Friday, March 30, 2007


Chicago's "Hot Doug" handed a $250 check over to the City of Chicago on Thursday (March 29th), officially becoming the first person fined under The Windy City's Foie Gras ban.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Doug reached an agreement with the city to avoid the maximum $500 fine for the Feb 16th offense. Both sides agree that Doug probably got the better end of the deal, garnering mucy more than $250 worth of free advertising as a result of the citation.
What FoieBlog loves about this story is that not only does the city health department admit that enforcement of the law is one of their "lowest priorities" and it isn't being aggressively enforced, but that they say they currently aren't investigating any other restaurants. The way the law is written, the Department of Public Health must receive a complaint before they go snooping around for the contraband offal. Seems the people who are finding it sure ain't complaining about it.
Neither would FoieBlog.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Well, not exactly.
Seems our old pal, York, UK town councillor, Paul Blanchard (AKA English Joe Moore) has posted Roger Moore's PETA-produced anti-Foie Gras video on his website - and managed to get a bit of press out of it.
MI6, an all things Bond website, cites an article from This Is York that says Blanchard has recieved "top-level backing" for his campaign.
Unfortunately for Blanchard - and not mentioned in either of the articles - James Bond III hasn't exactly come out and "backed" anything. In fact, other than Blanchard posting the time-worn video on his website, FoieBlog can find no specific endorsement of Blanchard's efforts by Moore - and Blanchard's website doesn't even claim that he has recieved one.
FoieBlog has little doubt that the erstwhile Bond would sympathize with Blanchard's campaign, but This Is York really gets it wrong by calling this an endorsement. This is no surprise, however, as the article is fully loaded with quotes from people on the anti-Foie Gras side of the debate and not one mention of anyone who disagrees with Blanchard - like the other members of the town council who already nixed his proposal.
Better yet, maybe the editors should drop by Melton's or Melton's Too and talk to the customers of chef/owner Michael Hjort, who's called Blanchard's legislation "gesture politics" and contines to serve dishes like the delictable-sounding Foie Gras with Wood Pigeon at his two York eateries. Unfortunately, while Hjort is committed to using local and regional produce in his eateries as much as possible, the ban on Foie Gras production in the UK forces him to purchase it from elsewhere in Europe.

Friday, March 23, 2007


FoieBlog is confused.
First Chicago bans the sale of Foie Gras because they don't want to be associated with what they call an "inhumane" industry. Now the city government is calling for volunteers to help them thin out the local goose population by searching for eggs in city parks and destroying them. According to the Chicago Tribune they even have the backing of the Humane Society of the United States.
What gives? FoieBlog thought that the ban on Foie Gras was a symbolic measure that showed how much The Windy City cared about our feathered friends. Now it looks more like they were just trying to eliminate these defenseless animals from the city one body part at a time.
FoieBlog wonders if Joe Moore will be signing up for this poultry pogrom.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


For THE celebrity chef of California, this development was almost inevitable.
Wolfgang Puck announced yesterday that his dining empire would be eliminating force-fed Foie Gras, along with several other foodstuffs that are raised through what he says are cruel methods. Needless to say the Austrian chef made this decision with the help of the unbiased research team at Farm Sanctuary along with The Humane Society of the United States - at least that's what their press release claims.
The activist groups say they've been putting pressure on Puck for over five years to take these steps, and FoieBlog will continue to be skeptical about the timing of Puck's implementation - just weeks after a Hepatitis scare at the Puck-catered Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition release party. That PR nightmare turned into such a big deal that several California legislators have proposed requiring food service workers to be vaccinated against the disease as a requirement for employment. Yep, sounds like California.
FoieBlog also notes that Puck has always touted his hands-on approach to dealing with suppliers and vendors and wonders how much of the cruel ingredients he was using anyway. One thing he was certainly not serving was inhumanely produced Foie Gras. His supplier was Hudson Valley Farms, who's production methods have passed muster with all regulatory agencies and journalists who've seen the farm first hand. Unfortunately, chefs like Puck only seem to hear from extreme activists like Farm Sanctuary, and only get one side of the story. Until they hear from the people who actually pay their bills they will continue to kowtow to the activists' demands in order to avoid the hassle of being protested. FoieBlog encourages Puck to take a trip to New York and check out the operation at Hudson Valley Farms for himself, rather than listen to third-hand information from Farm Sanctuary.
Unlike other food industries like battery-raised chickens and farms that still use confining crates to raise veal, one thing about the Foie Gras business is that there are so few producers of the product in the United States that it's very easy to know who's doing a good job of taking care of their animals. Business that do should be supported and held up as examples of good citizens, not blindly grouped in with the bad guys.
FoieBlog hopes Puck's customers will convince him to reconsider his decision, but with the 2012 ban on Foie Gras looming in California it's doubtful that he will. That being the case, FoieBlog suggests that Puck takes a look at Schiltz Goose Farm's Natural Fatty Goose Liver. I'm sure his customers would appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


This just in: Drudgereport has just added a headline reporting Wolfgang Puck is banning Foie Gras, as well as veal, eggs from battery chickens, and pigs raised in confining crates.

