Losing foie gras virginity in Paris
Hope now I've got your attention...
I'm a fairly recent addition to the foodie world. That, coupled with my rearing in suburban Ohio and schooling in rural Central New York, has left few opportunities to try foie gras until my recent move to Boston. But, knowing I was headed to Paris this April, I thought I would hold out and experience foie gras for the first time in its most quintessential location. Now, I just need to know where in Paris to lose this (what I perceive to be) monumental foodie virginity. I don't really have any requirements as far as preparation...advice on that would be appreciated as well. Just looking for a rec for a restaurant serving delicious foie gras that's reasonably priced (I am a recent college grad, after all, so on a bit of a budget).
(I apologize if this is a difficult topic...perhaps all foie gras in Paris/the world? is delicious, but I would love to hear if any one restaurant pops into your mind when you hear the words 'foie gras.')
Important to try different preparations to really appreciate it. First there is duck (Canard) and goose (Oie) foie gras - duck is cheaper than goose.
Then there is "Pate de foie gras", "Mouse de foie gras" (both 50% foie gras) and "Parfait de foie gras" (75%) which are obviously cooked pates/mouses etc each with varying degrees of foie gras content. Then "Bloc de foie gras" which is livers moulded together then cooked (by law 98% liver), and finally there is "foie gras entier" which are lobes of the liver that are lightly cooked (cuit) and served warm.
Try them all and decide which is best. I am afraid I can't recall where the best is.
Two suggestions. First go to "Le Bon Marche" (great department store with a fantastic food hall) and buy some Bloc - vacuum packed not a tin, with truffles or not - approx. €25 for a healthy chunk enough for three people. Add a half bottle of riesling from Alsace or a half bottle sauternes, and a brioche. Chill the wine, toast the brioche, add a pinch of sea salt, ideally from Brittany, and have a picnic (try sunset on the Pont des Arts - the footbridge near the Louvre). You could even push the boat out and get a small jar of onion or fig confit to complete the dish.
Second, find a restaurant that serves "Foie Gras Cuit" - it is a very different experience. A melting texture and very fine flavor. Not at all like the pate people generally think Foie Gras is. Again a glass of sweet white wine works well. This will not be cheap but it is essential (the picnic balances the cost).
For really good foie gras try A La Biche au Bois 45, avenue Ledru Rollin 75012
Tel: 01-43-43-34-38 They also sell it to take away. They offer a menu of 4 courses for about 24€, the foie gras supplement is about 6 or 8 € more. The owner of the hotel where I stay loved it when he tried it last year after my first visit. When I returned the next month he had me pick him up a half a kilo; I think it was 40€; he pronounced that some places go for texture; some for taste; that this had good texture but definitely the best taste. Reservations here are essential, you can call; Bertrand and Céline both speak English.
My "go to" fois gras is the 250g block of "entier" at Monoprix (about 20-23 euro). Let it get to room temperature and consume with a Rhine white of some sort or a Sauterne. As for restos, most of the starred places do some preparation. At L'Altelier de Joel Robuchon I had the raviolis with fois gras and lobster. Those were good, but for just a nice slab, you can't do much better at a resto than you can get at a supermarket.
I did have some homemade fois gras on a couple of occasions that was very nice too.
The first time I had fois gras I was not impressed, believe it or not. The second time, however, I was enthralled! As others noted there are many types and preparations of fois gras, and keep in mind what you drink with it makes all the difference. As a frequent Bordeaux visitor I suggest Sauternes! It might be a good idea to rethink your virginity and have a taste of fois gras before you get to France, if only to realize how great it is in all its glory! At any rate, have a great trip!
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