Category Archives: CULINARY

A Case For Foie Gras

I have listened to a lot of arguments regarding the treatment of ducks and geese in the production of foie gras, and I have to say that I really don’t understand the moral dilemma. Animal cruelty is something that I, along with most people, would fully agree is reprehensible, and completely morally wrong. So, with that in mind, I would like to make a case for foie gras.

There is a primary argument that needs to be reconciled before anything else can be discussed. Animals such as chicken, beef, lamb, pigs, game birds, fish and various other forms of game are bred for human consumption. They deserve to be raised in a healthy environment, and treated with respect. For many reasons, a good and healthy animal makes for better food, but at the same time, animals deserve to have dignity and respect shown to them during their lifespan. So, if someone is against consuming animals, that is a different argument as a vegetarian versus a carnivorous person; rather than the ethical treatment of animals that are bred for slaughter.

With this in mind, where does the production of ducks and geese differ from the raising and slaughter of other animals? Two areas that seem to be major stumbling blocks are the force feeding of the animals, and the enlargement of their livers right before they are slaughtered.

Force feeding, a rather disgusting sounding process, is by veterinarian’s accounts, creates no physical damage to the animal’s throat. That’s right, no physical damage. What appears to be a gruesome act of quickly putting a tube down the duck or goose’s throat known as ‘gavage,’ does not cause damage to the animal. Why? Ducks and geese are omnivorous animals, and have throats that expand to allow large food in the manner that a snake would eat their food whole, or in large chunks. So, while we imagine what this might do to our own throat, the fact is there is a completely different physical make-up.

Secondly, ducks and geese have livers that naturally expand during the fall months, in physical preparation for migration. The ‘gavage’ accentuates the process, fattening ducks for a 12 to 15 day period, and geese for about 15 to 18 days. The ducks and geese are then slaughtered for food, and all parts of the animals are used. The luxurious liver is the prized delicacy, but breast meat and leg meat are also commonly prized.

If you really believe that the processing of these ducks and geese is a cruel practice, then I would suggest that you should stay away from foie gras. Animals raised for slaughter do not have happy endings for the animal, no matter what type.

In speaking with Michael Ginor, co-owner of Hudson Valley Foie Gras in Ferndale New York, he says the ducks come running toward the person with the feed. I have seen abused animals, and that is clearly not a behavior I would expect from one.

As, I believe we become more aware of farming and food production practices in our country, I think it might be more important to look at the respect of the farm for the land and the animals.

I will thoroughly confess to loving foie gras, but I realize this is probably the most controversial food product on the market, and I really would not eat it if I felt something more cruel than the sacrifice of an animal for human consumption took place. I know we live in a society that does not eat animals from snout to tail, and many people avoid the subject of killing animals for consumption.

Foie gras from an ethical and responsible producer is a delicious product. Ethical and responsible are the key words; just as they would be for farmers raising chicken, beef, pigs, fish, game birds, and wild game.

STUPID MENU WARNINGS #Justathought

More and more often menus include the statement, “Notice: The consumption of raw or undercooked eggs, meat, poultry, seafood or shellfish may increase your risk of  food borne illness.” 

More simply put, “Eating our food may make you sick and in rare instances, kill you.”  Maybe said restaurants, should add a symbol, like a skull and crossbones, next to those dishes that increase one’s risk of food born illness.

While they are at it, they might as well add this too, “Eating solid food greatly increases your risk of choking, and we’d also like to remind you that walking upright greatly increases your risk of falling.”

DOES A NEW PRETZEL CHIP AD PROMOTE ANOREXIA?

It probably sounded so good at the pitch meeting. Pretzel Crisps’ attempt to be clever has sparked outrage from people who claim their new ads encourage people not to eat.

On several posters plastered throughout NY city, Pretzel Crisps advertisements declare “You can never be too thin.” Many disagree with that statement, including one upset passerby who tacked on an “actually you can” message to one of the ads in the East Village.

Pretzel Crisps responded to the controversy, saying, “We in no way advocate unhealthy weight loss or want to promote a bad body image. We appreciate your feedback and apologize if the ad offended people.

We are listening to feedback and making some adjustments to the campaign.” I guess all that’s left for the so called ‘models’, besides eating these pretzel chips, is to smoke cigarettes, own small dogs, and maybe, just maybe, date Bill Maher…

‘TO LIVE & DINE IN ATLANTA’ food festival.

If you missed out on ‘The Attack of the Killer Tomato’ food festival this past Sunday, I urge you to all come out for the, ‘To Live & Dine in Atlanta’ (August 11th from 6:30PM-9:30PM). A hip, foodie throw down at The Gallery at King Plow Arts Center, celebrating southern food and drink with a rustic, farm-to-table moveable feast.

The event features chefs Jean-Luc Mongodin of BLT Steak, Todd Ginsberg of Bocado, Canoe’s Carvel Grant Gould, Kevin Maxey of Craft, Hugh Acheson of Empire State South, and more. 

