Prime Rib

Guys and gals, prime rib is fantastic.

I cooked prime rib for my roommate’s going away party a few weeks ago and Thanksgiving last week according to this recipe from Serious Eats, which outlines a mostly-hands-off method of cooking that expensive piece of beef.

Prime Rib Uncooked

This is impressive and all I did was rub salt on it.

J. Kenji López-Alt, the director of The Food Lab at Serious eats wrote a quality, in-depth guide as well as a list summary of said article. If you don’t care to read, here’s a breakdown: dry brine with salt a few days before cooking. Set the oven very low and warm the internal temperature to just below medium rare, 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Tent with foil until ten minutes to eating time. Blast with high heat for a few minutes just before carving. No surprise, he also wrote the aforementioned recipe.

I purchased the prime rib from my favorite local farm, Da-le Ranch. They love the publicity that they receive from this blog, and they’ve earned it with quality meats and a good relationship with me. Their meats are grass-fed, which do taste slightly different from factory-farmed, corn-fed beef to which society is accustomed to eating. I find the taste pleasant and the higher up-front cost worth the good sustainability practices.

The reason I’m writing this is to show off the picture below and to point out that prime rib is an easy and tasty feast meal. The only other feast that I’ve made that comes close is porchetta. I don’t like the taste of turkey, plus roasting it takes much time and attention for a mediocre result. : now that’s a feast. Prime rib wins.

Prime Rib Model

I’m a model. Consider this my first portfolio picture.

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Bay Area, Part Deux

Last weekend, I pilgrimaged to the Bay Area once again. See here for a recapitulation of my previous trip.

My flight from Orange County arrived at 9pm in Oakland, a city that I immediately found more grungy than San Francisco. My friend Charlie and his girlfriend Julia picked me up from the airport. To downtown Oakland we go! I needed to fuel up, so we ate at Battambang, a clearly-family-run Cambodian restaurant. Frog legs, skewers, and curries were on the menu, which seemed like a mashup of Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese cuisines.

We heard that bocce ball could be played at a bar called Make Westing. Awesome! We acquire entry to the bar, swim through the crowd of Golden State Warriors and Athletics fans, reach the bocce ball lanes, discover a huge queue, add our names to the chalkboard, then leave for a hipper yet less-crowded bar across the street, Fauna. I tried one of their creative drinks and found it grossly bitter. Leaving Fauna, concertgoers from the Cold War Kids show at the Fox Theater swarmed the sidewalk, so we hopped back into Make Westing, shoved our way back to the bocce ball lanes, and charmed our way into playing a game, after which Julia and I claimed victory. On the walk after Make Westing, my fight or flight responses were running wild because of fights outside of clubs and screaming crazies in the street. Yikes.

On Saturday, I found myself in farmers market heaven at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The Saturday farmers market surrounds the already-awesome building, boosting my attraction to the area by double. Among the highlights in and around the Ferry Building include the porchetta from Roli Roti, a booth from Craftsman & Wolves serving The Rebel Within (see last Bay Area post), $2 oysters, and Rancho Gordo, a specialty bean market where I bought my sister the Christmas presents that she requested. The Ferry Building is absolutely a place to which I will return.

Roli Roti Pochetta Sandwich

You might not be able to see the porchetta, but it was present and delicious.

Later that day, I watched UCLA beat USC in the annual rivalry football game while surrounded by bruin fans in SF. I celebrated by taking Lyft to the Mission to meet up with Jake and Rachel and walk to Limon, the Peruvian restaurant I missed out on two months ago because of a delayed flight. We ate buttery rotisserie chicken, tuna tartare, ceviche, empanadas, lomo saltado, and yucca fries while consuming fresh sangria. Limon ranks high up on my list of favorite meals in recent history. Latin-inspired, I met up with Sydney, a friend from UCLA, and her friend, to check out the live salsa music and dancing scene at Cigar Bar in the Financial District. I love live music, especially salsa. After a shaking off of the rust covering my salsa skills, I had a great night dancing.

