Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Jun 14, 2012

There's Duck in My Gin!

The Doomsday Clock is ticking in California as the ban on foie gras will take effect on July 1.  It will be a sad day for chefs, eaters (yes, I said eaters and not foodies because everyone should be able to enjoy foie) and those who were raising ducks and geese for carrying out this centuries' old tradition.  All over California, chefs are uniting to throw foie-tastic dinners so folks can get their fill before it's illegal to produce, sell and serve this versatile delicacy.  Last weekend, I attended a six-course foie gras dinner at Wilshire Restaurant in Santa Monica, where a portion of the proceeds benefitted C.H.E.F.S., a coalition of hundreds of chefs in California that are fighting to overturn the ban.  This bill was voted on about 7 years ago, and I honestly believe it's because people weren't well-informed (and still aren't) about what gavage is, how it affects ducks and geese (BTW, they don't have gag reflexes like we do), and how well these animals on treated on the farms.  

During the cocktail hour, we were served a libation called The Parisian Standard, which had Duck Fat-Washed No. 3 London Dry Gin, Pear Brandy, and a Salted Duck Fat Pear Brulée.  I thought the duck fat would be overpowering, but it was incredibly subtle and the pear really stood out.  I could have eaten the pear brulée as dessert!

After scarfing down some foie gras tartlets, ouef de poule and duck confit croquettes, we headed to the beautiful outdoor patio for the dinner.  Wilshire's Nyesha Arrington made some Twice Cooked Foie Gras Butter Bread, and I could have eaten a few pieces but had to save room for the rich feast.  Mezze's Micah Wexler made a generous Foie Gras Terrine with Cherries, Pistachio Dukkah and Yogurt and Fig's Ray Garcia served a Foie Gras Monte Cristo with Pickled Plum, Sorrel and Lardo that I wish I could have every week for freakin' brunch.  Chef Mark Peel at Campanile ladled up a Foie Gras, Mussel and Celery Root Ragout, Chef Kris Morningstar at Ray's and Stark Bar cooked up Foie Gras inserted in a Scallop with Spinach and a Brown Butter Reduction.  Public Kitchen and Bar's Vartan Abgaryan made some decadent Rabbit with a Foie Gras Crepinette, Bacon, Mustard and Huckleberries.  

We ended the meal with Nyesha's dessert of Foie Gras Ice Cream, Foie Gras Carrot Cake and Nasturtium.  I pretty much had to waddle out of the restaurant like the many ducks that I ate, and was still insanely full the next day, but it was worth it.  Now, who knows of some underground dinners starting in July?  By then, I'll be needing my next foie fix...