E. Dehillerin is an excellent cooking utensils outlet located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. It's a totally no-frills store, that has stayed pretty much the same since it was first opened in 1820 (something tells me they didn't sell silicon baking mats back then, though). It's open to individuals, but is mainly targeted at professionals. One of the consequences is that all prices are listed before tax (H.T. meaning "Hors taxes"), contrary to what is customary in regular French stores. It is also much busier on a weekday than on Saturdays.
When you step inside the store, the first thing that may strike you is how narrow the aisles are, lined from floor to ceiling with metal containers and coarse wooden shelves, on which products are stacked in the most unglamourous fashion. There is hardly any space to walk around, and you keep having to make way for bustling sales reps checking the reference for sharpening stones, and for customers who are trying to get a closer look at the giant soup ladles right next to the stainless steel mandolines you're inspecting.
The sales people are helpful and knowledgeable, but they are definitely not your patient, coaxing type. They'll tell you which type of bakeware is the sturdiest, but they won't hold your hand and nod while you debate which size gratin dish you really need. If you're looking for the French Williams-Sonoma, this might not be the place for you.
Beyond the sheer fun of trying to hold your ground in this beehive (wearing your freshest charming cutie smile), the reward is this : top quality professional-grade gear at the best prices, and good down-to-earth no-nonsense advice. I love this store.
During my recent visits, here's what I got [some of them pictured here ; find out which is which and test your utensil knowledge :) ] :
- A 20 cm chef knife, a 9 cm paring knife and a bread knife. Various brands (at varying prices) were available, and I liked that the ones the sales guy recommended were really affordable, so I went for these. My oh my, I had read that good knives change your life, but had not realized how much!
- A mezza-luna (chopping tool with two handles and two half-moon blades). In French, it's called a "berceuse" because of the cradling movement you make while using it. I had seen Nigella Lawson praise hers, and thought it looked neat. Turns out it chops fresh herbs like a breeze, and is a lot of fun to use.
- A sharpening stone. Same as with the knives, the sales rep pointed me to this 4.47 euros diamond shaped stone, away from the fancier ones with a handle.
- A sheet of this special plastic which makes it easy to work with melted chocolate. In French, it is called a "feuille guitare".
- A silicon baking mat
- A polyethylene chopping board
- A pastry brush
- A set of six non-stick fluted-edged tartlet molds with removable bottoms
- A set of six shaping rings. These can be used to hold together layered appetizers or desserts while you make them, to bake english muffins or individual mousses, to shape rice/couscous/whatever for serving, as cookie cutters... See? And all this time you hadn't even realized you needed them so bad!
- A set of locking tongs
- Ceramic baking beans
- An oven thermometer, which led me to realize that unfortunately our oven is, as supected, not as warm as it claims...
I also wanted to get copper canelé molds, because Maxence likes canelés so much and the ones we've made using our silicon mold are not as caramelized as the ones you buy in bakeries. But when I asked about them, the sales guy told me they were 8 euros each and shared the secret to baking great canelés using a silicon mold : spray each canelé nest with baking spray, and sprinkle confectioner's sugar inside like you would flour a cake pan. I have yet to try this tip, but will report back!
The full address is 18 rue Coquillère, 75001 Paris, and they have a website.
If you ever get a chance to be in that area of Paris, know that there are several similar stores (though not reaching E.Dehillerin heights) :
A. Simon (48 rue Montmartre, 75002 Paris - website)
La Bovida (36 rue Montmartre, 75001 Paris)
Mora (13 rue Montmartre, 75001 Paris - website)
Chocolate & Zucchini [http://chocolateandzucchini.com]
All writing and photography on Chocolate & Zucchini is Copyright Clotilde Dusoulier © 2003-2011 unless indicated otherwise. All rights reserved.