For Foodies: Francouzská vína atd.

A look at a new French food store in Karlín, Prague 8 (note: now located at Kotva, P1)

Nick Young

Written by Nick Young Published on 11.01.2011 11:04:15 (updated on 11.01.2011) Reading time: 5 minutes

PLEASE NOTE: As of Spring, 2013, Francouzská vína atd. no longer exists at the Karlín, Prague 8 location. A new store has opened at the Kotva shopping complex in Prague 1.

Quite simply, there is no culture in the world that takes food as seriously as the French. With each bite into a crunchy baguette, every spoonful of mouth-watering duck terrine, each crumbly chunk of Roquefort cheese, and every sip of wine one can taste the love, passion, and commitment that the French have put into their cuisine for centuries.

It´s this commitment to taste, taken to sometimes obsessive and perhaps health endangering levels, that has inspired the French to make food out of overpoweringly pungent cheeses that would frighten most, to make snails and frogs a delicious national delicacy, to have the dedication to make a perfect chocolate soufflé, and to patiently keep a bottle of wine in one´s cellar for decades in order to enjoy it at its peak moment of taste.  

It is the relentless pursuit of flavor that makes the French cuisine special, and Prague is fortunate enough to have Andre and Ivana Caleca, two connoisseurs that are willing to share their passion for the flavor of French food and wine at their charming shop Francouzská vína atd. in Karlín.

André, a former lawyer, restaurateur, and accomplished windsurfer from the South of France, and his wife Ivana, a former fashion model from Prague, opened their shop three years ago after nearly 20 years of running a successful wine importing business in the Czech Republic. Their reason for opening the shop is both humorous and an interesting window into that passion the French so often have for their food.

“We decided to open up the store once the French supermarket Carrefour closed”, explained Ivana, “we weren´t sure how else we would be able to get French food in Prague.”  

It’s a justifiable fear for anyone that has an affinity for the French flavors which are so hard to find anywhere else.

André knows French flavors as well as anyone. A former chef and restaurateur in the South of France, he is the definition of a bon vivant, spending most of his time in France tending to his vineyard and gardens. His knowledge and love of great wine and food is encyclopedic in nature and his desire to find the absolute best is undeniable.

He travels across France in search of the best food and wine available from France´s finest producers. 

“We believe the quality is the most important thing”, says Andre, “this is why we offer the food and wine from the smaller producers. With these you can really taste the best flavor.”


He personally tastes each of the food items and wines available in the store before deciding to offer them to his clients, an amazing feat considering the fact that the store offers over 900 different kinds of wine and champagne, 30 types of charcuterie, 25 kinds of cheese, 30 brands of olive oil, and hundreds of assorted products that range from bottled Cassoulet, to exotic chocolates, to tropical fruit juice from the Caribbean Islands.

“For the past 30 years we have spent most of our time looking for the very best food and wine in France”, Andre says with a smile, “it is a very difficult life, I know.” 

Specifically, one can find some very special items in the store, including: Foie Gras from the Southwest of France (300-400 CZK); several kinds of mustard from Dijon; Provencale specialties such as dried sausage (200 CZK), Chateau d´Estoublon olive oil (700 CZK) which Andre claims to be the best in France, and a delectable seasonal goat cheese with herbs (120 CZK). The amount of different vinegars, jams, bottles of confiture, and countless other small delicacies is mind boggling.

Foods made daily on the premise include Quiche and Crčme Fraiche.

For lovers of French spirits one can find several kinds of Cognac (900-2900 CZK), Pastis (450 CZK), and Crčme de Cassis (330 CZK) amongst the many types of Carribean rums and bottles of Calvados.

The wine selection is absolutely superb, with bottles of wine covering all of the great regions in France such as Sancerre, Bourgogne, Bordeaux, and Cotes de Provence. Everything from table wine to the Premier Grand Cru wines can be purchased. The champagne selection is so vast that it´s best to simply ask Andre or Ivona for a recommendation upon visiting the store.

I was fortunate enough to be able to grab a few delicacies on offer and try them at home. I decided on taking some of my personal favorites: a jar of Terrine Gourmand de Canard au poivre vert (220 CZK); saucisson sec from Provence (200 CZK); and a bottle of red wine with grapes from the shop owner´s very own vineyard in Provence called La Matelotte (120 CZK.)

Terrine is essentially shredded duck meat and pork meat which is cooked in pork fat and served at room temperature on bread or crackers. This particular brand, Avon Ragobert, came from the Perigord region of France, which is famous for its duck, geese, and truffles.

The flavor was unbelievably rich with bits of duck and melt in your mouth pork fat mingling together to create a silky, delicious, greasy bit of heaven. I had a bit of sweet white wine to cut through the fat and balance the vast amounts of savory goodness. It was enough to leave one desperately running their fingertips through the empty bottle of terrine for every last morsel of flavor available.

The saucisson sec, translated as “dry sausage”, is an old standby for anyone that´s been to France and has had a self catered picnic or a bit of charcuterie with their wine at a little bar du vin. It´s comes in a many varieties—including pig, wild boar, horse, duck, and donkey—and usually is comprised of meat, fat, salt and perhaps some pepper and a bit of garlic.

This saucisson sec I tasted, which was comprised of donkey meat, did not disappoint. It offered a sharp, salty flavor with just the right amount of fat. Again, due to the richness of the food one should drink a robust bottle of wine to complement the flavor as well as give your taste buds a little break from the salty meat.

A very nice combination with the saucisson was the La Mattelote wine, which had a strong, deep flavor due to its using Mourvedre grapes (typically leading to wine high in alcohol content) mixed with Grenache grapes. It was a serious red wine, perfect for a cold night in Prague spent eating rich food.

Francouzská vína atd. is a shop that brings all of the wonderful qualities of France to Prague. It offers sophistication, fascinating people, and amazing food. And couldn´t we all have a little bit more of these things in our lives.   

Francouzská Vína
Kotva Shopping Center
602 368 662

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