Monday, September 3, 2012
Foie Gras Around the World
Foie Gras in California
Foie gras - French for fat liver - is a popular delicacy in French cuisine, made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened. In California it has been declared illegal to produce, sell or consume foie gras - French for fat liver. The ban was written into state law seven years ago and came into force on July 1, 2012 after a “period of grace” to allow local producers to find alternative means of making a living.
See more: Dinner at Plum in Oakland, California - Sister Restaurant of Coi, #58 on the 2012 San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants List
Foie gras production is already banned in a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, Turkey and Israel. But it is the first time actual consumption of the delicacy has been outlawed.
Foie Gras in Virginia
California is the only State in the United States, where the production of, trade with and consumption of Foie gras is illegal. In Virginia, where I live in the United States, to produce, sell or consume Foie gras is completely legal. But you do not find foie gras on the menu of fine restaurants and bistros as often as you do in France. Thus, my wife Annette and I typically eat foie gras at home, ordered from a foie gras producer in the Hudson valley in New York State (Hudson Valley Foie Gras). At a recent dinner in McLean at our house, about which I posted, we had "Seared Fois Gras with Fig Sauce and Fresh Dates" as third course.
See more: Dinner in McLean, Virginia - What We Ate and Drank
Foie Gras in France
French law states that "foie gras belongs to the protected cultural and gastronomical heritage of France."
100% Content: Foie Gras Entier, Foie Gras and Bloc de Foir Gras
According to French law, three forms of foir gras with a 100% foie gras content are distinguished: foie gras entier, foie gras and bloc de foir gras.
Foie gras entier is made of the liver of one animal, either one or two whole liver lobes.
Foie gras can come from different animals, but the foie gras content has to be 100%.
Bloc de foie gras is a fully cooked, molded block composed of (98% to) 100% foie gras. To prepare a block de foie gras, the liver is finely chopped and emulsified. If termed avec morceaux ("with pieces"), you can see the pieces of foie gras when you cut the bloc de foie gras in tranches.
Hot Foie Gras
Less common is to eat the foie gras hot. In this case, the foie gras has to be kept raw in the fridge, until it is roasted, sauteed, pan-seared or grilled for a couple of minutes. As foie gras has high fat content, contact with heat needs to be brief and at high temperature. Hot foie gras typically comes with a sauce.
Cold Foie Gras: Parfaits, Pate, Terrine, Mousses
Generally, terrines de foie gras as well as parfaits, pâtés, foams and mousses of foie gras are all slow-cooked forms of foie gras, at low heat, typically flavored with truffle, mushrooms or brandy such as Cognac or Armagnac. These slow-cooked forms of foie gras are served at or below room temperature.
Legally (in France), parfait de foie must have at least 75% content of foie gras and pâte de foie gras, purée de foie gras, mousse de foie gras and galantine de foie gras at least 50%.
In French cuisine, pâté may be baked in a crust as pie or loaf, in which case it is called pâté en croûte or baked in a terrine (or other mold), in which case it is known as pâté en terrine. Additionally, a forcemeat mixture cooked and served in a terrine is also called a terrine.
History of Foie Gras
The practice of goose fattening originated in Egypt as early as 2500 BC. But it was not until the Roman period, however, that foie gras is mentioned as a distinct food. After the fall of the Roman Empire, goose liver temporarily vanished from European cuisine. It was preserved by the Jews, who learned the method of enlarging a goose's liver during the Roman colonization and who carried it with them as they migrated further north.
Today, France is by far the largest producer (and consumer) of foie gras, with almost all of the foie gras industry based in the Périgord (Dordogne), the Midi-Pyrénées régions in the southwest, and Alsace.
Foie Gras in Hungary
Hungary is the world's second-largest foie gras (libamáj) producer and the largest exporter, with France being the the principal market for Hungarian foie gras (mainly exported raw).
See more: Wine and Cheese at Bock Bisztro in Budapest, Hungary
Foie Gras in Madagascar
Foie gras is not cheap and people – including myself - tend to eat foie gras only for special occasions. This is different, however, when I am in Madagascar. There, food is in general cheap by international standards and there is plenty of excellent foie gras made in Madagascar. Many restaurants in Antananarivo have on a regular basis different kinds of foie gras dishes on their menu.
I recently spent about 2 months in Madagascar, mostly in the capital Antananarivo. The food we had over these 2 months was mostly French food and I ate a lot of foie gras.
See more: Foie Gras in Madagascar
Villa Vanille is a fine restaurant in Antananarivo, which has several terrines de foie gras and foie gras poele on its menu. Last time I ate there, my wife Annette had: La Terrine de Fois Gras a la Vanille (with sweet-sour chutney onions, raisons, sirope de grenadine and with gelee de vins doux).
I had: Foie Gras Poele (with Mango and Mango Sauce).
Annette’s foie gras was cold, mine was hot.
See more: Foie Gras and Lazan’i Betsileo at Restaurant Villa Vanille in Antananarivo, Madagascar
Another good place for foie gras in Antananarivo is the restaurant Kudeta. Kudeta has in addition to foie gras entiere poele and terrine de foie gras, which are described above, confit de foie gras on the menu.
Confit is a term used for various kinds of food that have been immersed in a substance for both flavor and preservation. Sealed and stored in a cool place, confit can last for several months. Confit is one of the oldest ways to preserve food. Meat confits are a specialty of the Southwest of France (Toulouse, Dordogne, etc.) and are used in dishes such as cassoulet.
The confit de foies gras is made as follows: The liver is salted and seasoned with herbs, and slowly cooked submerged in its own rendered fat, in which it is then preserved by allowing it to cool and storing it in the fat.
The confit de foie gras at the Kudeta was served hot and in slices. It looked a bit like like escalopes de foie gras. But the latter are slices of raw foie gras, which have been briefly roasted, sauteed, pan-seared or grilled.
Finally, in Madagascar there is now a growing number of fine lodges, which offer lodging in the paradise with world class food. One of them is Princesse Bora Lodge on Ile Sainte Marie off the east coast of the Grand Ile de Madagascar. There are 2 things that are very particular about Princesse Bora Lodge, as far as I am concerned. First, it is a good place for whale watching during July to September, when the whales migrate from the Antarctica and arrive in Malagasy waters to give birth and to mate. Second, Princesse Bora Lodge has a good selection of wines, but does not have a wine card; you go - with or without the Sommelier - into the wine cellar and you select your bottle(s) of wine there.
For more see: Sea, Sand, Soul and Sakafo, and Whales and Wine – At Princesse Bora Lodge on Ile Sainte Marie in the Indian Ocean
Praline and Parfait de Foie Gras at Weinstube Kruger Rumpf in Germany
Last year, we had a gorgeous dinner at Weinstube Kruger Rumpf in the Nahe region in Germany. One of the courses was Praline and Parfait de Foir Gras, served a room temperature.
See more: Wine Maker Dinner with Stefan Rumpf at Weinstube Kruger-Rumpf in Muenster-Sarmsheim, Germany
schiller-wine: Related Postings
Foie Gras in Madagascar
Dinner in McLean, Virginia - What We Ate and Drank
Schiller’s 12 Favorite Restaurants of Antananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar
Sea, Sand, Soul and Sakafo, and Whales and Wine – At Princesse Bora Lodge on Ile Sainte Marie in the Indian Ocean
Dinner at Plum in Oakland, California - Sister Restaurant of Coi, #58 on the 2012 San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants List
Wine and Cheese at Bock Bisztro in Budapest, Hungary
Wine Maker Dinner with Stefan Rumpf at Weinstube Kruger-Rumpf in Muenster-Sarmsheim, Germany