All produce is great at Hedone but sometimes, like the pré-salé lamb, it is mind blowingly great. Foie gras and sweetbreads belong firmly in this category too. The quality of the former is so extreme it makes foie gras found at many multi-star restaurants seem like supermarket quality. Working with a small producer in the South West of France, Hedone secures livers less than 36 hours after being extracted from the bird. Such freshness makes a huge difference because it deteriorates quickly after slaughter. For this reason most producers flash freeze it, but livers heading to Chiswick never see the inside of a vacuum packed bag.
Such uncompromising standards mean accepting not knowing from a week to another if it will even be available. For example, high quality production of foie gras can and does stop for a few months due to bird flu problems in Southern France. This is of no use to restaurants relying on it for ever present signature dishes (think Meat Fruit at Dinner) or who feel compelled to serve it constantly to meet expectations of their clientele. Hence many top establishments use frozen foie gras lobes, which can be good but don't rival shiny and supple day-old ones from the better producers.
Such a luxury ingredient deserves to be served in its best condition and that's how it's found here. First steamed then gently grilled, it takes on an amazing thick custard like texture that is slightly firm, creamy and without even the slightest trace of grease. It is so clean tasting one could happily devour a degustation menu of their foie gras dishes. My favourite of them is a generous sized lobe on a bed of cashew nut “pesto” with black garlic, miso, acidulated dates and smoked eel from Sweden. The sweet and slightly acid flavours work perfectly alongside the creaminess of the liver and the crushed cashews pleasingly contrast its smoothness.
Hedone’s milk-fed veal heart sweetbreads are similarly exceptional. Delicately creamy and white on the inside and moderately crusted on the outside. Acidity from a Banyuls vinaigrette and apricot purée cut through their richness. For me only Le Squer’s fist-sized crispy sweetbreads have matched them.
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