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Foie Gras

Could someone describe the taste of foie gras for me? I had it for the first time a few nights ago at Coppa and was less than impressed. I'm not quick to blame Coppa as I have no idea what it SHOULD taste like.

To me, it tasted like steak with a lot of ups and downs, finishing off with a livery aftertaste. I thought it would be tender and very rich - almost overpowering. It wasn't.

Dare I say, overcooked?

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  1. It sounds like yours was overdone. I like my foie rare. It's rich, silky, buttery, melt in your mouth.

    1. I'd describe it as a buttery, savory custard. Your description of "ups and downs" makes me wonder if they served you part of a B-quality lobe, which might have some more gristly bits. For serving straight (not cooked into a paté) A-quality is preferable. Smooth and sublime!

      7 Replies
      1. re: BobB

        Gristly bits meant of a pate - this sounds exactly like what I had. How disappointing. Is it out of place to ask prior to ordering, "Is the Foie Gras A-quality or B-quality?"

        1. re: TommyJay

          Was the dish billed as "foie gras" or "paté de foie gras?" Not the same thing. The former is (or should be) pure foie gras, the latter is a mixture that can have all sorts of other things added (other types of liver, ground meat, etc).

          1. re: TommyJay

            I don't think this is a useful question; the difference between A- and B-grade foie gras is visual.

            An A-grade lobe has no or almost no visual blemishes, marks, veins (aside from the main vein), and blood specks. A B-grade lobe has some, but very little, of these. Taste is going to be a function of freshness; whether there is gristle depends on proper care and prep.

            While A-grade is preferred for a simple, rare sear, most restaurants are serving you B-grade and it is fine, even visually. You can go see both grades at Savenors--they generally have both grades available as full and half lobes, side-by-side. There is only one foie gras provider in the US, Hudson Valley in NY, so it will be the same thing you get in a restaurant.

            Not that I wouldn't prefer A-grade, but care, preparation, and freshness are what matters quality-wise.

            1. re: rlove

              Spot on analysis. BTW, it is very easy to buy at Sav's and prepare at home..just sear for a few mins iin a hot pan and flip..no more than a few mins. You don't want to overcook...keep it raw inside. I like to serve it on a piece of toasted baguette with a little salt..I cut into 1/2 inch pieces from the lobe..trim out any gristle or veins. It will shrink a little. You can use butter toobut the natural fat makes it unnecessary

              Tender and rich is a good description.

              1. re: rlove

                What, then, was TommyJay served?

                "...like steak with a lot of ups and downs...livery aftertaste" doesn't sound like any foie gras I've had - except for an iffy canned version I bought in Budapest once.

                1. re: BobB

                  Beats me! Like you, it doesn't sound like any foie gras I have had.

                  I haven't had Coppa's foie gras, but I have to imagine it is like everything else I have had there: delicious and well executed.

                  I'm not really sure what TommyJay was describing, though, as I'm unclear what "ups and downs" means. Foie gras does have a liver note to it--being liver and all--and I could see describing the meaty smell that accompanies seared foie gras as steak like. But it certainly doesn't taste like steak.

                  1. re: rlove

                    i have tasted the (seared) foie gras at Coppa, it was perfectly fine, in fact, I thought it was pretty good value compared to some places

          2. locke ober does a decent foie gras, at least it wasn't overcooked the last time I was there.

            3 Replies
            1. re: barleywino

              I had the foie gras at locke ober last saturday and it was perfect, although sometimes the consistency of foie gras freaks me out a little bit. I feel like I'm eating pure fat or something. It's almost like I can slurp it up through a straw when I've had it.

                1. re: Snoop37

                  If cooked like I prefer, you'll be happily licking the fat running down your forearm..:)

                  This is best done at home..and not at a restaurant..:)

                  Remember, there is a big difference between PATE foie gras and the solid lobe that is seared.

              1. Surprising. I've had the foie at Coppa and found it to be everything that I expect from foie (buttery, rich, delicious, etc.)

                Toro also has a foie plate that I find delicious (same chef though). I would give it at least another try before condemning it altogether.

                1. The subject of Foie Gras, and the preserving the freedom to eat said Foie Gras is a great passion of mine and my family. Therefore I would like to offer a few notes to clarify some information which may be incorrect on this thread:

                  #1: Hudson Valley Foie Gras is NOT the only producer in the US. There is also "Bella" and "Artisan" to name a few.
                  Hudson Valley is however the most vocal and involved in the fight to keep foie gras production legal. To the best of my knowledge they are also the only certified "cage free" foie in the country. They had Temple Grandin's poultry expert consult. They allow and encourage farm visits. They are located in Ferndale, NY. I went in Sept. '09.

                  #2: The difference between A grade and B grade.
                  First of all, if a duck is not responding well to the feeding (or if it is a runt), they "cull" the bird, meaning they stop "gauvage" feeding and raise the bird just for meat. The concept is kind of like "not everybody makes the team".
                  The ducks who continue in gauvage are fed 3 meals per day until they are done. The feeder knows when they are done (usually 21 days) because every time they feed the bird they feel the top of the "crop" or pouch to see if there is still food from the last meal there. If the food hasn't passed thru to the stomach, the feeder skips that bird and marks it's neck with a red marker. If food has not passed after two meals times, the bird's liver is ready for harvest.
                  Each duck's liver has the same number of veins. The primary difference between an A and B is weight. A grade A liver is about 2 lbs and a B averages 1.5 lbs. The same number of veins in a 75% smaller liver means that the veins are more concentrated in the B, making it more work for the chef to portion it out. Also you get fewer perfect portions from a B. The difference in grade/price reflects the size of the liver rather than quality.
                  It should also be noted that a larger liver could be graded a B is it is bruised or misshapen, however that is not the primary grading factor. Livers should not really have bruises from production, but rather they may get bruised in transport.

                  A few other interesting notes:
                  Each group of birds has the same feeder for it's whole gauvage. They have employee housing on site. They do three weeks on, 1 week off. Each feeder is compensated with a base salary and they get a bonus for no casualties and other humane treatment indicators.

                  A duck's anatomy is such that the inside of their esophagus is lined with fingernail-like material. Also they have a pouch at the bottom of the esophagus before the stomach which evolved there so that migratory birds can gorge themselves before long journeys.

                  Thanks for listening! Go visit them. It is fascinating!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: naughtywaitress

                    Thank YOU for the detailed background information!

                    1. re: naughtywaitress

                      Duck foie gras is great. Foie gras d'oie (goose) is even better. Do you know if anyone produces goose foie gras in the U.S.?