He said, She Said: F U Foie Gras Dinner at Laftitte San Francisco
Did I say that He Said, She Said was going to be a monthly thing? Are you sure I didn't say bi-annual? Oops!
I told you it was hard to get Mr. Misadventures to a French restaurant! He promises me he is re-committed to the mission/project and we have the next restaurant selected for November (cross your fingers!).
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California is getting ready to re-ban foie gras! In protest San Francisco French restaurant, Lafitte, planned a F U (you can figure that out, right?) Foie Gras Party. Five courses of foie gras are served in a festive atmosphere on the beautiful Pier 5 in the Embarcadero area of the city. Chef Russell Jackson does a Bastille Day lunch and other events, but last Sunday (Oct 16) he was continuing his effort to fight the foie gras fight with a party.
To rally the troops, Chef Russell stood on top of a table and presented some arguments against the inane ban which got the hungry protesters rousted enough to face their foodie fates.
Shortly after we were led into the restaurant to begin our meal and this was our destiny:
We did start the evening in the waiting area with passed hors d'oeuvres: one was a take on Chef Russell's famous The PBJBF, aka Elvis Lives which is a sandwich of combined creamy peanut butter, Muscato jam, foie gras, and crispy bacon, the version that night dropped the bacon; and a cone made of a fortune cookie with a creamed foie gras inside – they both went down well with champagne and we were properly prepared for the main meal.
Amuse-bouche: Foie de Canard a la mode Toulouse (Foie stewed in baked with lemon and mushrooms) – NO picture because I was too hungry and ate the whole thing before I remember to take a photo!
First course: Escalope de Foie Gras Marechale (cured Foie Gras in Aspic with pears and raspberry balsamic):
Second course: Foie Gras a la Marseillaise (Foie Gras Ravioli with an olive tapenade sauce):
Third course: Poissons en Champagne Bouillon de Foie Gras (with albacore tuna, zucchini, and potatoes):
Fourth course: Bifteck de New York avec Foie Gras et purée de Figue (and mulberry and apple):
Fifth course: Foie Gras de Château Sauternes Piquey Gâteau à la Crème de Foie Gras de Glace (plus a dark chocolate foie gras truffle):
From the seat I had at the head of the community table nearest to the kitchen it was like watching the Food Network on HD! It gave me the perfect seat to see just how completely unorganized they were.
The chef was working hard and had a few other staff that seemed to be good workers, but I saw people back there who did not have a clue what they were doing. The chef has passion and I like his character. But he seems a bit disorganized.
The quality of the foie gras was really good. I liked the first course a lot. The dinner was way too slow. The biggest mark against them was that I was served cold meat. That is unacceptable to me.
I think Chef Russell might have bitten off more than he could chew. Everything was really, really disorganized from the arrival and staging to the ordering of drinks to the delivery of the check. It might have been better to cut the 100-person party in half or to have done 2 seatings.
I have never been to one of these parties so I honestly can't say if that is how these things are run in general. We arrived at 6:30 and left after 10:30. If a three-hour formal dinner in France is interminable then four hours here in the U.S. is a living hell (at least for me).
I was worried that I wasn't going to like the meal as I am not a huge fan of foie gras that is warm or hot. I prefer cold foie gras which I knew was only going to be a small portion of the meal. But I did like most of the dishes. Like Mr. Misadventures I liked the first course and I was really surprised that I liked the ravioli as well, but I really did.
The worse thing about the entire meal is that all the courses were served with great sauces or broth and there wasn't a slice of bread to be found. In a French restaurant. Sacrilege.
I did not like the third course as the foie gras was cold (and I think the tuna as well) but the bouillon was warm, it was a weird sensation. My steak was warm and cooked to my liking, but I gave the foie gras to Mr. Misadventures as I knew I would not like it.
The dessert was interesting, I am not a fan of Sauternes but loved the cake (Mr. Misadventures slice was really dry and not as good) and the foie gras ice cream was really tasty. I did not dig the truffle at all which surprised me as I had eaten foie gras with chocolate sauce at a dinner in the Chateau Adrieu in Normany and had loved it.
Unfortunately in the end the food sort of became irrelevant because we were really annoyed at how long it was taking to be served between courses. We would not eat here again because we sort of have a bad taste in our mouths on how the night went. But given the packed house, I am pretty sure we will not be missed.
We believe in the mission to fight the ban on foie gras, but would rather sit at home and eat the jars that we brought over from France!
that’s too bad that the service wasn’t top notch. That 4th course looks downright delumptious!
@Kola, it was pretty yummy.
I’m surprised the service wasn’t up to scruff when the food looks so fancy!
@Kyle, I think it is a matter of too many people to serve at once.
The first course definitely looks the best to me. The rest I’m afraid might have been overkill. Foie gras ice cream? eek
Let’s celebrate a “delicacy” produced by stuffing a tube into a goose’s esophagus and force feeding it for almost three weeks! That’s right up there with veal and shark fin soup. Yick.
I like to eat duck, and all other kinds of meat, but I try to be conscientious of where it came from. What kind of message does it send when you support the disrespectful and even inhumane treatment of living beings?
@Alicia, I completely respect your opinion. And I won’t try to change your mind as it is not my place. There are so many food around the world and so many food practices, come respected and some not, I try not to judge and just acknowledge to each their own.
Alicia E and those curious to know:
Tubes are not “stuffed” down their throats. Ducks and geese swallow fish, toads, and small birds – yes, they cannibalize too – their way of eating is very different than ours, and other mammals – the duck and goose body is reptile. It’s important to understand that.
Second, Ducks and geese gavage on their own when they migrate and when they are in the wild – their bodies are designed to store all their fat and nutrients in their liver – they do not get cellulite like us. So the liver gets huge, naturally – we get thunder thighs and big belly’s, arms etc… The reason that farmers gavage them is that they will not generally eat in captivity like they do in the wild.
Anyone who is interested in the facts of farming a duck for foie gras should just call up a farmer and ask, call up a scientist, do you own research – that’s what I did, and now I know the truth and I feel fine about the farming practice and am enjoying foie gras, confit, my down comforter and duck broth etc…..
@Breezie, thanks so much for your comment!