Cavaillon - Farewell to Foie

>> Friday, May 11, 2012

Date of Dining: 5/5/2012
Price: $79 for 4 course foie tasting menu, $6-15 per appetizer, $22-30 per entree
Location: 14701 Via Bettona Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92127
website

The Quick Bit:

+ large portion sizes
+ classic french inspired cuisine
+ great bread service
Δ most dishes could have used less oil
Δ the chef could have stayed in the kitchen more instead of constantly surveying the dining room

When I last visited Cavaillon, I enjoyed a five-course black truffle tasting menu. Since that visit, the restaurant has undergone many changes. Chef Phillipe Verpiand has left the restaurant and sold his ownership to Chef Michael von Euw, the menu has been changed, and the dining room layout has also changed.
As the Chef/Owner the current Cavaillon is the vision of Chef Michael von Euw. Chef Euw received his training from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and previously worked at The Capital Restaurant in London. Chef Euw is also the Executive Chocolatier of VE Group, a post he continues while running Cavaillon. Chef Euw's culinary philosophy is the update French classic dishes with modern technique.
While I hate to say that I only visit Cavaillon for special events, it seems like that is the modus operandi; since March, Cavaillon has been running a "Farewell to Foie" tasting menu in advance of the upcoming ban on the sale of foie gras in California. While I personally discourage any force feeding and inhumane treatment of animals, foie gras has been shown to be created in very humane methods for the ducks. Provided that the foie is sourced from humane production standards, I will continue to enjoy foie when I can.
Since nobody really thought they could eat four foie courses alone, we decided to order one foie tasting menu and then some additional item a la carte and share everything.

Amuse:

carrot soup
Being a little too anxious, I missed getting the photo for this. The carrot soup had great flavor in that it really highlighted the sweetness and creaminess of the carrot. I believe it was created using the recipe from modernist cuisine. The texture of the soup was extremely thick and creamy and very decadent. Overall I was very happy with this dish.
bread - baguette (bottom), viennoise (top)
The amuse was followed by the bread service, which offered a choice of several breads. The breads were generally excellent and everybody enjoyed them immensely. My personal favorite was the baguette, which had a nice flavor and the perfect mix of crunchy exterior and soft fluffy interior.

First Course:

wild mushroom veloute 
The veloute was extremely thick and contained a nice concentration of mushroom flavor. The soup appeared to contain a mixture of several mushrooms including white mushrooms and shiitakes. The consistency of the soup was extremely thick and creamy. The only minor complaint about the soup was that I felt the extra oil added was unnecessary as it gave the soup somewhat of an oily consistency.
foie and winter truffle torchon - fig & honey compote, house made brioche
The torchon contained a relatively delicate approach to the foie flavor. On the other hand, the fig & honey compote had an extremely bold expression of fig and sweetness. The flavor was so bold that the flavors stuck on my palate long after swallowing the compote. Overall, the two components of the dish did not seem to be in harmony or even in syncopation, but they were enjoyable on their own.
truffled pomme frites
The fries did contain elements of truffle flavoring, but they suffered from some technical difficulties - they were a bit under-fried and soggy as a result.

Second Course

escargot - butter & garlic, ciabatta, parsley
I felt the escargot was excellent. They were cooked well with a nice texture, and the butter, garlic, and parsley sauce was a great balance of flavor. Others at the table felt that there could have been more garlic, but I was happy with the presentation as I enjoy tasting the escargot. The only real surprise to this dish was that they escargots were not still in the shells.
seared foie - du pui lentils, quail egg, bacon
I enjoyed the butter sauce that the lentils were served in. The foie was seared well and really showcased what a good piece of seared foie can taste like. Having the runny egg yolk ooze over the foie was a nice touch. The bacon was very nice and crisp, but I felt that it was out of place - the flavor of the bacon overwhelmed the flavor of the foie, and really covered up all the other elements of the dish. However, enjoyed independently as a bacon chip after the foie was consumed, the bacon was excellent.

Third Course

foie gras terrine - house made curried bread, date mousse
This was my favorite dish of the evening. The foie terrine contained a much more concentrated foie flavor than the torchon, and the silk mouth feel of the terrine made it work as well. The date mousse was much more restrained in flavor while still conveying the fruity sweetness that really enhances foie flavors. Finally, the curried bread provided an excellent contrast in flavor as the curry really accentuated the richness of the foie even more.

Fourth Course

braised lamb shank - cous cous, carrot puree, lamb au jus
The lamb shank was braised very well to the point of tenderness. However, the game-taste inherent in lamb was absent or covered by the curry in the cous cous. As I really enjoy the gamey flavor in the lamb, I felt that this dish was missing something. The carrot puree was another great presentation of carrot that really had a nice sweet contrast to offset the other parts of the dish.
cocoa coated foie - seared foie, exotic fruit compote
This seared foie was superior to the previous one. While the cocoa flavors could not be tasted individually, the cocoa gave the foie an extra exterior coating to provide textural contrast. The fruit compote was both sweet and sour, which seemed to complement the richness of the foie well. The only slight complaint about this dish was that it felt like the foie was swimming in a pool of oil.

Conclusion

While I enjoy foie immensely, I cannot really recommend the Farewell to Foie dinner to others. The foie dishes generally seemed to suffer from certain balance issues, and the entire four-course menu is too much for a single person to enjoy. Most of the time, the individual elements of a dish were good, but the overall composition of the dish did not see those individual elements come together well. Further, most of the food seemed as if too much oil was used during the cooking process.
Meanwhile, Chef Euw's approach at Cavaillon seems to be offering larger sized portions at low prices. While this seems like a great value, this generally signals larger problems for the restaurant in general, so it is ultimately not a good indication of what is to come. 

1 comments:

Rodzilla May 11, 2012 at 1:05 PM  

Yeah, adding additional oil on top of foie doesn't make much sense to me. It's like putting oil on butter.

I also agree that a foie tasting where the main component of each dish is a sizeable piece of foie is a bit overwhelming. Probably would have been more appealing if it was used as an accouterment for a few more exciting dishes. The torchon and terrine seemed awfully similar - and I really only need to have a seared piece once.

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