After a meeting on The Strand this week, I had a great excuse to explore my favourite part of town around Covent Garden and Soho. I had planned to pop in to a place I recently discovered called Champagne+Fromage on Wellington St. Maud and Stefano run the little shop and bistro on the fringe of Covent Garden and it is definitely going on my list of recommended foodie places in London. They specialise in boutique champagne, cheese and charcuterie. Stepping inside Champagne + Fromage feels like stepping over the boarder and into France.
For me, bread is always an indicator of taste and the bread looked amazing. With a menu graced with foie gras ouef cocotte, baked cheeses, tartines and snails utilising cheeses like Roquefort, Raclette, Langres and Livarot, it is the kind of place that exudes good taste but without the pretension or formality that normally goes alongside French food in Britain. I think that’s something the Brits misunderstand about the French. They think that the French are fancy people. But they’re not. In fact, I would go as far as saying that they revel whole-heartedly in the rustic, the home made and the authentic experience.
On my visit to the shop, store manager Remi was telling me that the French don’t really go for the big names in champagne, or wine or care to pay exorbitant prices for either. Rather, they prefer the smaller, family growers and producers and it is this thinking that prompted Maud and Stefano no doubt, to set up the shop in London – to show that quality doesn’t always hinge on who has the biggest marketing campaign.
I got the same message from brandy expert David Baker, who I wrote about recently on Foodepedia – read article here . David specialises in cognacs and brandy and sells online through his website www.brandyclassics.com. I bought a 60yr old cognac from him for my dad’s birthday and since then I have discovered a lot about cognac and how the big names aren’t always the best value for money. He deals with the families who have for generations, made Cognacs, Armagnac, Calvados etc. Their spirits are made the right way, not cutting corners like some of the big producers.
I left Champagne + Fromage satisfied that my Cuvee from Côte des Blancs will delight my hostesses this festive season. If you’re looking for good food in London, or for a gift with a bit of style, pop in to Champagne + Fromage, you won’t be disappointed.