Le Sanctuaire (molecular gastronomy cooking supply store) opening in San Francisco
Jing Tio of Le Sanctuaire in Santa Monica will open a branch in San Francisco this month. In addition to tableware, books and the latest fancy kitchen equipment real chefs use, the store will also offer ultra high quality (= high price) spices.
315 Sutter St.
I went by yesterday because they told me on the phone they had real preserved black truffle (Tuber melanosporum Vitt.). Wild goose chase--all they had was "juice" and summer truffles.
Worth the detour anyway. Some of their ingredients you could find elsewhere, maybe cheaper (mustard oil, star anise, some of the fancy salts), but some stuff is seriously obscure (methylcellulouse powder).
Also some fancy cookbooks in foreign languages. Extremely interesting display of molecular gastronomy hardware, unfortunately I got there just a few minutes before closing so I didn't have time to look carefully at those.
315 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94108
re: Robert Lauriston
I went in there about a month ago with a visiting friend and chef from St John in London and Melissa Perello, ex of Charles Nob Hill and Fifth Floor, was behind the counter, enjoying a well-earned break from high-profile nightly cooking. They were only too pleased to give us tastes of whatever herbs and spices we were interested in and sell them in cute ziploc baggies with a custom printed label with your name on it. Would make excellent presents for foodies.
I entered the space dressed in my usual homeless-chic atire and was treated with respect and interest. They have a severely edited display of what is desirable and hard to find (condiments, spices, tools, flatware, china and appliances) If you know what you are looking for, this is the place to go. period.
I actually just posted some photos from the store here: http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/2007/05/preview-inside-sanctuary-for-chefs.html
The woman at the store is really nice but she seems a bit overwhelmed with trying to set up the shop. Yes, they're still in the process of putting it all together, although when I visited there were chefs coming in and out, so that hasn't stopped them from coming in and buying things.
FYI, so far the store is not set up for retail sales. So if you go and you really like something, bring lots of cash because it's pricey like the Santa Monica store and they haven't set up their credit card stations. Most of the sales for now is primarily to the restaurant industry and chefs so all sales have been on accounts. I guess if you're a chef you can set up an account with them.
They have a wide selection of spices (and you can buy little or a lot) and a variety of imported ingredients and sauces. Lots of hard to find things. Also a cookbook area. When I was there, they were still setting up the kitchenware area to showcase the fancy cooking equipment, etc.
It's definite like an insider place to shop because there's no store front. It's on the fifth floor so you have to catch the elevator up to the store. I think the store should be more set up in a couple of months, so you might want to wait. But if you're dying to get something rare, then you can visit now. But like I said, bring lots of cash.
Coincidentally, the Chronicle also did a feature in today's food section: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...
I live a few blocks away from his store in Santa Monica. I don't shy away from spending money on spices or kitchen gadgetry and I love to cook. But I never seem to buy anything at the store. The prices are so high as to scare me away and there is a pervasive uber-cool attitude in the presentation of the store and in the service. I have no doubt that the spices are good, but I struggle to spend that type of money.