FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Do you have a catalogue?
As a purely web-based business, we do not have a printed catalogue. If you don't have regular access to the web, we can send you a hard copy of the site--just let us know.

Do you have a store?
Again, we are a pure web operation so we don't have a storefront, and our offices in New York are not set up to receive customers.

How do I open the jar of cassoulet?
To open the jar of cassoulet, simply lift the metal clip that holds the lid in place and use scissors to snip off the protruding tongue of the orange seal. This should loosen the vacuum enough to open the jar. In the rare cases where this simple procedure doesn't break the seal, you'll have to take more drastic action. Use a pair of pliers and pull on the orange ring until it comes out from between the top and bottom lids of glass. This will break the seal for sure.

What are the health problems associated with excessive consumption of licorice?
Licorice is a shrub whose root is used to flavor candies, drinks, teas, and many other products. Glycyrrhizin, or glycyrrhinizic acid, is the principal active component of licorice root. A 2008 European Commission report suggested that "people should not consume any more than 100mg of glycyrrhizinic acid a day, for it can raise blood pressure or cause muscle weakness, chronic fatigue, headaches or swelling, and lower testosterone levels in men." Some of these effects are due to the fact that glycyrrhizin decreases potassium levels. Although 100mg is the recommended upper daily limit, persons with certain preexisting health conditions (e.g., hypertension, glaucoma, hypokalemia, slow intestinal transit) may be sensitive at much lower levels of consumption. Studies have found that licorice candies contain between .29 and 7.9mg of glycyrrhizinic acid per gram of candy; the mean is 1.7mg/g. Antesite contains 3g/100cl. French Feast products containing licorice are Cachou Lajaunie, grains de Provence, Zan, Zanoids, Stoptou, Batna and Antésite. A product often overlooked by those trying to moderate their licorice intake is herbal teas; many of those aimed at facilitating digestion contain licorice in non-negligible quantities. Read the full European Commission report (link opens pdf file): Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Food on Glycyrrhizinic Acid and Its Ammonium Salt.

On the other hand, licorice does have some health benefits: it facilitates digestion, soothes peptic ulcers and irritated throats, relieves coughs, has anti-inflammatory properties, is good for liver diseases, and is said to help against herpes. Licorice has even been cited for its anti-cancer properties.

How do I prepare the duck confit?
As its name indicates, duck confit is already fully cooked (confit means that it has been slowly cooked, and then preserved, in its own fat). All you need to do is to heat it, either on the stovetop or in the oven. If you plan on eating the skin, it is best when it is crispy and golden. The advantage of cooking the duck on the stovetop is that you can better control the brownness and crispiness of the skin; the disadvantage is that because the duck is extremely fragile, it may fall apart as you turn it. The advantage of the oven is aesthetic: because you can heat it through without turning, it will remain intact. In addition, duck cooked in the oven seems to remain moister. But in our experience, duck cooked in the oven is never as crispy as that cooked on the stovetop.

Extracting the duck from the can may be a little messy, because it is packed in its own fat. Begin by removing each leg/thigh from the can, either with a pair of tongs or with your bare hands. Try to shake or scrape off as much of the fat clinging to the legs/thighs as possible; the duck should not bathe too much in its fat while cooking. Set aside the remaining fat for the accompanying dishes (e.g., sautéed potatoes, yum!) or for later use. For the stovetop: heat the duck in a shallow sauté pan (avoid using pans with steep or deep rims); sauté it on each side until it reaches the desired degree of crispiness and brownness. For the oven: bake on medium-high until hot and brown. If you want crispy skin, you need to heat the duck at a relatively high temperature. It is therefore best to heat the duck skin side down on a baking sheet, rather than in a dish.

When serving the duck confit in a dish with beans, potatoes, lentils, mushrooms, or other vegetables, we personally prefer to brown the confit separately before mixing it with the other ingredients. Don't forget that you can also use duck in salads; in this case you should remove the skin and bones and heat the confit before mixing. One of our favorites is warm duck confit atop a salad of bitter greens garnished with dried fruits (cherries, cranberries, or prunes, for example).

Why has the top of the jar of Pommery mustard from Meaux changed?
Pommery mustard comes in two ways: with a plastic top or with a cork sealed by wax. The version with the wax being much more common in France, we selected it to begin with, but many customers expressed a preference for the plastic top, so we switched to it. For those who have tried both, we would be interested in your feedback about which covering you prefer.

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