Friday, December 14, 2007
Several famous chefs give Wolfgang Puck's efforts against Foie Gras a well-deserved dressing down, including Anthony Bourdain, who proves once again nothing can hold back his tongue.
"I think he should stop worrying about cruelty to animals and start worrying about all the customers he's flopping his crap on at airports...He got squeezed and pressured and phone-called from all angles, and like a good German shopkeeper he folded and sold out the people hiding in the cellar next door. I got no respect."
Yep, nothing like referencing the Holocaust the raise the level of a debate. At least he didn't swear.
Daniel Boulud and Jaques Pepin also toss their two cents into the mix - though with a bit more reserve - and the article actually gives the Foie Gras supporters the kind of fair shake you don't see much in the broadsheets.
FoieBlog is sure it's only a coincidence that this article appeared on the first full day of Rupert Murdoch's ownership of the paper, aren't you?
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
And he did a good deed for Foie Gras along the way.
Sure, the fair and balanced way he went about it - stacking the deck with our favorite purveyor, D'Artagnan's Ariane Daguin, and that cuddly old veterinarian of unknown credentials for his in depth expose of Foie Gras production at Hudson Valley Foie Gras - made Fox News look like NPR, but what the heck, it sounded good to us. And damn if that Foie Gras didn't look tasty - even those crazy kids from Queens of the Stone Age looked like they were enjoying it.
Once again Bourdain provides us with a reasonable sounding argument in support of Foie Gras. No, he won't convince everyone. As he says, there are "these f****** people [who] are not really all about us not eating duck liver. No, no, no. They don’t want us eating any animal product whatsoever," and they're a lost cause. But if you listen to Uncle Tony, the next time you run into a flock of them, at least you'll have some verbal ammo to go hunting with.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Tonight (Dec 10) at 10pm the Travel Channel presents - wait for it - Anthony Bourdain's Holiday Special!
FoieBlog isn't sure if Tony will be leading his family in a rendition of the Ramones' "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)", but we hear everyone's favorite holiday treat - Foie Gras - will be featured on the menu he's preparing, as he travels to deepest darkest Connecticut - via D'Artagnan and Hudson Valley Foie Gras - for Thanksgiving with the family.
Bourdain has been over many rivers and through countless woods these past few years, but we're sure nothing has prepared him for this.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
The Columbia Reporter reports that Michel Tersiguel of Tersiguel's French Country Restaurant in Ellicot City will be taking Foie Gras off his menu with the New Year after members of the Baltimore Animal Rights Coalition threatened to start protesting out front. The Iron Bridge Wine Co. - run by Steve Wecker - in nearby Columbia has also cleared it's kitchen of Foie Gras after complaints from customers. Such a shame to see these guys go down without a fight. Tersiguel said he had no choice, and it was a "no-win situation for us."
Just ask AAEFAAA award winner Parind Vora of Jezebel Restaurant in Austin, Texas, who has been fending off a twice a week protest for several months now and is no worse for wear.
Yes, it's easy for us to say go for it since we don't run a restaurant ourselves. Just don't be surprised, Mssrs. Tersiguel and Wecker, when you're faced with another "no-win situation." The name of the group is the Baltimore ANIMAL Rights Coalition. Not the Baltimore NO FOIE GRAS Coalition.
They'll be back.
Actually, they'll be at Louisiana Restaurant in Baltimore on Dec 7th where you can currently get a Veal Tenderloin En Croute Stuffed With Foie Gras Over Wild Mushrooms With Madeira Sauce and Truffle Oil.
Let's see if you still can in 2008.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
While most consist of the same, huge, uninspired smorgasbord of fatty meats, cheeses and pastas offered with a perfunctory salad to make you feel slightly less guilty about consuming a day's worth of calories in one sitting - knowing full well you'll be eating dinner when you get home anyway - occasionally you come across an event planned by someone with an interest in food and a big enough budget to have an actual restaurant cater it rather than the generic 'pick 5 items from each column per 20 guests' purveyor used by the guy from across the aisle.
These meals, while never quite four-star, are created with the sole intent of placating the guests' palates in such an absolute way that they lower all of their defenses and and let the lobbyist in for the kill to influence whatever bill they're after that week. Washington represents the epitome of this kind of lawmaking, attracting the most effective lobbyists the world has to offer and lawmakers ready to be entertained by them, but it's the same system seen in one form or another in every city in the free world. Unfortunately, in three of those cities in the United Kingdom you won't be seeing Foie Gras on any buffet tables - at least not in city hall.
