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oldest Covered Market and the La Boutique Maille

There were specific food destinations that I had mapped out prior to our trip: namely the Maille store, Fauchon and La Grande Epicerie. These are their stories :)

The day started with an excursion to the oldest covered market in Paris - Marche des Enfants Rouges, dating back to 1612 (1612!!!!!). It was named for an orphange nearby the original market where the children wore red uniforms. Similar to our Saskatoon Farmer's Market, the weekdays are typically slower than the more bustling weekend markets, and fewer vendors - we were there on a Thursday. The entrance to the market (39 Rue de Bretagne, 3eme) was inconspicuous, we walked right by it the first time - just a narrow space between two buildings. You are greeted with fresh produce stands, all of excellent quality. There were several ethnic food vendors (mainly Middle Eastern), who were likely tenants, as they had commercial kitchen setups in their space. Ready-to-eat foods were available for purchase, in addition to packaged food and grocery items. It was early in the day and nowhere near lunch, so we decided to keep moving, but not without buying a perfectly-ripened mango.

Destination two, the Maille store (6 Place de Madeleine, 8eme), founded by Antoine Maille in 1747. The notably cute storefront was inviting, with interesting window displays. Upon entering the store, it was a feast for the eyes. The walls were completely lined with perfectly-arranged jars and bottles. Doing a preliminary scan, there were MANY more varieties than we will ever see on this continent.

I bought a wooden crate that contained 9 small jars (108g); I chose the crate because it would almost guarantee a safe journey home without having to pack each jar individually. The varieties in the crate were: bleu cheese, hazelnut and nutmeg, coconut with Columbian spices, Chablis with Morels, Pesto with Rocket, Red Berry, Cognac, Sundried Tomatoes with Espelette Pepper (a French pepper variety) and Parmesan Basil. Crazy!!! They look so adorable in their little crate that I cringe at the thought of opening them. I'll let the visual honeymoon fade and then I'll start sampling :)

On the front desk, there were three ceramic 'taps' (at first glance, you might think they were beer taps) that contained mustard that could be poured into customer's containers - mustard on tap, who would have thought?! While making my purchase, I attempted to explain that I make mustard for our Farmer's Market. Eventually, I got that across. He asked if I start using the seed, and I said yes. I was about to try to explain that the seeds that they use for their mustard come from Saskatchewan, but quickly realized that might take the rest of the afternoon. So, I just asked where Fauchon was.

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