Tag Archives: France

10 Gifts for the Francophile

Are you looking for that special something for the Francophile in your life? These ideas will make them weep with joy like a kid in Pierre Herme.

1. Water and Iced Tea Pitcher with Toile

Toile decorative designs are very common in France. You’ll see them on aprons, wallpaper, linens, and this pitcher. It’s great for holding iced water, tea, and punch.

French Black Toile Porcelain Water/Tea Pitcher Featured in Country Living Magazine

2. La Rochere Goblet Set

The bee was a symbol for Napoléon and can be seen on everything in France. These glasses are a good example. They’ll provide a wee bit of 19th Century style to the dinner table. Here’s a bit of history about the icon

Napoléon I wanted to highlight Carolingian and even Merovingian heritage, a good manner to skip the Capetians kings’ heritage, and looked for new emblems in 1804.
The State Council followed Cambacérès and Lacuée, who proposed the bees, as “a republic with a chief”, with a sting but producing honey, which was the emblem of work for Ségur. The team, directed by Vivant Denon, that designed the imperial arms, proposed a semy of bees in “Merovingian style” on the imperial purple coat. The original design was deemed “too archaic”. Later, a bee with well-detached wings was selected, and appeared on the Emperor and Emperess’ clothes, as weel as on the hanging in the Notre-Dame cathedral during the coronation.
The Bees as the Imperial Symbol

La Rochere Bee Décor 12.5 Ounce Footed Water Goblet Set of 6

3. Extra Thick Copper Frying Pan

Every French kitchen has a thick copper frying pan. These utilitarian pans will become the centerpiece of every meal. This 10.2-inch frying pan has sloped sides for high-heat frying. The extra-thick 2.5 mm copper exterior heats quickly and evenly, yet it also features a non-reactive stainless interior lining that holds up to heavy use and cleans easily.

 6504.26-Cuprinox Extra-Thick 2-1/2 mm 10-1/2-Inch Round Frying Pan

4. Electric Crepe Maker

There was one thing I missed tremendously when I moved from Southern California to Paris: Mexican Food. That’s right, I needed my quick meals that were filling, greasy, salty, sinful, yet sooo good. Fortunately, there is a replacement in Paris; the crepe stand. You can get a sweet crepe or the savory version (gallette) that will warm your soul for just a few euros. Now you can recreate this dish at home.

But don’t think crepes are just for fast food. Take a trip through Brittany to explore the wide variety of crepes and finish the meal with a strong cider.

World Cuisine 13-Inch Diameter Tibos Electric Crepe Maker

5. Colorful Salt Cellars

These colorful salt cellars look like they came straight from the Bastille farmers market in Paris. Their whimsical shapes and fun colors will add a dash of spice to your table. These are meant to hold some nice finishing salt, such as the wonderful Sel Gris From Guerande.
Colorful mini ceramic salt cellars, set of 6 assorted colors, French

6. Laguiole Pearl Handled Spreader Set

Laguiole, a small French mountain town about 350 miles south of Paris, is famous for its cattle, its cheese, and its cutlery. The original Laguiole knife was made by iron smiths in 1829, as a farmers tool. This farmers tool was refined into the Laguiole Steak Knife, which is used today by many famous French restaurants. This pearl handled set is made just for spreading honey, confiture, or creme fraiche.
French Laguiole Pearl Spreader Set in Wood Drawer Tray

7. Bain Marie for Creme Brulee

Custards need to be baked at a consistent temperature. Normally you’d place your ramekin dishes in a pan half-filled with water. This set has special dishes and larger pan that lets you bake the perfect set of custards.  This set also includes a torch for creating a perfectly carmelized topping.

BonJour Bain Marie Set

8. Grand Dictionaire de Cuisine by Alexandre Dumas

My coworkers gave me this book when I left the Paris office to move back to the United States. It’s an amazing book by Alexandre Dumas, who is best known as the author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo . This book was a work of love for Dumas and consumed the last part of his life.

