How can one possibly make low and slow-braised, fall-apart tender lamb any better?
Try topping it with a big ol’ ball of burrata, that’s how.
You’ve probably enjoyed many a meaty stew or ragu dolloped with creamy ricotta. But when you swap that out for voluptuous burrata whose luscious creamy center spills out to add dreamy, milky sweetness to anything it touches, you’ve just about attained nirvana.
“Braised Lamb with Burrata and Herb Oil” is that dish.
I had the opportunity to experience night #3 when Dandelion’s pastry chef, Stephen Durfee, kindly invited me as his guest.
From the moment you open the door of the 16th Street factory, you are enveloped in the hedonistic aroma of chocolate everywhere. If only my house could smell this way all the time.
The factory’s loading dock was transformed into a wonderland for the event with chandeliers hanging over three long tables set with a line of illuminated candles. A piano player provided welcoming cheer next to decorated holiday trees.
Carmel-by-the-Sea may be all of 1 square mile, but this tiny seaside town now boasts two Michelin one-starred restaurants.
In fact in July, when Chez Noir became the second restaurant to receive that coveted honor less than a year after opening, the entire crew from long-time star-holder Aubergine walked over, toting a hefty Jerobaum to offer hearty congratulations.
This family-owned, fine-dining jewel of a spot may seat only 36 in a dining room not much larger than some folks’ living rooms, but it’s long been held in high esteem. In fact, when a friend dined there months ago, she spotted none other than Eric Ripert, chef-owner of New York City’s Michelin three-starred Le Bernardin, ensconced in a corner banquet with his family, savoring the fabulous Monterey coastal cuisine.
The accolades are not surprising when you consider that Chez Noir is helmed by Executive Chef-Owner Jonny Black, whose impressive credentials include cooking at Michelin powerhouses Per Se in New York; Quince in San Francisco; and Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, where as Dominique Crenn’s first executive chef, he oversaw all her restaurants. Most recently, he was the executive chef of Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur. His wife, Monique Black, worked in the front of house at Quince, and at Coi in San Francisco.
The cozy, romantic, French bistro-styled restaurant is in a former Craftsman house, where the couple and their kids live upstairs. Out front is a 22-seat brick patio, but it is not covered, meaning if it rains, you’re out of luck as outdoor reservations are cancelled and refunded.
That’s just what I did a couple weeks ago, when I was invited in as a guest to this handsome, bright, and spacious restaurant on the ground floor of the Miro luxury apartment building.
The first Italian-American restaurant from Passot and Vine CEO Obadiah Ostergard, it features both indoor and outdoor dining, plus a small marketplace to buy pantry staples and prepared foods to-go.
If you’re lucky, you might just hit it on a night where there’s a trio of musicians playing in the bar-lounge, too.
Ostergard’s nephew, Chef Sam Gimlewicz, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who went on to work at the acclaimed Nina June restaurant in Maine, designed the menu that’s overseen by Chef de Cuisine Christian Luxton, formerly of Berkeley’s Hotel Shattuck Plaza.
With twinkling, decorated-to-the-hilt trees everywhere at this time of year, why not add a bit of that festive green to your cookie plate, too?
“Grey Salt, White Chocolate Matcha Blondies” will do the job deliciously.
These bar cookies get their hue, of course, from Japanese powdered ceremonial green tea. The matcha also adds a nice grassy astringency from its natural tannins to balance out the sweetness of the white chocolate chunks.