I’ve written an usual shopping list today. My husband is stranded in France this morning. Just for a few hours. His flight home has been cancelled because of bad weather so he’s coming on a later flight. Every time he goes on a business trip to Europe the timing is incredibly tight and we are lucky if he comes home with a souvenir fridge magnet, purchased in the airport. So when I heard he had a few hours of waiting around this morning I begged him to pop to the French supermarket! I don’t know if he will but here’s the text I sent him (feel free to deride me, I really don’t care – it was worth a pop I reckon!).
A little explanation of my top shopping picks
Soft sheep’s cheese is a rarity in the UK. Lou Perac is a fairly common brand in France and I flippin’ LOVE the Perail. My husband doesn’t speak French so I didn’t want to make him struggle with trying to say too much at the deli counter, but that really is the best place to find Gouda affine (vintage). The F and B mentioned in my text are our children, by the way. My husband is a little proud that Fizz has inherited his family’s love of cheese. I am a little proud that Belle has inherited my boundless capacity for pancakes.
Clafoutis or Far Breton?
The packet of Clafoutis mix is a cheat, but such a good one. I’m sure I could get an actual recipe and make it from scratch but French packet mixes are – unsurprisingly – better than British ones and this is YUM. It is very much like a Far Breton which you may have tried on your French holidays. French Google tells me that Clafoutis contains a little flour but Far Breton does not. Actually I couldn’t taste the difference. Far Breton is made with prunes and you can do the same in Clafoutis.
Our host from our Breton gite made a Far Breton for us last year and it looked like a Yorkshire pudding or even an over-cooked lasagne. It was quite a surprise when we cut into it and discovered it was a dessert! It is a bit like a cheesecake without a base, quite custard-y and very nice at room temperature. I made Clafoutis with raspberries last week (pictured).
More treats and bargains
Agave syrup is available in the UK, it’s on sale in Sainsbury’s. But it’s twice the price compared with France so I had never tried it until we bought it in Intermarche. It has a delicate flavour and is a complete delight in porridge (of which the French sadly have little appreciation). The taste fools me into thinking it has less calories than golden syrup.
As I’ve said in a past blog, France is a good place to go shopping for cheap stationery and school supplies, but we’ve already broken one compass and lost a protractor so I wish we had bought spares. You might want to leave the notebooks alone however, as they all are printed with squares instead of lines.
Guerande is an area of France famous for sea salt. It has a really strong flavour and is really only suitable for savoury food. It is traditionally used in Galettes which I wrote about recently. It’s a bit of a gimmick perhaps but you can buy little packs quite cheaply with added herbs, spices or other flavours. We have an herb flavour packet but I’d like a spice one now. I don’t know but it might not be widely available in France as it’s a Breton product.
Souvenirs and Tourist Tat
Jeremy Clarkson once said “France is for holidays” and although he is a complete *$%£**^)”~@#* it is fair to point out that the French know what a very popular destination their country is. There is a good chance that the supermarket near your holiday destination will sell some souvenirs to tempt you while you’re shopping. We collect fridge magnets but have also bought a hand towel, breakfast bowls and an inexplicable frog basket. Many items have the flag or emblem of the particular French region, which is a nice touch.
Why didn’t I ask my husband to go shopping for wine? Well, first of all I don’t drink wine at all. Secondly he’s only got his small suitcase with him and we all think cheese is more important!
What would you have asked him to buy? I would love to read your tips – leave a comment!