Sunday, February 26, 2006

Le Creuset, The Factory Store

A few weeks back, the kids had their Ski vacation Week. My son wanted to build an Electric Guitar during this school holiday, he asked a music teacher at school where to find parts, and the teacher said that Place Pigalle was the best place to buy bits and bobs for this project.

I felt like this part of town was a great adventure for father & son. So off they went! Nestled in between the Sex Shops, Peep Shows and Sushi Bars are lots of music shops! Daylight hours in Pigalle is a different kettle of fish then night time hours. Daylight finds little old ladies with their rolling grocery carts just back from the market, mom and kids running to and from errands, all very tame and mundane!

What does this have to do with cooking?? Well, during that vacation week, I thought we might venture out for a family road trip. Everytime I suggested this exciting idea, it was met with 'I need more parts for the guitar". The week came and went........with no additional mileage built-up on the car, until yesterday.......

.......I didn't ask but I gave the family a ETD (estimated time of departure) of 8:00a.m. We were heading north to the town of Fresnoy le Grand. Yep, another factory store! A little over 2 hours and 20 minutes and you'll find the sleepy town devoted to all things Enameled Cast Iron!

That little tiny building is the factory store. Stuffed with discount prices, plus fin de series steals! This place gets crowded! I'm supposed to take a bunch of expat ladies up there before the school year is over. I now understand why it was suggested I only take about 15. Think of a can of packed sardines and you can imagine this store, 15 ladies with hot credit cards in their hands! You can eMail in advance and order make sure they have a piece in the color you want, The lady that works in the shop was terribly helpful, although didn't speak English. I use the point, grunt and smile method of speaking French, this usually works well!

Honestly, I've known about this store for many years but never really wanted more 'Creuset'. I certainly didn't think the prices would be any cheaper than those Factory Outlet Stores that line the Interstate Highways in the U.S. I was WRONG!!

Lots to choose from
Look at the stash!
Stocked Shelves
They had examples from each market, UK & U.S., but mainly featured the French line. I found a wonderful square griddle pan. I can already tell that I'll love this pan. Plus it was in a cool Indigo color!
Mini Cocottes and Polenta
The 'guys' insisted that I buy these little mini-cocottes! Perfect for individual servings! I just had to try them out last night, filled with Baked Polenta with a good Cheddar mixed in. These were fun! I always like to add a bit of whimsy at my table, and these little guys were too cute to pass up! I am picturing using them for many things---Mac-N-Cheese, Pot Pies and Deep-Dish mini Apple Pie!


lindy said...

Complete, utter, envy.

Fran said...

I, too, am sooooo envious! Love your blog. Thanks for stopping by.

Barbara said...

My husband (being a musician) ventured into the music stores you mentioned on our last visit to Paris. He came back full of stories about the area.

Melissa said...

Hi Lindy.....there are times I have to pinch myself, I really love living here!

Hi Fran...Thank YOU...I was glad to stumble on your blog!

Barbara....What does Brian play? Yes, it is a colorful area of town.

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

Wow creuset on discount!? Living in the south of France doesn't have such advantages!! I want to come with you!!
I am glad the dealer made you buy the indiviual pots as well!

Mona said...

My dad and brother are crazy about their guitars :)
Those cocottes look great. I'm always wishing I had more personal serving a single gal in the city...i'm not often making food for an army.

Melissa said...

Corey.....I'm quite sure the Sud has some wonderful advantages over the ile de france!!! You've got to be AT LEAST 10 degrees warmer than us right now!

Mona....I've enjoyed the mini-cocottes! need to buy the big cocottes, you won't always be a single gal!! One dutch oven will last your life-time!

Barbara said...

Bryan and our youngest son Michael are both drummers. Michael builds drums like your son builds guitars.

Elise said...

How exciting! I'm envious, though I can't imagine hauling back a bunch of Le Creuset to the states. I have a hard enough time lifting just one pan.

Melissa said...

ahhhhhh elise, a private aircraft could help you with your load! They are heavy, but the Dutch Oven is a must!

keiko said...

Great post Melissa - did you see any Japanese women there? They are, um, obsessed with creuset and I suspect someone might try to buy the whole shop one day :) Although I'm not *that* mad, I quite fancy it when they have new unsual colour... Your polenta in mini-cocottes looks great!

I'll definitely visit the music shops next time :)

johnny said...

So how much did it cost? I'd love to get some of the le creuset cheap.

Anonymous said...

I saw those little mini cocottes today in my local hardware shop and spent about 20 minutes talking myself out of buying them, but you've helped me decide. Tomorrow I'm right back there to get them!!

steph said...

Hi!! I'm so pleased to have stumbled on your blog... I have been dreaming of a cheaper le creuset shop! I will be in Belgium this wk end and it will only be a 2 hr drive from where we are... and I'm building my first home net year so need to 'kit my kitchen out'... and would love loads of useful le creuset items. Is it worth my while to make the trip especially? Is it really that much cheaper? and How can I order in advance.... can I specify colours etc? Sorry for all the questions but I'm new to this and extremely excited at the prospect! I'll be shipping it all to South Africa, where we'll be building. I'd love some guidance and advice from you if you'd indulge me. My blog to see who I am... I'd appreciate your help so much... I don't speak french. Thanks, Stephanie

Chris Chater said...

As a Pigalle-recommending music teacher I can only approve Melissa's decision to drive out of town to do her window shopping. Unless you visit the street parallel to Pigalle which is almost entirely devoted to music gear you may find more than you bargained for.

Melissa it's been too long since you left France so please keep the blog going - the days when we could post your special features about mushrooms on our school website are long gone!