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Saturday, November 21, 2009
Continuing from where we left off in part 1... As you would recall, I had some difficulty finding E Dehillerin and it was while I was walking around aimlessly that I spotted La Bovida which was about 200m from E Dehillerin. Shopping at Dehillerin is an amazing experience, because it makes you feel like you are part of the industry, almost... just almost at the same level as the professionals in the circle. The store was dusty and most things are displayed for your view only. Prices were not displayed hence, every time you see something, you have to approach the boisterous shopkeeper to ask for the price. Upon confirming your intention to purchase it, he will scribble your order down on a piece of paper and send someone to get it for you from the warehouse.
La Bovida, on the other hand is a more modern set up. It is what you would describe as a kitchen ware boutique. The variety of products is no doubt smaller but they do have some interesting products that I found to be reasonably priced. I got 3 mini Le Creuset casseroles which I honestly love to death now. 2 of them were mat black and I got an additional beige coloured one.
The staff at La Bovida were friendly and helpful but it was at KitchenBazaar the next day that I had the most delightful shopping experience. (for some reason, the webpage does not work, Chic Cityrats has a better picture of the shop)
I was on my way to see the Eiffel Tower which was a 7 mins walk from the hotel I was staying at when I got lured into the KitchenBazaar.
KitchenBazaar has a network of shops spread around France. This is again a more modern kitchen specialist with more user friendly gadgets that we will generally find useful and practical in our kitchen. You will also be able to find interesting little knick knacks that you can wow your guests with at your house party. They also have the prettiest Le Creuset Mini Casserole Set that comes in Mauve, Purple and Pink. I almost wanted to buy these but restrained myself as I had already purchased 3 the day earlier at La Bovida. (Warning, be very careful when you shop for kitchen supplies. Make sure you have enough luggage allowance at the airport - I almost busted my limit and had to remove stuff from my check in luggage!)
It was at the store that I met 2 of the most friendly store managers , Matteo and Florence. Florence does not speak English and it was Matteo who manages another store at rue Croix des Petits Champs(10mins walk from La Bovida) that shared with me alot of valuable information about the kitchen supplies scene.
Interestingly, the main kitchen supply stores are all located within a radius of 300m from each other at La Halles. Dehillerin is 100m from La Bovida while Mora and A Simon are just across the street from La Bovida and Kitchenbazaar is another 10mins walk from La Bovida. It's crazy - almost like going on a kitchen supplies shopping binge. The reason for the concentration of these shops at La Halle is because the area used to be a big fresh produce wholesale market. Resturants and smaller grocery shops will come to La Halle to procure their supplies. As such, dotted around its peripheral are amazing restuarants as well as restuarant supplies wholesalers. The market has since be moved out of La Halles but some very good resaturants and wholesaler stores still remain. I was really lucky when Matteo had offered to buy me lunch at one of these restaurants in the area.
This is a quaint but cosy little restaurant situated opposite the KitchenBazaar store at Rue Croix des Petits Champs which incidentally,is a really pretty neighbourhood. I loved its 'restaurant-in-a-hole' atmosphere which makes it really endearing. I was also told that the sexy Italian actress, Monica Bellucii lives in the neighbourhood with her director husband and frequents the restuarant quite regularly.
Matteo and Chef
Matteo is very familiar with everyone at the restaurant so it was fun. I even got to go into the kitchen. I was suprised that it was so small (smaller than my own kitchen!) but with 3 chefs working there, they were turning out 200 meals every day. For the longest time, I have been complaining about the size of my own kitchen - it was really a humbling experience.
I had the house special Beef Tartare for lunch. This is actually ground raw beef and I know there are many people out there who feel queasy about it. I've had Beef Tartare before - always at very good French Restaurants in Asia. I have been told by my French colleague that it is not easy to make a good Beef Tartare. First of all, the beef needs to be of top quality and the way you season and prepare it is also of utmost importance lest they turn out mushy and 'raw'. The beef tartare I had at this restaurant was actually very good. It was cut coarser than what I've had before but the meat was so tender and seasoned so well that you forget you are eating raw beef.
This was my second visit to Paris - the first time was a whirlwind 1.5 days. This second trip was another 2 days 'by the way' kind of arrangement. I have not been to the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower. L had teased me that that's because I had all my priorities mixed up - that I should see the sights first, then buy stuff, then have lunch with stranger....(strictly in that order. Of course the last one is never to be encouraged). However, I have enjoyed myself most thoroughly though it was wretched that I had to lug back so many things - definitely not a chic traveller.
For those who are eager to check out the Kitchen Supply scene, please check out the links provided above. I encourage you to start at E Dehillerin. The easiest way is probably to take the subway Line 4 to Eteinne Marcel . Along Rue Eteinne Marcel, look for the big post office and walk towards the general direction of Rue Montmarte. At the junction of Rue Montmarte, make a left turn and you should see E-Dehillerin at the corner. La Bovida is just at the intersection of Rue Montmarte and Rue Eteinne Marcel.