In the past couple of weeks, the cities of Bolton and Norwich have joined Paul Blanchard's cronies in York by passing largely ceremonial laws banning Foie Gras from council chambers and events. The councils, of course, have no power to ban the sale of Foie Gras in city restaurants and shops, but hope to set an example for the ignorant townsfolk who continue to enjoy unfettered access to the delicacy - save the occasional protester outside their favorite eatery. Unfortunately the people who really suffer here are the poor lawmakers, lobbyists and political hangers-on who will be deprived of this dish so often served at political functions in these cities - we're sure. FoieBlog readers thinking about getting into politics will want to look elsewhere for employment, and those already working in these cities will have to steal away from their meetings early to head off to their local gourmet for a Foie Gras fix when necessary. This having an obvious adverse affect on the well-oiled and well-fed lawmaking processes in these cities eventually leading to the demise of United Kingdom as we know it.
All joking aside, the casual way these symbolic bills made their way through council remind us of Chicago's passge of the 'silliest law', and stand as yet another warning against apathy from Foie Gras lovers, chefs and purveyors on this issue.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
OK, enough with the business analysis from someone owns nothing but a set of Henkels knives and an out-of-tune guitar that's been unused only slightly longer than the cutlery.
Bourdain often extols the virtues of straightforward, honest food, and his writing - when not off on some hyperbolic tangent about exploring deepest darkest wherever or in the midst of some passive aggressive assertion of what defines good cooking - follows this mantra as well. This fact was obvious as soon as I was led to my table and seated on a banquette upholstered with torn brown vinyl that was repaired with brown duct tape - clearly the product of a restaurant held together by System D, Bourdain's beloved catch-all term for the mysterious methods restaurants use to fix things without actually fixing them. Who even knew brown duct tape existed? Nevertheless, take one star off for ambiance, but award one happy face for ingenuity.
On the other hand, Les Halles' lunch menu flies in the face of the simplicity Bourdain often espouses, and would give Gordon Ramsay a true kitchen nightmare if he were confronted by it on his show of the same name. There are no less than 50 dishes listed, not counting the separate Brunch menu also available on weekends, but which any reader of Bourdain's would steer clear from if his warnings about the original fourth meal are to be believed. It's hard to imagine any chef turning out this many different plates with any consistency on a Saturday afternoon, but this is the home of Anthony Bourdain, a man who's never been on Iron Chef, nor really claims that his stuff is all that great, so there you go.
Of course, my first instinct was to order the Foie Gras Sauteed with Apple, Walnuts and Calvados Sauce and follow it up with a nice Cassoulet Toulousain, and be done with it. But as I began to put down the menu, my gaze was caught by the intriguingly-named Hamburger Rossini. Who is this Rossini? And how dare he serve a burger with Foie Gras Terrine Melting on Top and a Black Truffle and Red Wine Sauce on the side!
Damn, and I really was in the mood for Cassoulet, but for $19.50 I really had to find out.
Charting this new course, and imagining a thick slice of terrine the size of that bun McDonalds puts between the two burgers in a Big Mac, but made in house with creamy D'Artagnan Foie Gras, I backtracked on the appetizer and went with the Fresh Wild Mushrooms and Salsifis in Puff Pastry instead, fearing an afternoon Foie Gras overdose and feeling a need to continue my exploration of salsify at French brasseries. I'm glad that I did.
Besides being a surprisingly large plate for an appetizer, fitting of the surroundings, the pastry was perfectly done and the filling very flavorful in a home cooked kind of way. As the usually white salsify was as deep brown as the mushroom sauce, this had clearly been stewing for sometime, and the entire dish was infused with all of the underground goodness of it's ingredients. Delicate? No, but why should it be?
Unfortunately the Nicoise Salad my wife ordered wasn't nearly as successful. A nice dressing undone by some big, sloppy red leaf lettuce and an overambitous, oversized, and overcooked piece of tuna that wouldn't have seemed out of place in an Astoria diner. Thankfully, the Hamburger Rossini would.
