y4pcT1JaIwGptQJPO6l_mZmgv34 tiffin unboxed: June 2012

Haven Gastropub's Fight for Foie

With California's ban on production, sales and serving of foie gras officially beginning on July 1st, there has been a frenzy of chefs and foodies alike to celebrate this French delicacy as much as possible.

An overturn seems unlikely, despite Chicago's 2008 repeal of their foie gras ban. One would think there are more pressing issues to resolve than the tiny U.S. foie gras production (like the questionable farming practices for much more frequently consumed chickens, cows, pigs). This law puts California's only foie gras producer, Sonoma-Artisan, out of business on July 1st.

Chef Greg Daniels of Haven Gastropub + Bewery wrote an Open Letter trying to clear up misinformation and approached lawmakers in Sacramento with the group C.H.E.F.S. (Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards) proposing, rather than a repeal, new legislation for new standards for humane and ethical farming of foie gras.

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_l Fight for Foie duck

Despite speculation of finding loopholes to serve foie after the ban, many diners are treating these last days leading to the official ban as our last bites of the delicacy in California.

As Deep End Diner Eddie Lin wrote, it's "Foiecopalypse Now!". I can't top his puns and captions, so let me just get on to the meal.

“Fight For Foie” Celebration Menu at Haven Gastropub +Brewery
Monday, March 12, 2012

Chef Greg Daniels along with an all-star lineup of Los Angeles’ most prominent young chefs, hosted a seven-course prix-fixe dinner to support humane and ethical farming. 100% of the proceeds from the dinner benefited C.H.E.F.S.

On a subsequent trip to Haven, I learned that the servers also donated 100% of their salary and tips for the evening to support the cause.

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_b menu

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_b table with menus

Dishes served definitely stepped up the creativity (and taste) level. Some people asked how it's possible to eat that many courses of this rich ingredient. To their credit the chefs lightened up the preparations as much as possible. 

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_a PETA protestors 1

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_a PETA protestors 2

About 9-10 PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) protestors lined the front of the restaurant and parking structure shouting with large signs saying things like "How Much Cruelty Could You Swallow"?

My dining companion and I met at the street corner and walked in together without making eye contact, although they did manage to place flyers in our hands as we walked by.

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_a PETA protestors 3

The worst part is that they were pressing against the glass walls photos and in some cases, even laptops, with images of tortured, diseased geese. It's over the top.

It's bad enough the government is telling us what we can eat/buy/cook, but didn't need the added invasion given the proceeds of the event were going to benefit ethical farming!

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_outside

They inched their way in if someone walked into Haven without shutting the doors all the way. Luckily they took off about an hour into the meal.

The courses to come wiped away that memory quite quickly.

Amuse Bouche

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_c2 amuse bouche

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_c3 foie gras torchon

The amuse bouche really impressed me. It was an absolutely perfect bite. The crumble surrounding the foie "lollipop" reminded me of toffee (a Heath bar) for some reason, but it appeared to be dried orange zest, nuts and other items.

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_c1 champagne aperitif

We were also treated to a champagne aperitif.

Smoked Foie Gras Torchon - Oatmeal Crumble, Sorrel
Jordan Toft, Eveleigh

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_d1 smoked foie gras torchon oatmeal crumb spiced orange rind sorrel

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_d2 smoked foie gras torchon

The generous sized torchon's creaminess paired well with the crumble and herbs in a beautiful presentation. I did not expect such a prominent dish to kick off the menu.

“Foie for Breakfast” - Blood Biscuits, Whipped Foie “Butter,” Picked Cherry Jam, Duck Bacon, Quail Egg
Greg Daniels, Haven Gastropub +Brewery

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_e1 foie for breakfast blood biscuits whipped foie butter pickled cherry jam duck bacon quail egg

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_e2 foie for breakfast

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_e3 foie for breakfast

The whimsical breakfast plate contained so many tasty components that melded perfectly. I love breakfast any time of day and this appropriately scaled plate, with the tiny sunny side up quail egg, brought a lot of creative flavor.

