Category Archives: Meat

East End — The Be All And End All

Wide ribbons of pasta enrobed in a pork-lamb ragu at East End.

Wide ribbons of pasta enrobed in a pork-lamb ragu at East End.

 

There are many pizza places where you go for pizza and nothing but pizza. Oh sure, there might be appetizers on the menu, and a few salads to consider. But really, the main attraction that overshadows everything else is the pizza. Anything beyond is just filler to bide your time while you wait for your pie to emerge.

East End in Alameda is as far from that as it gets. In many ways, it reminds me of fabled Roberta’s in Brooklyn. You brave the lines there because you’ve heard the pizza is all that and more. But then you discover every single other thing on the menu is worth shouting about, too.

Such is the case at East End, where everything from the cocktails to desserts stands as tall and proud as the incredible pizzas.

Co-owner and co-chef Jacob Alioto manning the pizza oven.

Co-owner and co-chef Jacob Alioto manning the pizza oven.

East End was founded by co-owners and co-chefs Jacob Alioto and Paul Manousos. (You can find out more about them in my new cookbook, “East Bay Cooks” (Figure 1), which will publish in September and include two recipes from East End.)

Paul’s wife, Michelle, designed the laid-back, light-filled spot that’s full of reclaimed wood and interesting touches like old player-piano music rolls repurposed as wallpaper.

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Duck, Duck…Meatloaf Or Burger

Ever tried a duck burger? You definitely should!

Ever tried a duck burger? You definitely should!

 

Chicken and turkey make decent enough burger substitutes.

But they ain’t got nothing on duck.

If you’ve never had a duck burger before, prepare yourself for a most righteous patty on a bun.

In the cookbook, “Kindness & Salt: Recipes for the Care and Feeding of Your Friends and Neighbors” (Grand Central Life & Style, 2018), of which I received a review copy, the recipe may be called “Duck Meatloaf,” but even authors Ryan Angulo and Doug Crowell advise that it can be eaten burger-style with a smear of mustard.

The two owners and chefs of the popular Brooklyn spots, French Louie and Buttermilk Channel, have served this duck dish at the latter since it opened in 2008.

The cookbook’s title refers to the two most important ingredients they believe that are needed to take a good meal into the realm of greatness.

Kindness and Salt Cookbook

The 100-plus recipes give the makings to serve just that in the casual comfort of your own home with recipes such as “Salt-Roasted Beet Hummus,” “Slow-Roasted Pork Spare Ribs with Ancho Chile Marinade” and “Delicata Squash Tart.”

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Niku Steakhouse — Where Japanese Wagyu Reigns Supreme

A 4-ounce serving of Japanese A5 Wagyu tri-tip at Niku Steakhouse.

A 4-ounce serving of Japanese A5 Wagyu tri-tip at Niku Steakhouse.

 

Some chefs wear their hearts on their sleeve.

Steve Brown takes that to an extreme — wearing his passion prominently and permanently inked on his forearm.

The executive chef of the splashy new Niku Steakhouse in San Francisco has “A5” (the highest grading for Japanese Wagyu beef) tattooed on his right arm, so there’s no doubt as to what his favorite ingredient is.

You can see for yourself if you snag one of the 18 seats — truly the best seats in the house — at the counter that surrounds the massive grilling station. That was my vantage point recently when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant, opened by the Omakase Group, about one month ago.

Executive Chef Steve Brown's tattoo says it all.

Executive Chef Steve Brown’s tattoo says it all.

Sitting here is a primal, visceral experience, as you’re just inches from the flames of the hand-cranked main grill that can get up to 900 degrees to cook American prime steaks, and the small custom-built Japanese grill heated with binchotan white charcoal on which the Wagyu is seared.

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Greek Spicy Aromatic Braised Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas

Big, meaty lamb shanks braised with nutty chickpeas.

Big, meaty lamb shanks braised with nutty chickpeas.

 

Besides my KitchenAid mixer, the workhorse of my kitchen — especially at this time of year — is my Dutch oven.

In bewitching cobalt and made by Le Creuset, it’s an investment that has paid off handsomely in the many satisfying soups and stews it has cooked slowly, evenly and nourishingly.

So I grabbed it immediately when I spied the recipe for “Spicy Aromatic Braised Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas” in the newest cookbook by chef, cooking school owner and Greek cuisine expert Diane Kochilas.

“My Greek Table: Authentic Flavors and Modern Home Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours” (St. Martin’s Press), of which I received a review copy, is all about the dishes that Kochilas cooks at home for friends and family, be they classics or innovations inspired by Mediterranean ingredients. There’s everything from “Whole Wheat Baklava Muffins” and “Greek-Style Tuna Melt” to “Artichoke Moussaka with Caramelized Onions and Feta” and “Ouzo-Glazed Chicken Wings.”

My Greek Table

This lamb dish, originally from the islands of eastern Aegean, will require you to use your largest Dutch oven on hand, as six shanks take up quite a bit of real estate.

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Wagyu Everything at Gozu Pop-up at Avery

Wrap our heads around this: yellowfin bone marrow. At the Gozu pop-up at Avery restaurant.

Wrap our heads around this: yellowfin bone marrow. At the Gozu pop-up at Avery restaurant.

 

Gozu, the Wagyu beef-centered restaurant, isn’t expected to open its doors in the South of Market area of San Francisco until May. But it’s already opened my eyes to the possibilities of this prized, specialty Japanese beef.

Last week, I had the pleasure of dining as a guest at one of the three nights that Gozu hosted a pop-up at Avery in San Francisco.

The $95 per person tasting menu featured four dishes from the Avery’s Chef Rodney Wages, an alum of The French Laundry in Yountville, and Benu, Atelier Crenn, and Saison, all in San Francisco; as well as four dishes from Gozu’s Chef Marc Zimmerman, who cooked at Nobu, Restaurant Guy Savoy, and Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco. Two supplemental dishes also were available for an extra charge.

Like its predecessor in this Fillmore Street locale, the elegant Korean-influenced Mosu, Avery continues the tradition of having no sign out front. The windows are opaque, too. So, just look carefully for the numerical address, and you’ll find it just fine.

The two-story restaurant is quite compact, and done up with grays and black to give it a chic air.

The upstairs dining room.

The upstairs dining room.

Chef Marc Zimmerman of the forthcoming Gozu (left) and Chef Rodney Wages of Avery (right).

Chef Marc Zimmerman of the forthcoming Gozu (left) and Chef Rodney Wages of Avery (right).

For the first half of the meal, before the restaurant got too full, the two chefs both brought out their dishes, hand-delivering to the table. Zimmerman says he got the idea for a Wagyu-focused restaurant after traveling through Japan. There, casual robata-style eateries specialize in Wagyu and make use of every bit of the pampered, outrageously marbled cows.

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