No, my vision of the ultimately decadent Foie Gras-laden sandwich was not to be, the melted terrine in reality only a small schmear on top of the beef patty - but oh what a schmear. Offering just enough Foie Gras flavor to stand up and be noticed over the perfectly-cooked meat and truffled wine sauce, the Foie Gras makes this a burger to be reckoned with in a neighborhood known for it's burgers. No, Danny Meyer's Shake Shack, down the block in Madison Square Park, doesn't need to worry about the competition - they play to different audiences - but the latest Best Burger In New York at Resto, a Belgian Beer pub just around the corner, is easily bested by Rossini's creation, although, even in this town, $19.50 feels a little steep. Sadly for Bourdain, despite his incessant claim that Les Halles makes the finest Pommes Frites in the world, the Flemish Walloon crowd at Resto do a better job. There's nothing wrong with the frites at Les Halles, they're as good as any, just not the kind you find yourself daydreaming about weeks later. I'm thinking of Resto's right now.
If a restaurant is truly a reflection of it's chef, then it's obvious that Anthony Bourdain must be more than merely a titular executive toque at Les Halles. Like his writing, it's a little rough around the edges and a bit uneven, but entertaining overall. Yes, I'll return one day for that Foie Gras and Cassoulet, but I'll still pass on brunch.
I'm sure Tony will understand.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Call us at FoieBlog cynics (you won't be the first) but we wouldn't be surprised if most of the CARA crew, when not saving the Canadian goose population from extinction, have been to their fair share of anti-globalization protests as well. We've been berated for years about how small, locally-owned companies are the answers to all the world's ills. We've gotten the message. Too bad whenever it's "save the animals" week in activistland they conveniently forget this mantra and set up their soapboxes in front of stores like IGAs and independently-owned restaurants that employ many of their hard working, low-income neighbors while providing the community with the products and services that it demands, which in many places, includes Foie Gras.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
For chefs there are Escoffier, Robuchon, Adria.
For lazy, untalented, imitation bon vivants like us at Foie Blog, there is only one:
Oh, to be able to summon the greatest chefs in the world before us to craft the finest dishes for our amusement and gastronomic approval. It is the dream.
Sadly for us, it is likely to stay just that.
Thankfully, there is Iron Chef.
Thankfully, there is also You Tube.
Battle Foie Gras.
(Skip to segment 5 if you can't wait to see the tasting)
Monday, October 8, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
However, if that old lady is on her way to a nice restaurant in Philadelphia you might have to help her past some loud-mouthed protesters trying to ban Foie Gras, and if they have their way one day you could find yourself being arrested as an accessory to a crime. But now, for the low low price of $5, you can help stop this draconian future from coming to pass and save yourself the expense of hiring a high-priced attorney.
Next week, a group of Philadelphia restaurateurs who have joined forces as Philadelphia Chefs for Choice (sorry, Chicago Chefs for Choice was a bit catchier) are hosting Freedom Foie For Five (ok, now that's catchy.) From Oct. 1-7 all of the participating restaurants will be offering Foie Gras dishes at only $5 a creamy, luscious pop.
The goal of the event is to spread the Foie Gras as far and wide as possible, so those who've never had the opportunity to enjoy it before will spread the word and influence the public opinion needed to keep City Councilman Jack Kelly's proposed Foie Gras ban from coming to pass. Hopefully some of Philly's lobbyists will be happy to shell out the extra fiver when they're out to lunch with other members of the City Council - or at least slip it under the table. Wink, wink.
FoieBlog wishes Philadelphia Chefs for Choice the best of luck. Hugs for Puppies is going to have their work cut out for them next week staying on top of 20 restaurants dishing out more Foie Gras than ever before - up until now they've barely been able to muster up a protest at one eatery at a time.
We also encourage our readers not to look at this as just an opportunity to save a few bucks, but to spread the joy among your friends. Just think about it, for the price you usually pay for Foie Gras, you can introduce 3 or 4 of your gastronomically-naive friends to our favorite dish.
Philadelphia Chefs for Choice say you'll be enjoying the kind of freedom Abe Lincoln would be proud of - we only wish they'd chosen George Washington. Democratic Ducks for a Dollar!
Maybe next year.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Now, Vora's plight is finally being recognized nationally, as the Center For Consumer Freedom has thrown it's weight behind him. If only they could get that trans fat ban in NYC overturned, then we'd be really happy.
