Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Frugal in France - Paris

Before embarking on my trip to Paris this Spring, I fantasized about all of the wonderful French products I would buy for a fraction of what they cost here. Things made in France should be cheaper there right? Apparently, only in my dreams. There are; however, a few exceptions. Several companies have outlets or surplus stores in Paris where you can buy clothing for half the price of what they cost here. I thought I would plan a day in Paris with products, attractions and eats on the cheap.

(Image from A.P.C.)

Start your day off in scenic Montmartre with a delectable almond croissant from the charming Coquelicot bakery at 24, Rue Des Abbesses. Pop in the upscale beauty store a few doors down and stock up on French skin care products. Three products I love that I found cheaper in Paris are: La Roche Posay Hydraphase, Avene Sunscreen, and Nuxe Reve De Miele Lip Balm. After checking out Van Gogh, Picasso, and Lautrec's former studios, make your way over to Sacre Coeur. After you've had enough site seeing and are ready for some shopping, head down the hill and check out the A.P.C Surplus Store at 20 Rue Andre Del Sarte. Of the three outlet stores I hit in Paris I found this to be the best.  The store is small but well organized  with men's and women's selections from about 6 months prior at 50% off.

(image from Zadig & Voltaire)

If you are done exploring Montmartre, you can make your way over to the Marais. There are three free Museums in this area, The Musee Cognacq-Jay, the Maison de Victor Hugo, and the Musee Carnavalet. All are in beautiful mansions and are great places to stop if you need a bathroom break. A cheap place to pick up lunch in this area is L'as du Falafel. It really is the best falafel I have ever had for around 5 euros. There is not much room to eat in, but you can take it to nearby Place de Vosges and sit in the park. There are two other outlets close by, the Zadig and Voltaire at 22 Rue de Bourg Tibourg, and the slightly further a field Et Vous at 17 Rue de Turbigo. The Zadig and Voltaire is the most outletlike experience with boxes and shelves stacked with items to dig through. It is a good place to hit for basics, or to find that item you passed up here months earlier because it was just too expensive. Before visiting their surplus store, I was not familiar with Et Vous clothing, but of the 3 outlets they have the best prices. I found a navy trench coat previously 400 euros for 50, and cashmere sweaters for 40 euros.

(Image from Le Vaissellerie)

If you have the inkling to check out the left bank, head over to La Grande Epicerie du Bon Marche at 38 Rue Sevres. Packed with food, you can pick up a baguette with ham and cheese for about 6 euros and a reasonable bottle of wine. As you make your way over to the Luxembourg Gardens to eat your dinner, stop by Le Vaissellerie on 85 Rue Rennes. Although this is not an outlet, it is packed with white French porcelain for as little as 3 euros a plate, and other thrifty tabletop goodies.

Click below to view my google map with all of the places listed. Happy Shopping!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

The Big Cheese in Town - Dublin

(Photo From Sheridans Cheesemongers )

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit cheese obsessed and firmly believe that any store with the word cheesemonger in the title really knows their stuff. One such store is Sheridans Cheesemonger in Dublin. The counters are stacked with cheeses from all over the world in a chilled store that it is essentially one big refrigerator. It's a perfect place to go on a hot summer day! The staff are very knowledgeable and friendly, and gave me insight into the local cheeses.

(photo from Sheridans Cheesemongers)

The three cows milk cheeses I tried were:

Gubbeen: This cheese is made in County Cork by Giana Ferguson and is pasteurized. The color is butter yellow with a white washed rind. Nutty in flavor, it is closest in taste to a monchego, but softer in texture and not as salty. Of the three cheeses I sampled this one was my favorite. Since it is pasteurized, it might be possible to find it at gourmet cheese shops here in the states.

Ardrahan: A cheese that also hails from County Cork, but is produced from raw milk from Mary Byrnes' own cows. It has a washed orange rind and a soft texture like fontina, but the taste is moderately pungent, with a tangy flavor similar buttermilk.

Mount Callan: Another raw milk cheese produced by an Australian woman named Lucy Hayes in County Clare. Mount Callan is a very hard dry cheddar also made from raw cow's milk and aged two months. The color is very dark yellow with a dark ashy rind. It is a mild cheddar with a slightly earthy flavor.

I think it's hilarious that Sheridans Cheesemongers also make tiered cheese wedding cakes, and would have loved to of ordered one for my wedding. I have the feeling my guests would have been less enthusiastic!

