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It’s Time for Some Foie Gras


This one has us excited: GauchoGourmet, 935 Isom Road, is having its annual Duck & Foie Gras Feast from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15.

Make your own foie at home.

Make your own foie at home.

Chef Robbie Nowlin of Citrus and the Hotel Valencia will be leading two classes in how to handle foie gras. One is set for 10:30 a.m., the other for 12:30 p.m. Price is $40 a person.

In addition to preparing a special foie gras dish that guests can sample, Nowlin will take questions from anyone about this delicacy.

Register for the class and you kit a take-home kit for two that will let you create your own foie gras feast. The kit includes two pieces of 2 oz. Hudson Valley foie gras, local organic micro greens from My Father’s Farm in Seguin, imported Italian Amarena cherries by Fabri and a fresh, artisan brioche loaf from The Bread Box.

Several types of foie gras will be for sale.

Several types of foie gras will be for sale.

Other discounts will be offered on additional foie gras must-haves, such as French made frying pans and Alexander Vineyard Sauternes dessert wine, which will beautifully complement any foie gras dish.

Foie gras has long been a favorite treat when dining out. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to bring this treat into your own kitchen.

Duck fans, don’t worry. You haven’t been forgotten in the foie fuss.  All duck products will be offered at 10 percent off on Saturday. The lineup includes whole legs from Rougie, breasts from Hudson Valley and Delpeyrat, smoked breast, duck bacon, confit legs, duck salami, duck sausage and duck fat.

For more information or to register for the class, call 210-454-9861 or email sylvia@gauchogourmet.com.

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How to Sear Foie Gras


Foie gras with mango and pear

Foie gras with mango and pear

For the longest time, foie gras was a sliver of culinary paradise reserved for high-end restaurant dining. That is, unless you placed an order directly from the likes of Hudson Valley Foie Gras or through Central Market. And then, the cut of liver was large and whole, and you had to cut it yourself before searing it in a pan.

Thanks to the folks at GauchoGourmet, 935 Isom Road, you can now buy this delicious cut into slabs and individually packaged, so you can get two or 10 servings, depending on your hunger or the size of your guest list.

A 2-ounce slab sells for about $$6.35, which is a great price compared with what you pay in restaurants. But the food warehouse recently had a one-day sale that made me want to stock up for the future.

First, I had to get one necessary piece of cooking equipment: a splatter screen.

Searing foie gras produces a lot of fat that will coat the area around your stove. So, be ready to clean up a good-sized area around your pan, even with a splatter guard.

Think you can’t cook foie gras as good as you get at a restaurant? Think again. A 2-ounce slab, cut about 3/4 inch thick will cook quickly, but it’s easy, if you pay attention for a good minute.

Before you start, make sure you know how you want to serve the meat and have everything else ready, because you want to serve your dish immediately after the foie gras is cooked. Remember, this is an ephemeral treat, exceedingly rich and satisfying, yet its magic works only for a short while. You don’t really want leftovers.

Slabs of foie gras

Slabs of foie gras

My inspiration was a foie gras club sandwich that chef Andrew Weissman used to serve at Le Rêve. I simplified it greatly, eliminating the buttery brioche and bacon as well as any sort of balsamic reduction. I retained the silky mango and topped both with slivers of pear, instead of the Granny Smith apple that Weissman used. Both the slab of mango and the pear slices were ready to go before I cooked the meat.

What else could you serve with it? Foie gras is great with a glass of Sauternes on the side, so why not a sauce made with a similar wine, such as a German Riesling, that mixes a touch of sweet with a bright acidity to cut through the unctuousness of the liver? Honey and lemon, a drizzle of thick, aged balsamic or sherry vinegar, or a Rossini sauce made with truffles would all go well with it. If you wanted to use a spoonful of jam, think fig, ginger or onion. Nuts and dried fruit, from cherries to figs, would also add to the flavors.

Luciano Ciorciari of GauchoGourmet says he likes his on a piece of toasted baguette with a touch of sweet-tart preserves, such as red currant or lignonberry.

If you wanted to use the foie gras atop a hot steak, just cook the beef first. While it is resting, sear the goose liver.

