Monday, April 30, 2007

Foie Front: Philly

FoieBlog always looks forward to the arrival of spring and the blooming of al fresco dining throughout the Northeast. Somehow Europeans manage to do this year round, but diners in the cooler climes of the USA seem to only allow themselves the joy of outdoor consumption after the vernal equinox.
Unfortunately, the same lovely weather also brings out the protests from our friends at organizations like Farm Sanctuary, and this year is no exception. According to their press release, the organization planned a series of events this weekend attacking various Philadelphia restaurants for serving Foie Gras. Unfortunately for them, FoieBlog seems to be the only one who read that press release, as, from the looks of things, they received exactly zero news coverage.
This is unfortunate for us as we have no way of gauging how big of a turnout they managed to round up. So FoieBlog is putting out a brotherly appeal to any of our readers from Philly who had the misfortune of stumbling upon any of these activist activities. Let us know what you saw, or didn't see.
FoieBlog also reminds all of Philly's registered voters that the May 15th city council primaries are fast approaching and At Large candidate, Jack Kelly - the sponsor of a Foie Gras ban currently floundering in the city council - is up for reelection.
Even if you're not planning on taking part in the primary elections, at least drop ol' Jack a line at his MySpace page and let him know how much you enjoy him wasting the council's time with his frivolous bill.
If you don't, Farm Sanctuary will.

Friday, April 27, 2007


Maybe they just want to be like Al Gore.
Business publication Crain's reports that our pals over at Farm Sanctuary are shopping around a 15 minute DVD about Foie Gras to restaurant owners and activist celebs in and around New York City.
It's interesting that, while the DVD reportedly features a New York State Wildlife Pathologist speaking out against Foie Gras production, state investigators have given a big thumbs up to the Empire State's sole Foie Gras producer, Hudson Valley Foie Gras. FoieBlog is not sure who this guy is, but it appears he didn't have much influence in the halls of government, so we don't know why we should care what he has to say.
Unfortunately, if a propaganda production like this ends up in the wrong hands - like a New York version of Joe Moore or, gasp, Paul Blanchard - it could be trouble.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


It's been said that the enemy of your enemy is your friend. FoieBlog disagrees.
According to The Press of York, our old friend, Councilor Paul Blanchard, has found himself with some unwanted allies in his fight to ban Foie Gras in the UK. It seems that an anti-Semitic group, who reportedly blame the Jews for Foie Gras, has been circulating an e-mail that links to Blanchard's campaign, much to the old boy's chagrin.
Even with all of the bad things going on in the world today, FoieBlog still believes that Nazi Fascism is the most evil political ideology the world has ever seen, and it truly pains us to make light of this situation. Still, it's hard for us not to giggle at Mr. Blanchard's little conundrum.
Fine feathered friends indeed.

Monday, April 23, 2007


It was a close race, but Foie Gras foe, Chicago City Alderman Joe Moore, managed to eek out a 300 vote victory over a surprisingly challening challenger, Don Gordon. The runoff vote was forced when Moore failed to receive the required 50% of the vote in the general election, coming up short at 49%. Unfortunately for those of us who think Moore's ban on Foie Gras is a big bit of nonsense, Gordon couldn't make up the difference in the runoff election, but lost by a mere 300 votes. What's interesting is that of the 22% of the vote up for grabs in the runoff, Moore only managed to pick up an extra 3%, with Gordon scoring the rest. So the opposition was strong, just not strong enough.
FoieBlog fears that this could mark the end of the Foie Gras ban debate in Chicago, unless the ongoing animosity between Moore and Richard Daly pushes the Mayor to find an ally to introduce legislation that would overturn the ban. If not we hope that if there are 300 Foie Gras lovers in the 49th Ward they'll turn out to vote next time around.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


"Good for the money" isn't the kind of review restaurateurs usually covet, but in the case of Bistrot Du Coin in Washington, DC, it's very fitting, in a good way.

Most people see our nation's capital as a boring one-horse town that lives and breathes politics, southern backslapping camaraderie, and little more.

Most people are wrong.

As noted before, GrasGuy spent his early adult years in DC, and I've held an affinity for the sometimes beleaguered city ever since. No, it's not New York, or London, or Paris, or even Los Angeles, but it has all of the things that make great cities like those, well, great. It's all there, the culture, the music, the interesting street freaks. There's just not as much of it, so you have to look a little harder, and you're likely to miss it from the confines of a tour bus.

Even if it this wasn't true, one thing that politicians, lawyers and their assorted hangers-on are good at is spending money. So it's no surprise that Washington has one of the most vibrant culinary scenes in the United States, though it may be a surprise to you.

Home to arguably the finest Spanish (Jaleo) and Italian (Galileo) restaurants in the country, and seemingly more African eateries per square mile than the dark continent itself, there's no shortage of variety to choose from, and thankfully as many French-tinted restaurants as is befitting a capital of the world.

While Michel Richard's Citronelle is the grand dame of DC's Gallic scene, one of my (and apparently his) favorites is Bistro Du Coin in Dupont Circle. An homage to turn of the century Paris, the high-ceilinged, zinc-barred establishment is usually so lively you expect a line of Can Can dancers to burst out of the back room at any moment. Instead, what you get coming out of the kitchen is some of the most solid and accessible bistro food this side of the left bank, with Pates, Moules, and Tartares a plenty at very reasonable prices.