Creamy Foie Soup - Chicken Skin, Bottarga, Hearts of Palm
Alex Reznik, La Seine

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_f creamy foie soup chicken skin bottarga hearts of palm

I've loved all of Chef Reznik's food I've eaten and this soup combined many more ingredients that worked well together.

Tortellini in Duck Tongue Brodo - Foie Gras & Rhubarb, Beech Brown Mushrooms, Micro Celery
David Colman, Michael’s on Naples

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_h1 Tortellini in duck tongue brodo foie gras rhubarb beech brown mushrooms micro celery

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_h2 Tortellini in duck tongue brodo

This gorgeous dish demonstrates how light foie gras can be. The tortellini served in a delicate broth with the dainty micro celery and tiny mushrooms was gorgeous to look at and on the palate. The tart rhubarb added some nice acidity and slight sweetness.

The idea of doing two soupy courses back to back really appeals to me as I am a huge fan of soup, and it keeps the eating pace a bit lighter.

Wild Escolar - Roasted Foie Gras, Petit Pois à la Francais, Sauce Albufera
Brendan Collins, Waterloo & City

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_g wild escolar roasted foie gras petit pois a la francais sauce albufera

Brendan Collins is another chef whose food I adore. I love that he chose fish for the dish. Caramelized escolar with caramelized foie doesn't need much adornment. The beautiful, fresh peas in a lovely brothy sauce added a pop of green to cut the richness a bit.

Once again, the sheer portion of the seared foie is notable.

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_i palate cleanser sorbet

Thankfully we were served a chilled glass of palate cleansing berry sorbet at this point.

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_m spoon detail

Za’atar Crusted Squab, Foie Gras Pastilla - Fennel, Meyer Lemon
Vartan Abgaryan, Public Bar & Kitchen

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_j zaatar crusted squab foie gras pastilla fennel meyer lemon

It was also a great choice to serve game instead of red meat. By this time in the meal, there wasn't a lot of room for more food. With such a gorgeous plate, it's hard to resist.

Za'atar, if you haven't had it, is a Middle Eastern condiment containing dried oregano, thyme, savory, sumac, sesame seeds and salt. I always have a stash at home and pour it over almost anything!

The squab leg and thigh topped with za'atar encrusted crispy skin, the pastry dough wrapped around a cylinder of foie gras (egg roll size) and the citrusy fennel with candied orange slices and a touch of heat on the plate formed a delectable palate of flavors.

Foie Gras Cheesecake, Foie Gras Bon Bon - Vanilla Crumble, Hibiscus Gel, Micro Tangerine Lace
Santanna Salas, Pastry Chef, Haven Gastropub +Brewery

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_k1 foie gras cheesecake foie gras bon bon vanilla crumble hibiscus gel micro tangerine lace

Pastry Chef Santanna Salas developed this creamy, foie gras cheesecake. The crumble adds a touch of sweetness and the fruity gelee serves as a tart foil to the richness. The foie flavor is fairly subtle. You can taste it if you know it's there.

This dessert appears on many articles rounding up the must-have foie gras dishes around town, and it appears (not for long) on their regular menu, so is not exclusive to this particular dinner.

Haven Gastropub Mar12 Fight for Foie_k2 foie gras bon bon

The dark chocolote bon bon filled with a creamy foie gras ice cream also closed out the meal in a decadent way.

Overall, this amazing group of talented chefs created a magical dinner I will remember for a long, long time after July 1st.

Haven Gastropub on Urbanspoon

Ludo Bites 8.0 at Lemon Moon - Favorites

When I compiled my cumulative post of favorite dishes from Ludo Bites 2 to 007 pop up restaurants, I thought I would have at least another 6 to enjoy and I'd do a sweeping recap at that point.

I missed Ludo Bites Hawaii nine-0 at the Four Seasons Hualalai resort, not for lack of desire. A Q&A article with Chef Ludo Lefebvre in Honolulu magazine began  with the declaration that he was getting tired of doing Ludo Bites and 9.0 may be the last.

No worries, however he plans to reinvent himself, perhaps with a new restaurant, I don't think anybody will be disappointed. 

Till then the memories from 8.0 at Lemon Moon restaurant, back from February this year, will suffice.

