Tag Archives: multi-course dinners

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

Incanto’s Snout to Tail Dinner

Snout to Tail Dinner: Incanto, SF

The prospect of eating a meal comprised of many unusual animal parts was exciting. I’m a big fan of Chris Cosentino. who enjoys toying with and serving innards and other ghastlies and crumbs, officially called offal in the culinary world. Chris was born into  a winemaking  family and was probably custom built to grow into his current status as one of America’s most interesting chefs. He’s not as famous as, say, Boulud or Andres or others, but he’ll probably get his TV show one day and then all hell-fame-and-flame will break loose for him.

Again, the concept alone of eating the oddities thrilled and, while the dinner was even more challenging than I expected, it was still a fun and wonderful ride. Not all the dishes were great, but the entire meal was a great experience (hence the great grade). But, to be sure, it’s not the multi-course meal to suit everyone; not even those who are flesh fanatics.

But hey, how many times do you get to have beef tendon and berries? Or sheep’s bladder bruschetta? So if you think you’re adventurous, I highly encourage you to visit Incanto for the annual Snout-to-Tail dinner. You’ll have a party-starter conversation for the rest of your life.

Course 1: PIG EAR TERRINE

Beautiful presentation; just gorgeous. Pig ear, being really chewy (cartilage), can be a challenge.

Pig Ear Terrine - Snout to Tail Dinner, Incanto SF
Pig Ear Terrine: Snout-to-Tail Dinner, Incanto SF

Course 2: CHORIZO & DUCK EGG

I enjoy a good spicy chorizo, in combination with just about anything you hit with it. The presentation of this was a bit messy, perhaps because duck eggs are big and unruly. This was pretty good, but excessively portioned and not as well balanced as some of the other courses.

 

Chorizo and Duck Egg: Snout-to-Tail Dinner, Incanto SF
Chorizo and Duck Egg: Snout-to-Tail Dinner, Incanto SF

Course 3: TONGUE PASTRAMI (and rye seed) SALAD

I love pastrami, too. This was a super-clever reinterpretation of pastrami on rye, with the tongue pastrami (excellent) and sprouted rye seeds on a light salad. This was a terrific course, perhaps my favorite of the evening.

Tongue Pastrami & Rye Seed Salad: Snout-to-Tail Dinner
Tongue Pastrami & Rye Seed Salad: Snout-to-Tail Dinner

Course 4: SHEEP’S SPLEEN BRUSCHETTA

Now when you go to the grocery store, I’ll bet you a zillion dollars you have never gone up to your butcher and said, “Hey I’m really in the mood for sheep spleen. Do you have some fresh spleen today?” Incanto is an Italian restaurant and Chris Cosentino’s quirky bruschetta had its high points but, for me, the earthy chewiness of the meat involved made the portions again too large. We ate about half and that was plenty. Gold star for originality, though.

Sheep Spleen Bruschetta: Snout-to-Tail Dinner, Incanto SF
Sheep Spleen Bruschetta: Snout-to-Tail Dinner, Incanto SF

Course 5: GOAT POT PIE

Again, a terrific idea from Chris here, to invert the chicken pot pie All-American concept with goat meat. I’m not a huge fan of desconstructed dishes, especially when the deconstruction takes away the best part of the dish. In the case of a pot pie, a crusty pie is paramount, even beyond what’s put inside. So the flaky top was good, but I needed more. The onions, potatoes, carrots, peas, also good.

Now I actually am one of the few people I know who’ll seek out goat meat. Having chivito (baby goat) in Argentina opened my eyes to how awesome goat can be. Unfortunately, the goat procured for this meal had a bit of dirty funky taste that some goat meat can have. I’m not sure what causes it; one day I’ll find out. I think Chris will fare better in the next batch but again, this was an excellent reinterpretation of a classic, and given a beautiful presentation.

Goat Pot Pie: Snout-to-Tail Dinner, Incanto SF
Goat Pot Pie: Snout-to-Tail Dinner, Incanto SF

Course 6: DESSERT – BEEF TENDON & BERRIES

My girlfriend couldn’t deal with this. One could say it’s like chewing on a torn prophylactic (and someone did), but I thought it was a pretty good dessert. And fun. You know, considering we were eating beef tendon. It did have a similarly bland, chewy textture that the pig ear did, but not as intense. The beef tendon was a nice textural balance to the berries and cream.

This certainly won’t win over the breakfast at Wimbledon crowd but, who knows….stranger things happen.

Beef Tendon & Berries: Snout-to-Tail Dinner, Incanto SF
Beef Tendon & Berries: Snout-to-Tail Dinner, Incanto SF

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