Checking Out Local Color

Checking Out Local Color

Oct 25, 2006

Whenever I travel I love to check out local grocery stores, food emporiums and farmers markets. In a time when Trader Joe's are popping up everywhere, there's a bit a thrill when you stumble into local chain stores or shops you've never heard of, such as Marks & Spencer, selling unfamiliar things, such as digestive biscuits or birthday cakes curiously shaped like hedgehogs.

In England recently, I fell in love with Marks & Spencer, despite the fact that I didn't buy any of their products, much less taste any of them. I did however, meander around the store as though I were in a museum, reading labels, looking at bottles and jars of this and that. Although I had every intention, I did not make it to the famed Borough Market, but on a little side trip to Paris, I did get to check out a fantastic farmers' market that I'd read about in Ina Garten's book, Barefoot in Paris.

The Boulevard Raspail Street Market is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and is located between Rue du Cherche-Midi and Rue de Rennes. You'll see much of the same produce you might find at your local market but what really sets this one apart is the selection of cheeses, meats (both cured and raw), and seafood. There's also bakers selling breads, tarts, sweets and sandwiches. As Ina suggests in the book, it's a great place to pick a little something up and head down to nearby Luxembourg Gardens for a lazy lunch in the park.

What are some of your favorite stores you have to include on your itinerary when you travel?

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