Tuesday, February 27, 2007


P.E.T.A.'s website is claiming victory today, saying an e-mail protest has convinced supermarket chain Giant Eagle to eliminate Foie Gras products from its all of its stores. Giant Eagle operates 216 stores primarily in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and does $5.5 billion dollars in business each year, according to their website.

According to P.E.T.A.'s website, Giant Eagle operates 230 stores and received 230,000 e-mails during the 3 day P.E.T.A campaign, or is it 250,000? It depends on what page on the site you look at. But I guess its alright to trust the accuracy of all the information they have posted about animal cruelty and all that, right?

I don't know how much Foie Gras sales contribute to Giant Eagle's $5.5 billion in annual revenue, but I can't imagine it's too great, so the decision to stop selling it is probably not much of a sacrifice for the bottom line. However, I also can't imagine that in the past three days over 200,000 actual Giant Eagle customers took the time to send letters to the company demanding that they remove Foie Gras from their shelves. That a company this large is so willing to bow to the pressure of an e-mail protest organized by a group that doesn't represent it's real customer base once again highlights the fact that those who act get what they want. And if you want Foie Gras, you'd better start telling people that.

Remember this when you get out and vote in Chicago's 49th Ward today.


Monday, February 26, 2007


On Tuesday, Chicago will find out if the man behind the Foie Gras ban, Joe Moore, gets to have the goose and the gander - to paraphrase Judge Larry Seidlin of the 'Who Gets Anna Nicole's Body?' TV spectacular.

Challengers for the 49th ward seat have had their election coffers force-fed with contributions from city businesses opposed, not only to Moore's Foie Gras ban, but also to his efforts to saddle big box retailers like WalMart with a $13/hour minimum wage. They are all reaching out to voters in this working class district by painting Moore's war on Foie Gras as an example of how out of touch he is with a corner of the city that has more immediate needs like jobs and fighting crime. But, while Moore is facing his toughest opposition ever, his $300,000 war chest is the biggest of the bunch, and 16 years of incumbency offers him the kind of name recognition money can't buy.

FoieBlog thinks its unfortunate that Moore isn't running in a citywide election, where he would surely get trounced by anyone running against him - living or dead (this is Chicago). But this is a very local election, and the anti-Moore vote is spread out over three candidates, a classic recipe for More Moore.

But no race is won until the last vote is counted, and FoieBlog encourages our readers to do their civic duty and and head to the polls on Tuesday. Moore's ban on Foie Gras is the perfect example of the kind of nonsense our democratic system is capable of when people don't care enough to get involved, and fighting that sort of lax attitude is even more important than re-legalizing Foie Gras (gasp, can't believe I just wrote that.)

As an added bonus for voters in the fighting 49th, the district is at the outer edge of Chicago's city limits and borders North Shore town of Evanston, where Foie Gras is readily available. So after you cast your ballot, why not make a run for the border and hit one of Evanston's Foie Gras-friendly eateries like Narra on Orrington Avenue, which offers an appetizer of Foie Gras and Duck Rilletes on French Toast with Vanilla Syrup, as well as Roasted Quail Stuffed with Foie Gras and Cabbage - a combination FoieBlog wholeheartedly approves of (see earlier post: Birthday Bird Burger).

Thursday, February 22, 2007


It's an age old question that until today had no answer. But now, following up on our earlier post regarding "Ganso Iberico", FoieBlog has learned that a farmer in the unlikeliest of culinary outposts - South Dakota - is marketing a product called "Natural Fatty Goose Liver" that sounds a lot like the award winning Iberian alternative to Foie Gras.

The Schiltz Goose Farms website describes a similar process to Pateria de Sousa's, where they harvest naturally large livers at just the right time in the geese's annual fattening up cycle. Schiltz says that older geese are more prone to this condition and are larger than typical market birds, but the resulting liver is still only about half the size of one brought about through la gavage.

The photos on Schiltz' website depict an organ that is much lighter in color than a normal liver, but not quite as white and fatty-looking as Foie Gras. FoieBlog will not try to speculate on the taste of this product until we try it for ourselves, but the photos certainly whet our appetites. At $58 for two pounds, just over half the price of traditional Foie Gras, we hope to enjoy it soon.

