EDITOR’S NOTE: French Culinary Institute-trained Andrea Duty is a dear friend of the blog who we often collaborated with when she lived in Austin and ran her delicious custom dessert catering company, Bake Sale. Although our sweet tooth was devastated when she set off for life abroad in London, we couldn’t have been more excited for all the adventures we knew she would have. On trips to Lisbon, Amsterdam, Bruges, San Sebastian and many more, Andrea always makes stops at the local markets, so we asked her to curate a line up of her favorite local finds. Take it away, Andrea!

As the daughter of an airline pilot, I’m a light packer born and raised. I love being able to hop on and off flights unburdened by heavy luggage and crowded baggage claims, so it’s carry-on only for this girl. This self-imposed limitation does, however, prevent me from bringing home hoards of goodies from my travels. Instead, I’m forced to be selective, choosing only the most special objects and difficult-to-find products as souvenirs. From the most hydrating hand cream to one of a kind accessories, here are a few of my favorites finds from recent trips…

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1. Alantoine Hand Cream: I found this ultra-rich hand cream at A Vida Portuguesa, a gorgeous shop housing all the best brands of Portuguese beauty products, food stuff, books and more. This lotion is completely skin-quenching and beautifully packaged to boot.

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2. Argan Oil: The souks of Marrakesh are infamously difficult to navigate, but hiring a guide is entirely worth it when the outcome is an encounter with a reputable source for pure Argan oil. With remarkably high levels of Vitamin E and antioxidants, this stuff is worlds away from most adulterated big-name brands we have in the States.

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3. Local Jewelry: It took my deepest reserves of willpower to resist buying every last shoe, purse and piece of jewelry in Malababa, a boutique store in San Sebastian featuring goods from small Spanish designers. In the end, I settled on these handmade tasseled earrings – the perfect summer accessory that take up exactly zero space in my suitcase.

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4. French Honey: For baking and cooking obsessives, G. Detou in Paris is a little slice of heaven. On my last stop, I stocked up on dark chocolate, pistachio praline paste, and little potted jars of pate de campagne. But the best find by a mile was a selection of regional French honey, which I’ve been stirring into oatmeal, yogurt, tea and everything in between.

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5. Old Cookbooks: Europe seems to have a thing for old book markets, which is great, because I do too. I love to flip through faded, foreign language cookbooks to see what folks were eating in, say, Lyon in 1932. They make for great coffee table items, unique conversation starters, and some supremely interesting meals. Flamed ortolans, anyone?

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6. Tea and Biscuits: I try to bring little British treats home with me every time I visit friends in Austin, and while I always attempt to be creative about it, I inevitably defer to the classic London standby of tea and biscuits (that’s cookies to us Americans). Instead of opting for fancy brands, I just do as the locals and buy PG Tips and dark chocolate Digestives. Try it once and you’ll understand this comforting national obsession.

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7. Bioderma: This makeup remover is all the rage in Europe and is the most effective brand I’ve come across. I haven’t a clue why it hasn’t caught on in the States yet, but I plan on fully stocking up before we move back.

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8. A Berber Rug: Buying a rug in Morocco admittedly goes against my “must-fit-in-a-carry-on” rule, but I just couldn’t resist. In one afternoon, I wound my way through the Medina, got over my fear of haggling and became the proud owner of a tribal weaving that fits precisely nowhere in my flat. But hey, it’s pretty.

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9. Belgian Chocolate: No amount of warning could have prepared me for the sheer amount of chocolate shops in Belgium. The place is packed with gorgeous storefronts selling everything from classic pralines to nouveau confections. My favorites come from Mary Chocolatier, whose assorted boxes make the loveliest of gifts.

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10. Wine: And finally, an item to cheat the system…wine, and lots of it. Be it Italy, France or Spain, I’ll inevitably stop at a few wineries, and will inevitably buy a few bottles — OK, maybe a case. But this can be shipped home, you see? I get away with no added baggage, plus a steep discount by buying from the source.

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Comments (12)
  1. 1
    karin July 16, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Most ideas I favored for a long time, but you lost me on the antique books and haul them on the plane? Oh, and for chocolate in Belgium…do not agree on your choice, in fact choices are very hard to begin with….

    Reply
  2. 2
    Karen Josue July 16, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    I loved shopping at A Vida Portuguesa during a visit to Lisbon in October 2011. I bought some lovely hand soaps and sardines. If I’m lucky enough to go back to Lisbon, I would make a beeline for A Vida Portuguesa.

    Reply
    • Andrea Duty July 17, 2014 at 2:51 am

      So glad you got some of those sardines. They are fantastic!

      Reply
  3. 3
    Vanessa Steil July 16, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    I’m sorry I missed A Vida Portuguesa when I was in Lisbon. Guess I will have to add another trip to Portugal to my travels, as well as Belgium because who doesn’t love chocolate?

    http://www.livinginsteil.com

    Reply
  4. 4
    susan hutchinson (@fleurishing) July 16, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    I always bring back Bioderma from France, but you can actually order it on Amazon now!

    Reply
    • Andrea Duty July 17, 2014 at 2:52 am

      Fantastic news! Glad to know I’ll always have a source.

      Reply
  5. 5
    Traci July 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    I always look for unique tea from the places I visit. It’s a perfect souvenir for myself and others!

    Reply
  6. 6
    Lily July 17, 2014 at 9:33 am

    This is totally an art — I am always stumped by what to bring home!

    x Lily
    http://whilemyboyfriendsaway.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  7. 7
    JennyWren July 20, 2014 at 9:07 am

    A Vida Portuguesa- a beautiful shop! I couldn’t resist the copper cataplanas. I know I can get one in the states, but every time I use it I dream of Lisboa… besides given that it’s like a big hollow clam shell, I packed stuff inside it and it took up little space in my bag.

    Reply
    • Andrea Duty July 22, 2014 at 3:50 am

      I snagged a cataplana too and love how how beautiful it is while still functional. Getting lots of use from it these summer months!

      Reply

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Andrea Duty