If FoieBlog gave out an Award for Achievement in Excellence in the Face of Animal Activist Adversity, Parind Vora would be our top candidate this year. In fact, lets go ahead and establish that award right now. Tickets for our gala ball will be on sale later this month, and we'll be sending out invites to all of Hollywood's finest vegetarians just as soon as we get around to it.
I wouldn't expect Moby to be performing at the awards ceremony, but maybe Ted Nugent will be available.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
We know, whatever sliver of credibility we may have had is history, but when you take a look at the pix, we think you'll be as persuaded as we were.
(Our thanks to MH in upstate NY)
Friday, September 7, 2007
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
It's not that I don't like the concept. Who wouldn't? Two of the world's great cuisines mixing to create a culinary atom bomb combining the creamy, buttery fatty goodness of traditional French cooking with the powerful, sinus-dissipating spices of traditional Thai, it's hard to imagine a better idea.
No, GrasGuy doesn't get French Thai, because he can't get it, because it pretty much doesn't exist.
Yes, there are "French Thai" restaurants aplenty, but take a look at the menus. More often than not they're straight-up Thai with a Steak au Poivre or Bouillabaisse thrown in for good measure. Maybe the chef even uses a little French technique on his Pad Krapow, but true fusion? Rarely. And that's a shame.
Sure, I'm making a broad generalization, and many of you will disagree. But it's not often I've seen baguettes in Bangkok (so to speak), and if you think about it, you probably haven't either.
So how did Foie Gras end up on the menu of one of my favorite Thai restaurants in New York?
Thai food in Manhattan is very much like Chinese food in Europe. Terrible, and unauthentic to a fault. So I'm not surprised when people tell me they don't like Thai food. Saddened, but not surprised. I'm equally upset when someone tells me they love Thai food, and then tell me where they had it. More often than not its called Thai Somethingorother 3.
Thankfully there are a few exceptions. Places like Kittichai, Pooket, and Land, where you can experience all the wonderful flavors Thai cuisine has to offer, rather than the greasy, bland trash most restaurants dumb down for us Farang.
One restaurant that manages to straddle the line between accessibility and taste is a very lively spot called Highline. No, this isn't your Thai neighbor's grandmother's food, but it's a lot better than Bangkok Thisandthat 5 in Midtown, and just as cheap - a miracle, given the swank ultramodern decor of it's three-level layout, not to mention it's location in the high-priced Meatpacking District. While the menu includes many Thai classics like Basil Beef and Green Curry Chicken, it also takes some chances. Pad Thai Spring Rolls is a signature dish you'll likely find nowhere else, but not as surprising as the recently added Foie Gras Puffs.
Filled with Curried Foie Gras and served with a Smoked Soy Reduction flavored with Tamarind, a bite of one of these flaky babies will knock your proverbial socks off but leave you asking - where's the Foie Gras? There's a familiar flavor in there somewhere, I think, but doused in all that curry it could be anything. After dissecting the insides of one of these, I discovered very small pieces of what I assumed was ground Foie Gras and just decided to leave it at that and bask in the whole of this outstanding $8 appetizer. Then, just as I was about to finish, I poked around one last time and, sure enough, came up with a forkful-sized hunk of Foie Gras. Biting into it I was instantly transported to a far away place from my past - my mother's kitchen, as she handed me a fried piece of the liver that comes in that little bag of giblets you get with an oven stuffer roaster.
Yea, it was that bad. But what do you expect for $8.
I know, it's my own fault. I should've just enjoyed the dish for what it was, but being GrasGuy I just had to go deeper, trying to unwrap the dish and find something clever to say about what I found. As it turns out I'll always remember that last, disappointing bite, rather than the first, which made me say "wow!" Lesson learned.
Would I order it again? Sure would. In fact, I've never had a bad dish at Highline. Their version of red snapper with sweet Thai chili sauce is one of the best in town, and the noodle dishes are spot on. And while I could live without the trendy bed/tables on the upper level, there's nothing like drinking a ginger mojito poolside with a disco ball in your face - head downstairs and you'll know what I'm talking about.
Korp Koon Krap, Highline, Korp Koon Krap.
