Thursday, July 26, 2007


GrasGuy has been to some shady places in his day. Afghanistan, Iran, the Gaza's true. But before this weekend, I've never been somewhere that I've felt so out of place in...and I didn't even leave the United States.

Forced against my will by the bonds of marriage and friendship (sometimes I really wish I could go just up and go Ted Kaczynski and live in a cabin in the woods with nothing but a typewriter and a flock of geese to answer to) I was dragged to the one city on earth that I dare not go.


Imagine being stranded in a desert, on a planet with no oxygen, populated by Puritans, and you're wearing a great big scarlet "A" on your lapel. Imagine wishing that was the case.

I know, I know...the identity of GrasGuy is largely unknown and all those thousands of windburned eyes watching my every move surely were unaware they had a fox in their hen house, but the world eventually found out who Deep Throat was, so anything is possible. Then again, perhaps the deficiency of Vitamin A due to a lack of Foie Gras intake was affecting my own eyesight. Combined with an onset of sensory disturbances due to low B12 levels, an advanced state of paranoia was likely. Or am I being paranoid? In any event, a safe haven needed to be found. Thankfully, one was not far away.

Double-timing it off the beaten path and into the low rise section of River North, I made my way to the one place I knew I would feel at home. Cyrano's Bistrot. Sure, that slim guy in the ripped jeans and Woodstock '99 t-shirt on my tail might have confirmed my identity when I stepped through the door, but at least I was in a safe haven where I could hole up for a few days if things got hot.

Cyrano's is run a real live French chef, Didier Durand. Sadly, he's been distracted from his work in the kitchen by his duties as spokesperson of Chicago Chefs for Choice - the alliance of eateries fighting Alderman Joe Moore's Foie Gras ban. A photo of the esteemed Alderman, with the phrase Tru Du Cul, greets visitors to this otherwise friendly and charming French Bistro, adding a bit of authentic Resistance to the very authentic bistro experience.

Faced with a gaping hole on the menu where Foie Gras should be, the intriguing Country Ostrich Pate immediately caught my eye. I opted instead for the Three Rilletes of Rabbit, Pork and Duck - needing to find at least some gastronomic association with what I truly craved. On the plate they were hard to tell apart by sight - maybe that Vitamin A issue kicking in again - but their flavors were quite distinctive. While the Duck with Olives and Herbs was very light and tasty, and the Pork with Garlic was as good as pork and garlic tend to be, it was actually the Rabbit with Lemon that won the day - the citrus enhancing the surprisingly strong rabbit flavor of the Rillette. Paired with a bottle of Lucien Albrech Pinot Gris Tokay, I was almost able to forget the trials I was facing outside the confines of this charming restaurant. If only I'd been there before the ban to sample Didier's Foie Gras. Perhaps one day. Perhaps one day soon.

You see, while I can't go into detail now, what I learned in this den of Liberté, égalité, fraternité, is that the movement to restore Foie Gras freedom in this city is alive and well, and the days of the ban may be numbered. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you find yourself at Cyrano's for dinner - and I hope that you will - be sure to try the Grilled Country Bread. I can't tell you exactly what's in it, but it's both gluten and carbohydrate free, and like no baguette you've ever had.
Vive la Revolution!

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