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Plat du Jour: June 8, 2012: Paris Is The New Brooklyn and the California Foie Gras Countdown

It’s the end of the week, graduation time, summer is almost here (officially that is), and that glorious time of the year when fresh produce are bountiful everywhere, with tomatoes preparing to emerge in a little over a month. What a great weekend for barbeque dinner and a stone fruit compote over ice cream!

Foie Gras at The Big Four Restaurant, San Francisco

Or if you’re in California, this is a great weekend to go overboard with foie gras everything because there aren’t many weekends left to do so. The New York Times captured both sides of the hotly contested debate, one that surely will not die down once July 1st comes around. One thing I’m guessing no chef will do is the proposed complimentary foie gras dish with a dramatic increase in prices for a glass of wine to reflect that. Somehow, you just know that the ban will soon be reversed.

Unlike Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York City, who is specifically targeting obesity by tackling the problem head on by restricting the sizes of sugary drinks, the foie gras ban supporters led by Rep. John Burton simply are doing something against meat eaters for the sake of combating eating meat. Force feeding is indeed cruel for the geese producing the foie gras. Slaughterhouses aren’t exactly less cruel, either. If the target is animal cruelty, then outlaw meat eating period. If the target is the foie gras eating audience, a tiny sliver of the “1 percent,” then there are many other ways to have an effect as well. Outlawing foie gras in one state will not make waves. It will only make people roll their eyes and chuckle at how little an effect it has.

Brooklyn?

Imagine if Paris decided to outlaw foie gras? Impossible. Imagine a Paris…with food trucks? For those of who lived in Paris, we all wonder for a city that barely has streets wide enough to fit one car for a two way road, where do these trucks park? The answer is farmers markets. It’s great to see the innovative minds go to work on food trucks there like they have here in the U.S. Having not been back to Paris since the hamburger food truck “Le Camion Qui Fume” opened, I cannot vouch for the quality of their burgers. I can say though I would have loved to have a worthwhile burger around in Paris. The one burger I ever tried was at Scoop, an Australian run milkshake and burger restaurant in the 1st arrondissement that looks more like it should be serving refined small plates and mixologist cocktails. Not a bad burger, though terribly dry and overcooked. Worst was their specialty milkshakes, truly dreadful adaptations of the soda fountain staple. At least the burger came with a free margarita.

Hamburger and Margarita at Scoop, Paris…Classic Pairing

How great is it that the French use “Brooklyn” as an adjective for hipster-chic. That always reminds of the best French term, à la mode, which refers to “in vogue” or “in style” as opposed to the American usage of brownies or apple pie on ice cream.

Noelle Carter of The Los Angeles Times last weekend penned a terrific piece on the often overlooked galettes, the lovely French pastries . Speaking of the figs and apricots growing everywhere this week, I can’t think of a better snack or dessert tonight than those stone fruits in a galette.

It will be very interesting to see how Anthony Bourdain’s new travel show on CNN and his new reality show with co-host Nigella Lawson on ABC will fare. Both shows were announced this week and signal a clear attempt by the major broadcast and cable networks to cross-over to the foodie generation. “The Chew” on ABC has been a bust, something it might not be were it broadcast on The Cooking Channel. The catch is can these programs hold on to viewers for more than a few hungry moments?

Can they have the addicting, must-see weekly quality of many reality shows, dramas, and sitcoms? If anybody were to succeed at this, it would be Bourdain. He is the 21st century Hemingway, a man of the world, of adventure, of his own vernacular, who is both a kind hearted good samaritan and an edgy, judgmental figure not afraid to offer a harsh viewpoint. Hemingway has his style (think, “It was pure. It was war and the war had the purity of man. We slurped oysters and sipped a cold Sancerre. A fine Sancerre it was.”), while Bourdain tends to use his own mature language and gross out adjectives comparing shrimp to marlin testicles and what not.

Lastly two closing thoughts wrapping up our week in New Orleans. At many of the restaurants we were seated at possibly the worst tables in the house: by the bar in with the T.V. in clear sight (Emeril’s), by the door (Herbsaint), or the worst, at Commander’s Palace next to the service station, that distracted every conversation. It was intriguing to watch Commander’s Palace’s spectacular organization, yet not so fun for one member of the party whose chair would be nudged by waiters every minute.

And…those oysters and jumbo shrimp. One more time, the barbeque shrimp at Pascal’s Menale.

Pascal’s Manale’s Barbeque Shrimp

If Louisiana shrimp and oysters are not the largest, plumpest, juiciest around, then please send me now to sample a competitor.

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