Slow food. In America, it's the kind of wave you ride on a Poul Kjaerholdm sofa, surrounded by succulents and decorative driftwood, subversively underdressed in Sorel boots and a Christophe Lemaire sweater. In Paris, the reflexive consumer is less easily identifed. Healthful ingredients aren't solely the domain of the white and privileged; they're quite literally the bread and butter of the wise, middle-aged nanny from Jamaica, the crossing guard outside Passage de l'Ancre, and the librarian at the Sorbonne. Perhaps that's why shopping at Causses doesn't make me as self-conscious as at Naturalia, where a barrage of local hipsters preen contemptuously while I rattle around with my collection of glass bottles and knit produce bags. The modern-day general store focuses less on slapping the "organic" label around arbitrarily, more on sourcing quality goods from local producers, rediscovering heirloom fruits and vegetables, and championing artificial preservative-free, natural foods.
Causses' newest location opened today in the former Safico building, 222 Rue Saint-Martin, 75003. An offshoot of the South Pigalle flagship, the new store is bright, friendly, and wonderful, with unpackaged coffee, house-made pastries, and aperitifs. I tried amazing gluten-free chocolate-coconut fondant, and filled my linen drawstring bags with almonds, goji berries, veggie chips and olives, all pleasantly arranged in giant clay pots. Vive l'apéro! When refilling my bottles with bulk olive oil, I managed to spill a ton all over myself and the store. The staff helped clean me up, and gave me a free orange to make me feel less awkward.
Year-round, Causses squeezes fresh juice on the spot for patrons, and every second Saturday, serves delicious gluten-free brunch by Keili, a young American chef specializing in allergen-free fare. The menu includes favorites like huevos rancheros, sweet potatoes with beet and goat cheese, banana bread, pancakes, compote, wine, etc. And if you don't know what Passage de l'Ancre is, you should- constructed in 1510, it's the oldest arcade in Paris, a plant-filled alleyway with colorful storefronts and benches shrouded in greenery. Little old ladies sit outside and gossip. The osteopathy center is the cheeriest looking medical facility I've ever seen, thanks to a fire-hydrant yellow façade. One of the shops, Pep's, houses the only umbrella experts left in France. Instead of a one-size-fits-all formula, "There's a different umbrella for every person and price point," maintains the sweet reparateur, who saved my ten-year old pocket parapluie from a landfill more than once. History, sustainability, and hegemonic resistance to gastronomic classism- it's enough to make you wish for rain!