At the luxury food store we spend time looking at all the tins and jars of preserved foie gras as if we’re connoisseurs, whether we are treating ourselves of wanting to find the perfect gourmet food gift. Then, just as we do with wine, we select the item which has either the most attractive packaging or the most attractive price, irrespective of quality.
As a result, when we taste the product, we selected we are often a little disappointed. It’s alright but we’ve tasted better – on holiday in the South-West of France probably! So, how can we find those authentic foie gras flavors if we’re not lucky enough to live in France?
1. Read reviews published in consumer magazines
These are often based on the findings of a panel of experts who have tasted many products. Their reviews are helpful as the commentaries are generally considered and supported by facts. The problem is that there are hundreds of brands of foie gras and panels rarely review more than a dozen of them. Those that are tasted are all too often manufactured on an industrial scale for selling nationally, and not the foies gras produced by smaller operators who are only able to offer their products locally.
2. Read the ingredients
A good foie gras entier should include simply a whole liver (of which the lobes have been carefully separated prior to cooking), salt and pepper. For bloc foie gras, there should be added to this just a very small amount of water, nitrite salts and sugar. Avoid products which include artificial flavourings, alcohol such as port or Armagnac or antioxidants such as sodium ascorbate or ascorbic acid (E300).
A good foie gras needs none of these ingredients which are often added simply to disguise a poor flavour. The best chefs use only the finest foie gras, then complement it by serving slices or maybe a terrine alongside delicacies like truffles, figs, or a simple green salad with a sweet white wine like Sauternes.
3. Always choose a foie gras which has an authenticity label
Selecting products bearing the label “foie gras du Sud-Ouest”, “foie gras de canard du Périgord”, “foie gras Label Rouge” or carrying the “oie du Périgord” appellation stamp is paramount. While this cannot guarantee that the product has an excellent flavour, it does provide reassurance that the foie gras has been manufactured to a high specification (exacting hygiene standards, the ducks and geese have been reared in freedom, locally and on a corn-rich diet etc).
Products made in South-West France often benefit from the local know-how which has been passed down through the generations. These producers lovingly prepare raw foie gras, simply, to family recipes resulting in a very special product which requires no unnecessary spices to enhance its flavour.
Avoid choosing a foie gras which has “Product of France”, “Made in France” or “Country of Origin France” on its label. These are more often than not the bottom of the range products which are not made to a particular specification or they just meet the minimum criteria – or they are made from foies gras imported from another country in the world (Central Europe mainly) and packaged in France. Similarly, avoid products labelled pâté de foie gras which may contain other, cheaper, meats alongside the foie gras.
4. Medals and awards may provide a good indication
Again, we could debate how these are actually awarded at the various agricultural shows. The winner sometimes depends on the size of the company, whether the leaders belong to professional organisations or even whether they are involved in organising the shows. Nevertheless, the judges are usually both passionate about the products and qualified to decide.
So, again no guarantee but if two products are identically priced, then the one with the medal is probably the better of the two. At Foie Gras Gourmet, we are very proud that Grolière goose foie gras and Le Pré aux Canards duck foie gras have been awarded with a Gold medal at Paris Agricultural Show in previous years.
5. Trust a professional
If you trust your butcher or delicatessen, ask for their advice. For example, you might ask them about the texture of the product (how smooth is it?), the methods of production and how popular it is with their customers.
Otherwise, at www.foiegrasgourmet.com, a panel of foie gras enthusiasts has tasted dozens of foies gras, written a list of comments and selected the most perfect products for you. That’s not to say that other very good foies gras don’t exist, simply that we are extremely proud of the foie gras we sell with their authentic, natural flavours which are miles apart from the standard, bland varieties that we find on the supermarket shelves.
We are also experts in distribution and can ship at no additional cost worldwide. When prepared traditionally foie gras is a delicious delicacy for tasting by yourself, with friends, with your family or at any social occasion.