Leave it to me to walk into one of Paris' most famous department stores and make a b-line past the clothing straight to the second floor grocery store. Lafayette Gourmet is the biggest food purchasing space that I have encountered in France. Similar to Tokyo's food dedicated department store floors, Lafayette had the feel of an upscale supermarché mixed with in-house dining options. There was an Italian themed deli counter as well as an Asian food stand with chefs cooking right in front of you, an Eric Kayser mini boulangerie and a chocolatier in the corner. These were mingled throughout the typical refrigerated cases of milk, cheese, and yogurt as well as mountains of confiture, a relatively huge salt and pepper section, every type of oil and vinegar imaginable, a fish monger, flavored syrups, good old coca-cola, and duck confit around every corner.
I like this quote from a French website that I found on google:
"Temple de la gourmandise et de la gastronomie, l’espace Lafayette Gourmet, situé au 1er étage du magasin Homme des Galeries Lafayette du boulevard Haussmann, propose... de nombreux produits originaux et innovants, pour le plus grand plaisir des papilles !"
They seemed to have packed every basic item as well as a huge list of rare and unique ingredients into this slick, clean space. I probably spent at least an hour ogling all of the goods. If my financial situation allowed, I would have departed with a mountain of culinary delectables. While the prices were not unreasonable for most of the basic items, the specialty things got a little scary. For instance, the Japanese isle had packages of 10 sheets of nori seaweed for 8.50€($11.00)...back home i buy 10 packs for $1.00 or less.
Some of my most wanted include: balsamic glaze in three different flavors, basil flavored sugar, Himalayan sea salt, this insanely expensive olive oil that came packaged in a small clay pod which kept it completely light protected and had to be broken open to get the oil out, the entire chocolate isle, saffron threads, vanilla beans, the yummy looking tofu they were cooking at the Asian counter, these adorable homemade looking pots of confiture with cute pink polka dot fabric covering the lids and handwritten labels, lavender syrup, shizo leaves (the quintessential Japanese herb), and anything that the Eric Kayser Bakery felt like handing over.
So, if you are in Paris and you are searching for some esoteric foodie joy, go to le premier étage of Les Galeries Lafayette Homme and I guarantee you will not be dissapointed, until you hand over your credit card to pay.
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