As I hold the open jar to my nose, the rich aroma of the foie gras terrine invades my senses. I soak up the fragrance as if it were a fine wine. Then, with giddy excitement, I grab a butter knife to examine its texture and taste. Vivin Maison’s rosy, peach-blushed pâté is firm at first, but it spreads smooth on a slice of bread. The earthy, elegant foie gras melts on the palate, leaving a lingering taste of toasted nuts and rum. Though it may look unassuming, as the founder of the brand, Nicolas Vivin, puts it, the finer things in life are often simple and easy.
Nicolas and his wife Samantha are fine food specialists who develop and purvey locally produced and imported gourmet products in Bangkok. “I decided to introduce foie gras duck terrine, because it is not well-known in Thailand,” says Nicolas. “People are familiar with pan-fried foie gras, but I prefer the terrine; you taste more of the flavour of the duck liver.”
The pâté I sample, a version blended with Chalong Bay Rum, is one of the most exquisite in their collection. The artisanal rum comes from a distillery on Phuket’s east coast, and the duck liver is imported from France. It’s just one of Vivin’s many delicacies imparted with a soupçon of Thai flair. Other exotic foie gras flavours include mango, tamarind and spices, and black truffle.
A native of Roanne, France, Nicolas grew up in a family of food connoisseurs and travellers, which helps explain his refined palate, passion for gourmet cuisine, and peripatetic spirit. His mother, he says, was always an adventurous food traveller, and his grandmother an avid cook who would transform fresh local produce into delectable dishes. Having begun his professional life in the hospitality industry, Nicolas has also travelled extensively, all the while keeping his eyes open for the finest local gourmet products.
Recently, Nicolas expanded Vivin’s product line, introducing a dried duck breast (magret in French) inspired by his mother’s cured meats. Vivin uses locally farmed Thai duck breasts and cures them with a high-quality fleur desel, or sea salt, harvested by hand in Petchaburi. The thinly sliced magret make great additions to salads and cheese platters and come in a bounty of flavours. The most popular — thyme— is a must-try, preferably with a glass of sweet Sauternes.
A supplier to restaurants and boutique retailers, Vivin does not neglect the home cook. Nicolas believes everyone should be able to enjoy fine foods at home, hassle free. That guides his vision of bringing new and exciting delicacies to kitchens across the country.
Vivin Maison’s fine foods are currently available at local farmers’ markets and boutique retailers, but the online shop at vivinmaison.com is probably the most convenient way to purchase the products, as they can be delivered to your door. Vivin products will also be launching in the deli section at Central World Food Hall this August.