Live Salsa at Cigar Bar

It’s all about the live music.

For Sunday brunch, Charlie, Julia, and I drove to Shakewell in the Lake Merritt neighborhood. Although I was initially skeptical of Oakland, this one specific neighborhood redeemed my hope for the city. Lake Merritt is a gem inside of sketchtown. Using my future-predicting skills, I’m confident that the area around Lake Merritt will undergo gentrification in the next few years. Back to the meal. Shakewell served brunch with a Mediterranean twist. I ordered falafel cakes with poached eggs, Spanish chorizo, red drop-shaped peppers, parsley, and Romanesco sauce.  The meal was fantastic, and quickly calmed my still-hungry-from-salsa stomach.

Falafel with Poached Egg and Spanish Chorizo

One of my favorite meals of late.

If you’ve seen the movie Up, you may be familiar with the ice cream parlor at the end of the movie. The one from the movie was modeled after Fenton’s Creamery in Northern Oakland, which we visited after brunch. The ice cream was ice cream, and the novelty of its movie feature wore off quickly. The sugar rush also wore off, which left tired Eric and Charlie to drive through the less-hip parts of Oakland to the airport.

Fenton's Creamery

 

The weekend was over.

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Update: New Project

You may have noticed the recent calm in post frequency. To explain this, I’ll offer you a tease of my new project: falafel is involved.

Meanwhile, you may feast your eyes on this photo of a future post. If you can guess my source of inspiration for this picture, I’ll offer recognition in a future post.

Mozzarella with Dates

 

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Porchetta

Porchetta, pronounced “porketta” is a boneless pork roast originating from central Italian cuisine. Traditional porchetta is made from deboned whole pig and roasted on a spit. As you may see, I did not roast a whole pig; in my opinion, rolled pork belly is an acceptable alternative.

Three of my favorite aspects of this recipe are:

  1. Crispy, salty, fatty, flavorful pork skin.
  2. The flavor of sage, which reminds me of my breakfast sausage recipe.
  3. Impressive presentation.

This dish was inspired by a lunch I had at The Factory Kitchen in Los Angeles, and realized by this recipe from Epicurious.

Porchetta Whole

Ingredients

  • A 4-pound, skin-on pork belly
  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried sage
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • Coarse salt

Equipment

  • Cooking twine

Directions

Heat the fennel and red pepper over a medium flame in a small skillet with no oil. Toast for up to 5 minutes, until the fennel smells strongly and have turned brown.

Allow spices to cool for a few minutes, then pulverize in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Add the sage and garlic to form a spice mixture. Set aside in a small bowl for later use.

Begin the pork belly preparation by scoring the meaty side of the belly with 1-inch-wide diagonal criss-cross cuts, about 1/4-inch deep. Poke the skin with hundreds of 1/4-inch-deep holes. Liberally salt both sides of the meat, then rub on the spice mixture, working it into the holes and score cuts.

Now comes the difficult part for a solo cook. Tightly roll the pork belly, skin-side out, and tie every cross-sectional inch with twine. You may need to have another person hold the rolled belly tight while you tie it. Alternatively, rubber bands will ease the solo tying process. Rub some salt and extra spices on the ends of the porchetta.

Place the pork on a roasting v-rack and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least a day. The humidity gradient between the pork and the refrigerator’s interior will cause moisture evaporation from the skin, improving the skin’s future crispiness after roasting.

Two hours before cooking, remove the porchetta from the refrigerator to a room temperature environment. Although this step is optional, doing so will allow the meat to cook quicker in the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit to be ready after the 2-hour rest period is over.

Roast at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. The high heat will crisp the skin without burning. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and roast for about two more hours, until the internal temperature of the roast reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Allow about ten minutes of cooling time, cut and remove the twine, then slice the meat into bacon-thin pieces for serving alongside an Italian feast.

Serves at least 6.

