Tag Archives: grilled lamb

SF Chefs. Food. Wine. – CIRCA

CIRCA – CHEF ERIK HOPFINGER @ SF CHEFS. FOOD. WINE. 2009

At the inaugural SF Chefs. Food. Wine. weekend, Chef Erik Hopfinger of CIRCA participated in both Thursday’s opening night party and Friday’s Grand Tasting Tent, which was a magnificent array of food and wines spanning a 3.5 hour lunch. Hopfinger created a great dish for each SF Chefs. Food. Wine event.

THE GRADE: EXCELLENT (for both dishes)

CIRCA Chef Erik Hopfinger @ SF Chefs. Food. Wine. 2009

CIRCA Chef Erik Hopfinger @ SF Chefs. Food. Wine. 2009

MOROCCAN CRUSTED LAMB CHOP W/MINT CHIMICHURRI

For opening night’s “RISING STAR CHEFS” party, Hopfinger offered beautifully grilled lamb chops. Herb-crusted, Moroccan-style lamb chops with pomegranate reduction and a wollop of mint chimuchurri on top, this was an excellent dish and one of the best of the opening party. I could have eaten a dozen of them.

Moroccan-style lamb chop w/mint chimichurri from CIRCA.

Moroccan-style lamb chop w/mint chimichurri from CIRCA.

TACO CHIP w/GUACAMOLE & SALSA
Chef Erik Hopfinger’s second solid offering at SF Chefs. Food. Wine. 2009 was a tiny taco chip laden with a fantastic guacamole and salsa. The tomato and red onion salsa was chopped much more finely than salsa fresca, sitting delicately on the chip among a creamy nibs of guacamole. The bite was light, creamy, wonderfully fresh and vibrant. It basically felt like a beautiful late afternoon in Mexico on a plate, something of a transformative taste that rolled memories of sun, salty skin, and summer into your mouth with complete contentment. Another great little dish that demanded a second helping.

CIRCA Chef Erik Hopfinger's magic little tacos and salsa

CIRCA Chef Erik Hopfinger’s magic little tacos and salsa

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Spring Lamb Dinner

Spring Lamb Dinner

What a phenomenal dinner. Coco500 (Chef Mike Morrison and company) recently put on a 4-course lamb dinner, paired with wines from A Donkey & Goat winery. Every dish was fantastic, and each portion of lamb perfectly cooked, smartly seasoned, and sweetly plated. The flavor combinations were subtle, letting the meat be the rightful star.

Course 1: Grilled Lamb Heart

Lamb heart is phenomenal, and should be all over America. Lamb heat has great flavor: primarily with a slightly sweet steak flavor, but it also reveals a more subtle tone of foie gras’ phermone-go-wild fatty passion and a tiny tang of earthy liver. It’s also full of Omega-3, so go get ’em.
Grilled Lamb Heart Salad with cheese & wild fennel pollen

Course 2: Lamb Shoulder Cavatelli

Each portion of this dish–lamb, spring beans, house-made cavatelli pasta–is roughly the same size, making each bite a flavor balance. Soft, juicy, crunchy, chewy, meaty, cheesy work a mouth into bliss; this is an excellent pasta. The peppery pecorino gives a light heat to round it out. I could have eaten a few bowls of this.

Note: Coco500 often has a great meaty pasta or two on their menu, but not always the cavatelli (e.g., lamb shoulder pappardelle). The pasta’s house-made; good stuff.
Lamb Shoulder Cavatelli

Course 3: Lamb Mixed Grill

Another really remarkable dish that displays the horizon-wide range of flavors from various parts of the lamb. The generous cut of lamb loin was bright pink and sweetly juicy; the spicy lamb sausage (mostly shoulder, but some trotters and a bit of liver ground in for texture and flavor) was excellent, as was the lamb roulade (roll). White beans toned down the wallops of various lamb bites well.
Mixed Lamb Grill (showing loin and white beans)

Mixed Lamb Grill (showing spicy lamb sausage and lamb roulade)
Course 4: Cheese Platter

A perfect conclusion to a great meal. Ewe cheese, honey, dates, sliced apple, and nutty bread. The cheese had medium texture with a pale yellow milkiness and just enough edge to work well with the other components of the dessert platter. The honey was fantastic. Worked great with the Roussanne. Ewe Cheese - Dessert Platter

Spring Lamb Dinner Wines: A Donkey and Goat

Big thanks to Tracey and Jared of A Donkey and Goat for such smart pairings with Chef Mike Morrison’s lamb dishes. Their wines were well-balanced and easy to drink; I look forward to seeing more of what they’re doing at their young yineyard (since 2003). They’re based over in Berkeley and have a seasonal newsletter and blogs available from their site.

A Donkey and Goat: WIne Pairings for Lamb

Course 1: A Donkey and Goat – Grenache Rose´

This wine goes in the Rose´ Renaissance that seems to be happening all over this year. A nice light flavor with a cheery, cherry nose, this wine flirted well with the rich lamb heart opening act. Not too sweet but softly floral (more like dried flowers) and fruity enough to tease the palate open.

Course 2: A Donkey and Goat – Four Thirteen

The name ‘four thirteen’ represents the four varietals in this red blend wine, and denotes the number of varietals (13) required to make Chateneuf du Pape. With the cavatelli, this was superb. I’d love to have this again, with anything. Even getting a third of a Chateneuf du Pape is pretty high up there, like a national grape-hood of bishops.

Course 3: A Donkey and Goat – Syrah (Fenaughty Vineyard)

Hearty meat, hearty wine, and I heart Syrah wines big time. This Rhone blend is strong but not bulging with testosterone from the gym; it really worked well with the lamb sausage and the thick, juicy lamb loin (which was like the little lamb version of prime rib). A bit of pepper after blackberries, a solid player with a nice, long finish.

Course 4: A Donkey and Goat – Tamarindo (Roussanne, El Dorado)

The Roussanne was a perfect touch to end the meal. Great sipping with this, against the platter of honey, dates, ewe cheese, thin apple slices, and nutty bread. A crisp, clean white with citrus and pear notes, just sweet enough but miles from cloying.

Whew; what an awesome dinner!

The Grade: Awesome / Exceptional

(my highest grade)

The Damage: $65

(4-course dinner) + $30 for wine pairings

The Skinny: Coco500

500 Brannan Street (at 4th Street), SF CA 941107
Phone: (415) 543-2222
Hours: Mon – Thurs: 11:30 am to 10 pm
Friday: 11:30 am to 11 pm
Saturday: 5:30 pm to 11 pm
Closed Sundays

Website: http://www.coco500.com