In the meantime, FoieBlog sees the birth of a new debate, perhaps the most important gustatory discussion since "champagne" vs "sparkling wine" or "great taste" vs "less filling."

When does a liver become Foie Gras?

The French Professional Committee of Foie Gras Producers is adamant that Ganso Iberico doesn't qualify, and while Schiltz only calls their product a "Foie Gras Alternative," FoieBlog thinks that phrase is going to be a tough sell on the menus of four star restaurants.

Let FoieBlog know what you think. Should naturally fatty goose liver be considered Foie Gras, or do we need to create a new appellation for what looks to be a growing industry?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


If you find yourself in Hartford, CT today, please don't lock your doors and drive through as fast as possible like you usually do. Instead, drop by the Legislative Office Building and give the Legislative Environment Committee your two cents during their open hearing on a recently introduced Foie Gras Ban bill.

The grammatically challenged "An Act Banning the Inhumane Production and Sale of Food Items Produced Through the Force Feeding of Birds" reads in full:

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
That the general statutes be amended to prohibit the production or sale of any food item produced by force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size.
Statement of Purpose:
To prohibit the inhumane treatment of birds in the production of certain food items. "

FoieBlog commends Rep. Dianne Urban for her efforts to save the environment. Not for the proposed ban on Foie Gras, but for not wasting too much paper on a bill that even the Chairman of the Environment Committee tells the Connecticut Post isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

That said, if the only people who speak at this hearing are bill supporters like representatives of the U.S. Humane Society, this could easily turn into another Chicago scenario, so FoieBlog encourages those of you who live in the 'Constitution State' to please take part in the process.

And while you're there please tell Connecticut Post Editor, Edward Crowder, the process of feeding geese and ducks is called "La Gavage" not "Gravage" as he refers to it in his companion article "Foie Gras Facts". FoieBlog hopes this oversight is not indicative of the accuracy of his reporting on this issue.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

NJ Court Foils Foie Foes

Things are looking up in GrasGuy's home state. First his Rutgers football team wins a bowl game, now this...

A state appellate court has rejected a request by a Farm Sanctuary-led coalition to throw out the NJ Department of Agriculture's latest regulations on humane care of animals because - among other things - they do not restrict la gavage. Either the court system in NJ actually works, or the mob is getting into the Foie Gras business.

As there are currently no Foie Gras producers in NJ, the decision has no real effect. But it should offer some strong ammunition in the fight against legislation that was introduced last year which would ban the manufacture and sale of Foie Gras there. Such a ban would have nationwide effects, as NJ is home to D'Artagnan, one of the largest Foie Gras distributors in the country.

FoieBlog hopes NJ will continue this streak of not embarrassing itself on the national stage.


Monday, February 19, 2007

"Iberian Goose" Flies Across The Pond

Well, not all the way across...yet.

Ganso Iberico, or Iberian Goose, is a new so-called "ethical" form of Foie Gras being marketed by Spanish Company, Pateria de Sousa. Rather than utilizing La Gavage, the company harnesses the birds' natural tendency to overeat prior to the migration season, and harvests their oversize livers at just the right time.

The Telegraph reports that the product is now being exported to the UK, where Foie Gras manufacture is banned, and anti-Foie Gras efforts are reaching a fever pitch like those in the United States. However activists there face much greater legal hurdles due to European Trade laws that pretty much prevent governments in member states from being able to ban the importation of products produced in other EU countries.

Of course the French aren't happy about Pteria de Sousa's success. Although the company received a Coup de Couer award for innovation at last year's Paris International Food Salon, the French Professional Committee of Foie Gras Producers is protesting the award, claiming that by definition the animal must be force fed for the product to be Foie Gras.

Once again the Iberians show why they have largely overtaken the French in the realm of innovative cuisine.

Unfortunately, the product can only be made once a year, so the price is a bit high. Currently running about 50% more than typical Foie Gras (is there such a thing?!).

