I heyed him to send him the link ('hey' is our IM program at work), and a lively conversation ensued. He waxed nostalgic about the those caramels, and had a very specific longing for the butter he grew up with. Soon an image of Breton butter popped up on my screen, a big tapered brick wrapped in cheery blue packaging like a favorite present, with a yellow banner in the center proudly declaring its contents. By this point, I was feeling nostalgic myself for something I'd never experienced!
And then came the secret. Apparently all homesick French expats and those in know are privy to a very special place called Epicure Imports. It's a giant warehouse of specialty import foods in North Hollywood that works in wholesale, but only seven times a year is open to the public for a blowout sale of cheese, chocolates, and pretty much anything else wonderful and luxe and French that you can imagine.
As it turned out, their last sale was a couple weeks after our conversation, and so I went. It was amazing. In every row, exciting things: bottles of pomegranate soda, fine olive oils infused with chili, or bottles of pale pink vinegar with a few stems of lavender floating inside. Ornately packaged chocolate bars in flavors like yuzu and ginger, jams and preserves (I got a jar of "Figue Violette" jam for my mother Violet), alongside jars of pureed chestnut (I picked up a jar of that too, flavored with espresso. Can not wait to taste it). Even cheap sugar cookies are made exclusively from recognizable ingredients and offer a salted butter caramel variation. And tables of samples everywhere. Heaven.
I saved the walk-in refrigerated room for last. My goodness.
|so much sausage|
So, you should go to one of these sales. Really. But, know that it's an exercise in indulgence. You will buy a lot of things. You will spend more than you intended to. (Although their prices are far better than retail, these are still high-end ingredients.)
But you will make your kitchen a welcoming, abundant, wonderful place. Your kitchen will thank you. It'll say, "merci!" And you'll say, "de rien!" And then, you'll eat cheese.
Epicure Imports is located 6900 Beck Avenue in Van Nuys.
Sign up for their mailing list to be notified of future public sales.