Saturday, November 11, 2006

My dirty little secret

In America, when you think frozen food, you think TV dinners. Lean Cuisine, Sara Lee cakes, Eggo waffles: not exactly culinary masterpieces. As always, the French are way ahead of us, with a frozen food chain that offers products that are more than just edible. While Picard does offer the basics you'd expect - frozen veggies and the like - they also have an inédits line, which is quite gourmet. Pictured on the left is an appetizer, scallops sitting on a bed of a basil-tomato paste and drizzled with a garlic & basil dressing. When my boyfriend bought this and served it, I would have guessed that he had bought it at a traîteur if he hadn't told me it was from Picard. Picard is so good you won't know it is frozen!

You could easily have an entire meal -- appetizer, main dish, and dessert -- from only Picard, and I know that it is done. Even the French can't tell the difference: one friend was slightly peeved to learn that on a return invitation for dinner, the host family served a meal that was almost entirely composed of Picard products. Why was she upset? Not because she had eaten Picard -- she didn't even know until the hostess told her -- but because she had slaved days over the meal she had served that family when they had previously been invited to her house.

Picard offers other family style dishes, and not just frozen lasagna and its variants. One of R's favorites during winter is the Poêlée à la Franc-Comtoise, which I could see as a breakfast side in the US. Bacon, sausage, onions, cheese and potatoes - it seems like a meal for a hearty lumberjack!

In addition to these basics, Picard also has a large range of desserts available, from exotic sorbet flavors to pies, cakes, and pastry components.

Of course, there is a downside to Picard: some items, especially the inédits line, can be a bit pricey. But for the convenience and the quality, as well as the actual customer service I have always received while shopping there, it can't be beat.

Locations throughout France

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amyalkon said...

I highly recommend the incredible pea soup...better than you'd get in most fine restaurants in America.

michellenyc said...

I've had their Cocquille St. Jaques (sp?) several times while visiting with my fiances parents - they were amazing, and I was amazed that they came in actual shells!! In the US they would probably be in some crappy coated paper/cardboard shell shaped thingy.

amyalkon said...

I wonder if somebody could make some money in the US offering Picard-quality frozen food. I'd buy it.

Etienne said...

I know. You think it'd be a hit in NYC or even DC. I was racking my brains to remember if I'd even seen anything comparable, at Wegman's or Whole Foods or any more "upscale" grocers, but I think the best quality US frozen food is that organic brand Amy's (or is it Annie's?). But there is no way this is in the same league as Picard, not even close.

Eric said...

My friends always laugh at me when I serve Picard, but they do an awesome job. I'm sorry, but if you hide the boxes, some people would never know the difference (except my friends would know I can't cook like that!).