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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Foie Gras Goes Underground at California 'Duckeasies'

By Alison Vekshin and James Nash

On July 15, about a dozen people walked into a cozy San Francisco restaurant with a window sign reading ?private event? to savor foie gras, California?s newest forbidden fruit.

They paid $100 apiece for ?a 10-course tasting of quasi- legal goodness,? according to the online notice for the ?Duckeasy? event. Each received an e-mail with the address only hours before the first sandwich of Wonder bread, grape jelly and foie gras mousse was served.

"I want to support the people who believe in foie and who will defy the rules," Jolanda Nuestro, 48, a homemaker, said at the communal table before a toast broke out: "To foie!"

"To being force-fed foie!" another guest added.

Two weeks after California's ban on selling and producing the fatty duck liver, chefs are hosting clandestine events, offering it as a free side dish or selling it to regulars without listing it on the menu.

In an unscientific survey, four of eight restaurants visited in the two weeks since the ban offered foie gras. Four that had it on their menus before the ban refused to serve it when asked.

David Rieken, 49, a personal assistant from San Francisco who discovered the Duckeasy dinner through a friend, said he was drawn in part because of its secretive nature.

"I would be lying if I said there wasn't a certain exclusivity that is cool and a defiance against a law that we think is rooted in double standards," Rieken said while sipping a glass of French red wine before dinner.

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