More Tales of the Foie Gras (Providence, Petrossian, FIG)
This weekend I lunched at Providence on Friday, brunched at Petrossian this morning, and then dinnered dined at FIG earlier this evening. I was solo at Providence, but with my family otherwise, and therefore got to sample a multitude of dishes at the latter two restaurants. However, I will be focusing only on dishes that contained foie gras in this blog, since it is liver, which is offal (and awfully good).
With one week left to enjoy this delicacy in California (legally), I hope this post, as well as my previous post focused on foie gras, will help those of you in the Los Angeles area who want to get a last taste but are having trouble deciding where to go.
Starting at Providence, I had the foie gras ravioli as part of the five-course lunch tasting menu, and added on the foie gras sauté.
The foie gras ravioli, with aromatics, parmesan foam, and a few shavings of pickled truffle, is normally $35 as a main course on the lunch menu or $28 as a hot starter on the dinner menu (plus $30 to have fresh Italian summer truffles shaved directly onto the plate at your table); the portion that came with the tasting menu was a serving of 3-4 ravioli, each containing a thumbnail-sized sliver of foie gras.
The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente, and I thought I could taste the egg that probably went into the dough. The parmesan foam added a lightness to the entire dish, while the drizzles of olive oil brought the dish back down to earth. The marinated or pickled truffles had a wood ear-like consistency and earthy taste that was lighter than I expected. Despite the diminutive amount in each raviolo, the foie was bold and unctuous, and carried the rest of the ingredients on its proverbial shoulders, or should I say metaphorical wings? It was easily the best dish of the tasting menu.
Before the dessert course, I ordered the foie gras sauté [$28], which was grilled and served with partially dehydrated strawberries, black sesame tuile, and green almonds. Unfortunately, this dish was a bit of a letdown after the ravioli, and even when compared to the other foie gras dishes I’ve had recently.
The foie was tender, and yet had a nice crunch to it. While the menu said it was grilled, to me the foie looked and tasted like it was lightly breaded or just dusted with flour and then deep-fried. It actually had a fried-fish taste to it, with a subtle but unmistakable “duck-ness” that someone who’s had Chinese salted duck eggs may have recognized.
Unfortunately, the downfall of the dish were the macerated strawberries, which were both a little too sweet and a little too tart, so that they almost completely overpowered the foie, which was more delicate in flavor, the fried-fish taste notwithstanding. Eaten without the strawberries, the foie paired really nicely with the green almonds; the nuttiness accentuated the natural flavors of the foie. The sesame tuile added a crunchy texture without contributing much flavor.
At Petrossian, I ordered the two foie gras dishes on their regular lunch menu: the summer berry gazpacho [$22] and the asparagus with foie gras ravioli [$16].
The gazpacho contained pieces of Armagnac poached foie gras, pickled beets, croutons, microgreens, and strawberries and blackberries. After being disappointed with the foie-plus-berries combination at Providence, I was curious if the other ingredients in the gazpacho would overpower the foie.
[To see the ingredients in the bowl pre-pour, check out My Last Bite.]
Fortunately that was not the case. While the gazpacho had a subtle bite in its aftertaste, the flavor of the soup and the fruit where all bright and clean and allowed the flavor of the foie gras to shine through. The individual pieces of foie were small, less than half an inch cubed, but the amount was more than sufficient so that I got a piece of foie in every spoonful of gazpacho.
If the foie-plus-berry dish as Petrossian was better than at Providence, the reverse was true of the ravioli dish. Of course, Providence’s were some of the best ravioli I’ve ever had, so I didn’t expect Petrossian’s to be as good, but it fell a little below my already lowered expectations.
Aside from the asparagus and ravioli, the dish also contained a few small squares of black summer truffles, some delicate leaves of little gem lettuce, and truffle jus vinaigrette. The pasta was undercooked, with the “gritty” texture of semi-cooked dough. The foie was very pungent and reminded me more of chicken liver. I did not get a great deal of truffle flavor either from the vinaigrette or from the truffles themselves. The highlight of the dish, and likely the reason it got top billing in the name, was the asparagus. It was cooked perfectly through, without a hint of crunch left, yet was not mushy at all, and it saved the dish from being a complete disappointment.
FIG‘s menu listed only one dish containing foie gras, the foie gras and chicken liver parfait, which is normally $16, but as we ordered it during “FIG at Five”, FIG’s generous 50% discount on nearly everything when ordered between 5 PM and 6 PM, it only cost us $8. And it was worth every penny.
The parfait came in a glass jar and was served with grilled baguettes and fig marmalade.
The parfait was smooth and fatty and salty and paired beautifully with the subtle sweetness of the fig marmalade and the buttery crunch of the baguette. The combination actually reminded me of buttered popcorn.
My wife had ordered the Rosie organic chicken, which is served with the chicken skin fried flat and crisp. Naturally, I broke a piece off and buttered it with a bit of the parfait.
The result was probably one of the most deliciously decadent bites of food I’ve ever had.
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