A funeral for foie

In case you missed it, here is my review of the “Farewell to Foie Gras” dinner hosted by Andre’s Bouchée that appeared in Thursday’s Go! section of the Monterey Herald. I’ll be reposting my reviews and stories from my weekly column for the Herald here on my blog along with extra photos that didn’t appear in print.

In just a couple weeks, California’s dining scene is set for a major shakeup with a ban on the sale of foie gras taking effect July 1.

Come July 1, foie gras won’t be on menus in California.

Foie gras — fattened duck liver — certainly gets opinions riled up. Advocates for the ban say force-feeding the ducks is cruel; opponents believe the ban is skirting the real problems we need to address in our food system.

My foie philosophy? If you don’t like it, don’t eat it. But legislating food choices is dangerous territory — we’ve tried it before, and it didn’t exactly work out so well. (Ahem, Prohibition.)

Yes, I eat foie gras. I recognize this might not be popular with some readers, but I hope you’ll be respectful that that’s my choice, just as I respect your choice to forgo foie.

Foodies of all sorts have rallied around foie gras over the last month.

Andre’s Bouchée hosted another “Farewell to Foie Gras” dinner on June 6.

One of the most vocal local advocates for foie gras has been Andre’s Bouchée, which hosted a “Farewell to Foie Gras” dinner last week.

Chef Stephan Lemaire prepared six courses that showcased the fatty liver renowned in French culinary culture for its taste and versatility. Dinner ran $100 per person, with wine pairings from Hahn Estate for an additional $35.

Dinner started with delicious bites of fried foie gras.

Dinner started with an amuse bouche of foie gras cromesquis. Little cubes of foie were injected with truffle and port, then quickly fried. The golden nuggets packed an explosion of flavors, setting the tone for an indulgent dinner.

The morel mushroom stuffed with foie gras was one of the highlights of the evening.

Our next course was a fresh morel mushroom topped with foie gras, served with a wild mushroom demi-glace. The mushroom was a perfect pairing for the foie. And I felt no shame using the bread to sop up every last drop of that mushroom demi-glace.

Dinner included a classic preparation of seared foie gras.

The next course was a more traditional preparation of pan-seared foie gras served on a toasted housemade brioche with a roasted fig on the side. The sweetness of the tender fig accented the rich, savory foie.

I was impressed — so far each course was vying with the last for the best bite of dinner. Alas, dinner derailed a little on the fourth course — halibut stuffed with foie gras and wrapped with cabbage, served with a foie gras reduction.

Alas, the halibut stuffed with foie gras wasn’t so tasty.

The fish was overcooked and the foie gras a little soggy. But the cabbage was a nice touch, providing a contrasting taste and texture to the fish.

Our final savory course was veal tenderloin served over apple and topped with foie gras with a Calvados reduction.

The final savory course was veal tenderloin with foie gras and apple.

The veal was cooked very tender, but the apple was a tad too crisp, perhaps better in theory than in execution. The housemade Calvados reduction was nice — I love this French apple brandy.

Even the dessert course included foie, with foie gras opera cake closing the evening. The cake was a little too moist, but flavorful.

Even dessert included foie gras!

And the wine pairing — a 2008 Hahn Late Harvest Semillon — was the best of the evening. A sip of this sweet dessert wine really brought out the flavors of the foie.

As dinner drew to a close, I couldn’t help but feel a newfound appreciation for France’s storied culinary culture.

Andre’s Bouchée presented a tasty tribute for foie, showcasing an ingredient that might ruffle some feathers, but clearly holds a special place in the heart of French chefs.

Foie gras may leave the menu on July 1, but the rich culture of France is here to stay at Andre’s Bouchée.

Andre’s Bouchée is on Mission Street, between Ocean and Seventh avenues, in Carmel. 626-7880. www.andresbouchee.com.

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