Sunday, February 25, 2007

Shopping at Le Village

Yesterday, my sweetie and I paid a visit to Le Village (211 South Hill Drive, Brisbane), a gourmet food wholesaler located just south of San Francisco. We had heard about this distributor from our friends Tesha and Jeremiah and had been looking forward to seeing it for ourselves for the past couple of months. Lauded by Thomas Keller and Anthony Bourdain, Le Village caters primarily to institutional or commercial buyers. Indeed, private consumers can usually only purchase items via mail-order through the company web site. However from time to time, usually about one weekend a month, Le Village opens its warehouse doors to the general public. This was one such weekend, so we took advantage of me being in town (instead on a flight to Europe) to check it out.

On Saturday, we made the short drive from the City down to Brisbane. We found our way to the warehouse, which is nestled in deep in an office park next to San Bruno Mountain.

We had only intended to take a look around to see what was available, but we grabbed a shopping cart in case there was anything that might we want to pick up. Within a few minutes of entering the warehouse, it was apparent that we would be putting the cart to a fair amount of use. There were so many tasty things that caught our eye - pallets of imported chocolate; rows and rows of French lemonade and cider bottles; a huge walk-in refrigerator filled with cured meats, stinky cheeses, and imported yogurts. It was a food lover's fantasy.

A hour after we walked in, we walked out with a cart full of goodness and a significantly lighter wallet. We bought a bunch of Mamie Nova French yogurts which were highly recommended by Jeremiah and Tesha. We also found ourselves with a smoked duck breast, some duck confit, and a round of stinky cheese (whose name escapes me right now), as well as several bottles of French lemonade and cider. We also bought a case of petit fours, which are currently residing in my freezer, awaiting my next dinner party. We picked up a case of mix and match French wines, which included some white and red Burgandies, a couple bottles of Bordeaux, and some wine from the Rhône region. I did a quick online check and saw that many of the bottles were retailing for twice the price that we paid per bottle.

On top of all of the great food, the service was excellent. Everyone there was very friendly and helpful. One of the guys, who was passing out samples of cured dry salami, stopped what he was doing, went out of his way to help us find the items that we wanted, and took the time to answer our questions. It was a far cry from the service that you usually get at your local megamart. I'm looking forward to the next open warehouse weekend. If you are interested in visiting yourself, check out their open warehouse events page.