C’est moi! I crowned myself with that appellation and freely admit to being a foie gras addict. If it’s on the menu, I’m having it!
I first discovered foie gras’ existence during one of our trips to France in the mid-1980’s. We were staying at Le Prieuré, a Relais & Chateaux property in Villeneuve-les-Avignon and dined in its restaurant. Scanning the appetizer section of the menu, in French, called “entrées” (which means “entrances,” so why American menus call main courses “entrées” is a mystery to me), I noticed “Foie gras poêlé.” Aha! I thought. Liver. I’ve always liked liver, so I ordered it. When the dish was placed before me, it looked nothing like any liver I’d ever had before. Tasted nothing like it either. One small bite and I swooned. I was hooked!
To this day, seared remains my first choice preparation. But I also love it roasted or poached. As for terrines and torchons, one would think that I would have gobbled them up immediately since I grew up adoring their Jewish cousin, chopped liver. Oddly, however, that wasn’t the case. It actually took me a few years to learn to enjoy them. Eventually, they did grow on me like – well, like chopped liver, and I’ve had many a terrine and torchon which have wowed me.
During 2011, I had foie gras 29 times. In a few instances, it was one ingredient among others on a plate. Otherwise, in its various versions and with a wide range of accompaniments, it was the star.
It should come as no surprise that since we dine at Eleven Madison Park more than at any other restaurant, I had foie gras many times there and more than anywhere else. It’s interesting to note that until this past year, Chef Humm served only terrines or torchons. But that changed in mid-2011. Now, whenever “Foie Gras” appears on the menu grid, guests are offered the option of having the “chef’s version” or a seared version. And seared foie gras has even shown up as an accompaniment on a main course plate.
The first foie gras at EMP was in January at M’s birthday lunch. Executive Sous Chef Abram Bissel surprised us by creating a seared foie gras dish especially for us: Foie Gras Seared with Kumquats and Baby Turnip.
In February, at the lunch we shared with uhockey: Foie Gras Torchon with Corn and Quince.
In April: Foie Gras Terrine with Pineapple and Pickled Pearl Onions.
In June, at our anniversary dinner: Quail Ballotine with Foie Gras, Fava Beans and Radish.
At the Beer Dinner at the end of June: Foie Gras Terrine with Strawberry, Yuzu, and Back Pepper.
In September, I ordered the seared version while M ordered the chef’s version, and we shared: Foie Gras Seared with Cherries, Leeks, and Pistachios
and Foie Gras Terrine with Plum, Bitter Almond, Umeboshi.
In October at my birthday lunch, M repeated the version he had in September while I ordered a new seared composition: Foie Gras Seared with Apples and Oat Streusel .
In addition, there was foie gras with the main course guinea fowl: Guinies Fowl with Plum, Butternut Squash, Amoretti, and Foie Gras.
At the EMP book launch party in November, there was a foie gras hors d’oeuvre.
At our last EMP meal of 2011, lunch at the end of December: Foie Gras Smoked Terrine with Black Truffles, Potato and Rye.
Beneath the fold, the other places where I had foie gras.
In chronological order…
Nuela: Arroz con Pato (For Two)
Ai Fiori: Torchon Foie Gras au Nature, Spiced Figs, Ormeasco Mostarda, Pistachios, Brioche Toast
Roberta’s: Seared Foie Gras, Black Pepper, Black Garlic
Bar Room at The Modern: Foie Gras Terrine Studded with Salsify, Maple Gelée and Pain d’Epices
Casa Mono: Foie Gras with Cinco Cebollas
The Modern Dining Room:
Wagyu Beef & Foie Gras “Damier,” Passion Fruit Gastrique
Grilled Sullivan County Foie Gras, Macerated Cucumber and Cumin
Squab & Foie Gras Croustillant, Caramelized Ginger Jus and Farm Vegetables (For Two)
Tocqueville: (We were served two different versions as part of a tasting menu. We shared them.)
House Cured Terrine of Foie Gras, Roasted Pear, Quince & Brioche Toast
House Cured Terrine of Foie Gras, Roasted Black Mission Fig, Rhubarb & Riesling Gelée
La Silhouette: Foie Gras “A la Plancha,” Caramelized Pears, Toasted Hazelnuts, Spaghetti Squash Confit
Jung Sik Dang: Foie Gras Mousse with Black Raspberry
Corton: Foie Gras Torchon
Um Segredo Wild Game Dinner: Wild Striped Bass, Salsify, Foie Gras Ravioli
Did any of these make my Best Dishes of 2011? Stay tuned!