Can you remember the moment when you first realized how amazing food can really be? I remember it very clearly and it was more recent than you may think.
Six years ago I went to Las Vegas with several friends for a pretty epic girl’s vacation. It was a very different time and I doubt I’ll ever have another experience quite like this one. None of us were married yet (I had only just begun dating Jeff). One member of the group, Christa, was a successful fish monger and she was able to get many of our meals and even our hotel rooms at The Bellagio comped. We were determined to party like rockstars- table service at the hottest clubs, dinner at the best restaurants in town, the works.
On the final night of our trip we dined at Thomas Keller’s restaurant, Bouchon. I didn’t know who Thomas Keller was at the time and I knew very little about the restaurant. I was still trying to decide what to order when Christa announced that she was ordering Terrine de Foie Gras de Canard. I didn’t know what foie gras was at the time and someone needed to explain it to me. I might not have been a well versed diner but I was always an adventurous one so when I was offered a taste I gladly accepted. That bite was a revelation to me. I expected to taste something similar to the average chicken liver pate I’d tried at many family gatherings. Hardly. The foie gras was like butter, only richer and more flavorful. My eyes were opened to new possibilities. A few years later when Jeff and I had an overnight layover in Vegas I insisted we dine at Bouchon. I ordered the foie again and it was everything I remembered. It’s not something I eat on a regular basis but for special occasions, there’s really nothing like foie gras. Every time I taste it I’m reminded of that first moment where I truly fell in love with food.
- ½ cup cherries, pitted
- ¼ cup Balsamico Vinegar of Modena
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 11/2 tablespoons shallot, minced
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 magret duck breast
- 2 slices foie gras
- salt and pepper
- arugula for serving
- In a small bowl, stir together the cherries, balsamico and sugar. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat up the olive oil in a non-stick pan on medium/low heat with a pinch of salt and add the minced shallot. Cook for a few minutes until the shallots turn transparent and then add the cherries, including all balsamico and cherry juice in the bowl. Simmer on medium-low heat, stirring periodically, until the liquids have reduced to a thick syrup and the cherries are very soft, approximately 15 minutes.
- Score the fat on top of the duck breast diagonally in two directions. Cut all the way through the fat without cutting into the meat. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Heat a sauté pan over medium-low heat and then place the duck in the pan, fat-side down. Allow the fat to render until it's dark brown and crisp, approximately 10 minutes. Drain some of the duck fat from the pan periodically to avoid splatter.
- Flip the breast and allow it to cook on the opposite side for a few minutes, until an instant read thermometer reaches 125 degrees F in the center of the breast. Allow the meat to rest for at least 5 minutes.
- While the duck is resting, prepare the foie gras. Heat up a nonstick skillet on high until it's very hot. Lightly score one side of the foie gras and season with salt and pepper. Place the foie gras into the hot skillet, which should immediately start sizzling (if it doesn't remove the foie and allow the pan to continue to get hot). Sear for approximately 45 seconds per side.
- Lay a bed of arugula on two plates.
- Slice duck on the bias into thin strips and fan it over the arugula. Add one slice of foie gras to each plate, scored side up, and serve immediately.
And in the comments section, tell me: what’s your most memorable food moment?