Category Archives: Meat

Oakland Native Ray Roundtree’s Urban Flavors Gourmet

Juicy, snappy sausages from East Bay company, Urban Flavors Gourmet.
Juicy, snappy sausages from East Bay company, Urban Flavors Gourmet.

During nearly three decades as a special agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Ray Roundtree was used to packing heat.

Now, its his Red Devil Hot Links that do that.

The recently retired Oakland native traded a career in law enforcement for entrepreneurship when he founded his passion project, Richmond’s Urban Flavors Gourmet line of sausages, condiments and spices.

“It has been my dream to be an entrepreneur in this ever competitive marketplace,” he says. “I kept my promise to my parents for three decades that I would finish what I started with my career as an ATF agent. It is now time for me to venture into the unchartered waters of my new culinary endeavors ‘one bite at a time.’ “

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Oakland’s Horn Barbecue — The Wait Is Almost Over

Horn Barbecue's incredible brisket and ribs.
Horn Barbecue’s incredible brisket and ribs.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not the biggest beef eater by any means.

But when pitmaster extraordinaire Matt Horn carved off a tiny morsel of fatty, warm brisket and handed it to me last week, it may have just turned me for good.

Supple, near spoonable, and downright custardy, this brisket is beyond.

What he turns out at his Horn Barbecue in West Oakland is near life-changing stuff.

Brisket, smoked low and slow with utmost intention for up to 16 hours, that he gets going at the ungodly hour of 2 a.m. Pork ribs that are tender yet still have a nice little give, plus impressive smoke ring penetration. Pulled pork sandwiches piled high with shards of meat plus a crisp, celery seed-flecked slaw. Shell mac ‘n’ cheese with gobs of cheese. And his wife Nina’s potato salad — hefty, creamy, substantial, and like tater salad crossed with egg salad.

The building is painted in a hue called "Black panther.''
The building is painted in a hue called “Black panther.”
Matt and Nina Horn have opened their first restaurant.
Matt and Nina Horn have opened their first restaurant.

I had a chance to try all of that last week at a media preview for Horn Barbecue, which is expected to open to the public sometime this week for outdoor dining and takeout at Tanya Holland’s former Brown Sugar Kitchen location. Check its Instagram or Facebook page for the latest news on its opening date, which was derailed at least once before because of city approval delays.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 7

Khachapuri adjaruli -- a bread lover's dream at Bevri.
Khachapuri adjaruli — a bread lover’s dream at Bevri.

Bevri, Palo Alto

When it debuted in downtown Palo Alto in 2018, Bevri was thought to be the first Georgian restaurant in all of Northern California.

Russia-born Pavel Sirotin, who also works at Google, opened it with his brother and sister-in-law because he missed his favorite homeland noshes. Over the years, word has spread about this unique gem of a place, and even more so now after the restaurant was featured on a recent episode of “Check, Please! Bay Area Kids Special.” Sirotin says a lot of newcomers have discovered Bevri as a result of that show, with many of them racing in and declaring, “I want what those kids had!”

It’s all available for takeout, too. If you are a carb lover like I am, you simply must order the iconic khachapuri adjaruli ($21), the soft, puffy, canoe-shaped bread whose center is molten cheese. The bread comes packed in a pizza box so it won’t get smooshed on the drive home. A separate container of butter, and a raw egg yolk is included. Warm up the bread in a toaster oven, then plop the yolk and butter in the center, and mix it into the warm cheese. Tear off a hunk of bread, dip it into the center like fondue, and prepare to experience bread-and-cheese nirvana.

The simpler khachapuri imeruli.
The simpler khachapuri imeruli.
An appetizer of creamy walnut spreads and eggplant roll-ups.
An appetizer of creamy walnut spreads and eggplant roll-ups.

If you don’t want to contend with a raw yolk, there is also the khachapuri imeruli ($18), which is more like a flattened round bread that has a filling of soft, stretchy, mozzarella-like cheese. It’s also wonderful, but not as quite as special.

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And the People’s Choice Is…Beef Jerky

People's Choice Cowboy Peppered beef jerky.
People’s Choice Cowboy Peppered beef jerky.

The Blanchetti founded Peoples Old Market in downtown Los Angeles in 1929, an old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness neighborhood butcher shop.

It flourished, eventually being renamed Peoples Sausage Company to reflect its specialty. Over the years, succeeding generations of the family joined the business, adding their own new products, including an all-natural, hand-crafted beef jerky made from a 1920’s recipe that became a runaway hit.

People’s Choice Beef Jerky now offers a range of dried meat products, which I recently got a chance to sample.

Now, admittedly, I’m not one to normally chow down on beef jerky. But in the time of a pandemic, I can readily see how these meaty snacks can come in quite handy.

This is beef jerky that actually tastes of beef, not an old shoe. It’s got chew to it, so if you prefer softer, flabbier jerky, this might not be to your liking.

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Savor Thai Barbecued Chicken — Inspired By Cream Co. Meats

My whole chicken from Cream Co. Meats was turned into this turmeric- and curry-tinged grilled chicken feast.
My whole chicken from Cream Co. Meats was turned into this turmeric- and curry-tinged grilled chicken feast.

Before the pandemic, Oakland’s Cream Co. Meats were available only to celebrated San Francisco chefs such as David Nayfield of Che Fico; Stuart Brioza of State Bird Provisions and The Progress; and Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu’s.

A distributor for sustainable and regenerative ranches across the West, Cream Co. it is one of the few USDA-certified processing facilities in Northern California.

If there’s one shining light in this COVID madness, though, it’s that this certified whole-animal butchery has pivoted to offer its top-notch products directly to everyday consumers now.

The "Basic Bunker Box'' from Cream Co. Meats in Oakland.
The “Basic Bunker Box” from Cream Co. Meats in Oakland.

That means even if you can’t dine in at restaurants these days, you can still enjoy the premium meats they use — if you’re willing to do the cooking, yourself.

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