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FOOD:From bangers to rose petal jam

ALL ABOUT

July 13, 2007

Foodies rejoice! A new little treasure trove of treats has opened next to Sapphire Restaurant. It's called the Sapphire Pantry and it's bursting with everything from fabulous international cheeses to smoked Muscovy duck breast to Armenian rose petal jam.

This is another expression of Azmin Ghahreman's passion for bringing the very best food from around the world to his new epicurean empire atop the ruins of the Pottery Shack.

When Azmin was showing us around, he could hardly contain his enthusiasm for each and every product in the shop. "Oh, you must taste this!" (Rocky road chocolate muffins...yummy) "Oh, you must taste that!" (Sophia California Goat Cheese...irresistible)

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He has personally selected almost every item and they reflect his globe-hopping background and his incredibly high standards for both the restaurant and the shop.

When we asked about his perfectionism, he told us that he once read that airplanes have a 99% safety record. The implication (1% of planes are not safe) suggested to him that you must strive to be perfect all the time.

For the restaurant, he searches out the highest quality ingredients, many of which can be found in the shop, such as Puget olive oil from France.

Items that are hard to find elsewhere in Orange County are here in profusion, for example; Nueske's apple wood smoked bacon, Kobe style steaks, Kansas City beef and a selection of salamis and sausages including: blood sausage, Spanish chorizo and English bangers for those ex-patriot Brits longing for a taste of home. For their convenience, he amusingly stocks cans of Heinz 57 Baked Beans.

This international selection is an extension of his concept at the restaurant of bringing his patrons "global cuisine." Where else can you buy Armenian whole black walnut jam, Italian fruit mustard, wild violet jelly, authentic paella rice, Italian lavash crackers or goat butter?

Wines from the restaurant are available along with international beers and soft drinks. Terry thinks their coffee is the best in town. You can also buy it by the pound but prepare yourself for some sticker shock. There is a lovely selection of aromatic teas as well.

The pièce de résistance of this wonderful emporium is the cheese collection, displayed in a chilled room and presided over by the new cheese monger, Starr Cornwall, the woman responsible for the cheese program at the Montage.

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