Paris Blog: Friday night date night…at the restaurant supply store

While many couples may go out on the town on Friday night in Paris (or anywhere else for that matter), we’ve gone and created a bit of a twist on the traditional Friday night date night.  In our case, we go to the restaurant supply store to stock up on supplies needed for the CupCakery.

We typically go once a week to the gigantic restaurant-only store.  Sometimes less depending if the weather was crummy that week, since in the off-season, weather drives sales.  The store is only open to those with a food-business license and tax documentation, so it’s unfortunately not open to the public.  Nonetheless, I figured I’d give you a tour of a typical night there.  In case you’re wondering why we go at night, it’s really the only time both of us are free.  We both work during the day, with The Girl finishing up around 7PM or so.  Then a workout gets fit in, before heading there around 9PM – just before they close at 10PM.

The store is located about 2 miles away from the shop.  But, we first need to pickup a little Autolib car before heading over.

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Just like at Costco, we scan our membership card in to be entered.  Though here, an automatic turnstile lets in us.

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Typically The Girl has a very set list of ingredients she picks up.  For the most part, there’s actually very little on the perishable side that we have to get every week.  When it comes down to it, it’s really just Milk, Eggs and Butter.  We get fruit too for cupcakes, but the quantities at Metro (that’s the name of the store) are simply too big for us.  We really don’t need 25 kilos (over 50 pounds) of bananas.  We can pick out smaller bags, but it’s honestly just as easy for us to buy these ‘on-demand’ at the grocery store a dozen yards down the street.

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From the standpoint of ingredients the major ones that we buy virtually every week in large quantities are: Eggs, Butter, Sugar, and Flour.

For example, the flour and sugar we do buy in 25kg (50lbs+) bags:

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And not just one type of sugar either, but multiple types – from standard granulated sugar, to confectioners sugar.

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If it’s a week where we’re picking up chocolate, we swing by the chocolate aisle.  Yes, an entire aisle.  We get a few different varieties, from milk to dark, and then different varieties within that.  For example, some we use for melting into either the cake or the icing.  And others are used in shavings or other creations.

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After the chocolate, comes the eggs.  We typically buy these in 90-egg boxes, unless there is an event coming up that week, in which case we’d buy the 180-egg cases.

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I keep hoping I can come up with a reason to buy these little quail eggs.  Plus, they’re so cheap!

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In fact in general, I’m sorta like the toddler in the supermarket when it comes to Metro.  I’m always wandering off finding interesting things I think we should buy.  Things that clearly have no relation to the Cupcakery.

This is especially true when I wander into the cheese aisle:

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For example, an entire section dedicated to Buffalo Mozzarella (within the Italian cheeses):

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Yup, added that to the cart.

And then there’s cheddar cheese.  Silly you might think, but you can’t find cheddar here in the grocery store.  In fact, this is the ONLY place I’ve seen it.  I mostly use it for tacos.  So I shred up a bunch and freeze it.  And then I cut up a bunch for little cheddar sticks in snack packs.  Then I still have a TON left.  So I seal it up and double-bag it and hope it stays good.

The funny thing is that it’s about the same price as a normal-sized block of cheddar costs in the US. ;)

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So at this point, we’re in the cold section.  Which is actually an ENTIRE portion of the store.  Like walking into a giant freezer the size of Rite Aid.

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And for the most part, about the only thing we get in here for the CupCakery is milk and butter.  Thus, despite the fact that I spend the majority of my time in the store in here, it’s mostly for me.

(Warning: This next section is not vegetarian friendly)

Within the cold section is also the meat section:

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Or, the ‘leg of anything you want’ section:

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I keep trying to convince The Girl that we should have one of these in our kitchen at home.  Just slice off a chunk of Serrano ham when you need it.  Perfect!

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Or, you can get the entire animal and cook to order.

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Sometimes we get smaller stuff here.  And sometimes The Girl recreates the Dancing Goose dance from this past fall.

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There’s also a massive seafood section.  And while the prices are generally good by Paris standards, we find that stuff in this section is generally in the same range as Costco prices in the US.

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There’s also a huge produce section.

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You’d be amazed at how big the potato section is.  And, along with it, the French fries (frites) section is.  Literally an entire wall about 50 feet long of French fries.

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Need mushrooms?

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We are proud though that the Zucchini Blossoms are still WAY cheaper when we pick them out at the farm, like last fall. :)

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Then we run around and pick up all sorts of other random things.  For example, 22 pounds of butter (10kg), and half a dozen Nutella containers. In case you’re curious, those giant Nutella plastic jars you see are actually more expensive by weight than cheaper containers, which is why you see them for show, but in reality everyone uses the smaller containers (watch the next time you’re in Paris and order a Nutella crepe).  After that, we head towards the line to check out.

