Since last summer, Helmut Drews, a former tech acquisitions specialist, and Madrid-native Alberto Solis, a founder of the San Mateo incubator kitchen known as KitchenTown, have been cultivating a dream.
They have been raising Iberian pigs on their Encina Farms, the only commercial endeavor of its kind in California nurturing these specialty Spanish swines from which the luxurious jamon Iberico derives.
While Encina Farms’ own jamon Iberico is still a few years off — it takes a minimum of two years to cure the buttery ham leg — other pork products made from this distinctive black-footed, acorn-devouring breed can be enjoyed now.
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 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.
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?