Handling the liver is easy: Just thaw the slab, score it on both sides (the depth of the criss-crossed cuts will depend on how thick your slab is), and sprinkle it with a little salt and finely ground pepper. Heat a non-stick pan or a regular sauté pan with the tiniest bit of grapeseed or avocado oil until the pan is extremely hot. Place the slabs in the pan and cover instantly. The fat will begin to melt off the slab and splatter. After no more than 30 seconds, flip the foie gras and cook for the same amount of time. Remove and prepare to serve.

That’s it. Then comes the fun part: eating it.

 

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It’s ‘Eat St.’ at Alamo Street Eat


A customer gets her order from Tapa Tapa.

Rudolfo Martinez takes orders at his truck, Tapa Tapa.

“Eat St.,” the Cooking Channel show that celebrates the fabulous and fanciful fare of food trucks across the nation, has been in town the last few days sampling the best the city has to offer.

On Thursday, a crew trailed Jason Dady and the DUK Truck as they set up in Main Plaza for lunch. On Friday, they sought out what Rudolfo Martinez had to offer at Tapa Tapa, which is parked most every night of the week at Alamo Street Eat + Bar, 609 S. Alamo St.

Watermelon Pop Rocks

His menu included two of his usual favorites, Grown A*$ Macaroni and Cheese, which is made with eight cheeses, truffle oil and cheese crackers, and Watermelon Pop Rocks, with chunks of watermelon and mint leaves topped with the carbonated candy treat.

Specials for the evening included Chicken and Waffle Balls, deep-fried, of course, and a real foodie treat: Foie Gras Oatmeal Pie. Yes, this tribute to our friends in California who are currently deprived of the delicacy, featured a deep-fried oatmeal cream pie with peanut butter spread over the top to melt into the dough. Grape jelly, blackberries and a touch of smoky olive oil added to its considerable charms, but the crowning glory was a 2-ounce slab of seared foie gras somehow bringing everything together in one sweet, savory, silly and superb treat.

The “Eat St.” crew interviews diners about the food from Tapa Tapa.

The crew asked me to say a few words about the foie gras, which meant I had to get another order to eat while on camera. The sacrifices I sometimes  have to make in order to promote the wealth of culinary options in this town can seem monumental, but I’ll always up fro the challenge of taking an extra slab of foie gras for the team.

Tapa Tapa’s Foie Gras Oatmeal Pie

The crew moves on to the Point Park & Eats, 24188 Boerne Stage Road, to film Say.She.Ate on Saturday, starting at noon. At noon Sunday, Rickshaw Stop will be filmed at the Boardwalk on Bulverde, 14732 Bulverde Road. On Monday, Society Bakery has its moment, also at Boardwalk on Bulverde.

So, come out, support the city’s food truck scene, enjoy the food and possibly get on “Eat St.”

 

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Griffin to Go: A Journey from Duck Fat to Pork Belly


Saturday’s joyous weather called for a food trek through San Antonio, and the result was a trip of savory indulgences.

Scott Cohen demonstrates how to cook foie gras.

It started at Gaucho Gourmet, the exceptional food warehouse the Ciorciari family operates at 935 Isom Road. The space is only open to the public on Saturdays, and word has certainly gotten out about the place as several dozen people showed up to browse through rows of truffles, fine salami, rare cheeses and a few Asian items that have been added to the mix of European and Argentine favorites.

But the real draw this Saturday was a foie gras cooking demonstration given by Scott Cohen, who used to work with Gaucho Gourmet’s Luciano Ciorciari at Pesca on the River Walk, now Ostra, and the late Brasserie Pavil.

Foie gras

That winning combination was made even more winning when seared samples of the fatty duck liver were served up at the end of session.

Cohen, who is now an instructor at Le Cordon Bleu culinary academy in Austin, brought along his son, Daniel, who is now attending the school as well as two local chefs, Isaac Cantu of the Westin La Cantera and Stephen Paprocki of Eurest Compass Group. Both had worked with Cohen at Las Canarias.

When getting ready to prepare foie gras, make sure it is firm, Cohen said. If you press a finger into it, it should keep the indentation, not spread out.