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Then we load up the little Autolib for the drive back:

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When we get to the shop we unload everything and I go drop-off the car about 100 yards away.

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Meanwhile, The Girl gets started on inventory.  Every item has to be inventoried in (from a food safety standpoint).  Which includes writing down serial numbers and dates of everything.

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Once I’m back from dropping off the car, I usually get the job of taking all the eggs out and putting them in large metal trays.  We’re not allowed to have any cardboard in the food production area.

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Finally, after everything is done at the shop, we pile in all the good stuff for our house, and put it in a container to take back home.  This night, it was quite heavily Italian-focused.

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So there ya have it – our Friday night date night.

Thanks for reading, and have a great Friday everyone!

23 Comments

  1. marian

    ooohhh the cheese!!!!

    Reply
  2. Bob Willis

    Nice read thanks. What time do you get back home? I think I am exhausted just reading it all :)

    Reply
  3. We also do the shopping on a Friday night, but it look like you have a lot for fun, really interesting read.

    thank you.

    So what sort of milage do you log up on a shopping trip?

    Reply
  4. w

    Ready-made Bolognese sauce? Seems like a good place to hide some horse meat these days...

    Reply
    • Joe replied

      W, the French don't hide horse meat, they love it!

      Reply
    • Tristan replied

      I don't see the problem with. Have you even ever tried a horsesteak?
      It is devine!

      Reply
  5. Burschi

    Ray, you know what you should review: A Vorwerk Thermomix. I bet you guys would love it. It's very popular in Germany.

    Reply
  6. A cheese cupcake...definitely should be on the menu. I love cheese and would put it on just about anything.

    Reply
  7. Eli

    Seems like many of the prices were electronic signs in the store. Guess that makes it easy to quickly match market prices.

    paper based inventory? I'm suprised you don't computerize it with barcodes

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's sheet is actually for health inspectors, not for us to track inventory for ourselves. Every item has to be recorded there so that they can on-demand inspect it.

      Reply
  8. Richard C.

    I am holding my leg right now. It is concerned about ending up in a Paris freezer!

    Richard

    Reply
  9. You should try the little quail eggs as an appetizer. Just hard boil them, remove the shell and set them apart. Prepare a 50/50 mayo/ketchup sauce by simply mixing them. Have fun dipping the eggs in the sauce. Use toothpicks to hold the eggs.

    Reply
  10. The quail eggs are perfect for raclette. I wish we could find them here as easily as in France. Bon appetit!

    Reply
  11. Mark

    Are those shelf tags LCD? That's so awesome! Never seen that before.

    Reply
  12. Coach Liz

    Cool adventure! I still want the GIANT jar of Nutella.

    Reply
  13. ChrisB

    Wyke Farms is reasonably good decent cheddar, though it's last thing we pick when in France - there's just too much choice! Me and cheese is like Homer and donuts...

    Reply
  14. That place would be a wicked budget buster....and just so you know, I'm living in Spain, and if you're going to buy a jamon, only consider one with a black hoof if you're paying that kind of coin, and the best ones come from Jabugo.

    Mmmm.

    I'm with you, very yummy.

    Reply
  15. DL Short

    Bertie needs barcoded inventory management! Handwritten logs are faux pas. Love the Paris blogs! You two seem to have adapted very well to a foreign environment.

    Reply
  16. RV

    Metro and Makro are apparently the same. I am happy to have a card for a few good restaurant supply stores. It is essential when you love good food. In early summer we might cycle to Paris (from the Netherlands), if so we will pay a visit. (the problem is there are many nice 1 week cycling trips and way to few holidays hours on my calendar).

    Reply
  17. phil

    As a fellow "boutique baker" and chocolatier, I am surprised that you wouldn't buy local fresh eggs and better quality chocolate for your shop. The junk they sell in mass merchant type shops (even in Europe) are so far below the quality goods available from true chocolate makers like El Rey, Caillebaut, etc.

    Reply
  18. Chris

    Mmmmm Cheese!

    Reply
  19. JCL

    Yeah those Makro/Metro shops are daunting for personnal use due to the large qty.
    Reminds me the first time I got home with a Callebaut black chocolate bar .. a measly 5kg :-), hammer was needed to cut it to pieces

    As regarding quality, not everything needs Valrhona, as long it is real stuff

    On the other hand they also sell junk, that also gets in the chain ...

    Reply
  20. adel rahimjo

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    Reply

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