I am fortunate to have attended the last two LudoBites events – in LA that is :)
Originally, the LudoBites Best of Foie Gras night was a one-night event only, held this past Tuesday (and it was a five-course dinner @ $105 instead of the usual a la carte). However, because the demand for it was so high, they added an extra night. And Tracy was lucky enough to snag a reservation for four @ 9pm. So Tracy, Eugenia, Linh-Nam, and myself headed to the usual LudoBites spot at Gram & Papa’s in Downtown last night to get our fill of foie gras before the ban begins in July. And who better to honor the foie than the often-mercurial, ever-so-talented Frenchman, Chef Ludo?
Foie Gras Cromesqui “MM”
We started with this amuse bouche, croquettes of liquified foie gras, which was dipped in liquid nitrogen then fried. The outside was fried, while the filling remained liquid and creamy. Krissy said that you had to eat it all in one bite, or else it’s going to get everywhere. Luckily there was no molecular gastronomy accident this time around (i.e. Eugenia popping a liquid mozzarella ball on her black dress at The Bazaar). A delicious and fun way to start the meal, and we got two per person (heard each diner only got one on Tuesday)!
Foie Gras Dynamite, Tuna, Lichi
Chef Ludo always manages to play with different cuisines and ingredients in fun and harmonious fashions. A nicely seared piece of foie gras (which had been fridged for a period of time shortly before service to match the temperature of the other ingredients on the plate) sat on a bed of chopped tuna tartare of sorts with lychee. It was topped off the a dynamite sauce (complete with the requisite masago), and surrounded by a meyer lemon aioli. Great interaction between the lean tuna and the fatty foie, and the sauces added plenty of body.
Foie Gras Miso Soup, Radish, Turnips
We had a Thai version of this foie gras soup at LudoBites 8.0, and I really liked it. This one was ever better. The fatty pieces of foie cooked in the soup, and basically melted into the broth. The soup itself was creamy and comforting, with the radish and turnip adding a nice crunchy contrast.
Foie Gras Black Croque-Monsieur, Grapes
Apparently this is one of the all-time LudoBites favorites, and I’m glad to have finally experienced it. Arguably my favorite dish of the night. As if a croque monsieur couldn’t get any better, this one manages to one-up all the previous versions I’ve had. Serrano ham, foie terrine, cheese, bread dipped in squid ink before being toasted (that’s why the bread is all-black) – just sandwich perfection. Oh, and the grape jam was a nice condiment to dip the sandwich in too, giving it a good sweet and savory flavor.
Foie Gras “Crepinette,” Morels, Pears, Green Asparagus
A deceiving complex dish. A normal crepinette is a small sausage of sorts wrapped in caul fat. Here, the foie and some other ingredients (I forgot what what exactly in this, but I remember hearing “sweetbread”) are wrapped in the fat, sat over a potato puree and chopped morels and pears, and topped off with the cheese foam you see on many of Chef Ludo’s previous dishes. There was a grilled ramp on the side as well. Don’t recall seeing any asparagus though. Overall, another great foie dish of the night.
Foie Gras Sundae, Brioche, Black Berries
One of the servers brought this and joked that they ran out of dessert, so they decided to buy Pinkberry for everyone. Served in your typical frozen yogurt cup, this was a foie gras ice cream, topped with strawberries and blackberries, brioche croutons, and a Courvoisier chocolate sauce. The ice cream had more of a whipped cream-consistency, but tasted great. The real star, in my opinion, was the brioche crouton. Tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.
Again, I consider myself very lucky to have attended another LudoBites outing (more like lucky to have lucky friends). We even saw the same server from 8.0 who always said “rock on!,” although he kept it to a basic “enjoy” this time around – what a tease (that guy is great at describing these complex dishes BTW). Another spot-on dinner by Chef Ludo, and it made me realize how much I would really miss foie gras come July. I’m praying for another one of these dinners come June.
Chris Hei grade: A-
LudoBites Best of Foie Gras @ Gram & Papa’s
227 E 9th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015