Pork shoulder at Little Gem.
Imagine a restaurant, in which all the food is gluten-free. And dairy-free. And sans refined sugar.
No doubt, you’re probably fearing it also will be flavor-free and dismally low in satisfaction.
Not so. Not when it’s Little Gem in San Francisco, which opened in December.
After all, when the head chef is Dave Cruz, formerly of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville, you’re guaranteed to be in good hands with the food, as I found out when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week. Little Gem’s other partners are Eric Lilavois, former chief operating officer of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, and John DiFazio, an investment banker, who has such an appreciation of good food that he did an apprenticeship at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York.
Chef Dave Cruz, formerly of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc.
The compact kitchen.
This is clean eating the way it should be — with bold flavors, freshness, finesse but not fussiness, and great ingredients from purveyors such as Marin Sun Farms, Five Dot Ranch and Rancho Gordo.
Front to Back: Bacon & Egg, Kale & Kimchee, and Coconut Red Lentil Sprogs.
Are you a fan of onigiri — the Japanese rice balls wrapped around centers of pickled plum, cooked seafood, veggies, and pretty much anything else the imagination can come up with?
Then, you’ll love Sprogs, the small “rice scooters,” that take them to the next level.
The San Francisco company was created by Ching-Yee Hu, a busy mom who was looking for the perfect snack for her kids, as well as herself. When she couldn’t find exactly what she was craving, she decided to make it, herself.
It’s such a brilliant concept that you wonder why someone didn’t come up with it sooner. Hu was already making pressed fresh brown-rice squares for her kids when she decided to expand on the idea with more inventive flavorings.
She uses Northern California haiga brown rice that is partially milled to remove the tough outer bran to make it easier to digest yet retains the nutritious germ inside. Then, she created both “Veggie” (vegan) and “Meatie” varieties.
The predominant ingredient in these bars? Spent grain from brewing beer.
It’s a good bet that when you’re downing that frosty mug of beer, you’re not thinking about the spent grain that went into brewing it.
But there’s a lot of it. A whole lot.
Indeed, when beer is made, about 85 percent of its ingredients ends up as waste that is usually composted or sold off to feed livestock.
Now, Dan Kurzrock and Jordan Schwartz have come up with a novel — and delicious — way to reuse that discarded grain.
The hobbyist brewers created ReGrained, granola-like bars made from spent grain donated by three Bay Area craft breweries: Magnolia Brewing, 21st Amendment Brewery, and Triple Voodoo.
Durham Ranch bison ribs right out of the smoker.
Love the brawny taste of beef, but feeling a tad guilty about all that fat and cholesterol that go along with it?
Then, take a taste of bison.
Buffalo meat has much the same satisfying flavor, but with less fat and cholesterol, as well as fewer calories. Consider that a 3.5-ounce serving of choice beef has nearly 19 grams of fat, while the same portion of bison has just 2.42 grams. The bison also has more iron, B-12 and protein.
I admit I’ve eaten far more beef than bison, simply because it’s easier to find in most stores. So, I jumped at the chance when Durham Ranch of Wyoming offered to send me some samples to try.
The 55,000-acre ranch was started in 1965 by Armando Flocchini, a former butcher in San Francisco. It remains one of the largest bison ranches in North America.
It’s coffee. But more. Kind of. Sort of.
San Franciscan Kelly Peterson was on the hunt for a coffee alternative — one that had the flavor of her favorite brew, but not the jarring acidity.
She ended up creating her own: Levity Brew.
It’s a blend of organic, single-origin Columbian coffee; organic yerba mate (naturally caffeinated leaves from the rainforest tree); organic chicory; organic imperial green tea; and wild-harvested guarana seed (naturally caffeinated seeds from the South American tree).
You brew it just like a cup of tea using the nifty bag it comes in.