[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he recently launched So France Le Bistro-Epicerie at Duo Galleria in Bugis is a sprawling 5,000 sq ft lifestyle space housing a French-centric gourmet store, bistro and wine cellar. About 60 per cent of the 500 products come from Nouvelle-Aquitaine, and the others from the rest of France. Its capital, Bordeaux, is most known for its world-class vineyards. The region is also blessed with a coastline dotted with thriving oyster and fish farms.
Invivo Group, France’s top agricultural cooperative group, and the AANA, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Food Agency, are the two organisations behind the concept that took two years to conceive and curate. It’s a first-in-the-world public and private partnership which champions 100 per cent French artisanal produce and the sustainability of local French farming. So France’s quality and authentic products, as well as limited products from small-batch producers – some available for the first time outside of France – are exclusive to customers in Singapore.
Perfect for your charcuterie platter is the slightly salty Bayonne ham, which comes from a Basque pig called the Pie Noir, born and bred in the region. The meat is cured by having it soaked in sea salt and then air-dried for 10 to 14 months.
Cheese aficionados can look forward to lesser-known varieties such as the smooth, nutty and fruity Ossau-Iraty, made from sheep’s milk. This semi-firm aged cheese is produced in the Northern Basque Country and in Bearn (south-western France). There’s also Chabichou du Poitou, made from raw, whole goat’s milk, and moulded in ladles.
So France boasts an extensive wine and spirit list to boot. More than 20 varieties are available in 100ml tubes – enough for a glass. These fun-sized bottles with screw caps (from $11) are available to take away and enjoy at your leisure. What’s great is that they are kept in a way that retains the same taste as wines by the bottle. You’ll get to sample labels like Chateau Coutet 2013 ($19) and Chateau Beychevelle 2014 ($72). Look out, too, for the collections of cognac and armagnac.
If you prefer to dine in, the bistro offers hearty, affordable French meals. It’s helmed by head chef Frederic Coiffe, who comes from the south-west of France. Highlights include succulent honey and sesame-marinated grilled duck breast, oven-baked escargots laced with garlic parsley butter, and rum and vanilla caneles from Bordeaux. On your way out, pick up some baguette, croissants and sweet pastries, freshly made in-house.
#01-51/56, Duo Galleria,
7 Fraser Street.