The event, organised by the French trade commission UBIFRANCE, gives small start up fine food producers the opportunity to meet and network with people from the British speciality and fine foods market, commencing the day with a short conference and moving on to an afternoon lunch that also has the opportunity to meet the producers and taste some of the speciality foods showcased.
In this period of heightened economic downturns and market instability it was wonderful to be invited along to such a positive event promoting intercontinental trade. From macaroons to die for, seaweed pearls, pork chaucuterie, fine cheeses and award winning chocolates this was undoubtedly a selection of foods and companies that would stand out in any market from London to Paris.
After a long afternoon of trying some genuinely outstanding products here is a summary of the companies that would be impossible not to mention.
Comptoir du Cacao is a family run artisan chocolate Factory 100 km south of Paris, well known for their chocolate’s quality and unparalleled taste. They were first and second prize winners at the Paris chocolate show, and their stand out ‘flaky pralines’ – filled with hazelnut and salted butter caramel chocolate – were literally to die for, presented in lovely wooden boxes and sold with family farm charm by a woman whose dedication to the art of chocolate was patently obvious.
Conserverie Au Bec Fin feature a range of soups/pastes, creams and sauces and famous bouillabaisse. Marie Franqueza is one of those remarkable ladies who just seems to be a mother to everyone, and once she’d told me that many of the recipes were her Spanish grandmothers, the motherly picture was complete. Thus, like a schoolboy being given his packed lunch I duly took the traditional fish soup and ratatouille that was offered me, and it was amazing! This is traditional food, no additives or preservatives, and just sealed with motherly care.
Macaroons Gourmands produces 60 tons of the finest macaroons known to man every year. The proprietor (who was as colourful and well-presented as his macaroons) was a person you could instantly respect for his attention to detail. There was an inconceivable range of flavours, from mojito to chestnut and whisky. If you need macaroons go nowhere else: these are the best.
Chacuterie Bordelaise assured me that the sausage, which I was taking away, was also the choice of Sarkosy, Burlesconi and Putin – an impressive list of powerful meat eaters. All the meat products were extraordinary and without doubt one of France’s great exports.
Other companies that stood out were Moulin Jean Marie Cornille, a network of 600 producers of olive oil in Provence, with a product range that included oils with a complex aroma of cacao, truffles and black olive.
Fromagerie Beaude is a family run cheese company based in the heart of the Alps that produces a speciality goats’ cheese from Alpine goats that may be the best I have ever tasted.
And finally, there was Atlantic Development Export, a company set up by Mr Herve Priou, a small export specialist who promotes young companies who don’t yet have an export market. He showcased three new small companies all with fantastic products, and was a truly forward thinking man who was in the spirit of the event, and a supporter of intercontinental trade.
Visit The Taste of France website for more information on upcoming events.