FoieBlog is very interested to hear the details on this high-profile development, but finds timing of the announcement, in the wake of Puck's Hepatitis Debacle, to be highly suspicious.
That said, Puck was the target of a failed Farm Sanctuary campaign to get him to eliminate these very items from the menus of his restaurants, and FoieBlog wonders if the celebrity chef has faced a recent e-mail onslaught.

As Drudge would say: Developing...


When GrasGuy was just out of college, an exotic meal usually meant a trip to the local Taco Bell. For the rest of my life I will remember one fateful day when I made a run to the border to pick up a Taco Value Meal and Seven Layer Burrito. When I placed my order, the counter person non-chalantly replied "we're out of taco meat." It was the first time in my life I could truly say I was dumbfounded. "Taco" Bell out of "TACOS". Imagine going to a Dunkin Donuts and being told they only have cookies, or finding a Burger King without a beef patty in sight. Imagine the horror.

Had I been a man with ambition, I would have petitioned for legislation requiring food service outlets to, at bare minimum, provide the product that is in their name - I was living in Washington, DC at the time. My organization would be called F.O.O.D., Foodies Organized and Opposed to Deception, and we would stop at nothing to bring truth in advertising to the fast-food community. Sadly, for an aimless 23 year old bridging the time between happy hour and a night on the town, this sort of civic action was not to be. So I ordered a Chicken Burrito and wrote off the incident as a once in a lifetime irony that I would soon find out makes a really dull cocktail party anecdote.

Oh how wrong I was (the part about the irony, not about people trying to avoid me at social occasions).

Flash forward 13 years and I've dragged my seven months pregnant wife to Montreal for one reason and one reason only - Au Pied De Cochon. Few restaurants - let alone one only five years old - can claim such a legendary status in a city's culinary landscape as Martin Picard's temple of comfort food and overindulgence. And surely none have so wholeheartedly given themselves over to the wonder of Foie Gras in such abundance as this bustling little eatery. I've read that Picard serves more Foie Gras every day than all the other restaurants in the Quebec province combined. If it's not true, please don't correct me because I don't want to know.
With reservations made weeks in advance - just to be on the safe side - my wife and I bundled up and made our way through the frigid late-November streets, seeking out the warm embrace of Au Pied De Cochon's open kitchen on the other end of town. Relieved to hear that they had our reservation, I was initially disappointed to see that we were being seated at a cramped two top adjacent to the very busy counter where the waiters pick up their orders. Once we settled in, however, I realized that we had front row seats for a runway show like no other. Plate after piled-high plate pouring out of the kitchen, things we'd never seen before - like Duck in a Can - and things we couldn't identify but wanted to devour just the same. Big messes of ingredients that looked more like leftovers than fine dining, but just as appealing.
One dish that was unmistakable was the one I came all this way to try, the Au Pied Du Cochon (Pig's Foot) stuffed with Foie Gras. As I gave the menu a perfunctory once over - I knew what I was here for months ago - foot after wonderful foot marched out of the kitchen while we waited for our waiter to arrive. I'm not even sure I let my wife order first before bursting out with "I'll have the Foie Gras stuffed Pig's Foot please," to which he replied with a bit of a French-Canadian accent "No, I'm sorry, but we are out of the Pig's Feet tonight."
I was flabbergasted. (I know this for certain because that's the first word I thought of. Didn't even need to use the thesaurus to come up with it. It just came out.)

I asked the waiter for a moment so that I could regroup, my wife looking frightened across the table, not sure what to say to console me. How could this happen? I know Canadians eat dinner earlier than we New Yorkers do, but it was only 7:30pm, and we're not talking about an obscure menu item, we're talking about the restaurant's signature dish.

