California's foie gras ban may be officially on the clock (California foie eaters have just six months left to enjoy those fattened duck livers) but that doesn't mean LudoBites chef Ludo Lefebvre is shying away from serving it. To help promote his new LudoTruck menu, Ludo pulled the truck outside of Domaine wine shop on Melrose this past Friday evening for a one-night only 'pop-up'. While the truck's new menu will feature a Messy Shrimp Po Boy, Black Truffle Chicken Sandwiches and Provencal Buttermilk Chicken, the 'Foie Gras Friday' menu read more like a big middle-finger to the fast approaching ban. Foie gras everything.
Many of Chef Ludo's cultish followers were already lining up before the truck opened its windows. A French-speaking camera crew was rolling tape. And surprisingly, no foie gras protestors were anywhere in sight. We took our place in line, nestled between different generations of Ludo followers. Some knew Ludo from the early days of LudoBites pop-ups, while more recent followers seemed only familiar with him and his wife Krissy as the stars of the reality show 'Ludo Bites America'.
After a good half hour in line we'd worked up the appetite to try all three items on the special 'Foie Gras Friday' menu: foie gras and corn soup, foie gras beignets and a foie gras terrine sandwich.
It's no easy task to do foie gras dishes at food truck prices. Only someone with the magnetic appeal of Ludo could actually pull off Foie Gras Beignets for $12. Yes, this little fried ball of dough and foie cost twelve bucks. Yes it was hardly enough for a bite for each of us. BUT...that bite was sweet, deep-fried decadence. Discluding the cost, it was the perfect way to bridge the gap between haute and food truck cuisine.
The foie gras soup ($8) was a more restrained, elegant mouthful, with a rich, deep flavor studded with sweet corn morsels - not the kind of dish you expect to be served out of a truck, but perfect for warming up on a chilly evening.
The foie gras terrine sandwich ($15) was relatively small, but featured a not insubstantial slab of velvety foie gras terrine with crispy chicken skin and a curry slaw on top of a Breadbar bun. A home-run favorite for us, we almost wished we'd foregone the beignet and just ordered two of these. Or three.
Portions on the foie products had been small, so it was fortunate that we'd also ordered some of Ludo's famed Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Definitely some of the better fried chicken you'll ever have, the succulent meat was coated with an almost impossibly crisp, flaky, slightly spicy breading, and carried with it the strong aroma of rosemary. The chicken comes with a side dipping sauce of your choosing - and you can't go wrong with the spicy mayo.
Everything we ate made us happy to have bundled up and made the trek to the truck. The final countdown for foie may be upon us in California, but that doesn't mean we'll take it sitting down (or on an empty stomach). If you missed 'Foie Gras Friday', chances are there will be plenty more of the stuff to be had when LudoBites pops up for its 8th incarnation in January.
It's hard to imagine a LudoBites without foie gras, so as long as there's a ban threatening to take the duck product away from us, we'll continue to fight for our right to poultry.