Pardon the bad French pun adapted from the phonetic coup de grÃ¢ce, which translates to “delivering a death blow,” because this is anything but. In fact, it’s more of a victory lap for those who welcome back the incomparable foie gras, which had its two-year ban overturned on January 7, 2015.
The loyal readers of great-taste.net know we’ve covered the return of foie gras in California rather extensively but I thought it worthy of another round of celebratory toasts (and tastes) because it is such a significant chapter in the food-lovers guide to life in the O.C.
First, a little background about why the goose was exiled and what brought it back. As most chefs know, the ban was the result of a state law passed in 2004 that was enforced in 2012, regarding the practice of force-feeding geese and duck to fatten their livers, which many consider animal cruelty.
The decision to lift the ban didn’t make a judgment about whether the process constitutes cruelty or not, but it was based more on who has jurisdiction over food products state or federal authorities. Several foie gras producers challenged the ban based on this conflict and a federal judge lifted the ban at noon on Jan. 7. From that moment, chefs throughout the county were crafting specialties and jockeying for priority with the local suppliers. And diligent food journalist that I am, I began to make my list and reorganize it twice to decide which item I’d indulge in first.
We put the word out to find out what our local chefs are creating to break the prohibition. We have some unique twists on standards, but there are also some wild-yet-approachable offerings including drinks, burgers, breakfast and dessert in addition to the traditional seared delicacy.
Please note that these menus are always evolving, so the items may not be available and many. And others, such as Bayside’s Executive Chef Paul Gstrein and Golden Truffle’s Alan Greeley, plan to see where the muse takes them day-to-day. For the latest updates, it’s recommended you call ahead.
Hail to Hot’s!
Chef Sean Chaney’s Hermosa Beach gastropub, Hot’s Kitchen, stood alone among restaurants as plaintiffs in the case to get the ban overturned. It’s currently featuring several menu items nightly, including:
Foie Burger A grilled slab or foie gras topped with Brie, huckleberry and whole-grain mustard
Poutine (to celebrate the collaboration with the Canadian suppliers who were also plaintiffs, perhaps?) -Shoestring fries with foie gravy, cheese curd aioli
Liver N’ Onions -Seared foie, roasted shallots, bacon and cider vin butter
Seared Foie With caramel apple chutney, mix greens and brioche
Leggo My Foie An Eggo waffle with vanilla maple syrup, bacon and whipped cream.
The Rich Get Richer
Here are some other takes on the taste from creative minds throughout the Orange County restaurant circuit.
Pascal Olhats of Pascal Epicerie in San Juan Capistrano is kicking things off with savory, brandy-soaked French toast, butternut squash, and shallots topped with seared Foie Gras.
Antonello Ristorante in Costa Mesa will serve a pan-seared slice of foie gras topped with fresh black truffle shavings and a mÃ¥che salad.
The Winery in Tustin and Newport Beach is offering Chef Partner Yvon Goetz’s own slant with Buffalo Sliders topped with foie gras and truffle aioli on house-made brioche.
Clay Oven in Irvine will build on its Indian roots and offer two decadent dishes:
Foie and Sour Cherry Samosas crisp pastry with foie gras filling served with sour cherry chutney
Foie Gras and Bone Marrow Savory custards that come with freshly baked naan.
Executive Chef/Partner Noah Blom at ARC took an ethnic, earthy turn with:
Foie taco foie gras, apple brandy, apples and chervil
Foie served with hard cider, buttermilk bun and demiglace.
Haven Gastropub’s Chef Greg Daniels and Chef de Cuisine Craig Brady got their creative juices flowing by developing a dessert dish with Foie Gras Ice Cream: truffled French toast and blueberry-thyme syrup.
“It’s great that chefs have another option for the plate,” says Aaron Anderson, chef, Harlow’s Kitchen & Craft Bar in San Juan Capistrano. “I think we shouldn’t be censored from what we serve.”
His offering is another sweet and savory take: foie with brown-butter fried brioche, and a blueberry gastrique.
Chef Kenny Raponi’s offerings at Tabu Grill will change continuously but for now they are featuring Cranberry thyme french toast, maple bourbon glaze and toasted almonds. “The best artery-clogging goodness is back in California,” he says.
We asked some of our neighbors to the north what we could experience during a trip to Long Beach.
Renaissance Long Beach Hotel and Executive Chef Janine Falvois also sliding into home with another take on the mini with their Foie gras Banh Mi Sliders, cilantro, carrot, daikon, brioche bread.
David Coleman of Michael’s on Naples has created a Hudson Valley oven-roasted foie gras with kumquat marmalade, toasted brioche, mÃ¢che and cocktail grapefruit.
Chianina Steakhouse’s Bryant Taylor, chef de cuisine created a seared foie gras with Granny Smith apple textures, oat streusel, and Farm Lot 59 sorrel.
Working Class Kitchen is offering to add seared foie gras for $4 add to the $7 Chianina beef burger or you can choose $42-per-pound Hudson Valley foie gras to-go A grade raw sold by the ounce.
Start of with a little refreshment?
SOCIAL Costa Mesa’s Bar Director Mike West created a cocktail called Last Day of Sin it is made with foie gras-infused Cognac, Armagnac, apple cider shrub, Herbsaint rinse with a dried-apricot garnish to be served with their Mardi Gras menu.
Where to get the goods
The lay gourmet can get their hands on foie gras at a few retailers in the Southland, but the demand is soaring, so call or click ahead to make sure you can get it when you want it.
Working Class Kitchen, Long Beach (workingclasskitchen.com)
Irvine Ranch Market (irvineranchmarketoc.com)
Electric City Butcher
Premiermeats.com (online only contact customer service)
The fight continues
An appeal of the repeal of the ban (how’s that for a mouthful?) has been filed by those who fought for the ban in the first place, so the war rages on. Many local chefs were involved in the initial fight and will continue to lobby to keep the delicacy legal. Those include: Greg Daniels of Haven Gastropub, David Colman of Michael’s on Naples, Michael’s Pizzeria, Chianina Steakhouse and Working Class Kitchen, Pascal Olhats, Ã‰picerie Pascal, Paul Buchanan of Primal Alchemy Catering in Long Beach, John Cuevas of Stillwater and Waterman in Dana Point, Tony Alcazar of The Bottle Room in Whittier and Ryan Carson.