D’Artagnan Meat and Mingle Announces Arrival Of Company To Chicago

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Kevin Hickey from Seasons hands writer Leigh M. Hansen a plate of grits, pork & watercress

 

by Leigh M. Hansen

(photos by Hansen and Naomi Salomon)

Everest's Thierry Titsch and Jean Joho

 

Since 1985, D’Artagnan has supplied some of the finest New York restaurants with foie gras, meat, game, truffles and mushrooms. In fact, this company, dedicated to natural, sustainable and humane production, can boast that all of New York’s four-star restaurants have D’Artagnan products on their menus. I’m thrilled to report that D’Artagnan is launching its expansion into Chicago!

When I was asked to cover the D’Artagnan Meat and Mingle event, I knew I was in for an evening of fantastic food. It also didn’t hurt that their products would be featured in a buffet of dishes prepared by noteworthy chefs from local hotspots such as: Everest, The Publican, Spiaggia, Seasons, Keefer’s and Café des Architectes.

The city of Chicago has had a somewhat contentious relationship with foie gras in the past. In April of 2006, the City Council of Chicago voted to outlaw the sale of foie gras due to the supposed inhumane treatment of the geese and ducks, specifically force-feeding grain to the animals in question. At the time of the ban, Chef Rick Tramonto (then of Tru) voiced an opinion shared by many Chicago chefs and gastronomes alike: that the “government shouldn’t be dictating what we eat. It’s just not right.”  The ban was lifted some two years later, in May of 2008, and we foie gras lovers of Chicago breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I find myself mingling with the founder and owner of D’Artagnan, Ariane Daguin, as well as the farmers and ranchers of six of the humane and sustainable family farms D’Artagnan sponsors and the chefs responsible for the dishes I gluttonously consumed!

Cassoulet and short ribs

The evening started out with a cocktail reception and a presentation by none other than Daguin herself, who demonstrated how to “give birth” (as she affectionately called it) to the foie gras.  Daguin skillfully butchered the bird, concluding her presentation by extracting one of the event’s headliners: the foie gras!

Writer Leigh M. Hansen (right) surveys the scene at D'Artagnan's Meat & Mingle

D'Artagnan's Ariane Daguin demonstrating the removal of foie gras

It was then time to sample the creations of the chefs.  As a band played center stage between the entrances to two train platforms of the Chicago French Market guests milled about tasting treats like Sautéed Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Heirloom Apples and Alsace Gewurztraminer Jus from Jean Joho and Thierry Tritsch of Everest, and succulent Painted Hills Farm Prime Rib with Truffled Potato Gratin from John Hogan of Keefer’s. Chef Greg Biggers of Café des Architectes went out on a limb (especially in a buffet setting) with a complex dish comprised of Foie Gras Stuffed-Crab Apple atop Nebrodini Foam served with a Gourmet Mushroom Farm Truffle Poached Organic Mushroom Salad. For those of you who may not know what a Nebrodini could possibly be, it is a rare mushroom that grows in a tiny, limestone-laden corner of Italy –the Nebrodi Mountains of Sicily. Chefs Tony Mantuano and Sarah Grueneberg of Spiaggia served up an intensely flavorful Roman Style Potato Gnocchi using the veal cheeks supplied by Provitello Farms. Chefs Kevin Hickey and Richard Polhemus of Seasons prepared Sweet Corn Grits, Watercress, Shaved Radish and Grain Mustard, a great mélange of textures and flavors that complimented the St. Canut Farms Milk-Fed Porcelet beautifully.

Chef Greg Biggers of Café des Architectes made Foie Gras Stuffed-Crab Apple atop Nebrodini Foam served with a Gourmet Mushroom Farm Truffle Poached Organic Mushroom Salad

I’d have to say the most memorable experience was at The Publican’s station. Chef Brian Huston’s offering of Pork Loin, accompanied by an almost Waldorf Salad-like preparation of Tuna Tonnato, Grapes, Walnuts and Celery Leaves was a refreshingly light end to my buffet adventure.  But it was the chat I had with Russ Kremer of the Ozark Mountain Co-op that really reminded me of the reason we all were gathered. Mr. Kremer told me about his near-death experience after being hospitalized from having eaten industrially raised pork plied with daily doses of antibiotics. He credits that experience for his dedication to provide all natural and humanely raised animals, but says those practices would not even be possible without the support and sponsorship of D’Artagnan.

Welcome to Chicago, D’Artagnan, we’re happy to have you!

Official D’Artagnan Website

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