Heat your skillet, but don’t let it get too hot. That could cause the expensive treat to burn. Instead, it should have a pleasant sizzle when you set the slices into the heat. Cohen used a touch of grapeseed oil in the pan beforehand, which has a high smoking point and doesn’t impart a flavor to mask the delicate nature of the foie gras.

Steve White enjoys a sample of foie gras.

The meat is ready when the exterior is seared but the center is warm and will practically melt on the tongue, Cohen said.

To finish of the treat, you could use a sauce made from flavors you enjoy. It could be a balsamic reduction straight from a can, a sauce of brandy-soaked cherries or a more complex creation with a demi-glace base, perhaps with a touch of Saba, a quince glaze.

Gaucho Gourmet sells Hudson Valley Foie Gras in packages of various sizes. It isn’t cheap, but for a special occasion — such as a Saturday morning, Cohen said with a laugh — it’s worth it.

Bonnie and I left Gaucho Gourmet with plans to meet up with several friends at YaYa’s Thai at 8085 Callaghan Road at I-10 for lunch. It was a chance to sample more duck, since the crispy version with red curry was the special. And it was a winner, with a crunchy exterior and moist bits of meat at the center.

YaYa's Fish Cakes

Neither Bonnie nor I wanted much sugar with our food, but we weren’t so lucky with our orders. A shrimp and avocado salad sounded more than good, but the sticky sweet dressing on top did the fresh ingredients in the salad no favors. A beef salad was not quite as bad, but the sugar was there. An order of fish cakes was best with tender egg and fish working together beautifully.

From there, it was on to Rainbow Gardens at 8516 Bandera Road. I had started the day in the garden clearing a spot for cucumbers, but I wanted to plant more. For her garden, Bonnie was looking for a heirloom tomatoes, a couple of okra plants, herbs, African daisies and so forth. Plenty of other gardeners in town had the same ideas, apparently, for the place was bustling.

The herb area at Rainbow Gardens.

Soon our cart was so filled with the likes of purslane, Greek oregano,and Cuban oregano in addition to soil and fertilizer that we had to get a second cart. That prompted even more buying, with zucchini plants, plumbago and more added to the mix. After stopping to pet the nursery’s silky black cat, we headed out and stuffed the trunk and back seat of a small Mazda 3 with purchases.

For me, a trip to that area of Bandera Road is not complete with a stop at Tim’s Oriental & Seafood Market, 7015 Bandera Road. Though most every sweet and starchy snack in the store seemed to call our names, from pastel-colored Piroline-style cookies that would be perfect for Easter to garlicky crackers, we managed to be good and avoid the call of the carbohydrates.

That pork hanging next to the ducks -- that's mine!

But Bonnie saw a thing of beauty at the butcher counter that was beyond resisting. It was roasted pork, actually pork belly, for $6.95 a pound. Hanging next to the marinated roast ducks, which are also a happy bet but perhaps a little too much after all the duck we had had, it sent out Circe’s seductive call. I couldn’t resist. I bought the entire piece, which was chopped up and boxed to go.

The car didn’t make it out of the parking lot before the first pieces of that fat find made it out of the box. The crackling on the outside could not have had more crunch, while the meat and fat, boasting a heady mix of garlic and salt, was practically intoxicating. It was the perfect bookend to the foie gras, and a great way to end the trip before resuming the gardening.

(Photos by Bonnie Walker and John Griffin)

 

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Scott Cohen and Foie Gras – It Happens Saturday


Chef Scott Cohen

Silky, seductive foie gras is a foodie favorite, to be sure. But how do you cook it?

Find out at 11 a.m. this Saturday when former San Antonio chef Scott Cohen returns to give a demonstration. He’ll be at Gaucho Gourmet, a food warehouse at 935 Isom Road.

Gaucho Gourmet sells Hudson Valley Foie Gras in 2-ounce portions. It also has an array of Italian, Spanish and Argentine foods as well as a few items from the rest of Europe not available elsewhere.

While he is at Gaucho Gourmet, Cohen will also be signing copies of his “Texas Hill Country Cookbook,” which features recipes he served when he was executive chef of Las Canarias at the Omni-La Mansión del Rio. He is currently teaching at Le Cordon Bleu culinary academy in Austin.

Gaucho Gourmet is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. For more information on it, click here.

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