Never before had I taken a trip with such a singular purpose in mind, and I really didn't know how to proceed. Walking out was the first thing that came to mind, but what would that accomplish? With so much Foie Gras on offer, surely I could salvage the evening. So I grabbed the menu I'd barely glanced at before and madly searched for an alternative - irrationally thinking every entree was in danger of running out and that I needed to make a decision NOW.
The Foie Gras combo - a Foie Gras Burger with a side of Foie Gras Poutine - seemed the logical choice, but I was not being logical. Looking back, I'm sure that I was subliminally trying to sabotage the meal so that I could tell everyone what a terrible place this was. Searching for something less pedestrian I went with the Ploque a Champlain - a seared foie gras with figs, Canadian bacon and maple syrup served on a buckwheat pancake. It sounded similar to a dish that I had tasted in Seville, Spain, and seemed creative enough to showcase Picard's abilities as a chef. After giving the waiter my choice I immediately suffered a bout of order remorse. I'm a savory guy, not a sweet syrupy guy. Disaster surely loomed.

When the dish arrived it was much smaller than I expected. Compared to the monstrosities I'd been watching come out of the kitchen all night, the dish looked about the size of an Egg McMuffin, and thoughts of McGriddles danced through my mind. As I took my first bite, my wife carefully asked me how it was in the verbal equivalent of walking on eggshells. "It's OK," I grunted, not wanting to give any quarter. "I'm sorry," she said in that way she does when she knows she's lost me to a disappointing food experience. She's seen me in this state before, but never to this extent. But after a few of bites in the uncomfortable silence my assessment quickly changed. Though there was no follow-up question from her, I replied again, "It's OK, I guess. It's really not that bad. It's not what I wanted, but for what it is it's pretty good." "Pretty good" quickly became "great" and as much as I wanted to hate this place, I was won over by the unlikeliest of dishes. Mon Dieu.

Still, as rich as it was it wasn't very big. And like anyone else who'd seen Anthony Bourdain's orgy of food when he dined here on his TV show, I was expecting to leave with a belly as full as my pregnant wife's. Lucky for me she's a slow eater, so there was time to order another entree without leaving her completely out to dry. Although Picard doesn't make it with any Foie Gras, the Duck Confit Cassoulets I watched coming out of the kitchen looked great and no dish is more perfect on a cold Canadian night. Flagging the waiter over once more I told him my order and sat back, satisfied that the night was going to turn out just fine.

"I'm sorry, but we have run out."

No word exists to describe how I felt at this point (believe me, I checked the thesaurus this time.)

I told him to forget it, there was nothing else I wanted this time. Just bring the check.
As he walked away I literally brought my hands to the side of my head and dropped it to the table in disbelief. I'd seen one come out of the kitchen a few minutes before I ordered. How could they possibly be out?

Slugging down the last of my Pinot Noir, I tried to collect myself, not wanting my wife to suffer any more of my pain. When I saw the waiter approaching, I grabbed for my wallet hoping to make a quick exit from this nightmare.

"Sir, there is good news, we have found one more confit."

From anticipation to disappointment to surprise to devastation to joy all in one meal. Who knew the Canadians were so dramatic. Surely this wouldn't happen in Toronto.

I'm happy to report that the cassoulet was possibly even better than the Ploque a Champlain, possibly because I had another glass of Pinot as a precaution, but probably on it's own merits. I'd never had a dining experience like this before and I pray to James Beard that I never do again.
I'll always wonder what that Pig's Foot is like, and if I make it back to Montreal I'm sure I won't be able to resist going back to Au Pied Du Cochon to find out, but I won't be making the trip again just for that. I'm not sure that my marriage could take it.

GrasGuy wonders if there isn't still a place in this world for F.O.O.D. to provide the kind of surety in dining that consumers deserve. Yes, I'm well aware that the law would have had no authority in Canada and wouldn't have prevented this predicament, but surely if the United Nations refused to write a resolution to the same effect, a rider could be attached to the re authorization of NAFTA, couldn't it?

