On July 1, the country’s first statewide ban on foie gras goes into effect right here in California, terminating the ancient practice of gavage and the sale of all products that result. At this point, an overturn looks unlikely, so we’re saying our good-byes in the only way we know how: A look at all the glorious foie gras we won’t be able to eat in a month.
The foie gras ban will hit at a time when Southern California’s chefs are particularly inspired to get playful with the delicacy. Chefs all over the area are taking the versatile texture and full-bodied flavor of this fattened duck and goose livers and turning them into a range of recipes that are a far cry from traditional French pates, parfaits, and terrines.
The owners of Animal famously bulk-up Hawaiian loco moco with seared foie gras and SPAM, much like Umamicatessen also has a hit on its hands with a donut leaking foie gras and jam, while the ingredient is variously employed as the central feature in a range of dishes including sushi, ravioli, shabu-shabu, satay, cotton candy, clams, ice cream, and even pet treats.
Here now, a look into some of L.A.’s most unique and satisfying foie gras dishes. We’ve include some parting words from the chefs as to why foie makes the perfect ingredient. Enjoy this slideshow as we prepare to bid adieu to foie gras before it’s wiped off the plate (or, more likely, goes underground) next month.
114 S. Central Ave. Downtown; 213-620-1840; $25
Bryant Ng will again be featuring Spice Table’s foie satay, speared with pineapple pickle and served with a ginger-spiced baguette, as a special through June. “Searing foie on our satay grill gives it the great char we look for. It caramelizes and picks up the smoke from the almond wood,” the Downtown chef explains of his simple and sublime foie skewer.
1104 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica; 310-395-0881; $185 Foie Gras Menu
First up to the front of L.A.’s foie battle, Josiah Citrin is preparing a daily, eight-course “Foie for All” menu that includes this sweet amuse of juicy seared foie gras all but ready to dissolve in a puddle of blood orange gelee and toasted hazelnut foam.
3455 Overland Ave. Palms; 310-836-6252; Part of $180 Foie Menu
Kaiseki virtuoso Niki Nakyama offers a supplementary six-course menu of foie-based dishes through June, including this nigiri marrying firm rice with seared foie gras, glistening in unagi sauce. The chef pinpoints its ideal counterbalance in “the wonderful contrast of the al dente sushi rice seasoned with vinegar to the oily soft richness of foie gras.”
225 N. Canon Dr. Beverly Hills; 310-860-7970; $26
Scott Conant’s heavenly hand-hewn ravioli burst with a rich mix of duck meat and luscious foie gras, the indulgence enhanced through a thick marsala reduction. Conant tells Grub Street, “Foie gras has the ability to take on very aggressive flavor profiles in this particular dish and smooth them out, providing a long finish on the back end of the palate.”
1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Venice; 310-392-6644; $45
Casey Lane doubles down on duck in this special that will be offered through June, pairing a seared slice of liver with a roasted breast in a sauce of Lambrusco-roasted cherries, served aside shiitake mushrooms and spring onions. The Venice chef employs foie “put an indulgent flavor bang into a duck dish.”
218 N. Rodeo Dr. Beverly Hills; 310-247-8939; $375 per person omakase
A luxurious signature, even by the terms of L.A.’s most desirable sushi shrine, worries over dinner’s worth often dissipate with the mid-meal appearance of Hiroyuki Urasawa’s shabu-shabu course. A sizzling dashi broth tenderizes a slice of goose liver to the point where you merely have to manage slipping the delicate morsel from its ponzu pool into your mouth before total liquidation is reached.
8360 Melrose Ave. West Hollywood; 323-651-5866; $23
Michael Voltaggio calls this “a luxurious play on an L.A. staple dish: chicken and waffles,” though it’s not something the city has ever been served at Roscoe’s. The chef pairs a portion of foie gras with paper-thin paddles of toasted waffle wafer, a line of creamy smoked maple, a scatter of micro-arugula, and two bulging dots of hot sauce.
Waterloo & City
12517 Washington Blvd. Culver City; 310-391-4222; $14
Brendan Collins mates sense-stirring essences of the sea with the earthier opulence of foie gras in this unusual amalgamation surrounded by soy gastrique and pinched by layers of the chef’s piccalilli. Raw fish lovers have the most to behold, while it also stands up as a strong foie contender spread across warm brioche.
9739 Culver Blvd. Culver City; 310-838-9739; $13
Turning foie gras into a perfect partner for beer drinkers, Jessica Christensen raises the heady sweetness of steamed Little Necks through a rich rinse of foie gras butter. Dunking the grilled, rustic bread in this lustrous, buttery broth might even be better than chomping on the delightfully intensified clams.
435 N Fairfax Ave. Hollywood; 323-782-9225; $36
A contemporary classic on L.A.’s foie gras scene, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo bookend a slab of seared foie and SPAM between a fried quail egg and sauced-up hamburger patty in their heavy take on Hawaiian soul food. Shook declares his soon-to-be-forbidden love for the delicacy, explaining, “Foie Gras, the one and only, is even good with SPAM.”
852 S. Broadway. Downtown; 213-413-8626; $8
Already a cult-classic on the deli’s made-to-order donut menu, this double-ended delight dribbles forest berry jam from one side and creamy foie gras mousse from the other. Umami innovator Adam Fleischman calls the PB&J-influenced creation “a perfect combination of sweet and savory flavors in the form of one of my favorite foods.”
