Gourmet goods like truffle caviar, smoked meats and aged cheeses have foodies trekking to an off-the-beaten-path NoHo corridor and stuffing shopping bags like there’s no tomorrow.
- CategoryEat & Drink
When Epicurus Gourmet opened a year ago in an industrial complex off Sherman Way, the owners felt certain that, despite the location, true foodies would find them.
“It’s like Costco but for people who really appreciate great, imported food. We sell some of the same items as Whole Foods and Dean & Deluca, for example, but at warehouse prices. We’ve had people come all the way from San Diego,” says co-owner Kevin Jones.
Like Costco, the store aims to sell to restaurant owners and professional chefs, as well as customers who are simply after bargain goods. There is a rotating stock of between 750 and 1,000 items in-house at any given time. That includes domestic products such as items from Fabrique Delices, a California company that makes charcuterie and meat products like foie gras and smoked duck breast. But many of the products are imported from Europe and so prices tend to fluctuate.
“We typically keep a product list online that customers can consult to see what we are carrying in the store,” explains Kevin.
The owners, who include Eric Gitter and Hillary Hirsch (who is also the buyer) advise customers not to wait when they see something they like. Items that are popular and hard to find disappear pretty quickly. “We recently got four cases of Vacherin Mont D’or cheese (labeled “Petit-Vaccarinus” in the U.S.). It is a runny, Swiss cheese with a buttery flavor. It sold out immediately.”
Epicurus Gourmet | 12140 Sherman Way, North Hollywood | 818-658-3637
Open Tuesday through Saturday | epicurusgourmet.com
VB Editor, Linda Grasso, strolls the aisles at Epicurus Gourmet, sharing with us what wound up in her basket.
A L’Olivier Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A green and fruity olive oil in a ceramic container that looks like ones I’ve bought in Provence. I like that Epicurus offers refill tins so you don’t have to throw away the cool bottle. I’ve bought this oil at a couple of places in the Valley (eateries and specialty food stores that sell high-end, gourmet goods) but it costs more than double. $23
Urbani Tartufi Pasta
This pasta line, from the largest truffle company in the world, tastes like something you’d eat in a five-star Italian restaurant. The noodles flecked with truffles are delightfully decadent. I like to keep dishes pretty pure—cooking the pasta al dente with a good olive oil, aged Pecorino and fresh basil. $15
Gusti Three Medal Balsamic Vinegar
A slightly sweet, lovely flavor and fragrance. Ideal for drizzling on a salad, over grilled veggies or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. “I like it on ice cream and on strawberries,” shares Hillary. $21
Monthais sur Feuille Chèvre
Originally from western France, this flavorful, soft, runny cheese has been made for centuries from whole, fresh goat’s milk. During the maturation period, the cheese is covered with a chestnut leaf, which gives it spicy flavors, along with an earthy aroma and a slightly lemony taste. Excellent with champagne or a single-malt whiskey. $10
Tartuflanghe Perlage Black Truffle Caviar
Got a fancy crowd coming over? Wow them with this: tiny black pearls that look like caviar but taste like truffles. Spread it on crostini or serve with cheese or smoked salmon on a cracker. $24
Alain Milliat Bergeron Apricot Jam
This intensely flavorful jam is one of the most popular items at Epicurus. It makes me want to return to my college carb-filled, toast-eating days. “They pick the fruit when it is the ripest and use more fruit and less sugar,” explains Hillary. $7
Haku Smoked Shoyu
This product, imported from Japan, takes soy sauce to a whole new level. Sprinkle it on sautéed or grilled vegetables or stir-fry dishes, and it is a game changer. The flask-shaped bottle has a hip vibe; I like to take this as a hostess gift when the host enjoys cooking. $20