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Crazy About Duck Liver

by John R. Bonds

I would spend 2 weeks in search of Vegas’ best foie gras. My mission would take me to some of the most expensive restaurants in town. But before I get to the results, just what the heck is foie gras?

It’s a delicacy. It’s expensive. And it’s showing up on more and more Las Vegas menus. The literal translation of foie gras from the French is “fat liver.” It’s pronounced FWAH GRAH. Once produced mostly in France, it’s now being made in the Hudson Valley of New York and California’s Sonoma. Most all of the foie gras sold in this country comes from duck, while in France it’s from the goose. The birds are “force-fed” over a period of several months and are not allowed to exercise or move. This produces in the fowl a huge, fatty liver. The livers are then cooked, usually being baked or sautéed.

OK, enough about what it is. Where can you find the best duck liver on the Strip in Vegas? My hands down winner is the venerable Spago. Chef David Robbins and crew call their masterpiece “Foie Gras Three Ways.” The first is sautéed with baked apple and aged balsamic. A "terrine" or pate of foie gras comes on toasted brioche with fleur de sel and blackberries. And the third “way” is a mousse or puree de foie gras on herb flat bread. At $19.00, quite simply, the most interesting and best I found!

Other outstanding Strip versions included foie gras prepared by Chef Marc Poidevin of Le Cirque; Aureole Chef Joe Romano’s superb sautéed foie gras with peppered donuts, apple compote and calvados sauce; and an excellent cold terrine of foie gras I ate at Drai’s.

Off the Strip, you find a delectable dish of foie gras at Rosemary’s on West Sahara Avenue. Chef Michael and Wendy Jordan import their duck liver directly from France in “flash frozen” packaging. They carefully defrost and then sear it. They serve it with a dried cherry, sweet onion and duck confit relish and toasted hazelnuts. Uhm!!!

Oh, by the way, my 2 week obsession with duck liver packed 7 extra pounds on my 6-foot-4 frame!

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