California's two-year ban on the production and sale of foie gras, the fattened duck or goose liver subject to heated animal welfare debates, ended this week as U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled that the law contradicts existing federal poultry regulations. California voters originally approved the ban in 2004, but the law did not take effect until 2012. At the time of the ban, only one farm in California -- Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras, a family-run business for almost thirty years -- was producing foie gras. Owner Guillermo Gonzalez has been one of the leading voices in overturning the ban, along with a number of celebrity chefs, Chris Cosentino and Anthony Bourdain among them.
Here in Colorado, there are no duck or goose farms set up for the production of the rich delicacy, which requires seasonal "gavage," where the fowl are force-fed additional grain for a short period of time to induce their livers to store additional fat. But since the sale of foie gras has always been legal here, many restaurants offer it on their menus. In fact, a recent walking tour of Lower Highland turned up three great examples of the dish within a few short blocks of each other.
Z Cuisine Foie gras de canard en terrine maison Chef/owner Patrick DuPays offers a classic menu of "Cuisine du Terroir," including a foie gras terrine with duck liver sourced from Hudson Valley Foie Gras in New York. The foie gras is marinated in late-harvest muscat before being slowly cooked in individual terrines with minimal seasoning. Right now, the buttery smooth dish is being served with Champagne Rose gelee and a merlot wine reduction, but the accoutrements change with the seasons. At $20, it's a celebratory dish for a special occasion, but one that you'll be craving again as soon as you walk out the door.
Williams & Graham Seared Foie Gras with blackberry gastrique and hazelnuts
This speakeasy-style shrine to cocktails also boasts a small but enticing menu of rarebits, hors d'oeuvres and grand and petit plats. At only $10, the foie gras on the rarebits menu isn't going to stuff any gluttonous gourmands, but the nuggets of duck liver, quickly seared to leave the centers almost fluid, offer a delightfully decadent taste while leaving room in the budget to explore the extensive drink menu. W&G's foie gras is served on miniature toast points -- perfect for dipping in the drizzle of tangy-sweet gastrique -- and a scattering of toasted hazelnuts.
Old Major Foie gras and onions
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It makes sense that Justin Brunson's meat-centric menu includes a foie gras appetizer, which plays with the classic liver-and-onions theme. A small slab of duck liver comes with caramelized onion demi-glace, but true to the restaurant's charcuterie tendencies, there are also slivers of beef tongue pastrami along with a quail egg atop a cute potato "latke." The presentation changes here, too, with past platings including house-made mini-cronuts or sweet-tart summer rhubarb. For more of a taste of duck, the dry-aged ribeye for two comes with foie gras butter, and the Hudson Valley duck gourmand plate features duck leg confit and crispy offal.