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Start with the basics, like a solid, French-style pain levain ($5) from Pâtisserie Lebeau. They sell out every day—try one and you’ll see why. For charcuterie it’s got to be Moccia Urbani. You pick the meat; they slice it up thin. Our favourites are the spicy fennel, fig toscano, and tartufo (with black truffles) salamis. They’re the most authentic, Old World, hands-on, no-nonsense salumeria in the city, run by a beautiful family.
Now for cheese: like we do at Moccia, we give Joe at Les Amis du Fromage a price limit, and he chooses the best of what he’s got. This time, he suggested an unpasteurized Brie de Meaux, one fresh David Wood goat cheese from Salt Spring Island, and a delicious cave-aged gruyère-what’s important is balance. To complement and cut through the richness, we pick up condiments at Bosa Foods; namely, house line Italissima-go for gherkins ($2.99), pickled onions in balsamic vinegar ($2.99), and amazing white anchovies ($11.99) that aren’t as pungent and are excellent for snacking.
The hero of the basket is a chilled, cooked, and cracked Dungeness crab ($28) from The Lobster Man. How can you beat that? To drink we recommend Sea Cider’s Kings & Spies ($16/750 ml), named for the heritage apple varieties they use. It’s neither bone-dry nor too sweet. We pick it up directly from the cidery when we visit Vancouver Island, but you can find it at private liquor stores like Legacy.
And hey-if there’s any spare change, you can’t go wrong with a bag of Old Dutch ripple chips and sour cream dip made with Lipton’s onion soup mix. There’s really no substitute.
Pâtisserie Lebeau, 1728 W. Second Ave., 604-731-3528, Grababetterwaffle.com
Moccia Urbani, 2276 E. Hastings St., 604-255-2032, Mocciaurbani.com
Les Amis du Fromage, 1752 W. Second Ave., 604-732-4218, Buycheese.com
Bosa Foods, 1465 Kootenay St., 604-253-5578, Bosafoods.com
The Lobster Man, 1807 Mast Tower Rd., Granville Island, 604-687-4531, Lobsterman.com
Legacy Liquor Stores, 1633 Manitoba St., 604-331-7900, Legacyliquorstore.com