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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The courses to come wiped away that memory quite quickly.
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.
We were also treated to a champagne aperitif.
Smoked Foie Gras Torchon - Oatmeal Crumble, Sorrel
Jordan Toft, Eveleigh
“Foie for Breakfast” - Blood Biscuits, Whipped Foie “Butter,” Picked Cherry Jam, Duck Bacon, Quail Egg
Greg Daniels, Haven Gastropub +Brewery
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
Tortellini in Duck Tongue Brodo - Foie Gras & Rhubarb, Beech Brown Mushrooms, Micro Celery
David Colman, Michael’s on Naples
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
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.
Thankfully we were served a chilled glass of palate cleansing berry sorbet at this point.
Za’atar Crusted Squab, Foie Gras Pastilla - Fennel, Meyer Lemon
Vartan Abgaryan, Public Bar & Kitchen
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
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.
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.