My spontaneous outing to the chefs’-supply district

July 23, 2008 at 1:51 PM | Posted in Paris 2008, Paris markets, Wanderings | 2 Comments

Today was one of those days at work that just dragged on and on–by 4pm my brain was tapped out. So I started checking some of my favorite websites to pass the time, including Chocolate and Zucchini, my favorite food-and-Paris blog. The latest entry on the blog was about a whisk used to mix thick dough batters, and Clotilde, the writer, mentioned the store in Paris where she got it. I had this moment of “Whoa! I can actually just leave work and go there and check it out myself!” I then looked through the archives of the blog to see if there were any other cooking supply stores that I could find while I was out. As it turns out, there are about six within one block of each other–near the corner of R. Montmartre and R. Etienne-Marcel in the 2nd arrondissement–which is walking distance from the store with the whisk. By this point it was 5pm and I was guessing that most of the stores would close by 6 or 6:30, so I hightailed it from Villejuif (the suburb where I work) up to the 2nd. These stores were fantastic, if a little overwhelming. Geared towards somewhere between the enthusiastic home cook and a chef at a fine restaurant, they had rooms and rooms full of stuff that looked so enticing but that I knew would be less charming once I left Paris. Some examples: a choice of ten types of escargot plates (which come to think of it would make a great earring-holder), multiple sizes of gratin dishes, a three-inch-tall round ceramic pot with two handles (I have no idea what it was for–I tried to ask the salesperson in French, and it was sort of embarrassing how poorly I was able to express myself), two-inch-square plates for amuse-bouche, a set of 24 tartlet pans–and yes, I briefly toyed with the idea of purchasing all these adorable items. I then had an attack of buyers’ hesitation, and the stores were closing so I felt kind of rushed and I didn’t end up getting anything, and by the time I got to the store with the whisk (the whole impetus for this mission), it was closed. But through all this browsing, I did make a mental list of cooking supplies that I want to get while I’m here, since I’ll have no choice but to make French things with them once I get home: tartlet molds (and maybe a big tart mold), a madeleine pan, the dough whisk, and hopefully some kind of antique/obscure kitchen tool at a flea market. The stores are a little expensive, but even I can tell how good the quality of the cookware is. I also heard about a few discount and overstock chefs’ supply stores in the outer arrondissements, so I may go check those out now that I’ve gotten a good sense of what I want and what’s out there.

Here are some really beautiful espresso cups I saw that all have a big wrinkle in them, as if the clay partly collapsed when the cup was being made (looking at them would make my mom carsick due to the asymmetry).

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  1. I *also* read Clotilde’s post and thought, “wow, I should get one of those!” Unlike you, however, I was not able to run out and go to the exact store she mentioned 😦

    Is Villejuif to the south, on the line 7? (Random question, I know, and one that could be answered by looking at my Paris par Arrondissements when I get home, but I feel the need to test my memory of my old metro line… I lived first at Maison Blanche, and then near to Censier-Daubenton.)

  2. I’m so jealous! I love wandering around stores like that. Also, I think I have an answer for you – the three inch tall pots with handles sound like ideal single-serve casserole and soup bowls. Think french onion soup with the bread and the cheese melted on top that I’m sure you’ve had at any French cafe (and if you haven’t, get moving girl! It’s one of my favorite things in Paris!).


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