One of the great joys of travelling is discovering special products that cannot be found elsewhere - something that's getting harder and harder as globalisation creates increasingly homogeneous shopping streets. A favourite haunt that I have returned to (and been unable to resist the temptation to buy from) every time I've been in Paris for the past five or six years is Astier de Villatte on rue Saint-Honoré.
First, it's a shop like no other: a warren of tiny rooms with smoky grey walls and low lighting that remains virtually unchanged since the building was occupied by Guillaume Biennet, a silversmith to Napoleon I, in the early 1800s. Second, the company's main product, the distinctive white-glazed terre noire porcelain, inspired mostly by 17th-century designs and made using the techniques of that era at the only ceramic factory that still exists within the city of Paris.
I love this teapot for its generously rounded shape, as well as the deliberately (inevitably, as it is hand-crafted the old-fashioned way) imperfect glaze - a deep white with a slightly grey cast, with the base material almost showing through in places. It's a piece that I would use every day and, despite its rather fragile appearance, is one that will last for a long time. Discovering that Bloomingdale's Home in Dubai stocks a capsule collection of Astier de Villatte ceramics has been a mixed blessing: while nothing could replicate the pleasure of visiting the Paris shop, it's great to have the astute buyers at Bloomingdale's bring such special products here to our doorsteps. But I may have to Super Glue my credit card inside my purse before I go near Dubai Mall again.
Jojo teapot by Astier de Villatte, Dh975 at Bloomingdale's Home, Dubai Mall, 04 350 5333; www.astierdevillatte.com