Thursday, March 10, 2011
foie gras - beyond the controversy
I'm going to set aside the great debate over the process used to create foie gras and focus on the fact that it is somewhat irresistible. When prepared properly foie gras is unbelievably delicious (though a low grade can taste/smell musty - kind of like wet dog). The buttery richness of it remains somehow delicate and when paired with the right flavours it can be one of the most exhilarating things for your mouth.
Basically this is a comparison of foie available in the city, which basically consists of only two examples, so to round the list I have included some presentations from other cities: so in no particular order...
Foie Gras Torchon Brulee w/ stone fruits and brioche toast points $30
~This was a gorgeous (and generous) example of foie gras torchon, delicately creamy with a slight hint of nuttiness. The top of the foie was dusted with sugar and bruleed to create a sweet/crunchy element to the dish. Simple accompaniments of perfectly ripe peaches and cherries allowed the foie to shine through. (One Restaurant - Toronto)
Quebec Duck Foie Gras w/ duck confit cakes, barley and banyuls vinegar sauce $40
~The foie in this dish was served in two pieces, scored and perfectly prepared and this precise execution carried throughout the dish in every element. Unfortunately, though each individual element was technically perfect the dish as a whole was a let down. The consistency of the duck confit and mashed potato cakes was too mushy to contrast the foie properly, as was the barley. All the elements were very rich, which ultimately made the foie gras itself seem lacking - I feel this would have been better as a winter dish. (Rundles Restaurant - Stratford)
Quebec Foie Gras w/ black pudding and mango $29
~At first, the description of black pudding ('boudin noir' was the French version they were using) was rather disconcerting, certainly not for the faint of heart. But as a dedicated foodie, I will try anything (and am often pleasantly surprised). This surprise was very pleasant. The foie was scored, seared and placed precariously on top of the boudin in the centre of the plate, surrounded by cubes of mango prepared in different ways. The flavours balanced each other perfectly! The richness of the pudding complimented that of the foie and the mango was there to be the sweet/tangy contrast. Exquisite. (The Church Restaurant - Stratford)
Foie Gras Croquettes $4 ea
~A simple delicacy, Chef Nick has taken the famous Chef Picard's foie gras bites and made them his own. The pastry that envelops the decadent little nub of foie is perfectly soft/light/crispy. These are dangerous little morsels, you could easily sit down with a bowl of them and pop them in your mouth one after another! Perfect as an amuse or perhaps an additional course somewhere in the middle of dinner. (Nick & Nat's Uptown 21 Restaurant - Waterloo)
I love foie! Rarely do I pass it up when I find it on a menu. It can be prepared in a plethora of different ways, from poutine to a simple slab placed atop your beef tenderloin. It adds a certain decadence to things that is hard to find in any other food. I can only hope that more restaurants in the Stratford area will put foie on their menus more often.