Thursday, March 01, 2007

Gilles Vérot, Chacuterie Extraordinaire

Said to be the "Pierre Hermé of charcuterie", Gilles Vérot, is a very talented, dedicated and passionate about pork. Oh, and he was also an incredibly nice and gracious host during my tour with Meeting the French.

Described on the tour website as a "pork butcher", I was expecting a mustachioed, strongman in a vest top and apron covered in blood, ready to point with a huge butcher's knife at each of the cuts of pork for what type of dish.

Instead, I went early to walk past the store, which was framed in a royal purple with gold lettering with beautifully laid out cured meats, terrines, pâtés, hams and jellied meats, all beautifully laid out on spotless dishes which gleamed with care. On the side were all of the awards which the listed. It was then that I felt that "pork butcher" I will be meeting would not quite be the kind of man I imagined.

When the group got together, Monsieur Vérot made sure to shake every person's hand and welcome them personally to the store and the tour. He then began by introducing some of his famed products, including the award winning "fromage de tête" or head cheese, which is made with soft bits of the meat from the pig's head suspended in a clear, savory gelatin. Monsieur Vérot sells more of this than any other product in his stores, a telling feat as most charcuteries have ham as their number one sellers. This can be eaten as a main, with a salad and some bread on the side.

Gilles Vérot also has seasonal products, foie gras for the holidays and richer, denser meats for the winter as well as more jellied meats for the summer, where lighter fare is preferred. Hearing him speak and answering questions, while his "responsable de magasin" worked constantly on tidying up the counters, ensuring that no smear is left unwiped you get a feel for the artisanal and very precise way the man runs his stores, by constantly striving for perfection.

We were led to the back of the charcuterie to see where all the terrines are molded, formed and cooked in a bain marie. We were also shown how their hams were smoked in its own juice and the efforts exerted so that it retains as much of its liquid as possible, rendering the meat tender and juicy.

In the other room, sausages were being made to be shipped to the famed Le Cinq restaurant. Made of veal these sausages were to be served to guests in the morning.

Finally, we were invited to try 4 items, the famous head cheese, with its flavorsome taste, tender meat and gelatin;

the andouillet not made in-house but which contained delicious smoked chicken breast and had a phenomenal mouthfeel, his was my favorite of the lot;

the deliciously dry and savory dried sausage; and finally, the boudin noir which was to go to the competition shortly. This was incredibly rich, with a gorgeous soft texture and nicely spiced. The master himself found it slightly too peppery and the fat in pieces slightly too large. While I agree with the fat, I did love the peppery, spicy taste of the boudin. This was my second favorite but so rich, you probably couldn't eat much of it. I could picture it on top of some lovely, creamy white beans cooked with onions and ham bone....mmmmmnnnn.

Needless to say, I had a fantastic time learning about Monsieur Gilles Vérot, the way his artisanal products are made and what to order next time...(I *need* to try all the different types of andouillet)

Monsieur Vérot also announced that he was partnering with someone in New York so his products will soon be available, to the detriment of waistlines in America. As for me, I'm wondering how long before Pierre Hermé will be known as the "Gilles Vérot of macaroons".

Gilles Vérot

3, rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs
75006 Paris
Tel: 01 45 48 83 32

7, rue Lecourbe
75015 Paris
Tel: 01 47 34 01 03


Robyn said...

Although I'm not much for sausages and head cheese, that charcuterie looks amazing. Like...posh meat! Whoa. Gilles Vérot sounds nice. Maybe I should try some of that stuff when I visit? Kinda goes against my "baked goods" philosophy...

susan said...

Wow, that andouillet looks really delish. Is it chicken stuffed inside intestines (and then stuffed inside more intestines)? The head cheese look yummy too.