As you've heard, this month will be the last for foie gras in California. On July 1, the state will ban the sale of the delicacy. Chefs continue to fight the ban or think up ways to circumvent it but as the Timespoints out this week, next month there "will likely be very little, if any, foie anywhere in California." But before foie gras became so politicized, it was about nothing more than glorious excess excess of riches, of caloric intake. That's something Grub Street knows a thing or two about, so in solidarity with our food-loving friends in California, we want to give the ingredient a proper send-off. That's why we're celebrating the classic French delicacy in New York with a roundup of some of the city's very best translations.
A similar ban in Chicago only lasted two years before the city council overturned it, so it's impossible to know if California's ban really will last forever, or whether it will set a tone for similar bans in other states. But opponents of foie gras more specifically, opponents of the liver-engorging process required to make foie gras are certainly vocal. (So vocal, in fact, that several foie-serving restaurants and at least one photographer didn't want to take part in this story.) And foie producers are a far smaller, easier target for animal-rights activists than the large-scale, factory farms that feed millions more Americans.
Our advice is, don't take any chances: Who knows when a politician that's sympathetic to the anti-foie movement will take office in your neck of the woods? If you love the stuff we love the stuff now is as good a time as any to grab some and remind yourself how good you have it.
And when you're done devouring the slideshow here in New York, head to Grub's San Francisco and Los Angeles editions to see which dishes they'll soon be without. And when you're done with all that (remember: foie is about excess), make sure to check out the foie offerings in Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia, too.
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Foie Gras Terrine
15 East15 E. 15th St.; 212-647-0015; $21
A far cry from a traditional foie terrine preparation, this small terrine is further buttressed by the addition of duck that's been steeped in miso.
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Foie Gras au Naturel
Ai Fiori400 Fifth Ave., 2nd fl.; 212-695-4005; $28
The most seasonally appropriate torchon on this list comes from Michael White's homage to the Italian and French Riviera. Fresh strawberries and what are probably the world's tiniest basil leaves give the duck liver some much-appreciated lightness.
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Cured Foie Gras
Aldea31 W. 17th St.; 212-675-7223; $18
The rectangular shape might throw torchon traditionalists for a loop, but the version served at Georges Mendes's restaurant off Union Square follows through with a classic rich, creamy flavor.
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Seared Foie Gras with Soup Dumplings and Jicama
Annisa13 Barrow St.; 212-741-6699; $18
One of chef Anita Lo's most famous dishes, the little dumplings have been on Annisa's menu since long before the restaurant's overhaul in 2010. Even today they're as strong an argument for a trip to the restaurant as they were a decade ago.
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Atera77 Worth St.; 212-226-1444; Part of a $155 tasting menu
One of the first dishes you encounter at Matthew Lightner's tasting counter is this "bar snack," a delicate peanut made of frozen foie gras. You only get one bite before it's gone, but that's for the best: Our wallets and cholesterol wouldn't stand a chance if Lightner served these by the bowl.
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Foie Gras With Cinco Cebollas
Casa Mono52 Irving Pl.; 212-253-2773; $19
We'll take the restaurant's word that there are five varieties of onions — the "cebollas" — in this architectural presentation. We're always too focused on the way the wobbly, just-cooked foie tastes against the crispy toast underneath.
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Rabbit and Foie Gras Terrine
Colonie127 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn; 718-855-7500; $14
When you order it, this chilled appetizer arrives at your table quickly (the packed Brooklyn restaurant knows how to turn its tables in a hurry). That's fine: A few meaty bites spread on toast are the ideal cocktail accompaniment, and a lovely way to start a meal.
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Foie Gras Doughnut
Do or Dine1108 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-684-2290; $11
The dish that launched its very own animal-rights petition: We won't say it's the city's best foie gras preparation, but it sure is the most notorious. (And, nearly a year after the hullaballoo, it's still on the menu.)
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Sautéed Foie Gras, Graham Crackers, Huckleberries
Dovetail103 W. 77th St.; 212-362-3800; $28
Remember when pie was all the rage? A classic blueberry pie might very well have been John Fraser's inspiration for this luxe starter. But chefs often use sweet flavors to offset the savory richness of foie gras, and Fraser's elegant take is the pinnacle of this approach.
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Hot Roasted Foie Gras
Dragonfly1463 Third Ave.; 212-203-5518; $16.95
We can't think of any street carts that offer foie gras, but that hasn't stopped Cornelius Gallagher from occasionally putting this roasted version, flavored with tamarind and apricots, under his menu's "street cart" section. We aren't complaining; in fact, we think a few carts around town should take the hint.
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Gilt455 Madison Ave.; 212-891-8100; Part of an $89 three-course prix fixe
The rhubarb tuiles and pea shoots are gorgeous, and a toasted-cereal duo of crust and consommé is unexpected (the consommé is poured tableside). Under all of that is Justin Bogle's perfectly prepared foie gras. It's the kind of thing Michelin inspectors go crazy for — no wonder the restaurant's gotten two stars from the group for four years running.
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Sesame Prawn Toast with Foie Gras
Hakkasan311 W. 43rd St.; 212-776-1818; $25
The New York outpost of the luxury Chinese mini-chain has taken its share of knocks since opening last April (mostly because of the outrageous prices), but if these tiny, crispy balls — more like fried dumplings than traditional prawn toasts — were served at a less pricey, downtown cocktail joint, people would be falling over themselves to try them. We say brave the Times Square crowds at least once to give them a chance.
Jean Georges1 Central Park West; 212-299-3900; Part of a $108 three-course prix fixe
We've never been fans of the whole breakfast-for-dinner idea, but this could change our minds: The foie here is hidden beneath the crunchy granola and sliced fruit. It's kind of like the ultimate bowl of cereal.