GrasGuy being GrasGuy, the first words out of my mouth in a place like this after 'Pinot Noir' is usually 'Foie Gras, rapide!' In BDC's case, that means an appetizer of Sauteed Foie Gras with Sweet Sorghum Risotto and Truffle. I've never been quite sure what sorghum is, other than some sort of commodity prized by Midwest farmers, but here it makes a mildly sweet yet thick sauce - think A1 without the spices and you've got it. What, that doesn't sound too good? Well, it is, though it's not fantastic. What makes it work is the quality of the Foie Gras that they use, which isn't' too high and is a bit tough and gamy. Again, that's not to say it's bad, it's just not the pinnacle of creamy smooth Foie Gras, so the heavy handed sauce helps it out, while the truffle flavored risotto takes care of the rest. For $14.95 you can't feel too bad about it, it'd be double that in NYC, and here it's the most expensive appetizer on the menu, a full $.20 more than the Duck Confit.

With ten different types of Moules on offer - including Creamy Rouquefort and Au Pistou - it's tough not to go for this house speciality, but on the unseasonably cold April evening that I was there, something heartier was in order, and the very extensive menu does not dissapoint. With no less than six stews on offer like White Bean, Veal and Lamb, I opted for the Rabbit in Mustard Cream Sauce - another weak spot of mine - and was quite pleased. But as with the Foie Gras my satisfaction was not just from the taste, but also the value. At $17.95 the casserole was more than even I could finish, though I wish that I could have - the chef hitting just the right degree of Dijon flavor in the sauce, not always an easy feat.

No, Bistrot Du Coin is not the best restaurant in DC, but it is among the most enjoyable. A place like this would be a welcome addition in any city, even in New York where most of the "Bistros" err on the side of being too fancy and fail to capture the true spirit of the more bohemian flavored of the breed. Bistro Du Coin does just that, and for the money it can't be beat.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Looks like our old pal Paul Blanchard from York, England is becoming a bit of a celebrity in animal rights circles over in the UK.
The Press of York reports that two of Britain's major groups, the RSPCA and Viva, have put their weight behind Blanchard's efforts to ban Foie Gras not only in the city of York - an effort that has failed miserably (if only Chicagoans could be so lucky) - but in all of the United Kingdom.
FoieBlog is not surprised by this development, as it is a no-lose situation for the veggie-killers, but it could throw some weight behind Blanchard's so-far anemic effort to collect signatures for his petition - 4,763 as of now in a nation of 60 million. FoieBlog is pretty sure that we could get that many signatures to ban tap water.
Nevertheless, until influential members of the recently revived British culinary scene step up to support the continued availability of Foie Gras, it's far from impossible that Blanchard's campaign could catch fire. This is a nation that has already blindly banned the production of Foie Gras, so it's not too far of a stretch that inaction on the part of foodies could lead to the UK restaurant scene back into the abyss of boiled meats.
So when you head to 8 York Court, Wilder Street in Bristol to protest outside of the Viva, drop by the Picture House restaurant and let us know how the Maple Glazed Pork Belly with Sauteed Foie Gras, Apple Jelly and Calvados Jus is. Any dish combining the independently magical ingredients of Pork and Foie Gras is worth going out of your way for, and if you can do a good deed by giving the Viva folks a piece of your mind in the process, then bully for you.

Monday, April 9, 2007


The Chicago Tribune reports that Sunday's goose-culling egg hunt in Chicago's parks came up with just one big goose egg.
As the premiere website on all things goose and gander, FoieBlog would like to take credit for the failure of this project, as the geese in question clearly got a head's up to the pogrom by reading our blog.
When it comes to the size of a goose flock, FoieBlog says the more the merrier...just don't forget to call us for dinner.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


Everyone knows that StarKist Tuna is the "Chicken of the Sea." Well it seems now that Toro - the delectably fatty belly of the tuna widely used to make some of the best sushi dishes in the world is known as the "Foie Gras of The Sea." At least that's the term an Associated Press article uses in a story about Japanese tuna fishing.
FoieBlog has never heard anyone make that reference before and to be technical they should just call it "Ventre Gras," which is "Fat Belly" in French. Unfortunately there's no citation in the so no credit is due. However, FoieBlog is heartened by the fact that someone out there isn't afraid to refer to something as the "Foie Gras" of anything, further supporting our favorite organ's place in the pantheon of the pallet.

Monday, April 2, 2007


Looks like York, UK councilor Paul Blanchard has some friends in very high places.
The Press reports that York Member of Parliament Hugh Bayley has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling for a UK-wide ban on Foie Gras sales, citing it as an issue of "public morality." The website of Blanchard's campaign even gets a legislative shout-out in the motion.
FoieBlog is quite sure the 15 British sailors in Iran are happy to hear of MP Bayley's efforts.
While at first glance this would look like things are heating up on the issue in the UK, FoieBlog would like to point out that Early Day Motions are nothing more than symbolic measures. They are the Parliamentary equivalent of an online petition to gauge support for an issue, measured by the number of signatures of support they receive, but are rarely - if ever - considered for debate on the floor and are not a direct line to the passage of any sort of legislation.
Of course, Chicago's Foie Gras ban started in much the same symbolic fashion leading to the passage of the "silliest law" ever, and anyone who's ever watch British TV knows just how silly our friends across the pond can be.