Grand dictionnaire de cuisine, by Alexandre Dumas

His massive Grand Dictionnaire de cuisine (Great Dictionary of Cuisine) was published posthumously – Wikipedia

The book is filled with charming line drawings and extensive descriptions. Please note: this book is written in French, although it is still very interesting for those that do not know the language.

9. Classic French Cooking with Dorie Greenspan

Dorie Greenspan has written some of the most accessible, delicious books about French cuisine. My copy of her book Baking with Julia is dog-eared and splattered with batters and doughs. Her latest cook book, Around my French Table,  promises solid French cooking that you can do in your kitchen.
Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours

Here’s an interview by Dorie with the Poilane boulangerie.

10. The Sweet Life by David Lebovitz

David Lebovitz is an internationally respected pastry chef that moved from Berkeley to Paris. He’s written a series of beautiful cookbooks that explore the sweet side of life. The Sweet Life highlights the greatest bakeries and candy shops of Paris while also telling stories of life across the ocean. You’ll quickly find yourself addicted to David’s humor and recipes.

The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City

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Make awesome strawberry jam in this pot by Mauviel

Making strawberry jam is a fairly simple task. You simply cut and mash up the fruit, heat it up with sugar until it boils and gels, pour into jars, and then finish with a hot water bath. While the steps are simple, it requires some precision with ingredient proportions, temperatures, and cooking times.

Mauviel Copper Jam Pan - Hammered

It helps to cook the fruit in a heavy pan that keeps the fruit at a consistent temperature while cooking. This copper jam pot from Mauviel is the perfect tool for making jam. Williams Sonoma says

Prized in French kitchens, this classic copper pan helps transform fruits into delicious jams, jellies and preserves. Made of heat-responsive copper in a wide, shallow design, it’s also useful for making caramel and other high-sugar foods. It’s crafted in France by Mauviel, a family-owned maker of fine copper cookware since 1830.

  • The wide, shallow bowl and heat-conductive 1.2mm-gauge copper promote a rapid boil, which develops fruits’ natural pectins.
  • Unlined interior is safe for use with foods with a high sugar content.

Mauviel Hammered Copper Jam Pan – Williams Sonoma

Personally, I use a Malto Mario dutch oven for making jam. It works, but isn’t the best option. The dutch oven holds the heat once the pot is taken off the burner, whereas the copper pot would start cooling to avoid over cooking.

Here’s a video about Mauviel

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The Mauviel copper fondue pot brings French elegance to your party

This beautiful fondue pot is from the Mauviel factory in Normandy, France. It’s thick copper construction will heat quickly and keep your fondue at the perfect temperature.

Mauviel Cupretam Pour la Table Tinned Copper Fondue Pot

This stainless steel fondue set by Blomus features top quality construction with a more modern design.

Blomus 67063 Minato Fondue 24 pcs. Set Stainless Steel

Mauviel’s History in France

Mauviel, a French family business established in 1830 and located in the Normandy town of Villedieu-les-Poeles, is the foremost manufacturer of professional copper cookware in the world today. Highly regarded in the professional world, with over 170 years of experience, Mauviel offers several different lines of copper cookware to professional chefs and home cooks that appreciate the benefits of their high quality products.

Professional cooks can attest that copper cookware is an essential part of every cookware collection as it is 2X more conductive than aluminum and 10X more conductive than stainless steel. This advantage makes copper the very best material for cooking, as it is unsurpassed in its ability to heat up evenly and rapidly and to cool down quickly, allowing for maximum control and great cooking results.

CUPRETAM pour la table has a 1.2 to 2mm thickness of copper exterior and is lined with a tin wash interior that, in the opinion of professional chefs creates the ultimate cooking surface. It has straight sides and bronze handles with copper rivets and has a polished or hammered outside finish, not only to enhance their inherent beauty but also to facilitate cleaning. A timeless product, CUPRETAM pour la table embodies the traditional process and professionalism known only to Mauviel.
Mauviel Cupretam Pour la Table Tinned Copper Fondue Pot – Amazon

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Le Toaster by Magimix is mighty nice

The Le Toaster by Magimix is an elegant approach to the common kitchen toaster. It is built to handle large slices of bread, brioche, and croissants. But what makes it more interesting are the clean lines and smooth operation.

le toaster 4 by magimix

With your professional Magimix toaster, you can toast, defrost or re-heat most types of bread from larger slices to small… baguettes, bagels, croissants, buns, teacakes, crumpets, brioche, waffles… Available in a range of finishes to suit your requirements in the kitchen.