In an earlier post, we voiced our concern over a line inserted into a Bloomberg News interview with Mark Hix, Chef Director of The Ivy restaurant in London, that went out of it's way to point out that his restaurant had been targeted by anti-Foie Gras protestors - in an article that had nothing to do with the subject. To this date, neither the writer nor the Bloomberg editorial staff has responded to our e-mails. However, sources in the UK culinary community similarly concerned about the article tell us that it was not the work of the writer, Richard Vines. Our apologies for any offenses made to him. On the other hand, we understand that it was the editor of the article that was responsible for its inclusion - which raises even more concerning questions. Was this merely the work of some overzealous newsroom hack trying to look smart, or, worse, make his own point? Or was it that said editor was following an internal directive on the subject?
FoieBlog will continue to try to get to the bottom of this, but we urge our readers to be wary in the meantime, and send in tips on any similar occurrences you come across. History has shown that even one sentence, however small, can have great effects.
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." - Ronald Regan, 1987
"Can't we all just get along?" - Rodney King, 1992
"I'll be back." - The Terminator, as played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1984
British restaurants are under a full-on assault from the anti-Foie Gras activists - including many in the liberal media there - and it's going to be up to the restaurateurs themselves to man the battlements. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, "we shall fight in the press."
(OK, doesn't have the same ring without the Cuban cigar and Siren Suit, but you get the point.)
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Friday, August 3, 2007
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
FoieBlog is sorry to say that we missed the CNN/YouTube debate. Not due to a scheduling conflict, but to avoid watching that idiotic snowman complaining about global warming. Duh.
Still we are fans of the website, and forever in debt to the folks at FoodTVBlog for posting Janet Street Porter's report on Foie Gras which aired on Gordon Ramsay's "The F-Word" a few weeks ago. (Until you kids start clicking on those ads, we'll never be able to upgrade our cable to include BBC and see these things first run!)
In the piece, Porter goes on a quest to find an "ethical" alternative to Foie Gras for Ramsay's restaurants, and makes her way to Pateria de Sousa in Badajoz, Spain to sample Ganso Iberico. On the way, she stops at a traditional, but unnamed, Foie Gras farm in France. There, she witnesses gavage first-hand and doesn't enjoy it too much, even though the ducks look to be very healthy. Of course she shows one pen that appears - out of context - to be avoiding the farmer and the feeding tube, but you'd expect such drama from a Gordon Ramsay production. She never tries the Foie Gras.
Pateria de Sousa, on the other hand, comes off as a luxury resort for geese. One big all-you-can-eat grassy hillside. Porter has no issues here and gives the Ganso Iberico it a try, enjoying it enough to recommend to Ramsay.
Unfortunately, the video ends here, but we understand that the show continues with Porter bringing some back for Ramsey to see if it's a worthy alternative to Foie Gras. One look at the current menus of his restaurants will answer that question for you.
It's always hard to tell if Porter truly goes into these projects cold, or merely plays the role of a nave, though we suspect the latter is the case. People in TV don't often do things blindly - believe us, we know.
In any case, it's hard for our jaundiced eyes to judge what kind of affect this story would have on the truly uninitiated viewer. Sure, some people are just never going to be able to stomach (sorry) seeing those tubes inserted into the ducks, but they otherwise look to be in a pretty good situation, and you know that cute old French couple are taking good care of them - they're straight out of the book of French stereotypes, sans the Gauloises.
FoieBlog expects it will be some time before Ganso Iberico makes it to this side of the pond, and GrasGuy dropped the ball last year when he was travelling in Andalucia, not far from Badajoz. Still, we look forward to trying it as soon as possible, so if you hear about any heading this way, or get a taste yourself, please drop us a line.
Though we suspect we'll side with Gordon.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Down in front!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Forced against my will by the bonds of marriage and friendship (sometimes I really wish I could go just up and go Ted Kaczynski and live in a cabin in the woods with nothing but a typewriter and a flock of geese to answer to) I was dragged to the one city on earth that I dare not go.
Imagine being stranded in a desert, on a planet with no oxygen, populated by Puritans, and you're wearing a great big scarlet "A" on your lapel. Imagine wishing that was the case.
I know, I know...the identity of GrasGuy is largely unknown and all those thousands of windburned eyes watching my every move surely were unaware they had a fox in their hen house, but the world eventually found out who Deep Throat was, so anything is possible. Then again, perhaps the deficiency of Vitamin A due to a lack of Foie Gras intake was affecting my own eyesight. Combined with an onset of sensory disturbances due to low B12 levels, an advanced state of paranoia was likely. Or am I being paranoid? In any event, a safe haven needed to be found. Thankfully, one was not far away.
