Thomas Keller, Anthony Bourdain and Foie Gras Fight! Fight! Fight!
May 23, 2012
Anthony Bourdain and Thomas Keller are just two of the biggest names in the culinary world to slice into the searing controversy over the pending California ban on foie gras, set to take effect in July.
This week Bourdain threw this to his Tweepsies (on Twitter, by way of @NoReservations):
"Was laying off the California foie thing as a lost cause, but now these assholes are threatening my friends' families again."
As he went from pissed off, to patronizing.
"Why I will always eat foie even though bored with it: spite."
And even threw out that famous Bourdain humor.
"Every time a chef is threatened, someone should skin a panda."
At the end of April, Keller announced he had added his name to a list of California chefs pledging fidelity to feeding methods that do not harm animals in any way, in an effort offer an alternative to an all-out prohibition of foie.
“We want to create a humane market,” Rob Black, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, told the New York Times. “Not a black market.”
Last month was also when a Pebble Beach Food & Wine team of Chris Cosentino (Incanto), Michael Ginor (Hudson Valley Foie Gras) and Andre Bienvenu (Joe's Stone Crab) did a Farewell to Foie lunch featuring, among other things, squirt-yourself foie gras noodles and foie gras goodie on a tongue depressor you sprayed with key lime juice to activate. (Really.)
Now Cosentino's one of the chefs receiving death threats. The owner of his restaurant had this in response:
"Not everyone understands the line between rhetoric and action. Gay bashing, abortion clinic bombings, and the murder of doctors who perform abortions have all been preceded by use of violent rhetoric intended to dehumanize the target. It's not possible to achieve a more humane world by using violent language to score political points. Doing so creates a legacy of hate, not humanity."
That lunch—and this moment in culinary history—can never be recreated. The same could be said for a pair of local farewell celebrations. But first some thoughts Ginor shared with the Weekly as we looked ahead at 2012's foodie trends.
"How the state is gonna control it is hard to imagine. Like Prohibition. Will it be health inspectors? Are they going to be in charge of going into restaurants, going through coolers, [asking], 'Is this liver from a duck or foie gras?' That's very hard to do."
In researching that post I came across some discoveries that surprised me, including the fact that ducks and geese are natural gorgers with no nerve endings in their throats. There's plenty more to the argument, but there should be more room for some of the science.
••• Devoutly French restaurant Andre's Bouchee (626-7880) may hate to see foie gras go, but they're sure enjoying celebrating it leave. They've already hosted a couple of farewell events, and have another promising one lined up for Wednesday, June 6, for $100 a pop.
Anticipate foie gras cromesquis, fresh morels stuffed with—you guessed it—foie gras and topped with a wild mushroom demi-glace.
Then it's foie with figs, followed by halibut wrapped with cabbage and foie gras in a foie reduction. Next: veal tenderloin with apple and foie gras and a calvados reduction and a foie gras opera for dessert. And they'll maintain a list of foie gras specials throughout the month. Pacific's Edge, Chef Matt Bolton and Wine Director Paul Fried have their own foie gras grand plans materializing for their own farewell Thursday, June 21, at $225 a head.
The menu includes fun foie from the get-go, as guests will grub foie gras arancini with truffle pecorino, foie blond summer truffles and torchon strawberry-rhubarb compote before they even take their seats (along with the first of Fried's pairings, a Julien Fouet Cremant Rosé out of Loire Valley, France).
Then, in chronological order, here comes the • Maine lobster, cubed foie gras, swank farms white corn polenta and truffle emulsion with 2009 Chateau de Puligny - Montrachet.
• A foie gras duo: Sonoma foie with caramelized apricot and bourbon vanilla bean and Hudson Valley's finest with brandy poached bing cherries (plus Royal Tokaji Co. – Tokaji-Aszu)
• "Kobe" "eye" of the ribeye with morels, fava beans, pea leaves and foie gras jus paired with 2009 Alban Edna Valley Estate Syrah
• Foie gras crème brûlée with vanilla bean genoise, marcona almond, port-balsamic berries and olive oil washed down by, oh, 2005 Chateau Guiraud Sauternes, maybe the tastiest dessert wine I've tried.
622-5445 to saddle up; 620-1234 to learn about the $775 overnight package for two.