Here’s an even cooler version with glass sides to watch your bread turn into the perfect toast.

Unfortunately, its’ not easy to find the toaster in American stores.

Peugeot Pepper Mills

In the world of Pepper Mills, there are two types to look at. There’s Peugeot’s line of quality pepper mills and then there’s everyone else.

Sure you can find something that grinds pepper for under $20 bucks. But there’s nothing like a Peugeot for the solid heft, smooth grinding, and satisfaction for owning a quality tool. Let’s look at some of their coolest pepper mills

The Italian Restaurant Goliath

This is the one you see in restaurants that is over three feet long. It lets you grind pepper for everyone at the table from a single spot. It’s not only convenient, it looks super cool in your kitchen… if you can find a place for it to fit.
Peugeot 42 inch Paris Classic Pepper Mill

Racing inspired salt and pepper mills

This set reflects Peugeot’s automotive racing heritage. It’s covered with braided steel for extra verve.
Peugeot Tresses Stainless Steel Salt/Pepper Mill Set

Electric Pepper Mill

Do you need an electric pepper mill? Do you need a pepper mill with a light? Oh yes, you do! These are wonderful.

I remember the first time I used one. My friends in Paris were showing off this Christmas gift from one to the other. The light really helps you see how much pepper is being deposited in dark rooms. This is important as it is so fun to use that you may find yourself eating pepper with a side of pasta.

Peugeot Zeli Electric Pepper Mill

The Whole Pepper Shebang

Why stop with a pepper mill? Get this traveling set of pepper and salt mills with corkscrew. It’s all rechargeable, looks cool as hell, and comes with its own suitcase.

Peugeot Elis Rechargeable Electric Set: Pepper Mill, Salt Mill and Corkscrew

Peugeot Pepper History

This is from Amazon

PEUGEOT: France, since 1810. Peugeot mills are renowned by chefs and gourmet cooks the word over for the consistent grind results they produce, their incredible resilience and proven reliability. Compromise is not a word that fits into the Peugeot vocabulary. For each spice, there is one – and only one – Peugeot grinding mechanism: peppercorns; coarse dry salt; chilies; herbs and spices; wet salts; and nutmeg. Add the coffee mechanism, which started it all, and there are seven unique Peugeot mechanisms. Each is designed to derive the most flavor and greatest aroma from its complementary spice.

Aesthetically pleasing, Peugeot mills deliver the height of quality, durability, reliability and innovation; making these mills the ones to which all others are compared. The high quality beech wood used in Peugeot mills is grown, harvested, dried, shaped and finished in France.

For Paris Classic mills, the grind is adjusted by turning the top nut: turn it clockwise (tighten) for a finer grind; counter-clockwise (loosen) for a coarser grind. This mill is equipped with Peugeot’s legendary pepper grinding mechanism. Made of case-hardened steel, it has received additional treatment against wear and corrosion. Its double-row of helix-shaped claws grab and crack each peppercorn, before drawing it down to the teeth for the perfect grind.
Peugeot Paris Classic Pepper Mill

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Quest for the best wine corker

Step 1. Buy a bottle of wine. But not one with a screw top.
Step 2. Find a bottle opener.

This is where the fun starts.

You can go cheap ($1.50):
Two Piece Pocket Corkscrew Burgundy

You can go crazy expensive like the handmade Sveid corkscrew ($70,000) :

And somewhere in between:

Alessi Smoki Christiani Corkscrew Wine Bottle Opener

Tusk Handle Wine Opener

Costa Brava St. Germain Pneumatic Corkscrew, Leather Line

Metrokane Golden Rabbit, Titanium

Oxo Steel CorkPull Wine Opener/Corkscrew

Or, you could just use a shoe like the guy in France