Tuesday, July 15, 2008

L’Epicerie au Bon Manger, Reims

After an appointment in Reims this morning, I stopped by my favorite wine shop, Les Caves du Forum. It’s always a joy to browse through proprietor Fabrice Parisot’s sublime selection of wines, but what was even more exciting today was that it was my first opportunity to visit his new épicerie across the street, opened last month with business partner Aline Serva.

Parisot and Serva have collected a vast assortment of gastronomical delights, selected with the same high standards of quality and appreciation for artisanality that Parisot demonstrates in his wine shop. There are cheeses from Philippe Olivier, jams from Christine Ferber, Basque hams from Montauzet and foie gras and confits from Maison Barthouil. There’s a selection of teas from La Maison des Trois Thés, the finest source of Chinese tea in the Western world, and butter from Bordier, widely considered by elite chefs to be the best butter in all of France. Beyond that you’ll find all sorts of other delectable treats, from charcuterie to andouillette to oils to honeys to vintage-dated sardines, all of the finest quality.

A selection of sandwiches is available, as well as charcuterie and cheese plates and a small selection of wines by the glass. Needing sustenance before a round of wine shopping, not to mention being thoroughly entranced by the array of wonders surrounding me, I chose a sandwich of smoked salmon “de l’Adour”, made with a rustic country bread by Christophe Zunic of Four à Bois. Zunic is easily the best baker in the Champagne region, and his crusty, nutty brown bread provided the perfect counterpoint to the gloriously fatty, full-flavored salmon. On my next visit I’m going to have to confront that glistening jamón ibérico de bellota staring at me from behind the counter.

The Epicerie au Bon Manger is a welcome and badly needed addition to the Champenois gastronomic landscape, which in general is less than thrilling. There certainly isn’t anything else like it in the region. “It’s like a little bit of Paris,” says Parisot, but I’m not completely sure. It might be even better.

Epicerie au Bon Manger, 7 rue Courmeaux, 51100 Reims


Carl said...

Vintage-dated sardines? This may be too geeky even for me.

Peter Liem said...

Yeah, it's a French thing. They're crazy about sardines and mackerel, and apparently these things are best after about three to four years in the can. (You're supposed to turn the can over every six months.) I've got some that I bought at my local shitty E. Leclerc (a store sort of like Fred Meyer, if you live in the western US, although Leclerc isn't quite as good), which aren't as high quality as Fabrice's sardines, but they're quite tasty. I haven't tasted them at three years old, though, as I haven't got the patience. Not to mention that the French will probably expel me from their country before my sardines age to perfection.

edelzwicker said...

What's so geeky about vintage-dated sardines? I insist on them every time I go to The Olive Garden.

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