Monday, November 25, 2013
Crise de Foie: Not a Good Way to Start the Holiday Season
An old French friend of mine years ago would often weakly moan the morning after an evening out "I'm having a crise de foie." He explained that his liver was in "crisis" because he had had too much fatty food and drink the night before. It was a foreign concept to me but I was certain I never wanted it to happen to me.
I'm not into fatty foods, other than ice cream and fries which I rarely allow myself and never at the same time. I hate oily, buttery or mayonnaisey foods and always have. The only time I ever use butter is on restaurant bread. Even for my baked potatoes I used whipped goat cheese.
As a child I detested mayonnaise so much that I would order tuna sandwiches without it. Once out on a "date" with my boyfriend at age 7 I ordered this crazy item at the restaurant. My dad was there, of course, since my boyfriend, though very mature for his age could not drive. Useless Patrick!
I ordered my mayonnaiseless tuna sandwich and Patrick ordered his normal one. After a long while, apparently when the arguing in the kitchen subsided and someone finally gave in to the insane request, the two sandwiches were delivered to our table. A few minutes into eating, my dad recounted a few years before he died, it became obvious that neither of us was happy. We had each gotten the wrong sandwich. But, being on a "date" neither of us wanted to appear difficult or less than perfectly polite, so neither of us admitted aloud our disgust with our overly or underly mayonnaised sandwiches.
Last night we had an 80th birthday dinner at Cafe Stella in Silverlake. It is very French, from the slightly distanced way the staff treats you ("I'm a little too cool to be full on friendly to you, but I will be perfectly delightful and professional so that you will keep ordering and be inclined to return.") to every last morsel you put in your mouth. It was exquisite food and transported us all back to Paris.
I ordered Truite Almondine, because in my humble opinion French restaurants and/or chefs know how to prepare it best. It was the best I'd ever had. With the first buttery, melt-in-you mouth bite, though I knew I wanted lemon to cut the butter a little. But I hesitated to ask. I was transported back to the the late 60's in the restaurant with Patrick Woodward and my dad. Don't want to ruffle any chef feathers, I thought. But also, in my defense, every time I looked up from our lively discussion at the table our waiter was nowhere in sight.
The salad was also brilliant. The dressing one of the best French mustard based dressings I have had. But, I had forgotten to ask for "light" application. It didn't stop me from eating the whole thing though because it was ridiculously delicious. Still, it was far richer than what I am used to with my lemon only salads at home. At most I put on the lightest amount of oil, so for my system this was the fat equivalent of taking a morning shower under Niagara Falls.
A chocolate pot de creme drizzled with caramel finished off the evening. It was inspired. Seriously, who ever thought of drizzling a deeply rich chocolate pot with caramel? Unreal.
Later that evening as I prepared for bed I was thinking about my French friend. I was experiencing my first "crise de foie." I could hear my liver yelling from deep inside me "What the hell were you thinking?"
I am fine today. Never mind the fact that I had the best drink I've ever had, the "Ginger Rogers" (gin, fresh ginger, etc.) at the Chateau Marmont earlier in the evening, champagne just before that and a Stella Artois with dinner. That's an enormous amount of alcohol for me. More Niagara Falls on my sweet innocent liver.
It was worth it though. It was a divinely yummy evening. But, really? Was it the best choice the week of Engorgement Day?
It was my first crise de foie. So, I'm just going to eat very light for the next three days -- another very French thing to do, for women at least - and pretend I'm French. I'm also going to run 734 miles.
If you want to pretend you are French, I could not more highly recommend this LA gem: http://cafestella.com/.