Double-timing it off the beaten path and into the low rise section of River North, I made my way to the one place I knew I would feel at home. Cyrano's Bistrot. Sure, that slim guy in the ripped jeans and Woodstock '99 t-shirt on my tail might have confirmed my identity when I stepped through the door, but at least I was in a safe haven where I could hole up for a few days if things got hot.
Cyrano's is run a real live French chef, Didier Durand. Sadly, he's been distracted from his work in the kitchen by his duties as spokesperson of Chicago Chefs for Choice - the alliance of eateries fighting Alderman Joe Moore's Foie Gras ban. A photo of the esteemed Alderman, with the phrase Tru Du Cul, greets visitors to this otherwise friendly and charming French Bistro, adding a bit of authentic Resistance to the very authentic bistro experience.
Faced with a gaping hole on the menu where Foie Gras should be, the intriguing Country Ostrich Pate immediately caught my eye. I opted instead for the Three Rilletes of Rabbit, Pork and Duck - needing to find at least some gastronomic association with what I truly craved. On the plate they were hard to tell apart by sight - maybe that Vitamin A issue kicking in again - but their flavors were quite distinctive. While the Duck with Olives and Herbs was very light and tasty, and the Pork with Garlic was as good as pork and garlic tend to be, it was actually the Rabbit with Lemon that won the day - the citrus enhancing the surprisingly strong rabbit flavor of the Rillette. Paired with a bottle of Lucien Albrech Pinot Gris Tokay, I was almost able to forget the trials I was facing outside the confines of this charming restaurant. If only I'd been there before the ban to sample Didier's Foie Gras. Perhaps one day. Perhaps one day soon.
You see, while I can't go into detail now, what I learned in this den of Liberté, égalité, fraternité, is that the movement to restore Foie Gras freedom in this city is alive and well, and the days of the ban may be numbered. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, if you find yourself at Cyrano's for dinner - and I hope that you will - be sure to try the Grilled Country Bread. I can't tell you exactly what's in it, but it's both gluten and carbohydrate free, and like no baguette you've ever had.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer (check the second item on the page), at 8am on Saturday July 14th a small group of people from Philadelphia Advocates for the Animals stood outside the home of chef Guillermo Pernot vocally protesting his use of Foie Gras at Pif restaurant. Unfortunately for PAFA Mr. Pernot doesn't work at Pif - which coincidentally went out of business the following day - and the restaurant he does work at, Cuba Libre, does not serve Foie Gras.
How could this happen?
Well, according to the PAFA folks, they got a tip from Nick Cooney at the illustrious Hugs For Puppies that was either meant to intentionally embarrass the competing group, or was just plain wrong. Cooney denies the charge and says PAFA screwed up on their own. In any event, it's amazing either of these groups can organize any kind of event, even in the wrong place.
This is somewhat reminiscent of recent happenings in Austin, TX that we've told you about, where Central Texas Animal Defense has been getting an even worse name because of some renegade anti-Foie Gras vigilante who's been vandalizing restaurants by spray painting offensive statements on their windows and facades.
While FoieBlog too is decidedly biased, we have no love for those who would go out of their way to torture animals of any sort. However, we wish Farm Sanctuary would take a breath and give the proper authorities the opportunity to investigate the situation before they get ahead of themselves calling for across the board boycotts. FoieBlog preliminarily applauds Elevages Perigord for taking swift action in this matter and fully cooperating with authorities. We trust this will turn out to be nothing more than one bad egg in an otherwise respectable operation, but will wait for the outcome to the investigation before passing final judgement. Too bad Farm Sanctuary won't do the same.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Still, despite challenges from Northern Spain and Asia, the French Method lives strong in Gotham, and the culinary community is one to be reckoned with - both in the kitchen, and with the boule.
Saturday July 14th marked Bastille Day - the French version of Independence Day. To celebrate, a group of French expats and francophiles gathered in Bryant Park for a tournament of that most French game of Pétanque. Sponsored by the good people at D'Artagnan foods, and organized by La Boule New Yorkaise, 16 teams of three gathered to vie for the title of D'Artagnan Pétanque World Champions - a hyperbolic sobriquet to be sure, but New York is still the Capitol of the World, so what the heck.
