July 6, 2012
In the scrum of last night's Independent Marketplace, a gifted chef—who will remain unnamed—discreetly served me an appetizer plate he estimates would cost $1,225 retail.
With his granddaughter looking on, he went through its elements:
• Buttermilk-bread French toast topped with Carmel Valley white peaches and seared foie gras.
• A seasoning of sorts: a ramekin of locally grown marijuana (pictured above).
• Another accent: Apple Pie moonshine.
The foie proved a layered luxury thanks to the melt-in-the-mouth duck liver, the seductive caramelized sauce and the fresh and fruity character provided by the slices of peach. The pot made the Hawaiian friend I gave it to very happy. The moonshine spilled in transit.
But that's not the takeaway chef was shooting for.
Rather, it was this: The food cost $25. The fine for the foie, which was banned July 1 in California, would cost $1,000. The fine for the Mary Jane would run $100. Same for the moonshine.
That makes for a spendy sampler plate.
"Isn't it a sad commentary," chef says, "when the penalty for a food product like foie gras carries a 10 times higher fine than fresh herb and moonshine?"