So many good jokes are suggested by this one that I'm just going to play it straight: An important Israeli producer of foie gras (that's not one of the jokes; Israel is a major supplier of the delicacy, and much of what gets eaten in the best restaurants--even those of France--comes from that nation) has joined forces with a group of Amish farmers in Pennsylvania to produce America's first commercial goose foie gras.
The deal was put together by New York-based Flying Foods, whose new Santa Monica retail operation was briefly profiled in this column in December. (News of this collaboration pleases me greatly: American foie gras-- which until now has been strictly ducky in consistency--has become so popular in the country's restaurants that I had begun to fear American diners would never learn what goose foie gras tasted like). . . . From up Santa Barbara way comes word that Pacific Seafood Industries Inc. is now growing Belon oysters in the Santa Barbara Channel. Watch for these soon. . . . And the Vittel people are making an unusual sort of mineral water that's showing up in the local marketplace these days. Unusual because the original French Vittel is a still water (like Evian) while this one is sparkling (and frequently citrus-flavored to boot), and also because this Vittel comes from Bartlett Springs, Calif.
WHAT? NEW YEAR'S EVE AGAIN ?: Just about the time your head stopped hurting from the last New Year's, another one is coming up--Chinese, this time, Feb. 10. The year being ushered in is, of course, 4684, and it's the Year of the Tiger. Anyone in the mood to grab it and growl for the occasion is referred to, among others, the Mandarin in Beverly Hills, where the special menu will include crab claws with crispy spinach and sliced chicken breasts in oyster sauce with red bean dumplings; Genghis Cohen on Fairfax, which will hold its third annual New Year's banquet at 8:30 next Sunday night (tariff is $35 per person); and Quon Bros. Grand Star in Chinatown, which offers a special New Year's dinner for $15 per person. Those who want to celebrate in a different manner might consider taking a "An Asian Journey Through Los Angeles" to visit markets, specialty shops and restaurants. The UCLA Extension class, which lasts from 9 to 4 Saturday, costs $40. For information, call (213) 206-8120.
TABLE SCRAPS: Noted author and cooking teacher Paula Wolfert makes a rare L.A. appearance Feb. 12 at the Epicurean cooking school in West Hollywood. From 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on that date, Wolfert will reveal the culinary secrets of Morocco. Call (213) 659-5990 for further information. . . . The LA A La Carte newsletter has set up a Foodsource Hotline to supply free information to the public about restaurants, specialty food and wine sources, party planners, cooking schools, etc. Dial (213) 930-2111 weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and give it a whirl. . . . Gilliland's in Santa Monica has a new menu, featuring plenty of appetizers in the $4-$5 range and main dishes up to (but not more than) $12--and that price is for filet mignon with a dandy leek and shredded potato cake on the side.