Chad Deal 8:51 p.m., June 19
A Decadent "Au-Re-Foie" at Red Light District
Red Light District—it’s quite possibly the best restaurant you’re not eating at. At least that’s what it looks like when I’m there. Granted, I avoid the Gaslamp on high volume weekend nights, so perhaps I’m not being granted the best visage during my mid-week visits. At any rate, long-time San Diego standout chef Jason Maitland is putting out food that’s as creative, balanced, well prepared, and gracefully plated as any he’s put out over the course of his career. If you’re into gourmet fare, his is not to be missed…especially during the last week of June.
That’s when he’ll be serving a six-course tasting menu made up completely of foie gras dishes. Maitland’s been stocking up on lobe upon lobe of Hudson Valley-fortified duck liver in preparation for the upcoming California ban on the process of fattening fowl. Come July 1, it’s farewell to foie. Chef’s thinking—might as well do it in style. He knows doing this will likely draw out picketers, but rather than get all clandestine, he’s ready to shout the existence and the contents of this special menu out to the masses of diners who, like him, will miss this luxury ingredient.
Maitland’s "Au-Re-Foie" menu will include a torchon served with brioche and raspberry gelee, a foie "burger" with a duck confit cake and shoestring potatoes fried up in rendered duck fat, seared foie with sous vide short rib and potato rosti, and an apricot financier (a petite cake) with a whipped foie gras mousse frosting.
On a recent visit to Red Light District, I had the chance to play guinea pig and check out two preparations. The first consisted of large pieces of seared foie gras perched atop a blueberry crumble and drizzled with huckleberry jam. It was like having a warm blueberry muffin with rich, meaty fat in place of butter—like the poultry version of bone marrow.
The second, more out-there preparation was a cube of foie gras Maitland chilled down, then coated in tempura batter before dropping into the deep fryer. Once golden brown, he dusted it with confectioner sugar and sprinkled it with hot pink strawberry powder. The result was something that tasted almost exactly like one of Homer Simpson’s big pink doughnuts, but with a nice balancing savory nuance from the duck liver. This is likely the preparation described as a "fritter," which will be served as part of the financier dessert as the last course of the Au-Re-Foie menu.
If you’ve spent the past several months scooping up every last taste of foie gras you can get your hands on, your scavenger hunt won’t be complete until you’ve indulged on this fitting end note to one of the gourmet world’s most adored ingredients. The foie gras tasting menu will be available from June 25 to 30. Red Light District is located at 409 F Street.