Thursday, April 14, 2011

Two of my new favorite things

Last Saturday, a friend took me on a culinary shop adventure in Les Halles. Les Halles was the location of the central food market of Paris from 1135 until 1969, when President Pompidou kicked the food vendors out of the area. Some of the cuisine shops hung around, however, and to this day, continue to be the mecca of culinary equipment. Kitchen utensil addicts, beware - this place may just make you fall backwards in joy.
Dehillerin 1820

Dehillerin. Providing Parisians (and everyone else) the best of the best in French kitchen equipment since 1820. The place looks like it hasn't been renovated since then. Actually, my guess is that it may have gotten a face lift (and peg boards to hang Mauviel copper pots on the walls - I'll get to that later) in the 1940s, around the time when Julia Child frequented the place. Rumor has it this was her favorite cuisine shop. Maybe this is where she got her idea to hang pots on peg boards? Or perhaps it was the other way around?
Typical display at Dehillerin.

It looks more like a beat-up old hardware store than a Crate & Barrel, but it's overflowing with character. A lot of it. Very little attention is paid to displaying products because the quality speaks for itself. Our sales assistant was a total character, his breath smelling of whisky at 11am and had enough knowledge about every lid, ladle, spatula, ring mold, and fork, to amaze anyone. 

This brings me to my first new favorite thing:

Mauviel copper and stainless steel cookware. A family enterprise since 1830, Mauviel creates gorgeous and seemingly indestructible cookware. In the US, Williams Sonoma carries Mauviel pots. Take a look at this link for a video explaining how the Mauviel family makes each piece by hand. They are such good quality, that they become family heirlooms. If I buy these pots, they'll last my lifetime, my son's, his son's, his son's, etc., etc., etc., you get the picture.
My recent interest in these pots was heightened by a disturbing piece of information I came across at Le Cordon Bleu. During a demo, Chef Stril said "Teflon is poison." This triggered my curiosity because I happen to own a pretty nice set of Calphalon cookware that happens to be teflon. It turns out he's right. I've done research and spoken to people who know a lot more about this than I do, and they all confirmed that teflon is very toxic. Once it reaches certain temperatures and chips, it releases terrible chemicals that are very harmful, and have been linked to cancer. They say that once your teflon pans begin to chip away, you must throw them away. Even better, don't buy them in the first place. A friend of mine who's done extensive research on this topic told me that DuPont, the French company who created it, admitted that it'll stop producing teflon in a few years. The thought of feeding my son chemicals from these pans freaked me out, so I'm looking for an alternative. A very pretty, shiny, and just a wee bit expensive alternative, yes. But considering they'll last forever (literally) and not release awful stuff, isn't it worth it?

After feasting our eyes on shiny copper, we headed to a nearby cafe to feast on a delicious lunch. This brings me to my next new favorite thing:
Kir Royal
It's a cocktail made of blackcurrant liqueur and champagne. A regular "Kir" is made with white wine, but I love the champagne version. Check out these photos of gorgeous kir cocktails.

After my kir, I had a beautiful salmon tartar salad with frites.
The perfect lunch for a perfect day shopping for copper pots.


  1. yikes! i do believe my skillets are covered in poisonous teflon. *sigh*... now i'll just have to buy copper replacements!

  2. yes, do! mauviel also makes stainless steel pots (as do other good companies) that are less heavy and perhaps less expensive...

  3. Ryan told me about this recent "love". You have some time to "convince" your hubby I'm sure. Good luck! Quite scary about the teflon.