Plus, sample the new street cart phenomenon, from trucks like Souper Jenny, Westside Creamery and Yumbii. Guests enjoy signature bourbon cocktails from One Flew South’s Jerry Slater and top it all off with charming desserts from Bakeshop, The Hungry Peach, among many more!

Everyone takes home a Fresh Market swag bag and all proceeds benefit Georgia Organics (Tickets are a steal at $25.00 a head).

Complimentary valet parking is also available.
See you there…

Obama’s Born Day: Happy B-Day Mr President !

With Michelle in Spain, President Obama had his birthday dinner in Chicago at Graham Elliot’s eponymous restaurant with friends, Oprah Winfrey, her friend Gayle King, Valerie Jarret and Chicago friends Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker. 

Graham Elliot, one of the co-stars of the hit new Fox show MasterChef tweeted the photo above from the back of the kitchen after the president went in to say hello.

It must have been a humbling experience for the GE team, to have the President celebrate his birthday at the restaurant.

TANGIBLE STOCK.

There’s a story making the rounds about a chocolatier in London, called Hotel Chocolat. It recently raised 3.7 million pounds by selling chocolate bonds. The three-year bonds will be paid off with deliveries of chocolate, instead of cash interest.

This comes after Johnnie Walker plugged their pension gap with barrels of whiskey.  At the beginning of the month, DIAGEO (the world’s largest multi-national beer, wine and spirits company) said,  it would partially fund its pension plan using mature whiskey spirits as assets.

I wonder what’s next… wine, cheese, caviar?  This could turn into a serious problem as investors buy into these products and then hoard them in hopes of driving the prices sky high.

BAM IN A CAN!!!

Why is everyone ripping Emeril Lagasse for allowing his name and likeness to be placed on CANNED PASTA MEALS FOR KIDS?

Think Chef Boyardee! This isn’t him.  He sold his marketing rights to Martha Stewart’s Omnimedia.

He no longer has control over any of these products.  Stewart could put his face on a box of condoms if she so wanted.  All he owns are his restaurants.

If you want to blast someone, blast Martha Stewart!

Rest In Peace: Michael Batterberry

The food world mourns the loss of Michael Batterbarry. Michael and his wife Ariane Batterberry founded two milestone national food magazines: Food Arts, the influential award winning publication for the restaurant and hotel trades that recently won a third coveted Folio Gold “Eddie” B2B award, and Food & Wine, a leading consumer publication.

Pioneers in electronic food publishing as well, they created the top rated computerized “magazine” Dining In for Time Inc. in the early 1980s. Singly or together, they are the authors of 18 books on food, art, and social history, and they have contributed a quarterly food trends column to U.S.A. Today.

Michael also pioneered efforts to unite chefs, restaurateurs, and farmers in a mutual nationwide support system that also served to advance the cause of sustainable agriculture. He served on numerous boards and advisory boards, including those of The French Culinary Institute, The Culinary Institute of America (as a Fellow of the Institute), the American Institute of Wine and Food, Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, the Rockefeller sponsored Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, New York University’s Department of Food & Nutrition Studies, Wholesome Wave, Heritage Foods U.S.A., and Spoons Across America, among others.

A cofounder of the New American Farmer Initiative, dedicated to fostering restaurant supported local farming and helping immigrant farmers, he also served as chairman of the food education committee for “Food Culture USA!” the principle theme of the Smithsonian’s 2005 Folklife Festival on the Washington Mall, which drew over a million visitors.

The Batterberrys’ awards and citations include both The James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who in Food and Beverage in America and Editors of the Year, the International Food & Beverage Forum’s Hall of Fame, Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA) Honorary Hall of Fame, and the Madrid Fusión award, presented by the mayor of Madrid, for having propelled the course of the American Food Revolution.

He appeared often on national and international TV as a commentator on culinary and restaurant business trends and performed as introductory host to the Public Television series “Rising Star Chefs.”

FOOD PORN: More than Eye Candy!

It was only after the first bite that I realized how much I missed black perigord truffles.

There’s a beatiful fragrance that’s unmistakable, which engages your sense of smell before you even taste them.

And then the soft, quivering egg yolk breaks open to bestow this amazing silky, creamy quality to every bite. Staggeringly good! What a carbonara…

French Food: YES…I SAID IT!

Things that used to be poached very gently before being presented in a cream sauce are now finally being seared, sautéed, or flame-broiled instead.

What’s the point, you ask? I prefer my dishes to be interesting, rather than ‘refined’, and coaxing that flavor out of a scallop, or a piece of fish, or veal, and adding a bit of tooth to it as well, adds some excitement our forebears would have regarded as gauche.

Note: Before anyone tries to rip me a new one, I’m not against French food.

As far as I know, they invented vittles. All I’m saying is that French fare has become a tad bit antiquated, making it too predictable… And that’s what I have a problem with). Maybe it has to do with the victuals in this country… just maybe…