Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sacramento restaurants find loopholes in foie gras ban

Banning foie gras ended up being a boon for its popularity.

The state's July 1 ban on foie gras was supposed to prevent the fatty goose or duck liver from being served at California restaurants. Instead, foie gras has become more popular, and enforcement of the new law has been nearly nonexistent.

Sacramento chefs and others from around California are exposing loopholes in the law, making foie gras fairly easy to find in restaurants despite its blacklisted status. You can find it served at such restaurants as The Kitchen in Sacramento, where foie gras is treated as a complimentary item – not officially for sale and technically, some say, not illegal.

"There's more interest in foie gras now than ever," said Randall Selland, executive chef and owner of The Kitchen. "If you ask to try it, we'll let you have some. It won't be on the menu and there's no extra charge."

Foie gras is produced by force feeding ducks or geese with a funnel and long tube to create an engorged liver, a process known as gavage. Though foie gras has deep roots in France's culinary traditions, gavage has been outlawed in a number of European countries. The California ban was instituted in 2004 with the passage of SB 1520, and given a 7 1/2-year sunset for the law to take effect.

Some California chefs stocked up on foie gras before the ban took effect, with plans to offer it after July 1 as a complimentary item and duck the letter of the law.

"We know what the rules are, but we have enough to last a couple of months," said Selland. "We're waiting to see how this pans out and how it can be done. There's a multitude of ways to do it." Full story at Sacramento Bee

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