A little bit of heaven

By JoAnne Hewett | November 19, 2005 4:42 pm

I found heaven on earth, and it’s in Brisbane, California. It’s a European food and wine importers warehouse. Every once in a while, they open their warehouse doors to the general public. A friend of a friend tipped me off and I went yesterday afternoon. The doors opened at 2 PM and rumor had it that the good stuff sells out fast, so it was important to be on time. That meant sacrificing an interesting late afternoon seminar in the pursuit of ever-lasting happiness. Indeed, the place was mobbed.

Compared to other shoppers who were loading their baskets with 10 kilo packages of French foie gras and entire wheels of English stilton and crates of French chevre, I was restrained. This was more of a reconnaissance mission on my part, as I was more interested in checking out what this place had to offer. And I found heaven. No pearly gates or fluffy white clouds or angels, just an entire walk-in refrigerator stuffed with cheese. Not to mention the warehouse racks filled with chocolates, olive oil, basalmic vinegar, pasta, and spices. Or the other fridgies with foie gras and smoked meats. And did I mention the specially discounted French wine?

So I left with Spanish olive oil, hard cider from Brittany, Italian prosciutto, French smoked duck, French foie gras, a round of epoisses, a chevre, some CowGirl cheese from Mt Tam, and a 1/2 case of a special cuvee of white chateau-neuf-de-pape for half price. Pretty restrained, I’d say. At least for me.

  • Jonah

    Dear Joanne, how were the lines at the warehouse sale?
    It sounds like the occasional open warehouse days at
    Village Imports on Hill St. in Brisbane. I’ve never been
    but am put off hearing of very long checkout lines
    waiting to pay for the wonderful goodies.
    Brisbane used to be worth a stop at Christmas because of the lights.
    For at least half a century the citizens of this little SF suburb
    on a hillside beside the freeway had a tradition of mounting
    one big star on top of each house. (May still do this some.)
    We used to pull off bayshore and stop a few minutes just to take
    in the sight. It was “a little bit of heaven” that way too.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/joanne/ JoAnne


    Yes, indeed it was Village Imports! The checkout lines were not that bad – they had several lanes open and I didn’t wait long at all. However, I went on Friday afternoon. I can imagine that things are much worse on Sat.

    I will have to make a point to drive by Brisbane during the next month and look for the lights!

  • Richard

    Foie gras… here’s a little rumination on the nasty ethical aftertaste.

  • http://eskesthai.blogspot.com/2005/10/what-are-those-quantum-microstates.html Plato

    Heaven is only a state of mind? Is it only a string issue?

  • Sam Gralla

    but for those of us who have no morals, foie gras is wonderful wonderful wonderful… :)

    Funny that you mention Italian prosciutto. We pay a premium for the stuff in the states because the domestic is crap. But after spending the summer in italy, and eating that same wonderful proscuitto like snack food because it’s cheap and available everywhere over there, I’m going to have a hard time buying in the states again.

    Your half-price wine on the other hand sounds wonderful =)

    I also second the calvados, if that’s what you got, and you should try pommeau, the aperitif version.

    That was an enjoyable post and a nice change of pace.

  • Richard

    Yes! Pommeau! That’s really the perfect aperitif. Sadly I’ve never seen it in the States.

  • janet

    A few years ago I was telling my sister about a fancy restaurant dinner I’d eaten. She asked about the appetizer. “I’m going to hell,” I said. “Why?” she asked. “I ate foie gras,” I confessed.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/joanne/ JoAnne

    I am missing the gene that allows one to resist foie gras. If it’s on a menu, I will succumb.

  • collin

    mmm… epoisses…. sounds like you did very well indeed.

  • http://www.amara.com Amara

    A tip:

    Look for the balsamic vinegar to be from Modena, it’s an artform like the wine..

    Enjoy your pieces of heaven!

    (from a person who lives in Italy)

  • Torbjorn Larsson

    Foie gras (Wikipedia):

    “Birds do not chew their food and have no gag reflex, thus they can be force fed large amounts of whole foods.” … “The next feeding phase, which the french call finition d’engraissement, or “completing the fattening process”, involves careful stuffing of feed into the bird’s throat through a metal pipe several times per day.” … “animal death rates increase by a factor of ten to twenty during the two-week forced feeding period. Also, while the consequences of force feeding in birds are reversible, the “level of steatosis should be considered pathological.””

    While the poor birds may not throw up, I feel very much like it.

  • http://eskesthai.blogspot.com/2005/11/future-of-book.html Plato

    it’s called “fatty liver?”

  • Richard

    More like “fattened liver”. That is, pushing a tube down the throat of the bird and force-feeding it.


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