Until then I'll be sticking to restaurants named after people and places rather than foods. Unless, of course, the food is as irresistible as Au Pied De Cochon's, then I'll reconsider.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Fresh off of their victory over the Giant Eagle supermarket chain, FoieBlog has learned that PETA is now going after Texas-based HEB.
The group has sent an action alert to it's members urging them to contact HEB and demand that they remove Foie Gras products from their shelves. PETA admits they are taking this step after direct requests to HEB failed to elicit a response. FoieBlog hopes the supermarket will also ignore whatever response this campaign manages to stir up.
However, as we saw in the case of Giant Eagle, thousands of e-mails from people posing as actual customers sometimes carries more weight than an official phone call from PETA. FoieBlog hopes HEB will know the difference, but you can help them by writing to them yourselves at
Texas may be known more as a Beer and BBQ kind of place, but you'd be short changing the Lone Star State if you thought fine dining wasn't part of their repertoire. All that oil money has to go somewhere, and there's plenty of great places to spend it on the best food the world has to offer. Still, it is Texas, and they do things in a big way. FoieBlog recently heard about a Houston eatery called Chez George that offers up a big old plate of gallic flavor, topping it's filet mignon with slices of Foie Gras and finishing the dish with a bold truffle sauce.
Yee haw, indeed.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Foie Gras production was banned in Israel in 2005, ostensibly to stop the "suffering" of the geese used in its production. Now the ones who are suffering are the farmers who lost their jobs.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that a group of 45 farms has filed a lawsuit against the Agriculture Ministry demanding 90 million shekels ($22 million) in damages for being forced out of business. The farmers argue that prior to the ban the government encouraged them to invest heavily in their industry, believing it to be a great export opportunity for the nation, and then left them out to dry after the ban took effect. Rather than pay outright compensation, the farmers say that government initially said it would assist them in transitioning to other products to make up for the lost business. Looks like that plan worked about as well as efforts to get Afghan opium farmers to switch to legal crops. Unfortunately for the Israeli farmers, they aren't interested in break the law and are now unemployed.

FoieBlog sees this as a cautionary tale for politicians in all nations who would try to ban Foie Gras production without considering the full impact of their actions. Anti-Foie Gras bills are usually no more than fashionable cause celebs, and politicians offhandedly vote in favor of them to score easy brownie points with the world of the wishy washy. But while localized bans in cities like Chicago probably won't put too many people out of work, statewide or national restrictions could affect a wide swath of industries in the food distribution chain - from farmers to wholesale food distributors. That means people out of work and less taxes in the state's coffers - things that one day can come back to bite you. You'll just have to take your chances that that day isn't election day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


A few weeks ago, FoieBlog told you about a new Foie Gras alternative being produced by Schiltz Goose Farm in South Dakota. Rather than force feeding his geese, Schiltz harvests their “Natural Fatty Goose Liver” at a particular time in the birds’ life cycle when the natural process for enlarging their livers takes place. The organ that’s produced isn’t quite as large or fatty as traditional Foie Gras, but offers nearly the same flavor and consistency. A similar product being produced in Spain, known as “Ganso Iberico” has already caused quite a stir in European epicurean circles, where it has received the prestigious Coup de Couer award.
Well now GrasGuy has been given the opportunity to interview Jim Schiltz himself and FoieBlog is happy to share a few excerpts from their conversation with our readers. Enjoy.

GG: Was your product inspired by the success of Pateria de Sousa's "Ganso Iberico," or did this come to you in a flash of inspiration?

JS: We have been working on a novel process for a couple of years as a way to complement our free range approach to raising geese under a natural environment to provide the optimal living conditions for our flocks. I only learned of Pateria de Sousa's product on 2/22/07 when a friend sent me [this article from the] Sunday Telegraph. It was great to see that others are also trying to develop alternatives to force feeding of traditional Foie Gras.

GG: How long have you been producing Natural Fatty Goose Liver?

JS: We have been harvesting geese since 1979, I first noticed the different colored liver in the early 90's on birds that we took to a later harvest date. Also, I noted not only changes in liver color as well as size and consistency occurred when using different food and nutrition content. In February of 2006, we decided to explore the differences in more detail and so we separated and monitored some trial pens of geese and actively tried to produce a liver that had a higher fatty content. The procedure is still experimental and we have attempted to do some test marketing of our method using product samples. The response to samples has been very encouraging for our unique method for producing natural Foie Gras alternative. Actually, it is surprising that others have not discovered our process but I think up until now there hasn't been much interest and what has been in the market probably was not as close to the traditional Foie Gras as ours is.

GG: How much have you produced and sold so far?

JS: As this was our first year, we have produced a small amount of different product samples for test marketing. Unfortunately, because of the seasonality of geese, it only allows an opportunity once a year to perfect our product samples.

GG: Are the geese that the fatty liver comes from raised any differently than the rest of the flock, or do you discover which ones have produced a fatty liver in the course of preparing the geese for sale?

