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Jan 26, 2007 08:53 AM

Foie-gras/veal -ophobic

I am an experienced home chef who is just newly entering the world of higher-end dining. My experience is narrow, but I am interested in tasting menus, because they seem like a nice way to get exposed to unfamiliar foods. I had a sublime tasting menu at Bastide in LA before it closed and a HORRIBLE experience at Masa's in San Francisco which featured "crab louie" which tasted like it came off a supermarket salad bar and a gimmicky "truffled" dish which had one single truffle slice with the texture and flavor of rubber. Truly embarrassing. Suffice it to say that I am inexperienced in this realm, but not easily impressed or intimidated by fancy gourmet ingredients which in reality are used to poor effect or not truly of good quality.

Call me irrational, but my intake of animal products does not include veal or foie-gras. Again, the fact that the latter is a fancy gourmet item does not impress me, and I really prefer not to be served it. Can I make this preference known at a snooty restaurant when I am ordering the tasting menu? If so, do I get a substitute? Do I just have to put up with it?

Please help me, so when I work my way up to REAL high-end places I will be prepared.

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  1. generally if you are ordering a tasting menu that is set, it'd be better to let the restaurant know your preferences when you make your reservation. Most places can make adjustments to their tasting menu when changes are requested tableside (yes, you will get a substitute if you don't want a particular item) though it is gracious to give them notice if you are able. it's more than fine not to request no veal or FG (or whatever you don't want to eat).

    btw, you might have a nicer time if you didn't use high-end and snotty as interchangable adjectives

    1. Young man, you will eat everything put in front of you and you'll like it too.

      Just think about all the children starving in China.

      See the post on narcissistic, bossy chefs.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mojoman

        Thanks for the tip; I will try it! Sorry for equating snooty and high-end. This just reflects my inexperience and thus mild discomfort with the world of fancier dining. I love the idea of enjoying a higher level of food artistry than that which I have experienced before, but have still to get over my natural disinclination to indulge in "luxuries," as well as my lack of awareness of the rituals and etiquette involved. Unfortunately I do not have anyone to initiate me, so every pointer helps.

        1. re: jono37

          Honest enthusiasm will get you farther than faking it. Nobody's born knowing this stuff. Being able to laugh at yourself helps too.

      2. I order fois gras because I find it absolutely fabulous, not snooty. I've had it in many a down-home French bistro. In France I'll eat it every day if it's on the menu. Unless I'm getting escargot. Also, if you object to veal because of how it's traditionally been raised, be advised that it is also possible to get humanely raised veal and better restaurants are already seeking it out.

        1. Sort of the same subject-- Will I always be made aware if the meat or fish in a dish is raw? Or am I expected to know? Any words or tips that mean "raw" ?, like some words mean "with cheese", etc.

          6 Replies
          1. re: BangorDin

            Tartare is the only word I know which is equivalent to raw... I've seen applied to beef and fish, especially tuna. I hope there is no such thing as poultry tartare!!

            1. re: jono37

              Poultry tartare-- exactly why I want to be *told* ahead of time!

              1. re: jono37

                Actually, the Japanese serve chicken sashimi.

                1. re: jono37

                  Crudo, carpaccio, ceviche and sashimi all imply raw meat. I love raw meat. Had a dish of lightly seared pork sashimi last year that I can't stop thinking about.

                  1. re: Morton the Mousse

                    Spot on except some can argue that ceviche or crudo is slightly cooked by the acidity. It certainly still looks raw. And sashimi isn't necessarily raw although most preparation of sashimi are raw and if you see something labeled sashimi in a non-Japanese restaurant it should be a safe assumption that it is raw.

                    If you are scared of raw or practically raw stuff, I would also pay attention to something just labelled seared, i.e., seared tuna will be cooked only on the very outside and the inside will still be practically raw.

                2. re: BangorDin

                  ceviche usually starts with raw fish/seafood -- it's 'cooked' in the citric acids of lemons / limes etc. but if youre super-sensitive about the rawer end of things, it's something to be aware of.

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