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La Sirène558 Broome St.; p212-925-3061; $34
As fine dining continues to move towards foraged herbs, surprising flavor mash-ups, and ever-more-intricate preparations, this dish — filet mignon topped with foie gras pâté and black truffles — makes a strong case for the kind of sauce-heavy, super-luxurious food that used to define New York's restaurants.
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Parfait of Foie Gras
The Lambs Club132 W. 44th St.; 212-997-5262; Part of a $68 three-course prix fixe ($8 supplement)
Geoffrey Zakarian knows what it takes to entice midtown power players (and tourists who've seen him on Iron Chef America): The garnishes change (pictured are Asian pear, Tokyo turnip, and mustard), but the smooth, lustrous parfait is unwavering.
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Le Bernardin155 W. 51st St.; 212-554-1515; Part of a $125 four-course prix fixe
This dish is almost as famous as the chef who serves it: The thin yellowfin hides a slice of toasted baguette smeared with foie gras. The whole thing is finished with a flurry of chives and a drizzle of top-shelf olive oil. Simple, straightforward, and perfect in every way.
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Spring Onion Ice Cream with Foie Gras
Marc Forgione134 Reade St.; 212-941-9401; $18
It's exactly the kind of dish you'd expect from an Iron Chef America regular: Marc Forgione's kitchen makes a savory onion ice cream (recently the ice cream was flavored with ramps; currently it's spring onions), then takes a cue from David Chang's Ko and grates frozen foie gras over the ice cream.
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Squab and Foie Gras Crouistillant
The Modern9 W. 53rd St.; 212-333-1220; Part of a $98 four-course prix fixe
It's a cliché to call a dish a "work of art," but just look: Is there any other way to describe this dish? (It serves two; this is a single portion.) Given the setting — MoMA — that description is doubly appropriate.
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Foie Gras Torchon with Tête de Cochon
NoMad1170 Broadway; 212-796-1500; $price of dish
No chef is better than Daniel Humm at taking the city's fascination with all things porcine and offal and translating it to simple, elegant dishes. Witness this classic foie terrine, soft and rich, hiding in its center tête de cochon. The combination is pretty much seamless, and you're surprised nobody appears to have thought of this before — but what else would you expect from Humm?
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Foie Gras Torchon
North End Grill104 North End Ave.; 646-747-1600; Price varies
Floyd Cardoz made his name at Tabla by subtly mixing French and Indian techniques and flavors; the foie gras preparations are always changing at Cardoz's newest restaurant, but that same approach is apparent throughout. One night the torchon is scented with anise, another it comes atop tangerine preserve. Regardless of the prep or the price on a given night, it's a safe bet that it's worth ordering.
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Foie Gras Tramezzini
Perla24 Minetta Lane; 212-933-1824; $8
Much has been made of the tiny sandwiches served at Gabriel Stuhlman's newest restaurant. Bloomberg critic Ryan Sutton called it a PB&J and that's basically what it is: pistachio, cherry, and a thin strip of foie gras. We wish this was how mom made them back in the day.
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Bella Farms Foie Gras "Poêle"
Raoul's180 Prince St.; 212-966-3518; $24
We couldn't put together this celebration of excess without including at least one super-traditional foie gras prep. The seared lobe served at this much-loved Soho bistro is a just-cooked, near-melting classic of the form.
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Roasted Foie Gras and Monkfish Liver Terrine
Recette328 W. 12th St.; 212-414-3000; $21
Monkfish liver, for better or worse, is often called the foie gras of the sea. Recette chef Jesse Schenker draws the logical conclusion and pairs the two in this expert dish. Maybe even better: Standing in for the customary brioche toast accompaniment is a crispy chicharron.
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Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Sundried Apricot Dust
SHO Shaun Hergatt40 Broad St.; 212-809-3993; Part of an $85 four-course prix fixe
If McNuggets got the Michelin-starred treatment, they might resemble these artful balls of foie gras. Think of the variety of apricot textures as the sweet-and-sour complement.
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Everything Duck Egg Roll
Silk Rd Tavern46 W. 22nd St.; 212-989-7889; $11
Plenty of people give foie the high-low treatment (grilled cheese, doughnuts), and yet others are happy to apply Asian techniques and flavors. But this egg roll from the Flatiron newcomer might just be the first attempt we've seen at both. Given how well these egg rolls go with cocktails, we bet it won't be the last.
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Seared Diver Sea Scallops and Foie Gras
Tocqueville1 E. 15th St.; 212-647-1515; $39
This revisionist surf-and-turf has been on Tocqueville's menu for ages, and it's no secret why: two luxurious ingredients that complement each other visually and texturally. The dish's deep richness is brightened by the addition of a cider vinegar gastrique.
Traif229 S. 4th St., Brooklyn; 347-844-9578; $11
Plenty of chefs flirt with sweet flavors in their foie gras preparations: Traif's chef/owner Jason Marcus goes all in, garnishing his terrine the way other chefs might treat a slice of pound cake. Given foie's creamy, buttery nature, we aren't surprised the combination works so well. (For a double dose, make sure you check out the restaurant's $18 seared foie with maple and hot sauce, too.)
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wd~5050 Clinton St.; 212-477-2900; Part of a $155 tasting menu, or a $25 two-course prix fixe
One of the standout dishes on Wylie Dufresne's just-revamped menu: The warming aromatics in the pho broth parallel the traditional winter spice that French chefs have paired for decades with foie gras. It's a novel presentation (with a goofy name), but the flavor is at once comforting and familair.