Rodell Rounds Up Local Foie Boosters

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Mezze's "devastatingly beautiful" foie terrine Photo: Mezze

Besha Rodell, with help from reporter Anna Escher, spends some quality time with a few of the 24 foie gras dishes we force-fed ourselves this month and falls deeply in love with our cover model, Mezze's Mediterranean foie terrine, a "devastatingly beautiful" dish starring a "full moon of meat butter." Putting "politics aside," Rodell talks with Ludo Lefebvre, Michael Voltaggio, and Micah Wexler about their different relationships with foie. 'Ludes is naturally quite passionate about the ingredient's versatility, heritage, and flavor, arguing, "Sure, there are other livers, and other fats. But as a fat, there's nothing like it. It's good hot or cold. Think about eating cold lard. It tastes terrible. Foie gras can be used in so many ways."

Meanwhile, Michael Voltaggio is prepared to soldier on through the ban, reveling in the fact that it just might push him into new territory, much like the higher price of beef is doing. Wexler is more like the Ron Paul of foie gras, concerned that the ban sets a stage for further infringement of chefs' culinary liberties, telling L.A. Weekly, "It's more about the government and a certain group of people trying to tell us what we can and cannot serve in our restaurants."

Rodell herself paints a captivating portrait of foie when she describes its impact in her new-found love, Mezze's terrine. Munching on her favorite "meat butter," the critic writes, "The foie's extreme fattiness provided a rich counterpoint, but its propensity to melt away allowed the other ingredients to be integral to the dish rather than mere garnishes...I tried to think of another conduit for these particular flavors, another vehicle for the hint of mint in the syrup, the sweet tart treatment of saffron. Over fish, they'd become cloying...You'd never taste half the subtleties of this dish if pork fat were involved."

At the end of the day, though, Rodell notes that foie is "just one ingredient," and no matter what it's importance is to gastronomic history, the hearts of chefs, or to personal freedoms as a diner or cook, it's on its way outta here in about two weeks. So if you're a fan, get your foie on before the fatty liver stasi show up at your underground supper club, dragging you away moments before that first delicious, illicit bite.

California's Foie Gras Ban Will Leave Chefs and Diners Wanting. But There May Be an Upside, Too [LAW]