JS: They are reared longer than the traditional flock of around 18 weeks. Because our method is proprietary I can't say much more than this, but it is important to point out that no forced feeding or containment occurs. They are raised under similar condition as the rest of the flocks.

GG: As someone who offers an alternative to traditional Foie Gras, what are your personal feelings about efforts to ban force-fed Foie Gras production and sales in the United States?

JS: My family has been in goose production since 1944. I have personally witnessed Foie Gras production in Bulgaria and Hungary and, in the early 80's, worked with a Frenchman to produce one run of a couple hundred head. I can personally attest to the fact that the goose is not very partial to the idea the first few days. Eventually they calm down (especially if the handlers are gentle) and even look forward to it, but of course they are not permitted to eat on their own any more. That process is totally different from our approach, which is meant to NOT put our animals under any stress and provide a natural environment. But personally I love to eat Foie Gras and that led us to the decision to develop an alternative method to produce Foie Gras like product without force feeding geese. Although our method will not, nor is intended to, replace the traditional method, I believe that our Late Harvest Fatty Goose Liver can be a wonderful alternative and I personally enjoy the taste and texture immensely.

Schiltz says that he believes his is the only farm currently producing this type of liver in the United States. If any of you know otherwise, please let us know. FoieBlog expects big things from this developing product and will be very surprised if it doesn’t start to catch on in the coming months.

In the meantime, check out the Schiltz farms website,, for more information on this product and let us know what you think.

And if you find yourself in New Orleans any time soon, drop by the The Delachaise on St. Charles Avenue, where Chef Chris DeBarr, renowned for his work with pates, has been pioneering the use of Schiltz’ Natural Fatty Goose Liver along with other products from Schiltz Goose Farms.

The Crescent City is one of FoieBlog’s favorite gastronaut destinations and we will be sure to check it out ourselves the next time we head for the bayou. Guarantee.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Talk about stepping it up a notch.
After failing to convince his fellow members of the town council of York, England to take any action on his motion to ban Foie Gras, Joe Moore-wannabe, Councillor Paul Blanchard, is taking his case to the office of lame duck Prime Minister, Tony Blair, according to the York Press.
Well, not quite the office. The Prime Minister's website has recently launched a new function that allows ANY member of the British public to create an online petition right on the website on any topic. Blanchard's reads in full:
"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ban the sale of inhumane foie gras."
Good Show, Councillor. Very convincing proposal.
Where's that powerful rhetoric you British politicians are known for? The clever turn of phrase? The eloquence? It's a true wonder that he couldn't get his townsfolk behind his ban.
The fact remains that the government of York doesn't have the power to ban Foie Gras locally, nor can the British government blithely ban a product that's legal under European Union law.
Even Ben Bradshaw, the UK minister in charge of animal welfare, says his hands are tied - and he is far from a Foie Gras fan.
But the good Councillor is not deterred, saying the UK is a "sovereign nation" that "can ban anything we like." Very Winston Churchill of him.
Unfortunately, this isn't D-Day, and FoieBlog believes Councillor Blanchard's descent from elected politician to protester is making him look more like a low budget version of Al Gore - without the PowerPoint presentation.

Monday, March 12, 2007


FoieBlog apologizes for our absence. GrasGuy has been spending the past two weeks tending to his wife and newborn son. A slightly tougher, but decidedly more important job than effusing on all things Foie Gras.

That said, we're back in business, and it's been a busy couple of weeks in the world of Foie Gras. Please bear with us as we play catch up on the most important developments of recent days. First and foremost...

Moore To Face More Votes
As much as FoieBlog hated missing the Chicago Aldermanic elections, we're very please that the finale is yet to come.

On a night when pro-mayor Daley incumbents were soundly defeated by their labor-backed challengers, 49th Ward Alderman, Joe Moore, a favorite of the unions for his support of a big-box minimum wage bill, came up 1% short of being elected outright and now faces a runoff on April 17th. That he was not able to win against a slate of 3 challengers splitting the opposition vote speaks volumes about his waning popularity in a district he has represented for 16 years. Besting his closest rival, Don Gordon, by a margin of 49%-29%, Moore must now face Gordon mano a mano in the runoff elections next month. With the opposition able to consolidate their support behind Gordon, the possibility of a Moore defeat is well within reach.

FoieBlog realizes this election is about many issues beyond Moore's Foie Gras ban, but Gordon and others have managed to portray that legislation as an example of how out of touch Moore has become with the more pressing concerns of his constituency, such as jobs and crime. FoieBlog looks forward to a month of spirited campaigning for this symbolically important seat.