In the wonderful world of food, France rules.
Not only is this country home to some of the world’s greatest chefs and restaurants, but also to some of the best ingredients one can find at the épicerie, or that little food shop at the corner.
Now, the South can have a little taste of France as L’Épicerie Gourmande (pronounced as le-pee-se-ree goor-mand) opens at the River Park dining clusters at Festival Mall in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
L’Épicerie Gourmande is a one-stop food store that brings a little of France to the Philippines through its most popular products, as well from other parts of Europe. From jams to chocolates, to versatile European wine; from pasta, pasta sauces, to even hard-to-find French cheeses and charcuterie items such as hams and sausages, L’Épicerie Gourmande sources its products directly from Europe.
“I’ve been talking to other French expat friends of mine and we all miss not only the way French food is done but also the food items themselves. This is why we put up L’Épicerie Gourmande, to bring the exquisite French food store experience to the Philippines,” states Marseille-born co-owner Frédéric Bastide.
Bastide came to the Philippines to settle down with his Filipina wife. Here, he’s tried to find French food items but realized they were difficult to find. It was then that he decided source items directly from France and eventually, put up this establishment.
He is so confident of the authenticity of their items, he says, as his team does a lot of research on the variety and quality of their products. “Customers can be sure that our products are authentically made in France or other parts in Europe. Our jams, for example, follow the French standard wherein 50 percent must be fruit. In fact, we’ve gone beyond that by getting jam that is 55 percent fruit,” he adds.
This little French food shop has more to offer than food products and ingredients because it also doubles up as a French café or bistro. “We wanted very typical French fare for the restaurant side of L’Épicerie. The point was to have customers experience typical French food, so that’s what we decided for the menu,” says Bastide.
Filipinos, known for their sweet tooth, will be happy to find authentic versions of familiar French treats such as macarons, pain au chocolat (known in many pastry shops as “chocolate croissant), and croissants, aside from tarts and cakes that may be new to the palate. Also popular amongst customers are their platters: the charcuterie or cold cuts platter, the cheese platter, and the mixed platter.
“We’ve observed that customers like this idea of having a little bit of everything. This is probably why the platters are so popular. Plus, this is a great way of sampling what we have in the store. Afterwards, they can even buy the cold cuts and the cheese they tried,” explains Bastide.
Even condiments used at the restaurant such as real Dijon mustard and French mayonnaise are available at the épicerie. In fact, Bastide says that customers can buy items from the épicerie and eat at the restaurant section while having coffee or drinks at night for no corkage charge.
Already, L’Épicerie Gourmade is proving popular with customers, expatriates and Filipinos alike. However, it is the Filipinos that Bastide especially wants to impress.
“In setting up L’Épicerie Gourmade, we wanted to be sort of food ambassadors of France to the Philippines. We wanted to introduce French culture to Filipinos through food. It’s great if European expats like the food, but it’s even more special if a Filipino likes it,” he adds.
Bastide says River Park provides the perfect ambience to L’Épicerie Gourmade.
“French cities are known for restaurants that have seating areas outside so that customers can enjoy the ambience. River Park gives that outside ambience with its greenery and lights, especially at night,” says Bastide.
Festival Mall is a Filinvest Lifemall. It is the center of attraction within Filinvest City and is considered the heart of the city. The Filinvest mall group is also ensuring that its upcoming mall developments in other locations such as Il Corso in City de Mare, SRP Cebu, FORA in Tagaytay among others will constantly resonate the same value of a Filinvest Lifemall. And as its new branding and tagline goes, “It’s where the City’s heart beats”. It is a premier development in Filinvest City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City. It is the only mall with five anchor stores: Shopwise Supercenter, SaveMore, Robinsons Department Store, Ace Hardware and Handyman. It has over 700 shops, a total of 2,300 multilevel parking slots, various food outlets, and indoor amusement rides.