Sheridans Cheesemongers
11 South Anne Street (off of Grafton)
Dublin, Ireland
tel: 016793143

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Magical Maui Shopping - Hawaii

Where to Shop:

Most of my guide books claim that Wailea has the best shopping on Maui, but if you want hip boutiques with local goods, Paia is a must. Labled a sleepy bohemian town, Paia is the Robertson Boulevard of Maui. Stores open around 10 a.m. and close around 6:00 p.m. so if you take the infamous road to Hana early in the morning, you might be able to do a little shopping on your way back. If you feel like you need some rest and relaxation after the treacherous driving, spend the night at the chic Paia Inn.

1. Kimo's Tikki Glass 2. Tori Richards Hawaiian Print Dress 3. Maui Girl aqua "Sunshine Makes Me High" tee 4. Pacifica Hawaii Black Lava Sea Salt 5. Letarte Swimsuit 6. Sophie Grace Designs Necklace 7. Julia's Banana Bread 8. Big Island Bees Organic Hawaiian Honey 9. Hawaiian Botanical Lotion in Creamy Coconut
(Artwork compiled from various sources by Flitterin)

Maui Shopping highlights:

Best Gourmet Gifts:

In the Honua Kai Resort and Spa
130 Kai Malina Parkway
Lahaina, HI 96761
Tel: 808.667.4341
Owned by the team behind Pacifico and I'O, this is a great spot to pick up sandwiches and the best culinary products Maui has to offer. They have a great selection of Maui coffees, Hawaiian Sea Salts (4.), honeys (8.), rums, cheeses and much more.
Note: On Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 to 1:00 p.m. you can tour the owner's farm and hand pick fresh herbs and fruits. Then, sit down for a gourmet lunch prepared from foods sourced from the farm. The cost is $50.00. www.oofarms.com

Photo from www.juliasbananabread.com

Julia's Banana Bread Stand
Follow the Kahekili Highway (340) to the Fishing village of Kahakuloa. Once you reach about 1/4 of a mile into the village you will see Julia's bright green stand by the side of the road.

Okay I'm recommending this, but it comes with a disclaimer because if you decide to go, be warned that to get there you will have to go on one of the most perilous roads on the island. Many car rental agreements will not cover you if you drive this road, as it is basically a one lane road with falling rocks on one side, cliffs over the ocean on the other, and blind curves. I think it is worse then the road to Hana, but with that said, Julia's banana bread (7.) is worth it, and is one of the most moist delicious recipes I have tasted as is her coconut "crack" candy. Make sure you stock up, because you won't want to do that drive again. If you think you don't have the stomach to go there yourself, she does ship. I will say that the scenery on this road, and the little village around Julia's little green stand is in my opinion some of the most beautiful on the island.

Best Hawaiian Clothing:

The Shops At Wailea
3750 Wailea Alanui
Wailea, HI 96753
Tori Richards has been in business since the fifties and has beautiful silk Hawaiian patterned dresses (2.) and tops with clean lines you won't find anywhere outside of Hawaii. Her only store on Maui is in Wailea in the Shops At Wailea mall.

24 Baldwin Avenue
Paia, HI 96779
One of Paia's best boutiques filled with beautifully embellished cover ups and swimsuits in exotic patterns (5.).

12 Baldwin Avenue
Paia, HI 96779
Another great Paia find stocked with Maui Girl swimsuits, coverups, and bohemian tees(3).

Best Jewelry Store:

790 Front Street Bldg. 2
Lahaina, HI 96761
A small boutique in the town of Lahaina with a small selection of clothing and a jewelry "bar" where you can customize earrings, necklaces (6.), and bracelets with pearls, crytals, stones, and shells.

Best place to buy locally made skin products:

Lahaina Longs Drugs
Lahaina Cannery Mall
1221 Honoapillani Hwy. #237
Lahaina, HI
This Lahaina Longs carries many of hawaiian made sunscreens and lotions at prices below ABC Store's and other Maui retailers. My favorite products they carry are: the Island Soap Hawaiian Botanical Lotion in Creamy Coconut (9.), Maui Babe Browning Lotion, and Maui Island Skin Sunscreens.

Best Tikki Glasses:

845 Front Street
Lahaina, HI

Kimo's Restaurant in Lahaina serves their mai tais in festive tikki head glasses (1.) that are available for purchase from $12. They are perfect for a fruity cocktail or hot toddy and give off an old school Trader Vics vibe.

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