Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Speaking of Foie Gras

Chef Steven Oakley is quoted in the current issue of Dine on foie gras with possibly the most intelligent thing said about this entire debate: "A lot of the time people have their facts wrong." He refers, of course, to the regulation of safe feeding methods for ducks and geese raised for their fatty livers. Luckily, he has no plans to stop serving foie gras which makes regular appearances on the Oakleys Bistro menu. (He uses Hudson Valley Foie Gras, in case you're wondering.)

In other cities and states, enjoyment of the delicacy has become more of an issue. A New Jersey assembly woman is working to introduce legislation that would regulate the production of foie gras. Philadelphia and New York State are considering bans.

In the meantime, two aldermen in Chicago -- Burton F. Natarus (42nd) and Bernard Stone (50th) -- have quietly filed a request for repeal of the city's recent ban. From the Sun Times:

The proposed repealer was quietly filed with the city clerk's office three weeks ago -- the day after Mayor Daley called the foie gras ban the "silliest" law the City Council has ever passed and urged aldermen to repeal it.

"Anybody who's traveled anywhere in this country knows that people are just laughing their heads off at us....It has become an embarrassment," Stone said

The Sun Times also reports two restaurants have now been cited for violating the ban -- Copper Blue on Illinois and Block 44. Rick Spiros, executive chef at Block 44, said "about eight" orders were served to avoid wasting the delicacy. Chef Michael Tsonton at Copper Blue was busted trying to serve a "similar" item -- a duck liver terrine. (Hmmmm.) While at least one alderman backing the repeal said part of the problem is that serving the illegal treat has now become trendy.

On Monday, Spiros said: "I'm a hard-working chef. To have these bleeding-heart liberals cry about an ----- duck is ridiculous. This is a food chain. Be happy you're on top of that food chain. You could easily be on the bottom.''

On Monday, Stone argued that the two Chicago restaurants are not alone. "Hamburger joints, greasy spoons who never even heard of foie gras are serving [it]. Why? Because it is becoming the thing to do and they're breaking the law."


Anonymous said...

I've never had Foie Gras. What restaraunts in Indy would you recommend to try Foie Gras?

braingirl said...

Oakley's usually has it on their menu. So does du Soleil. Ask when you make reservations. Just be prepared -- some say it's an acquired taste. It's incredibly fatty so it has a very smooth texture -- almost disconcertingly so. It's not like eating meat at all -- some say it's like eating fat. Try it with a variety of accompianments and in a variety of forms. I know people who love it in a pate or terrine but don't like it just on its own. Also, don't forget your wine -- the sommelier where you go will be able to recommend a good pairing off their list (it will be something sweeter.)

Just be prepared to not really "get it" the first time you have it. That's part of the problem with the bans -- people who like it and eat it tend to be foodies, and others don't really understand the appeal right away. So, it's become an easy target by the rights people -- outlaw something that very few people actually like and go for the easy win.