We know that in England many fine food establishments receive a seal of approval from some members of the sitting monarchy, as soon as a certain number of items are bought by the royals, for a period of at least five years. A Royal Warrant is a certain guarantee of good business and an endorsement of quality for the companies carrying them, usually displaying them as arms of coat on the product itself, and at their store if they have one.
Now comes another royal endeavor, this time in France, where the last king/queen ruling dates back to 1848, with the reign of King Louis Philippe I -- even if Napoléon III later claimed he was the last monarch as the ruler of the Second French Empire -- although technically, he was the first president of the First Republic, I guess he could not make up his mind. I digress.
This is all so 19th century, anyway. Let's jump forward to present time. The magnificent Château de Versailles (2,300 rooms, but who needs an introduction?) has done it again. Not content with millions of visitors to its famed galleries, gardens and multiple royal chambers, it now wants to extend its reach some more, through palates and bodies that will appreciate this new effort by the legendary palace and its co-creators in the new venture.
A brand new gourmet food line, in partnership with an organic company, suppliers of fresh local produce under the delicious name Oh! Légumes Oubliés (Oh! Forgotten Vegetables) is offering organic food staples that we can only suppose would have pleased the queen and king of Versailles. After all, their meals consisted of a little bit of everything in decadent offerings, to make sure anything under the sun was available to the demanding clients, and also probably because nobody in their right mind would have wanted to decide what to feed a king, or a queen, afraid to be sent to the dungeon if the plate did not please.
The new label Château de Versailles - Epicerie Fine (épicerie roughly translates into deli) carries vegetable soups and jams, veggies and truffle chutneys, and of course the traditional and classic staple of French cuisine, foie gras, which is the result of abusing geese, did you know that? The line claims to carry the favorite foods of Louis XIV, who was an avid gardener, often sampling his own herbs and legumes from his palatial garden. A Love Compote is made of gooseberry fruit mash, a pumpkin soup is mixed with coco milk, and an asparagus spread is perfumed with ginger.
Marie-Antoinette, who was a terribly bored teenager when she arrived at Versailles at age 14 to become Queen of France, was very fond of all sweets, cakes, petits fours, candy, pies, ice cream, fruit jams and any sugary entremets. The larger city of Paris was far away in those days (16 miles from Paris, now a 30-minute ride on the outdoor subway RER), so window shopping was not a pastime allowed to the Queen, and she started eating. The épicerie also offers syrups and candies prepared in the fashion of the time with fresh plants and sugar cane. The pretty brat would have been pleased.
The delicate offerings are among hundreds of items for sale at the château boutiques, and at several shops in the city of Versailles, plus a few other cities in France. It also has its own website where the line can be ordered. The delivery is not yet offered for overseas clients, but that may come later, as demand hikes. In the mean time, one can salivate on the website, or maybe ask your French connection, if you have one, to send you some supplies!
Sales of the products help in part the funding of the castle. The functioning budget of the palace is about $40 million per year, which is mandated by the government to be solely funded by its own money, generated by around 5 million visitors each year, space rentals, filming fees, sales of goods and other incidentals. Almost 1,000 employees work permanently at the castle and on the grounds.
More info at www.chateauversailles-epiceriefine.com/fr/
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