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Zin American Bistro Finds Itself in the Midst of a Foie Gras Uproar

In early January, U.S. District Judge Court Stephen V. Wilson overturned California’s ban on foie gras—a 2004 voter-approved law that went into effect in 2012.

Almost immediately, Mindy Reed, the owner of downtown Palm Springs’ Zin American Bistro and Alicante restaurants, announced she was returning fatty goose liver to Zin’s menu—and she attracted serious local media attention in the process.

Ever since, Reed and her staff members have been the targets of opposition, protests—and even threats.

“I’ve gotten hate mail,” Reed said. “I’ve been called a murderer. I’ve been sent pictures of me personally being bound and force-fed though a tube. My staff has been harassed.”

Reed said she understands why some individuals may be vegetarian or vegan; in fact, she said she herself was a vegan for decades. However, she said it’s unfair and hypocritical for people to focus on the delicacy that is foie gras.

“People need to remember there are two ways to do everything in life,” she said: the right way, and the wrong way. Reed insisted that she goes out of her way to use as many ingredients as possible that are produced in the right way—local, free-range, humanely raised, etc. That goes for foie gras, too.

“I serve foie gras that’s humanely raised,” she said. “The geese are not caged. There’s no tube. There are no machines. The goose is hand-fed. There are a few farms doing this. Geese will gorge themselves naturally. People who like foie gras appreciate the fact that I buy humanely raised foie gras.”

Reed gets visibly irritated when she discusses her detractors.

“Why aren’t they picketing McDonald’s or other restaurants in town (that don’t seek out meat from humanely raised animals)?” she asked. “I don’t think it’s fair.”

Meanwhile, foie gras remains on the menu at Zin; for example, a Belgian waffle dessert features brûléed pineapple, foie gras and sauternes. At least that’s the case for now: California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced in February she was appealing the ruling against the foie gras ban.

Zin American Bistro is located at 198 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. For more information, call 760-322-6300, or visit pszin.com.

Plate | Glass’ Goal: To Be a Place to ‘Chill Out’

“Leisure” is the key word at Plate | Glass, which last fall took over the second-story spot at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs, that had been home to Crave.

Owners Raymond McCallister and Larry Abel—best known as the men behind the Raymond | Lawrence retail shops—had previously been part-owners of Crave. When they took control of the dessert-and-coffee spot last year, they decided it was time to make some changes.

“We think Plate | Glass fulfills a need by creating a place for people to chill out,” Abel told me recently. “We have a great view. People will linger and hang out.”

Plate | Glass still offers desserts, of course—but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Also on offer: Fantastic craft cocktails, breakfast/brunch items, salads, large-sized “melt” sandwiches and appetizer style-plates. I was fortunate enough to attend a recent media lunch there, and the fare was delicious. My favorite: The Sweet Hog melt, with pan-fried ham and blueberry goat cheese. It was amazing.

When Abel said he wants people to “chill out” at Plate | Glass, he meant it: The space even includes a cell-phone charging station and a variety of board games.

Plate | Glass is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Call 760-322-2322, or visit plate-glass.com for more information.

In Brief

The space formerly occupied by Café Scandia, which closed recently at 356 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, will soon be the home of Rooster and the Pig. We’ll pass along details when we get ’em. … Keep your eye on Bart Lounge, the bar/music venue/art gallery at 67555 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City, in the second-story space that recently housed Level 2 bar. It’s slated to open sometime in March. Follow www.bartlounge.com and Bart’s Facebook page for updates. … The Food+Wine Festival Palm Desert, a Palm Springs Life joint, will take place Friday, March 27, through Sunday, March 29. Watch www.palmdesertfoodandwine.com. … BB’s at the River is taking over the former Acqua Pazza space at The River, located at 71800 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage. Jack Srebnik, who owns the two local Maracas restaurants, is the brains behind the place. Get info—including hiring details—at www.facebook.com/BBsRiverRanchoMirage. ... The Westin Mission Hills, at 71333 Dinah Shore Drive in Rancho Mirage, has launched a series of wine dinners at the Pinzimini Restaurant. The four-course meals with wine pairings are taking place the last Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. through April; the first dinner, in February, cost $85 plus tax and tip. Get more info at www.pinziminipalmsprings.com/WineDinnerSeries.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

What will be more savored at this year’s Food and Wine Festival Palm Desert? Fine food and drink, or the impossibly handsome visage of a soap-opera star who writes cookbooks?

Either way, this year’s event, which takes place Friday, March 22, through Sunday, March 24, in the El Paseo shopping district in Palm Desert, is shaping up to be a world-class culinary shindig that organizers say is their biggest and best yet.

Luciano Pellegrini, winner of the prestigious James Beard Award and executive chef of Piero Selvaggio Valentino restaurant in Las Vegas, will be there. So will Sharone Hakman and Alejandra Schrader, finalists from the hit television show Master Chef.

According to Jeff Hocker, the event's executive producer, award-winning chef Bradley Ogden, the driving force behind numerous big-name restaurants in California and beyond, will also be in attendance, as will Sean Kanan, who wrote a cookbook during downtime from his day job as an actor on General Hospital, The Bold and the Beautiful and The Karate Kid, Part III.

As for food and wine, expect a serious deluge of good things to eat and fine things to sip. More than 30 restaurants from the area are participating, as are more than 20 chefs, many from well-known eateries from across the country.

As for wine, Hocker says officials are putting more of an emphasis on that portion of the event than ever before. In the past, the event focused largely on wines from Napa and Sonoma counties, but this year, wineries from Argentina, Italy and other renowned wine-producing regions are coming as well.

New to the event this year are special wine seminars that have yet to be finalized. Hocker expects there to be between four and six classes which will be offered for an additional $25 during the Grand Tasting events.

Hocker says organizers have also made an extra effort to organize the event so the food is located near wines that pair well, essentially converting the entire event into one enormous wine-paired affair.

Also new to the event this year: A stage committed entirely to desserts. Hocker says it will be done up bistro-style, with coffee, cognac and other treats.

Hocker expects this year’s festival to be the biggest and best since organizers moved the event from Palm Springs to Palm Desert four years ago. Last year’s event drew 3,000 guests, he said, and he expects at least that many to attend this year.

The weekend kicks off on Friday, March 22, with a sit-down, four-course, wine-paired luncheon hosted by celebrity chefs. That event will set you back $125. Saturday and Sunday are all-out foodie extravaganzas, with cooking demonstrations, wine and liquor tastings, book signings and seminars. Tickets are $75 per day.

A portion of the proceeds from the event benefit the Culinary Institute of America’s Endowed Scholarship Fund. Tickets and more information are available at www.palmdesertfoodandwine.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News