Returning home Thursday afternoon after watching a jazz concert on the Saint Louis bridge, I passed by a small shop on Ile Saint-Louis located at the intersection of rue des Deux Ponts and quai d’Orléans. The shop window displays baskets of dried fruits, large glass jars of nuts, and trays of Oriental sweets that look like colorful flowers. The shop keeper, whose name I later learned is Nabil Debabha, called out from inside the boutique that he sells a wide variety of these delicacies. Intrigued, I stepped inside to learn more.
Nabil offered samples of his dried fruits to taste, including dried kiwi, melon, mango, cranberry, blueberry, raisin, peach, orange, gooseberry, goji berry, and even…white blackberry. Some of the fruits, such as blueberry and cranberry, have been re-hydrated in pomegranate molasses, which gives them a delicious, sweet flavor. He told me that some of the nuts have been grilled with saffron and lemon, and offered me a sample of blanched almonds grilled in rapeseed oil, Brazil nuts, Macadamia nuts, and cashews. He grills some of the nuts in argan oil, which, I learned later, is produced in Morocco.
As for the flower-like Oriental sweets, these are made from 80% almond or pistachio paste and are flavored with cinnamon, rose water, orange-flower water, or almond kernels. Nabil showed me his baklava bourgoise, a three-layered baklava consisting of a layer each of pine nut, pistachio, and almond. I tasted this, and it is fabulous!
At Nabil’s suggestion, I purchased 100 grams of goji, a berry cultivated in China. Dried goji are small and shriveled. When I popped a few in my mouth they first tasted slightly salty. As I began chewing, a sweet, mild flavor came through. I can’t think of any berry that has a similar flavor. It is a product that one has to try for oneself to appreciate!
Travelers to Paris will surely be as intrigued as I was to see and sample Nabil’s wide variety of nuts and dried fruits, some of which are quite exotic.
Nabil’s shop is located at 1, rue des Deux Ponts, on Ile Saint-Louis in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. He is open seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. There is no name on the store front. Just look for the display of fruits, nuts, and sweets in the window!
We participate in Wanderfood Wednesdays. Head over there to explore food from around the world!
Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!