Played on courts carved out of the gravel walkway surrounding Bryant Park's lawn, once could easily feel as though they've been transported to the Tuileries, what with all the French in the air and cloudy water bottles that look suspiciously like they're spiked with Pastis.
Pétanque is a simple game - get your team's balls closest to a target ball - but one that requires a deft hand and laser-like focus on perfection. So it's no surprise that teams made up of staff members from the kitchens of restaurants like Jubilee and Petrossian were well represented. The team from the Upper West Side's La Mirabelle was particularly intense, decked out in their matching Bastille Day 2007 T-Shirts.
D'Artagnan fielded two teams, and the fix looked like it might be in as the trio led by the company's founder, Ariane Daguin - dressed in an outfit reminiscent of Le Tricolore, disposed of the competition. However, in the end Petrossian prevailed, taking home the cup and all of the glory that goes with it.
Friday, July 13, 2007
FoieBlog has been following the debate over Foie Gras in the City of Brotherly Love - most notably the trials and tribulations of The London Grill, one of the restaurants targeted by local animal activists that has refused to relent to their demands. In short there's been a series of protests, insults, epithets, and restraining orders that the Philadelphia Inquirer has done a great job of reporting - so we won't try to recount the saga here. Suffice it to say, Terry Berch and her coworkers have taken up the gauntlet of the city's culinary community and has refused to give up an inch to the crowd at Hugs For Puppies.
Although FoieBlog is perplexed as to why a restaurant called The London Grill would celebrate Bastille Day, Ms. Berch has a tradition of dressing up like Marie Antoinette and recreating the events of that day. Perhaps it's the presence of the nearby Eastern State Penitentiary, perhaps it's something better left to a professional to determine. Since we at FoieBlog are rank amateurs, we will forget about trying to figure out this puzzle and merely tip our hats to the folks at The London Grill and wish them our best in Saturday's endeavors. A judge has limited the number of protesters and told them to keep in relatively quiet - we shall see.
As for us, we hope to be spending the afternoon in New York City's Bryant Park at the Bastille Day Pétanque Tournament at Bryant Park, hosted by our friends at D'Artagnan. If you don't know what Petanque is, think lawn bowling with berets and striped shirts and you get the idea. Many of the teams competing are made up of staff members from some of New York's finest restaurants like Petrosian and Le Mirabelle, so it should be a lot of fun. Look for a full report after the Bastille has been stormed - and by Bastille, we mean wine cellar.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Muveszinas on MuvenBajcsy-Zsilinszky ut is about as classic a Budapest haunt as you can get - the interior looking so old and filled with so much memorabilia that there's a good chance it is haunted - all the better. Serving up an extensive menu that is pretty much an encyclopedia of Hungarian cuisine, it's the place to go if you're only going to one place. Even better, you can go there every day and run the gamut of local dishes, many of which feature Goose in it's various forms.
I'd heard the legends about the good old days in communist Hungary - good for visitors at least - when Foie Gras was available for a pittance. $5 a pound? Hard to believe, but it was cheap, nonetheless. Unfortunately, this was in part due to the more industrial nature of the business back then, and GrasGuy is more than happy to pay a bit more for Foie Gras raised in a more proper fashion. Still, Hungary remains an affordable destination for the American dollar, and while Muveszinas isn't exactly cheap, for what you get, it won't break the bank.
What I got I'm afraid I don't exactly remember as I've lost my notes and some brain cells since I was there. What is seared in my memory though, is a plate with two slices of seared Foie Gras the size of tenderloin steaks - not the kind of thing you'll likely see outside of Eastern Europe these days. It was so substantial and so decadent that I hardly needed my entree, a very large pile of sausage and peppers and lots of paprika who's name also escapes me.
If you find yourself in Budapest anytime soon I hope you'll see through this rather pathetic account of my experience at Muveszinas and recognize the true enthusiasm behind the clouded picture.
Truly the most memorable meal I can't remember.
UPDATE: Just received a text message from said friend who was enjoying a Foie Gras en Papillote w/Mushrooms and couldn't get enough. Foie Gras in parchment sounds very interesting, and is definitely not what I had - but there's always a next time.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
One of GrasGuy's earliest introductions to fine cuisine was not a flavor or aroma, but a word.
