Herworld (Singapore) - - HW MAY 2018 - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY VEE CHIN ART DI­REC­TION SHAN

The one-stop spot for all things de­li­cious from France’s south-west.

At 5,000 sq ft, So France Le Bistroepicerie at the brand-new Duo Galleria in Bugis is a French em­po­rium of sorts that houses a gourmet store, bistro and wine cel­lar. About 60 per cent of the 50 brands and more than 500 prod­ucts come from the Nou­velle-Aquitaine re­gion, whose cap­i­tal, Bordeaux, is known for its vast vine­yards and rich farm­land. The re­gion is also blessed with a 720km At­lantic Ocean coast­line, dot­ted with oys­ter and fish farms.

The “So” in the bistro’s name has a dou­ble mean­ing. It’s from the French “su­douest” (south-west,

be­cause Nou­vel­leAquitaine is in the south-west of France), and the English word “so” (to em­pha­sise how much it rep­re­sents a French way of life).

In ad­di­tion to brows­ing the shelves lined with fine food and wines, you can par­tic­i­pate in wine tast­ing ses­sions, pas­try/cook­ing mas­ter­classes, and oys­ter shuck­ing work­shops.

In­vivo Group – France’s top agri­cul­tural co­op­er­a­tive group – and the Nou­vel­leAquitaine Food Agency are the two or­gan­i­sa­tions be­hind this first-inthe-world con­cept, which cham­pi­ons 100 per cent French ar­ti­sanal pro­duce and the sus­tain­abil­ity of French farm­ing.

Here, you can find thinly sliced, slightly salty Bay­onne ham – which comes from a Basque pig called pie noir, born and bred in the re­gion. The meat is cured by soak­ing it in sea salt be­fore it’s air-dried for 10 to 14 months. As the ham ma­tures, it de­vel­ops its aro­mas and ac­quires a wel­come smooth­ness.

Cheese afi­ciona­dos can en­joy lesser­known va­ri­eties such as the smooth, nutty and fruity Os­sau-Iraty (pro­nounced oh-so ear-ah-tee), made from sheep’s milk. It’s great on cheese­boards, in sal­ads, and with red wines. This semi­firm aged cheese is pro­duced in the North­ern Basque Coun­try, and in Bearn, which is in south­west­ern France.

Fresh batches of oys­ters, plucked straight from the sea, are flown in ev­ery two weeks from Marennes-Oleron (from $16.50 for three) and Ar­ca­chon (from $18 for three pieces). The firm, plump and briny flesh is so fresh and sup­ple that you can savour the essence of the sea in it. Both types are avail­able for dine in and take­away.

And as Bordeaux is home to some of the world’s most pres­ti­gious wines, So France has an ex­ten­sive wine and spir­its list with more than 100 va­ri­eties. For the first time, more than 20 va­ri­eties are avail­able in 100ml tubes – enough for a glass. The tubes (from $11) are avail­able to take away and en­joy at your leisure. These fun-sized bot­tles with screw caps hold high­qual­ity wine such as Chateau Coutet 2013 ($19) and Chateau Bey­chev­elle 2014 ($72).

If you pre­fer to dine in, book a ta­ble at the bistro, which of­fers hearty, af­ford­able French meals. It’s helmed by head chef Fred­eric Coiffe, who comes from the south­west of France him­self. A sig­na­ture dish is the suc­cu­lent honey- and sesame-mar­i­nated grilled duck breast ($19 for half a duck). Other high­lights are oven-baked es­car­gots laced with garlic pars­ley but­ter ($18), and rum and vanilla cane­les from Bordeaux ($12). #01-51/56 Duo Galleria, 7 Fraser Street

The wine cel­lar houses la­bels by ar­ti­sanal pro­duc­ers. The wines are cer­ti­fied to en­sure their ori­gins and au­then­tic­ity.

Pick up some high-qual­ity char­cu­terie, salted meats, or Bay­onne ham (pic­tured left). Right: Fresh oys­ters from Aquitaine, best en­joyed with a squeeze of lemon and white wine.

These spe­cial 100ml wine tubes are great if you want to have a taste be­fore buy­ing an en­tire bot­tle.

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