Category Archives: Meat

Ama’s Anchovy Pork Asada

Anchovies in the marinade give this grilled pork extra oomph.
Anchovies in the marinade give this grilled pork extra oomph.

How do I love anchovies?

Let me count the ways.

I love them in Caesar salad so much that when a waiter queries if I want anchovies, I almost take the bait and ask for extra.

I think many a pizza just isn’t complete without them arrayed lavishly overtop.

I find tomato sauces just a little flat without their depth.

And I always have tins of them stocked in my pantry.

So of course when I spotted “Anchovy Pork Asada” in the new “Ama: A Modern Tex-Mex Kitchen” (Chronicle Books, 2019) cookbook, of which I received a review copy, I knew I had to try making it.

The cookbook was written by Josef Centeno, chef-owner of the Centeno Group of restaurants in Los Angeles that includes Bar Ama, Baco Mercat, Orsa & Winston; and Betty Hallock, formerly deputy food editor of the Los Angeles Times.

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If It’s Monday, It Must Be Time For Burgers & Burgundies

The Selby's burger.
The Selby’s burger.

There is Meatless Monday. And there is Meatball Monday at some establishments.

But for the ultimate highbrow-lowbrow experience, there is Burgers & Burgundies on Monday nights at Selby’s in Redwood City.

Bacchus Management Group, which operates Selby’s, had featured Burgers & Burgundies for years at its Michelin-stared Spruce in San Francisco. Although discontinued there, the tradition has been brought over to Selby’s.

Last week, I had a chance to try this irresistible combo when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

The three burgundies offered by the glass last Monday night.
The three burgundies offered by the glass last Monday night.
Enjoy one glass of burgundy -- or a flight.
Enjoy one glass of burgundy — or a flight.

The burger-wine combo can be enjoyed either in the dining room or at the bar. Think of it as a more low-key dining option at the posh restaurant when you don’t want to linger for hours over a multitude of courses.

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Shakewell’s Short Ribs with Citrus-Olive Herb Salad

A favorite recipe from my cookbook, "East Bay Cooks.''
A favorite recipe from my cookbook, “East Bay Cooks.”

When I was working on my cookbook, “East Bay Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries” (Figure 1), I was fortunate enough to have the help of a small army of friends and family who helped test all the recipes with me.

When one of my testers told me that he’d made the recipe for “Short Ribs with Citrus-Olive Herb Salad” not once, not twice, but five times, I was immediately alarmed.

But then he told me why: It wasn’t because anything was wrong with it. On the contrary, he and his wife ended up loving this dish so much that they couldn’t resist making it multiple times to share with friends.

While I’m fond of all the recipes in this cookbook that spotlights 41 restaurants in the dynamic East Bay, that testimonial convinced me right then and there that this recipe by Chef Jen Biesty of Oakland’s Shakewell was truly a winner.

Because of book-publishing timetables, my friend had to test this recipe at the height of summer. But I patiently waited until winter to give it a test-drive, since long-braised short ribs are so made for this time of year.

This is definitely a comfort dish taken up a level. The short ribs cook up fork-tender in an almost mole-like brothy sauce made with ancho chiles, fennel, garlic, thyme, chicken stock, a little ground coffee, some chopped bittersweet chocolate and a whole bottle of Zinfandel. How can that not be good?

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Pig Out At The Gastropig

Meet the Baconslut -- at The Gastropig.
Meet the Baconslut — at The Gastropig.

You’ll be forgiven if you leave this rollicking Oakland cafe, oinking.

After all, it just can’t be helped after chowing down happily at The Gastropig.

This sweet little spot is operated by Chef Loren Goodwin, who cut his chops on the line at Chez Panisse in Berkeley.

A sweet spot in Oakland.
A sweet spot in Oakland.

Amusingly enough, Goodwin was raised vegetarian. But after trying his first taste of ham as a kid, he instantly crossed to the “dark side.” Who can blame him?

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My Top 10 Eats of 2019

So many places opened in 2019; and so many places closed. Be it astronomical housing costs to an extremely tight labor pool and the rising price of ingredients, the Bay Area remains a challenging landscape for restaurants.

Still, they somehow manage to put their best forward day in and day out. Here are my favorite eats of the year (in no particular order) — the ones I still dream about, and the ones I’d race back for in a heartbeat. Enjoy! And cheers to even more delicious morsels in 2020.

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