FoieBlog looks even more forward to it's next trip to Spain than usual. It's not a country particularly known for Foie Gras, nor a large producer, but when they do it, they do it right. On a recent trip to Seville, we enjoyed a very nice foie de oca salteado at La Albahaca, one of the loveliest restaurants in the city. The dish is a sauteed Foie Gras in a honey-sherry reduction which was a bit heavy on the reduction in my case - it's a good thing Geese can swim - but a great regional take on the dish just the same. Well worth the trip.


Saturday, February 17, 2007


Local media in the windy city have confirmed that Hot Doug's, an all around sausage-ery and frankfurter fixture, enters the history books as Chicago's first recipient of a Foie Gras ban citation (can a Snapple trivia cap be far behind?)

The Chicagoist reports that the restaurant is proudly displaying its citation on the counter. It's not yet clear how they plan to respond, and their website says will be taking an extended vacation from Feb 19 to March 3, so we'll have to wait and see.

Although FoieBlog has never been there, we understand that Hot Doug's serves Foie Gras-laden hot dogs, along with various specials that have included Duck Sausage Covered in Foie Gras Chunks. It's non-Foie Gras items are also well regarded, and they usually have a line down the street at lunchtime. Like Berlin before the wall came down, FoieBlog wished we'd had the chance to try Hot Doug's dogs before the citation.

It's interesting that the city waited half a year to start enforcing the ban and went after a casual place like this rather than one of the upscale restaurants also flouting the rules. However, Hot Doug's probably brought this on themselves by being very vocal about their opposition to the ban - and FoieBlog is sure that they will reap the benefits of all the publicity they are getting as a result of the citation.



Friday, February 16, 2007


FoieBlog has mixed feelings regarding the outcome of the latest round in the fight between New York Super-Dupermarket, Fairway, and the Anti-Foie Gras forces from the activist group, Farm Sanctuary.

The Brooklyn Paper reports that Fairway is giving up it's "Foie Gras Central" advertising campaign in the face of continued storefront protests by the vegitables...uh...veggie lovers. However they insist they are by no means going to stop selling Foie Gras.

A couple of things about this story bug FoieBlog. First of all, the reporter had better check her facts. "Cracker-topper?" Please. While pate and mousse are available, Fairway also sells the real deal - and you don't have to go to the store to find that out, you can see it plain as day on the sign in the photograph featured in the article.

As for the ongoing battle, while we can't help but appreciate Fairway's in-your-face campaign of signs touting the wonder of Foie Gras, we're also not about confrontation here at FoieBlog. "Live, let live, and let's have lunch" is our credo (at least for the duration of this post), so Fairway really was asking for it this time around, which is why we give them a score of .5. They're still selling it, but only they are to blame for finding themselves the target of Farm Sanctuary in the first place.

On the other hand, the activists only get .5 because of member Mia McDonald's quote "I’m a vegan and I shop at Fairway because there very few stores that sell as many vegan and vegetarian products.” FoieBlog doesn't think we're going to far out on a limb in assuming that she's not alone in the group - especially since Fairway is the only decent place to buy food of any kind in Red Hook, Brooklyn where many of the members live. Fish or cut bait, s-hit or get off the pot, whatever colloquialism you want to insert here is fine, but you get the point. How can we take the opposition seriously when they sell out this easily? If the old union guys that used to populate the dockyards of Red Hook before it went all yuppie-hippie on us saw one of their own crossing a picket line during his union-approved strike coffee-break, the ducks would be eating them for dinner, not the other way around.

Side note. FoisBlog was recently shopping in Citarella, another NYC upscale market, and noticed their pate had a big "CONTAINS NO FOIE GRAS" sticker on it. Right next to that was a tasty looking duck confit from Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Duck Products. Guilty by association?



If there's one thing you need to know about GrasGuy it's that, while I am a foodie, I am not food snob. In all honesty I can't afford to be. Sometimes a double cheeseburger is just as appealing as Foie Gras seared in a sherry-honey reduction.

So, when I heard the new L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon was serving burgers on it's menu, I knew I had to have one for my birthday dinner. When I heard they were Foie Gras burgers, I cursed my mother's womb for expelling me two weeks late. But, the wait would be worth it...and then some.

