BANGKOK — Milky cheeses, peppery smoked meats, and buttery pate made by Thai hands, cows, and ducks are just some of the bougie delicacies available at a new French grocer in Bangkok.
Vivin Maison grocery, which opened earlier in December at Ekamai Complex, is the first physical storefront of the brand by French expat Nicolas Vivin.
Farmers market regulars may recognize the brand from their pop-ups at markets, events, and on supermarket shelves since 2014. Vivin started off making terrines and foie-gras from his grandma’s recipe, but using Thai artisanal produce, part of a growing movement making Thai dairy.
“It’s been six long years since we had our little pop up at the Farmers Market in Bangkok,” Vivin’s wife, Samantha Proyrungtong – yes, the admin of Bangkok Foodies Facebook group – said. “In the beginning, few people considered Thai gourmet products to be of any value, but now there’s more interest in sustainable dining and supporting local and natural products.”
If you’ve only ever tried supermarket cheese, then Vivin cheese may come as a wonderfully bacterial surprise. Vivin said processed, industrial cheeses produce a generic texture and flavor and intended to maximize supermarket shelf life.
“It’s pasteurized ‘dead’ milk, whereas the artisan cheese are alive with good bacteria and possess layers of taste, and flavour complexities,” Vivin said.
Cheeses include a Tomme de Chevre named “Mae Lao” made from a mixture of local goat and cow milk in Chiang Rai, the milky “Le Doi Pao” from raw cow milk, and the impressively strong light stilton, “Tha Sai Blue.” Cheese range from 220 baht to 380 baht for a 200g chunk, but goat ricotta cheeses in 100-gram chunks are about 140 baht to 160 baht.
Pair the cheeses with the dried duck magret, or duck breast, cured with local fleur de sel and covered in black pepper (195 baht for 160g), with just the right amount of fat and surprisingly addictive. Round off all the flavors with one of their chutneys, such as the mango one (190 baht for 220g, 490 baht for an 800 gram jar).
Those looking to add more variety to their cold cut platters could add rillettes, terrines, and duck liver mousse, all in the 200 baht range, or splurge on Vivin’s foie gras – memorably buttery. One variation is mixed with Chalong Bay rum to give a sugarcane taste to it (690 baht per jar), and another is an eye-watering 990 baht for a black truffle foie gras.
Sets of charcuterie and cheeses are available in Apero Boxes (340 baht to 1,090 baht, depending on size and content).
Also available at the grocer are Serial Pickler pickles to eat with the cheeses as well as Vivin Thai fruit jams in impressive combinations (same price as the chutneys): mulberry and plum, papaya and cinnamon, strawberry and roselle, and tamarind and banana.
Forget the watered-down, sugary fruit jams of Thai fruits in the supermarket – yes, mulberry does make a good jam, when partnered with the deep sweetness of a plum. Papaya becomes exciting in jellified form when coupled with cinnamon, and strawberry and roselle’s sweet-sourness compliment each other, and the tamarind and banana are in a friendly competition of natural sugar.
Vivin Grocery is open every day from 11am to 8pm at Ekamai Complex in Sukhumvit Soi 63. If driving, turn into a parking lot between Ekkamai Soi 19 and 21, or take a motorbike from BTS Ekkamai. Products can also be ordered at the same price online.
This review was based on a hosted visit.