Championing small-batch producers from the southwest region of France is the three-month old So France. This specialty store curates a selection of food and wines from Nouvelle-Aquitaine, a region best known by its wine-growing capital, Bordeaux. Wines aside, southwest France is also home to delicacies such as duck confit, foie gras, and the AOC-certified Espelette pepper.
So France’s epicerie-bar-bistro concept allows customers to have a taste of the region’s terroir through its produce – largely sourced from small-batch producers. Many of the products are distributed outside of southwest France for the first time, and available exclusively here. Besides shopping for these gourmet items, you can also savour items such as cheeses, charcuterie and wines at the bistro-bar.
The bistro serves lunch and dinner, with dishes incorporating products found in the epicerie. Prices here are not eye-poppingly expensive, just enough to make you feel like shopping at this French grocery is a treat.
What to stock up on:
FLACONWIT® Wine Flacon
Love having a selection of wines without the commitment of having to finish the entire bottle? Bordeaux-based company WIT France has been providing the solution to this problem for more than 10 years, using its patented bottle and manufacturing process to sell the finest wines in individual tubes, also called a “wit” or “flacon”. Each flacon contains a 100ml, glass-sized portion of wine, which allows customers to try high quality wines at an affordable price, and to find something that suits their preferences. Pick up a few flacons of wine, some cheese, a jar of rillette (So France carries a mussels rillette), a loaf of freshly-baked bread, and you’ve got yourself the perfect meal for a cosy Friday night in. Prices start at $11 per flacon.
Espelette Pepper Condiments
So France carries Espelette pepper condiments in three forms – paste ($9/40g), gel ($9/ 50g), and powder (3 x 15g, $23.50).The AOC-certified Espelette pepper is the emblem of the Basque country, its gastronomy, and culture, with production based on knowledge passed down from generation to generation. The producers chosen by So France are committed to sustainable and organic methods of Espelette cultivation, using agricultural-origin organic matter to feed the plants, and enforcing a strict prohibition on GMOs. With a nuanced fruity taste and only a slight level of heat, use Espelette pepper to season light dishes such as fish or chicken instead of your usual black pepper.
7 Fraser Street, Duo Galleria #01-51/56, Singapore 189356. Tel: +65 6909 6449. Website here
A bistro, lifestyle store, and French grocery rolled into one, Merci Marcel offers a slice of Parisian chic with its range of trendy retail goods and dishes that reflect the concept of French social dining. Cosy and accented with contemporary touches, Merci Marcel’s stores, located at Tiong Bahru and Club Street, are charming and welcoming, with a laid-back atmosphere. Opened by the folks behind O Batignolles and O Comptoir, you can be sure that the wines and cheeses here are well-curated and excellent. The red and white wines, for example, are painstakingly sourced from over 80 wine estates in France and Europe, with many of these small vineyards chosen based on their philosophy of producing wines that best reflect the region’s terroir. A range of organic and biodynamic wines are also available to meet the current demand for such wines. Top-quality cheeses such as the Comte 36 months-aged and Petit Langres are air-flown weekly directly from artisan cheese producers in Europe. If you like your cold cuts, look out for the 100% organic Bayonne cured ham. Most of the retail offerings are brought in from Paris, such as colourful IZIPIZI sunglasses and Falcon tableware.
What to stock up on:
Patrick Font Nectars
Not your run-off-the-mill fruit juice, these Patrick Font nectars ($6) are ambrosial with a touch of grainy fruit pulp. This grainy consistency is what separates a fruit juice from a fruit nectar – fruit nectars tend to result from fruits whose pulp is harder to separate from its juice, and juice extraction from such fruits results in a fruit compote (later thinned out with water and a touch of sugar) instead of a clear juice. This granularity is a pleasant surprise, reminding me that these bottles of juice were once actual fruits carefully harvested at the peak of their ripeness, before being cold-pressed and bottled. The fruits and vegetables used are grown sustainably on a family-owned farm in the countryside of Lyon, with production of the juices also located in the same area. A selection of flavours such as peach, pear, black tomato, strawberry, and apricot are available.
Spurred by the realisation that Paris was one of the capitals in the world to not have its own beer, Guillaume Roy and Jacques Ferté started their own craft beer-brewing project first as amateurs, before re-launching the defunct Gallia brewery to great success. Expect the likes of Weissbier, pale ale, and lager ($8 each) on offer at Merci Marcel, all of which are light and easy to drink, with malty and fruity notes.
56 Eng Hoon St, #01-68, Singapore 160056. Tel: +65 6224 0113 / 7-9, Club St, Singapore 069403. Tel: +65 6438 3913. Website here
La Petite Boutique
Nestled in the heart of Serangoon Gardens, La Petite Boutique is a well-loved French grocery that has been catering to the expat French community and fine food lovers for the past four years. Here, you can find products sourced from all around France. Several well-loved favourites such as the fruit cake and madeleines from Brittany are snapped up all through the week, with new shipments coming in every other week. The highlight here, however, is undeniably the homemade truffle brie ($18/150g), a Brie de Meaux that is layered with a luxurious combination of mascarpone and chopped black truffles. Apart from the truffle brie, a wide range of cheeses air-flown directly from small cheesemakers in France are also available. They make a wonderful cheese platter, which you can match with wines available at the store. Fresh sandwiches made using products such as rillettes, hams, and cheeses from the store are also available in limited quantities per day.
What to stock up on:
The rillettes found at La Petite Boutique are different from those that come in glass jars with an extended expiry date, and left on the shelves of supermarkets for months. Instead, the fresh rillettes (pork/duck, $9.90 per tub) here are packed in simple plastic containers and are to be consumed within 10 days. Rillettes are essentially meat spreads where meat is cooked in its own fat and then blended up into a creamy paste. Rather than being a smooth puree, the rillettes here are slightly chunkier – one can only begin to imagine how great it’d taste slathered on a slice of crusty baguette.
Rather than being pre-packaged in a vacuum-sealed plastic packet like what you see in some stores, the cold cuts here are sold by weight. This eliminates the problem of having that stale, half-opened bag of cold cuts lying at the back of your chiller. Made with premium pork in France’s Auvergne region, the cold cuts available here are perfect with a glass of wine, or assembled on a charcuterie platter.
4 Kensington Park Rd, Singapore 557256. Tel: +65 6717 1849. Website here