Not wanting to ruin the surprise, I hadn't read too much detail about the restaurant or the menu, putting my faith in the "once greatest chef in the world's" reputation to deliver on all the promises that title should, in theory at least, be good for. Judging a comeback chef by their cover is often a disappointment, but Mr. Robuchon's recent renaissance has been so well-received I figured that I could take the chance this time. I'm glad that I did.

Along with the burgers, the first surprise of the evening was to find over half a dozen dishes featuring Foie Gras in some form or another spread among the many small plates, appetizers, and entrees on offer. The revolution continues!

The burgers being one of the small plates, I supported them with a dish of Foie Gras stuffed quail. I would've ordered more, but the prices aren't exactly burger joint low and I didn't want to push my wife's credit card over the limit - we are expecting a new addition to the family any day now.

That being the case, I literally was at a loss for words when I was presented with surprise number two - an amuse bouche of Foie Gras mousse under a layer of port wine reduction and a Parmesan cheese foam served in a double shot glass. Eaten with a spoon - a bit to thick to do as a shooter, but, believe me, I wanted to - the flavors and textures were perfect. The port wine reduction adding just the right amount of bite to the delicate mouse and oddly mild Parmesan foam.

Having kept myself as blind as possible to the makeup of the burgers, I had absolutely no idea what they would be like. Described as "hangar steak and Foie Gras", I imagined the two ground together in a Salisbury steak like combination - the Foie Gras just adding a hint of its flavor to the overwhelming beef. As it turns out, the dish was a double double. Two tiny burgers - about half the size of a typical "slider" - each with a beef patty topped by a slice of seared Foie Gras and a few strands of caramelized peppers, all on the prettiest little glazed hamburger buns I've never seen before. While the Foie Gras was perfect, the hangar steak patties were what really amazed. I've had few full-sized burgers that were as juicy as these and - although they were cooked right in front of me in an open kitchen - whatever magic pulled off this feat in such a small piece of meat is beyond me. Of course French fries with a capital "F" are served on the side, and while they are very good, they are very ordinary. What can you do to a potato? You can put ginseng in the ketchup, that's what you could do. Although this Asian flavor might seem out of place on this otherwise very western dish, somehow it works. It works well.

I can't recall ever having three courses of Fois Gras in one sitting and there was definite concern that plate number three would disappoint through repetition. If this were a set menu with the dishes designed to compliment each other, I'd have been less worried, but I made my choices in a Foie Gras frenzy, so while I waited I was experiencing a bout of order remorse. It was unfounded.

The quail came in four small pieces. Two unstuffed legs and two breasts caramelized and stuffed with a Foie Gras puree. When you put two birds in one dish you're always tempting a "what's the point?" response , but while the quail itself in this dish was nothing to get excited about, the Fois Gras was powerful enough - almost like an aged cheese - to add both a different flavor accent and texture to the experience that it made the black truffle potatoes served on the side seem bland in comparison - though they certainly were not.

Was it the best meal I've ever had? To be sure it was one of them, coming up short only in the dessert department - I hardly remember what we had - which was a particular disappointment considering that Kazutoshi Narita is in charge of the pastries (I should have asked if he also did the hamburger buns, which were good enough to make up for this.)

Will I go back? With dishes like Alsatian Pastrami with Potato Salad and Foie Gras as well as Smoked Foie Gras Layered with Caramelised Eel waiting to be tried - it's likely, though let's see how my 401k does this year.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


OK, he's not American - he's French for heaven's sake! - and his restaurants are in the UK, but FoieBlog's hat is off to this chef with a conscious who deserves recognition for holding firm (for now) against pressure from animal activists demanding he remove Foie Gras from the menu at Brasserie Blanc. The Birmingham Mail reports that Michelin Starred Chef Raymond Blanc has been receiving "sinister" e-mails and letters from activists worriesome enough to involve the local police.

Blanc insists that he refuses to serve food he feels has been raised in a cruel way and does not consider Foie Gras to be in that category. However, the dish in question is scheduled to come off of the seasonal menu in April and he will continue to research the issue before its planned October return.

FoieBlog thinks this renowned chef will reach the right conclusion and looks forward to trying Blanc's Truffle Scented Foie Gras Parfait if we ever find ourselves in the Venice of England.