Top O' The Cove Restaurant
1216 Prospect Avenue, La Jolla
The Top's new chef, Alain Redelsperger, hails from Strasbourg, France, where foie gras is a favorite dish -- especially eaten cold. Hence, Redelsperger's version differs sharply from the typical warm sautéed lobe of liver accompanied by a sweet, liquid fruit sauce -- it has a texture like butter, and the flavor is the purest essence of this precious ingredient. Redelsperger imports fresh duck foie gras from France (because the Hudson Valley livers that most chefs here serve are too fat and venous to be served cold). He wraps a round of it in plastic, poaches it to the split second, then lets it cool overnight. Meanwhile, he's prepared a balanced "marmalade" of dates poached for four hours in mango, lime, and orange juices, cider vinegar, brown sugar, onions, and a touch of garlic, with a sachet of sweet spices. When the mixture falls apart, he purées it until it achieves a light, fluffy consistency. He slices off a round of the soft-firm, mousse-like liver surrounded by a thin gold ring of its own rendered fat, and tops it with a little "quenelle" of the none-too-sweet date purée on top.