Covering the dining scene in and around the OC
I wanted one final fix of foie gras, so I stopped in at Brasserie Pascal in Newport Beach on Saturday night, a few hours before California’s foie gras ban was due to start.
I grabbed a seat at the bar and perused the menu as Sean, the bartender, walked over.
“I don’t see foie gras on the menu,” I stated. “Can I still order it? It’s only 8:30–prohibition doesn’t start until midnight.”
“Oh, no,” said Sean apologetically. “We ran out a few hours ago, we only had enough for the customers that called in ahead of time.”
“What, no foie? I came especially for that,” I replied, momentarily disappointed. “But I
guess that makes sense, I’m sure Pascal didn’t want to be stuck with unsold foie.”
“We have a lot of other great items on the menu. Can I start you off with a drink?”
“Well…I had my palate primed for foie gras, but let’s see what else might work. Why don’t you bring me a French 75 cocktail to start.”
At least I could drown my foie sorrows with my favorite cocktail–a concoction of champagne, cognac and a twist of lemon.
Then I had an idea. Since the anti-foie contingency was successful in getting the French delicacy banned, would they stop there, or might they continue their assault on other classic French dishes? What else on Pascal’s traditional French menu was in danger of one day being banned?
Let’s see–the steaks are safe, nobody wants to take on the beef industry lobbyists.
How about ham? No, same thing. Then there’s rabbit–could be a prime target for protestors, although not that many restaurants serve it, and rabbits are hard to catch so at least they have a fighting chance of not ending up as dinner.
Wait–how about escargot? Talk about a decadent delicacy that’s ripe for banning! Those snails are so slow they don’t stand a chance of escaping from escargot hunters, and just think of what will happen when photos surface of escargot farmers force feeding snails.
“I’ll have the Escargot,” I announced to Sean. “Also the Shrimp Cassolette, and a glass of Beaujolais.”
Sean put in the order and brought me the Beaujolais. Within minutes, the Escargot and Shrimp arrived. I consumed the Cassolette as I waited for the sizzling Escargot, baked under a puffed pastry, to cool.
After making sure there were no protesters seated nearby, I speared a snail with my fork and placed it in my mouth. I was immediately overwhelmed with the decadent flavors that came from cooking the escargot in garlic herb butter.
I took a piece of fresh baked bread and dipped it in the indentation that previously held the escargot. I mopped up the remains of the sauce with the bread and popped it in my mouth.
I closed my eyes and smiled. I had reached culinary nirvana. Foie gras was far from my mind as I slowly, carefully, methodically devoured the rest of the escargot], all the while glancing around to make sure nobody was about to scold me for my snail consumption.
Sean came over to see how I was faring.
“That was perfect,” I told him. “Classic French food and classic French drinks. But now,
I need to shock my system back to America. Bring me a glass of Tobin James Syrah.”
Sean placed a glass of dark purple liquid in front of me.
“I guess you’re done, because nothing can follow the Tobin James Syrah,” noted Sean.
“You’re absolutely right,” I agreed. “And I’m glad you were out of foie gras. I enjoyed the escargot, and who knows when they might ban snails?”
Sean laughed, as did I, and yet…
I suggest discriminating diners order escargot wherever you can find it. It’s only a matter of time before the snail police come knocking on the culinary world’s door.
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