Costco for Gourmands
(and everyone else who loves to cook & eat)
Yup – you read right! Epicure Imports is a Costco for gourmands, though unlike big box stores, it’s not open to the public everyday. It’s a gourmet food supplier/warehouse/wholesaler for fine-dining restaurants in Southern California, the Bay Area, Arizona and Las Vegas. However, several times a year, it opens its doors and beckons us to ‘come on down’ – so us regular folk can buy these tasty wares at discount/wholesale prices….
Recently, Richard and I went back for a cheese, mustard fix (this was the third or fourth time we’d gone to the ‘open to the public’ two-day sale), to enjoy a food and wine tasting and discover more foodie delights.
William Boyd, the President and CEO of Epicure Imports, gave us a tour, not only of the items up for grabs by us non-food pros, but into the vast, walk-in freezer. He wrapped me up in a large staff goose-down jacket before we entered, though my toes were naked in my flip flops. Inside were boxes, crates and tubs of gourmet heaven: Rougie fois gras (Epicure Imports is the largest distributor in America)…
boxes of L’Artisan macaroons the Wall Street Journal called the best evah… 1 – 20 kilo cans of Ravi fruit puree for delectable desserts…
boxes of croissants of every kind… meats, fish, etc., etc. By the time we left the freezer, my toes were untoasty, but I didn’t care. I was delighted to learn about so many imported products that go into the dishes that make a great restaurant.
Our next stop was Fabien and Charles’ (the cheese guys) cheese/salami tasting table, right next to the non-alcohol tasting table.
As my toes thawed, I tasted and sipped the Reim sparkling all-natural lemonade which has no fructose or corn starch (also comes in sparkling grapefruit, blood orange and regular orange). We then entered the chilled cheese room with a selection of French cheeses that just made my blood race w/ excitement (thankfully, that ‘blood-racing’ kept me from getting cold again)…
(Fabien & Charles - the cheese guys)
Also in the cheese room were imported Italian and French pre-sliced hams, salamis and other meats
and a terrific selection of pates.
I wanted one, two, three of everything… but settled on a few cheeses.
Back in the warehouse we walked up and down the vast aisles...
stopping at a candy display,
then on to Bernard Duclos’s Republica del Cacao table of organic regional chocolates from Ecuador plantations. There’s even an ‘old vine’ chocolate. Like old vine wine made from… hello – old grape vines... this chocolate is made from old cocoa vines. Old vines – new vines...the chocolate is organic (cool!) and delicious (even cooler!) and can be ordered on-line if you can’t find it in your area: http://www.republicadelcacao/
Moving on, we tasted truffle oil and balsamic vinegars to die for… one bottle of balsamic family reserve was made from a 150 year old starter.
We saw boxes, sacks, cans and tubs of gourmet pastes (pistachio, hazelnut, tiramisu, mango, et al), pastas, rices, nuts, beans...
Follet mustards, including his walnut mustard that we came to stock up on...
(see my November '09 blog: Mustard of the Gods- http://mydinnerswithrichard.blogspot.com/2009/11/mustards-of-gods.html ) ....
even 5 kilogram (11 pounds) bags of chocolate! There really is a gourmet god in heaven!
Finally, we found our way to the wine tasting tables… Among the French wines at Pierre Truyoo of Tru-Wines’ table, we loved and bought a Chateau Des Alouettes, 2007 Costieres de Nimes and Vieilles Vignes 2005 Muscadet Sevre Et Maine. I’d never had a muscadet before and just loved it. I love my buttery chardonnay, but this is a nice, crisp wine that’s just perfect to sip in this warmer weather.
Next was Mark Newman’s Accolade Brands table w/ some terrific Italian and California wines. A favorite was the 2001 Andiamo pinot noir from the Carneros-Mahoney vineyard in Napa. We grabbed a bottle and added it to our shopping cart.
So, all you Southern Californians (and visitors from towns and cities everywhere) – check out the Epicure Imports website for the next time it opens its doors to us non-pros and come on down (or ‘up’ as the case may be)… your taste buds will thank you: http://epicureimports.wordpress.com/
6900 Beck Avenue
North Hollywood CA 91605