The French are responsible for some of the world's best known culinary treats, like croissants and crêpes suzettes. They've also created some less celebrated (but equally delicious) confections, like bergamotes de Nancy.
Bergamotes are hard candies that are a specialty of the small Northeastern French town of Nancy, where the family-owned sweet shop Confiserie Stanislas has been making them since the 1800's. Their key ingredient is the essential oil of locally-harvested bergamot – the fruit that gives Earl Grey tea its characteristic citrusy scent and these ginger-colored candies their lemon-like taste. The flavor is subtle and not too sweet, which makes them an ideal small afternoon indulgence.
Since they're distinctly regional, it used to take a trip to France to pick up a bag of bergamotes...but now they're available at Straight From France, a website that offers a wide range of hard-to-find French treats, like Provençal calissons and caramels made with Guerande fleur de sel.
They make an elegant and not-too-expensive house gift – much more memorable than, say, a bottle of Bordeaux or champagne – but, chances are, you'll want to order a bag of these for yourself as well.
Buy Bergamotes de Nancy ($14) at www.straightfromfrance.com.