1789 toque Anthony Lombardo has a holiday treat for West Coast gourmands struggling with the newly enforced goose liver blackout: flash a California ID and feast on free foie gras.
Then-Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the statewide ban on the controversial variety meat — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals condemns it as the “delicacy of despair” — in 2004. But the mandatory disappearing act only took effect this past July.
Lombardo said he hadn’t given the matter much thought until a group of visiting Californians about lost their minds when they spotted the gustatory splurge on the dinner carte.
“They were just so visibly excited … to get some foie gras in their bellies,” Lombardo told HOH.The chance encounter convinced Lombardo to get politically active.
His solution: offering one free order (no purchase required) of his foie gras torchon brioche from now till the end of the month to any foie-starved Californians.
The dish, which features goose liver sourced from N.Y.-based Hudson Valley Foie Gras, typically fetches $22 a pop. Lombardy estimates he typically sends out about 20 orders per day.
Why, exactly, is he willing to swallow a potential $400-a-day loss for the benefit of folks who live 3,000-plus miles away?
“For me, it’s not about inhuman agriculture. It’s part of a culinary tradition,” he said of the highly coveted foodstuff.
Lombardy’s current menu features two other foie gras-influenced items, including duck confit strudel bolstered by foie gras sauce and foie gras-stuffed squab.
The Georgetown giveaway is reminiscent of the strategy Chicago chefs used to skirt the Windy City’s brief flirtation (2006-2008) with fatty liver-free living. That city council blocked the “sale” of foie gras, so defiant chefs merely sent out gratis orders to favored clients. Chi-town lawmakers eventually rescinded the ban.