465 S. La Cienega Blvd. Beverly Hills; 310-246-5555; $5
Jose Andres puts a giant accent mark on the melt-in-the-mouth character found in a perfect bite of foie gras, enshrouding a small, seared cube of the liver within a gossamer spool of cotton candy that begins evaporating the instant it touches your tongue.
321 N. Robertson Blvd. Beverly Hills; 310-271-0576; $100 for Five-Course Menu
Through June, Giselle Wellman will bid farewell to foie through a five-course prix fixe using the restaurant’s own foie gras. The coup de grace is this peanut-topped foie gras ice cream served in a brioche-lined ramekin swirling with honey and raspberry jam. Meant to be picked up and eaten like a taco, the chef tells us foie is her “perfect substitution for peanut butter” in this riff on PB&J.
12244 West Pico Blvd. West L.A.; 310-826-4737; $80 omakase
This past and present staple of chef Shunji Nakao’s “chef’s choice” menus finds wispy shavings of poached foie gras and thin shreds of yam providing the smooth ceiling for a cold gazpacho-like soup of winter melon, sweet potato, grated yuzu, lily root, and taro.
401 N. La Cienega Blvd. West Hollywood; 310-657-4103; $21
Mezze’s Mediterranean adaptation of a foie terrine demonstrates Micah Wexler’s assured ability to match bracing flavors and ambrosial beauty through notes of saffron, a landslide of crushed pistachios, and the tart simplicity of peeled grapefruit wedges, evoking both exotic tradition and cutting-edge vision.
525 S Flower St. Downtown; 213-228-8998; $13
Ian Gresik’s Italian embrace of foie gras exemplifies smooth in this savory spread of foie gras panna cotta, a creamy palette to daub atop jagged chunks of bread or paired with pistachio sponge cake and a trace of the accompanying currants and pear slices.
Takami Sushi & Robata
811 Wilshire Blvd. Downtown; 213-236-9600; Offered as a rotating daily menu special through June
Pureed foie gras goes into this broth from Stan Ota, who also layers sautéed foie on top, in a balancing act of cool and warm, firm and creamy. Ota says, “one might think that these flavors, layers, and contrasts could be achieved with any protein, but foie gras brings a complexity of flavor and texture to the simplest of dishes that simply cannot be replicated with another protein.”
The Royce at The Langham
1401 South Oak Knoll Ave. Pasadena; 626-568-3900; $23
David Feau takes advantage of foie’s final days in a range of original recipes culminating with $160 dinners planned over June 28-30, where the chef will prepare the delicacy in 31 unique ways. Until then, enjoy this sensual mouth-melt in which beef boullion is spilled over a hunk of seared foie gras snowed in by creminis and foie shavings, soaking aside a tatter of tarragon-printed pasta.
7900 Kew Ave. Rancho Cucamonga; 909-899-7999; $19
One massive hunk of foie deserves another, Greg Stillman demonstrates in this double-decker stack of seared foie gras teetering on brioche in duck jus, served with balsamic reduction and cherries. The chef stresses, “All the elements on the plate are there to compliment the flavor and texture of the seared foie gras. I think the ban is ridiculous, because it sets a bad precedent for what’s going to be next. Is veal going to be next?”
235 N Canon Dr. Beverly Hills; 310-271-9910; $49
If so many novel takes on foie have you looking to get back to both its rustic and glorified French roots, Bouchon can be counted on for five ounces of traditional terrine, served simply in a glass jar and ready to spread across a hash key of toasted baguettes, with only a sprinkle of sea salt needed to complete the scene.
1250 South Fair Oaks Ave. Pasadena; 626-441-3136; $19
Tim Guiltinan’s colorful spread surrounding seared foie gras involves unlikely assistance from maple-infused peanut butter, pickled strawberries, and nasturtium, served with brioche. The chef describes the interplay of the “rich, decadent foie gras, balanced with sweet and sour strawberries,” while the peanut butter and brioche remind diners of the “familiar feeling of a classic PB&J.”
7458 Beverly Blvd. West Hollywood; 323-634-0700; $19
Eva chef-owner Mark Gold forges foie into the shape and shade of a Tootsie Roll, spiking its flower-studded shell with smoked walnuts and cherries. The chef tells us the foie gras adds a “delicacy and creaminess” that “works perfectly with the cherries in this dish.”
Haven Gastropub & Brewery
42 S. De Lacey Ave. Pasadena. 626-768-9555; $11
Greg Daniels and pastry chef Santanna Salas collaborated on the chef’s vision for this foie-tinted cream cheese-emulsified cheesecake that carries the creamiest of surfaces, its sweetness deepened by a vanilla crumble and foiled by the sharp tang of a hibiscus gelee.
235 N Canon Dr. Beverly Hills; 310-271-9910; $2.50 ea.
Yes, Bouchon’s bakery arm actually offers dog biscuits enhanced with foie gras and chicken stock. It’s possible your dog might appreciate a bite of foie gras more than another can of Alpo, but we’re even more curious if an emergency stock of these could be a worthy investment in anticipation of July 1.
Photo: Gerald San Jose/TKRG