Posts Tagged ‘Artisan Foods’
A couple of weeks ago we received a surprise visit from Hervé Gantier, owner of Domaine Sainte-Eugénie in the Corbières region of Southern France. It’s always special when a wine maker seeks us out, and even more so when they have come all the way from Italy or France to visit a gift basket company in Los Angeles.
Corbières is located on the Mediterranean just north of Spain. Common grape varieties there are Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre and Syrah. But here was Hervé offering us a wine that was 45% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Something along the line of a Bordeaux but with the added structure of the Carignan and the light fruit tones of the Grenache. Elegant, well balanced and bargain priced. Hervé was pleased with our reaction – we bought it! We featured it at a recent wine tasting here in our shop and our guests bought it, too. Boy, do we have fun here or what?
This wine can be selected as an upgrade in many of the wine gift baskets on our website.
We also have some of his Reserve! But more about that one later.
It takes a certain amount of courage to have integrity in this world. You have to stand by your principles as the crowd tells you to step down. You know what is right, but darn, you are so tired – can’t you just take the easy way out this time? But you can’t.
Cowgirl Creamery in California
When I talk to the people behind the handcrafted food we carry I am always a bit in awe. These people aren’t in it just for the money. Yes, they want to survive, and survive well. But to go through the work they do you have to have passion. Passion for your product, for the methods that work, for putting in the long hours and attention it requires to make it come out perfect every time.
I talk to cheesemakers who won’t make their cheese if they don’t feel their milk is good enough that year. They sell the milk instead. The better vignerons prune back their vines to get a low yield thus more flavor to the grapes. Yes they could let the grapes just grow wild and make a lot more wine. But that would mean making mediocre wine. So they can’t – it isn’t in their blood. In a world where the operating procedure is more and more for less and less no matter what the cost in quality, this is a refreshing change.
in Montpeyroux, France
There is nuance in food that comes from the land and the skill of the producer, but it takes someone who understands that to bring it out. You raise the animals well so you get the most flavor while preserving the earth, you grow organically, you keep testing until you get it exactly right – this is where passion comes in. Besides passion they also have pride. Get them talking about their handicraft and you’ll hear Rashida from Cast Iron Gourmet talk about perfecting the recipe for her Bacon Chutney, or Sylvain Fadat explain in his heavily French accented English how he dynamited this old lake bed because he knew it would have the soil for the grapes he wanted to grow. La Bonita California will expound on the local farmers they get their fruit from and why. And you taste that passion and pride in each slurp, sip and bite.
They watch you taste their product and beam like a mom with her child. And when you get it, when you get how good it is and acknowledge their job well done, you see the sense of satisfaction in their face, the smile, the light in their eyes. And that is why I love to carry artisan food. I could say these people need our support, that’s true. But it is so much bigger than that. We need their food. It’s wholesome, delicious, nourishing and one of the great joys of life. So we need to support them so they can support us with this vast array of wonderful food that has the stamp of the artist. Otherwise we’ll be left with nothing but the cheap bland genetically modified nutrient-lacking mega-corporation foods that are flooding our supermarkets today. This is a worthwhile venture, and a tasty one. Support your local artisans and they will support you. For life.
Thinking Of You Gift Basket
I have received some pretty odd requests for baskets in the last 24 years. We have had to buy live doves for several custom gift baskets, goldfish, even a blow up doll (they said it was a joke…), but I think the one I received this week was the weirdest. We were putting together a custom Get Well Gift Basket for a celebrity client. I sent an email with some details of the contents and I got this back:
“Please nothing stale, nothing old, the freshest cookies you have, that’s a priority.”
What? I thought to myself. Did she seriously think she had to tell me that?
Then, another email:
“reiterating – please nothing stale. Often she’s received a basket and the food hasn’t been fresh. The newest batch of everything :)”
Oh my gosh, what is going on with this industry? It is a pretty sad state of affairs if customers feel they have to make a point to ask for fresh food – twice! – in their gift baskets , as if stale food is the standard. Yikes. That goes against everything we stand for at Fancifull. Here is my reply. I tried not to come on too strong, but my passion for the freshest and bestest may have gotten the best of me.