As seen on TV.
As in, "It slices, dices, and EVEN Juliennes!"
As if slicing tubers into long thin strips is something exotic, a skill one should aspire to when purchasing cutlery from an 800 number. At least they gave you two for the price of one.
One thing those Japanese knives couldn't do was Salsify, and I guess that's because Salsify isn't a verb, but who knew. When I went with a few friends to Brasserie Julien on NYC's Upper East Side to sample their Stuffed Rabbit Loin Medallion Au Foie Gras With Salsify and Braised Endive, the conversation was more about what was "Salsified" rather than the usual dinner blither blather regarding work and derisive comments about people who aren't there.
For those who are interested, Salsify is a white root vegetable that some say reminds them of oyster when steamed or boiled. If a white asparagus had relations with a heart of palm you're probably closer to what it actually tastes like. In any event, it's long and cylindrical and would be the perfect subject for Julienne-ing. Sadly, in this case, it was not. But it was a fitting accompaniment to the dish who's name was also misleading.
Expecting small pieces of rabbit tenderloin that were actually stuffed with Foie Gras, I was surprised to see what looked like an overturned can of tuna with a piece of sauteed Foie Gras on top. I'm still not sure what part of this was stuffed - unless they meant the chips of rabbit were stuffed into a mold. In any case, rabbit and Foie Gras typically work very well together and even this odd mish mash was pretty tasty, despite the run of the mill quality of the Foie Gras.
Brasserie Julien is a casual, sometimes boisterous restaurant that looks like the movie Moulin Rouge run through an Art Deco converter, Palm Trees and live Jazz included. There's a great bar and cafe style seating on the sidewalk. A nice wine list and menu filled with Brasserie staples like Moules, Fondue and Steak Tartare make it a dependable though slightly pricey option in a neighborhood flush with Parisiennesque eateries.
Shame they can't spell Julienne.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
We are chefs, managers, waiters, bartenders, bussers and dishwashers. We are students, artists, parents, career professionals and voters. We believe that we have the right to come to work, earn a living and raise our families in peace, without fear of intimidation from unlawful protesters.
We are concerned with the lack of support that our industry is getting from the city. Most of us live within the city limits and pay taxes accordingly. While we are aware that this group has the right to express dissent, we believe that their intent is not to use peaceful methods or honest discourse to make their point. We the undersigned, who earn our livelihood from the restaurant industry whether we are owners, waiters, chefs or bartenders, urge you to enforce the law regarding legitimate protest. We the undersigned, urge you to create a forum where all the scientific evidence can be evaluated to resolve this issue with out detriment to our ability to earn a living.
We sincerely hope that our city government and its elected officials will become involved in this matter before it escalates any further."
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
A few weeks ago I wrote about my desire to dine at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant at the London Hotel in NYC, but with a 3 month old baby at home it didn't really seem to be in the cards anytime soon. At least I could enjoy watching him whine and scream in the meantime - of course I'm talking about chef Ramsay on his television show, Hell's Kitchen, not my well-behaved son. So you can imagine my surprise on Fathers' Day when wife and baby told me to get in a cab because we were going out to an early dinner at an undisclosed location - and make sure you dress sharp!
Oblivious to where we were headed, visions of Per Se and Masa danced in my head as we approached the Time Warner Center. We did have a baby carriage in the trunk, though, so I wasn't surprised when the cab took a left downtown on 7th Avenue. But then a quick left on 54th street put us smack in front of the London and I couldn't have been happier.
Arriving at an unfashionably early 5pm, we were the only ones in the London Bar's restaurant - which we discovered had just been renamed Maze after his restaurant in the actual City of London. An attempt, I'd guess, to shore up what has been a less than blistering success since it opened a few months ago. All blue-grey upholstery and mirrors - imagine a cross between Cary Grant's suit from North By Northwest and a 1966 Ford Galaxie if you must - the decor is slick enough to catch the eye, but not so outlandish as to distract from the food or company. Of course, behind a pair of mirrored doors in the back, lies the more formal Gordon Ramsay At The London restaurant and the long-desired Pressed Foie Gras and Game with Port Sauce and Pickled Mushrooms that started this adventure. However, whether it be divine providence or that pesky Secret again, the dish is not currently on the menu so I didn't spend the entire meal longing for entry into those gilded confines.