Let me just begin by saying it was ALL about this glorious dish. The Uni Crème Brûlée, Coffee. It's sea urchin with roe that pops in your mouth. The dish simultaneously tasted sweet, briney, creamy, foamy, crunchy.

A spoonful with a bit of each component was a pure joy. The glass like shards of brûlée added crunch and a slightly burnt caramel flavor.

The prices fluctuated on this popular item, as did availability. I can only empathize with those who were unable to order it and was so grateful our reservation was not too late in the evening.

The perfectly complementary Cambremer Cidre Pays d'Auge craft cider from Normandy enhanced the food well. The sommelier gave very colorful guidance on the offerings.

The Burgundy Gougeres delighted everyone who bit into these flaky and fluffy little bites. Within the kitchen I saw trays full of them and wanted to distract someone and grab a handful. Nice to see a classic item executed perfectly on the menu.

Both visually and tastewise, the Chicken Tandoori Crackling brought another sensory explosion. The creamy but intense chicken liver mouse on the seasoned, extremely crunchy chicken skin surprised me. I've never broken the connection in my head of having this type of spread with bread or crackers. Low carb at its finest.

I mixed them together and had a small piece on its own, to enjoy both components fully.

The Steamed Black Seabass, Eucalyptus Oil, Potato, Leeks, Manzanilla, prepared to perfection, was something I thought I'd tried before at Ludo Bites. Even if that was the case, the accompaniments both looked and tasted beautiful.

The combination of moist fish with crispy skin rarely lets anyone down.

The Creamy Saint-Nectaire, Lardo, Salted Praline Butter not only looked stunning, it melted in the mouth. The creaminess was tempered with the nutty and intense flavor of the cow's milk cheese. The toasted wafer-thin brioche added needed contrast.

The swipe of the praline butter added a pleasing sweetness and earthiness to the sandwich. I could have eaten a few teaspoons of this concoction. As a cheese course, this delightful item was great to share (and rich enough to just take a small bite).

While the preceding items were my favorite, the next couple were all tasty. Possibly not home runs. The Lobster Salad, Yuzu and Honey simply consisted of fresh and sweet tail and claw meat, a thin slice of daikon and a thick, citrusy-sweet sauce.

I would have been happy with a lighter sauce, but enjoyed the flavors.

What is a Ludo dinner without foie gras? The Celery Root Soup, Foie Gras, Mushrooms, Ash highlighted a fair amount of foie gras along with other interesting flavors that melded well.

I was very excited about the Monkfish Liver, Cucumber, Cornichons, Mustard Seeds, delighted to taste the "foie gras of the sea". When I go for sushi, if available, I do go for this delicacy.

The gritty texture of the protein along with sour and bitter accompaniments in this beautifully plated dish had to be appreciated by taking a few bites, but as a whole, this preparation was not my personal favorite.

Other diners I spoke with loved it when I asked afterward.

The entree of Veal, Black Olive Tapenade Crust, Orange Caramelized Endive, Clementine Beurre Blanc definitely made a visual splash. The meat coated in tapenade looked like coal, which when sliced revealed a buttery tenderness.

I loved the roasted endives which looked and tasted great. The orange sauce was very strong in this dish with bold flavors that one would not expect together. Are you noticing a theme?

I've jumped around with the order of dishes to start with the favorites. I'm ending with dessert, but as far as taste goes, this dessert ranks as a favorite. Brown Butter Almond Cake, Apples, Salted Caramel, Orange Creamsicle was dazzling.

The empty plate probably shows that. All flavors blended perfectly, and they way they were presented individually enhanced the whole dish. Each component shone, especially the moist and light cake.

That evening there were a couple of chef sightings dotting the dining room.

Among the chefs were Top Cheftestants (from season 9), Nyesha Arrington and Chris Crary were waiting for their table. I took the liberty of taking this shot of Chef Chris on his cell phone while he was inside the restaurant. 

Upon leaving, we ran into them outside again and both were very friendly, posing for another photo which they asked to see on Twitter.

Overall, the meal definitely had its highs and I look forward to the next meal, however it will be available.