Some of our Artisan Cheeses
“Please be assured that we never have stale products in our shop. Most gift basket companies use products all from one distributor and they are frankly, mediocre to begin with.
The majority have baskets made up months in advance, often made in Mexico and shipped up here. The bottom line is the most important thing for those companies, so they go for the cheapest products they can find and put them in a pretty package. They sell the whole basket or “basket components” to basket web sites throughout the country.
We once did 9000 baskets for a high end grocery store in Southern California, and their penny pinching, cost-over-quality attitude woke me up to the reality of what most mass produced gift baskets are. Our viewpoint is radically different.
We get fresh deliveries of artisan product weekly. We are busy, so go through products quickly, especially what I have listed in your gift. The majority of our baskets are made up fresh to order so things aren’t sitting around on the shelf.
Occasionally we make up some baskets to have them available for people walking in or those clients who need something immediately. Those baskets are our most popular and are never around more than a few days.
We started this company 24 years ago to be an alternative to the stale tasting, lacking in inspiration baskets that proliferate the shelves of big box stores, catalogs and websites.
Fancifull in itself means out of the ordinary, not run of the mill and we strive to live up to our name.
Sorry for the lecture, it is just that we are passionate about our product here and take great pride in finding the best artisan food and gifts out there so our reputation is on the line with every gift that goes out. We want both the customer and the recipient to be delighted.
We will make sure that happens with your gift basket.
We recently received a shipment of the 2007 Domaine Tempier Bandol in our shop and we must admit, we are excited to have it. Domaine Tempier is a very renowned winery, particularly among wine connoisseurs, which has been producing amazing wines from the Bandol region for over 60 years (although the Tempier family has actually owned vineyards since the 1800s). While this wine has become popular over the years, it is actually a very scarce wine due to the relatively small size of the vineyard. Many have been lucky enough to try this wine, but you aren’t likely to find it at your average restaurant or liquor store.
Domaine Tempier Bandol is exclusively imported by Kermit Lynch, a popular wine merchant. Part of the year he lives in Northern California, where he was born, and part in Provence, France. One of the reasons he chose to live in this region of France (and possibly the primary one) is because he lives, in his words, “near enough to Domaine Tempier that I can fill up the trunk of my car whenever I need to.”
We certainly appreciate it too, because if he didn’t live there this wine would be even harder to come across in the United States. Due to its scarcity, Kermit only sells this wine in a specific quantity to his loyal patrons who regularly sell large quantities of wines he imports. When we found out we were eligible to buy Domaine Tempier, we jumped at the opportunity.
Needless to say, this is an incredible wine and won’t be available for very long. The Domain Tempier is a rare treat, which makes an excellent gift for both wine enthusiasts and those who simply know what they like. If you want to buy this wine, make sure you order soon, otherwise you may have to wait till next year’s vintage!
The recipe for choosing a good sparkling wine is the same as for still wine: good producers, healthy fruit and quality vineyards. True Champagne, from the French region of Champagne, is produced from the fruit of the numerous grape-growers there. Some champagne producers own their own vineyards and some do not. The best wines are made with the combination of generations of experience, traditional vinification methods and again, quality grown fruit from choice vineyards. True Champagne comes with a higher price tag than what is bottled and labeled elsewhere as “Sparkling Wine.” By law, a sparkling wine can be called Champagne only if it is from the region of Champagne in France.
Cava is another top value in the Sparkling Wine arena. Produced in various parts of Spain, the best examples are made in Penedes, the northeast area, where, as in the Veneto and Champagne, there are cooler climates that are ideal for sparkling wine production. Marques de Gelida is available on our wine gifts page in various gift baskets, it is crisp with more of an attack of citrus, white flowers and pear.
To wrap up here, I finish with a mantra to remember: top producers & prime vineyards = the best wines/champagnes. I hope this will help you somewhat to understand the range of styles of sparkling wines and their relativity to value when choosing your sparkling wine gifts. As always, I am available to assist you by phone or email here at Fancifull.
*CUVEE: a blend or special lot of wine.