Paris is the most beautiful city in the world.
I have to find a way to live in Paris, even if it’s just for half a year. I mean, Paris really is the most beautiful city in the world, and it’s been calling out to me now more than ever (or better yet-singing out to me). Out of the blue, I got a phone call. Yes, an actual call! Bonne Maman was inviting me to attend a Mother’s Day event in Paris which would be situated on a boat, the Concorde Atlantique docked along the River Seine. Not just any event, but a 3-day culinary love affair with Paris hosted by the most famous (and let’s just be honest here), preserve making company in the world. That’s right. I said “preserve” because Bonne Maman is not in the business of making jam. We Canadians probably call most preserves, jams. After talking to some key Bonne Maman folk, to them, preserves contain luscious chunks of fruit. So, if you are a jam snob like me, you just now realized that you really may be a preserve snob.
We may all know family-owned and world-renowned Bonne Maman preserves and jellies by their iconic (and very reusable) glass bottles with checkered red and white lids. However, in Europe, the brand delivers so much more! There is a section in grocers for Bonne Maman stacked with preserves, compotes, jellies, curds, caramel, and chestnut sauces, yogurts, madeleines, biscuits, crepes, waffles and more. Now, they just released a new Intense line of MORE fruit and less sugar spreads. 38% less sugar to be exact. Hopefully, we will see this line and much more trickling into our Canadian grocers. I know Quebec is privy to many more of Bonne Maman’s product line whereas the rest of us Canadians may have to dig a little deeper or start demanding our favourite shops to start bringing it in. For example, in Toronto you can find them in Fiesta Farms as well as the always magnificent St. Lawrence Market But let’s get back to why Paris is so awesome. As seen through my eyes on this culinary adventure, I can provide you with a few must-sees on your next or first trip to Paris. Our small but sweet North American team of new fellow foodie friends Lily Diamond, Molly Yeh, and Sarah Fennel stayed at the Hotel St-Germain. The area, I was told by locals, is considered the heart of Paris and the hotel couldn’t have been more perfect. If you want the most central area to stay where everything is in walking distance, Saint Germain des Prés in the 6th would be it. The first day I arrived and only a 2-minute walk from the hotel, I stumbled upon La Grande Epicerie. Walking the aisles of this jaw-dropping food market was nothing short of a magical experience. A food stylists dream! There were rows of peppercorns in the spice section I never knew existed. Never mind the carefully curated selection of fruits and vegetables that featured garlic so big, strawberries so small, and white asparagus as thick as salami. The days we spent on board at the event was spent tasting all the wonderful and outside-the-box things you can do and make with Bonne Maman products (and their reusable jars). We had specialty cocktails made with their new Intense spreads, pastry classes, candle making, and tea workshops. All the while being served savory and sweet nibbles infused with all the flavours of Bonne Maman. It really opened my eyes to all the different things you can do with say, your favourite preserve. One of my favourite experiences was sitting around a long table with the Andros team from Bonne Maman and a bunch of us foodies just tasting products by the spoonful. Brainstorming all the recipes you could do with Bonne Maman’s chestnut spread or blackcurrant jelly.
We ate or way through Paris. From breakfast at Ladurée (famous for their macarons) to dinner at Chez L’Ami Jean with everything in between. I strolled through the streets and gazed in awe that one could walk to work every day in this kind of bewildering beauty. To see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night as you stroll along the Seine with a bottle of fine Languedoc arm in arm with friends is something everyone should experience. Then, stand below The Gates of Hell in the blossoming gardens of the Rodin Museum to really put things in perspective. If you need more, there are LOTS more but don’t forget to end one evening watching a swing dance spectacle that happens at this 60’s jazz bar, Le Cave du 38 Riv.
I had the best of the best…Best Meringue Bomb→ Aux Merveilleux de Fred⇒ eat the coffee flavoured one
Best Croissant→ Des Gâteaux et du Pain
Best Jambon→ Caractere de Cochon⇒ also grab a few mini chorizos
Best All-Round Pastry Shop→ Pierre Hermé
Best Cheese→ Fromagerie Beillevaire
Best Meillfeuille→ Blé Sucré
Best Cocktail Bar→ Cafe Moderne⇒ also best meatballs
Best Rice Pudding→ Chez L’Ami Jean⇒ also best service
Best Bonne Maman product to bring home with you→ too many to choose from, but I did manage to bring home a few fraises, framboise and fleur de sureau (strawberry, raspberry, and elderflower) Mother’s Day limited edition preserves that are blowing my mind.