In light of California's recent ban on foie gras, I'm more appreciative of it on any menu. So when I picked up the brunch menu at Harvest Vine in Seattle and saw that the Torrija Andaluza ($9) comes with foie gras butter along with cherry preserves, I was sold.
Harvest Vine is a Basque restaurant serving small plates that are suitable for sharing. For weekend brunch, you'll find items like Bocadillo de Lengua (braised beef tongue sandwich), Tortilla Española (potato and onion omelet), Txistorra (grilled Navarran style pork sausage), and Fideo y Almejas (fideo noodles with sofrito and clams). I'm fixed on the Torrija Andaluza (egg battered fried toast) as comfort food with a twist.
This Spanish-style "French toast" is made with local Le Panier's Parisienne bread (like a baguette, but bigger and fluffier) dipped in cinnamon and vanilla-laced egg batter and then cooked in a pan. Plated, the four slices cascade down the plate, reaching a streak of cherry preserve syrup. Follow that preserve trail and you reach some of the cherries themselves, pooling at the base of a small hockey puck of foie gras butter.
I want to eat the butter on its own, but fight temptation and spread some on my toast, then drag a biteful through the cherry preserves. The toast has that familiar crusty exterior that yields to a creamy interior. What makes the Torrija Andaluza so special, though, is the combination of savory and sweet from the foie and the preserves. The portion size might seem small, but the dish is fairly rich—especially after finally finishing the leftover foie gras butter with my fork.
About the author: Jay Friedman is a Seattle-based freelance food writer who happens to travel extensively as a sex educator. An avid fan of noodles (some call him "The Mein Man"), he sees sensuality in all foods, and blogs about it at his Gastrolust website. You can follow him on Twitter @jayfriedman.