Porchetta

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TuroK Explores the Bay Area

Last weekend, I visited the Bay Area. This post summarizes my food and other worthwhile experiences.

My flight from Orange County to San Francisco was delayed. I missed out on dinner at Limon Rotisserie. In a daze of disorientation caused by the plane flight, BART ride, and my emergence into the Mission, I remember my friend Jake ordering two pork pupusas from a street vendor on the way to his apartment. Without thinking, I quickly scarfed down one pupusa. Before I ate the second one, I remembered that Jake asked for some cabbage to go along with the pupusas. In my delirious state, I could discern that adding the cabbage to the pupusa balanced out the greasiness. Light-up bocce ball, rum, and large rats in Dolores Park occupied the rest of the night. As our bocce ball game progressed, I found myself thinking that I could eat two or three more pupusas. Finally, sleep overcame my infatuation for more pupusas and I woke up the next morning ready to explore the city.

Our first stop of Saturday morning was Tartine Bakery in the Mission district. Famous for long lines and croissants, Tartine delivered with a fantastic almond croissant, an acceptable pan au chocolate, questionable pan au jambon, and pleasant 10-minute line. After breakfast, we took advantage of the sunny day by walking through Clarion Alley and admiring the murals that blanket both sides of the street.

I soon realized that two pastries for breakfast, no matter the quality, would not keep my stomach occupied until lunch. A friend mentioned that he wanted to meet up for lunch, and he decided on 4505 Meats, a butcher shop that serves local animals. 4505 Meats has more than one location; geography caused our lunch meetup failure. Slightly discouraged, we (Jake, Rachel  [Jake’s girlfriend], and I) ate mediocre locally-sourced hot dogs from 4505 Meats since we were already there. I also bought a duck stick. More on this later.

4505 Meats

4505 Meats publicly displays the tags from the lots they receive.

Now is later. It was time to see some landmarks. Jake and Rachel tourguided me to Land’s End, where the land ends at the Pacific Ocean. After some time hiking, I was hungry and discovered the duck stick that I purchased earlier from 4505. I ate the spicy concoction of pork, duck livers, and duck hearts and was fueled for the remainder of Land’s End exploration.

I am a ship captain.

I am a ship captain.

On the hike, I reminisced about pupusas from the night before. Jake told me the restaurant is called Panchita’s, and the late-night pupusa lady is famous. Looking back, I imagine that many a successful night concluded with pupusas on 16th Street.

We had Saturday dinner with one of Jake’s college friends at Monk’s Kettle. Twas chilly while we ate our dinner on the patio. I ordered us tasty corned beef and hash mushy croquettes and odd cornmeal-fried oysters. My main course was not-the-best burger of my life, but I left satisfied.

Sunday’s breakfast was at yet another bakery, Thorough Bread and Pastry. I ordered an almond croissant from the cleverly-named pastry shop. We ate breakfast early because one of Jake’s friends planned a hiking trip to Hood Mountain, located near Santa Rosa. For those of you unfamiliar with geography, Santa Rosa is north of San Francisco, about an hour’s drive north over the Golden Gate Bridge. We ate lunch on top of a rock near the peak.

Model for the camera

Following our hike, we drove to the final destination on our mini-trip: Old Redwood Brewing Company in Windsor, CA. Jake’s friends were part of the brewery’s beer club where they score a case of beer to split every month. Possibly caused by exhaustion from the 7.5-mile hike, the first beer I tasted went down easily for a guy that doesn’t like beer. I think I like wheaty beers best.

Not-gross beer

I shared Sunday dinner with a college friend at Namu Gaji, down the street from Mission San Francisco. Pickled beef tongue, wagyu tartare, mushroom dumplings, and okonomiyaki made for a quality dinner. Next door to Namu Gaji, I found a Bi-Rite ice cream shop, where I ordered fantastic basil ice cream.

On Monday morning, I said goodbye to San Francisco by eating breakfast at Craftsman & Wolves, a super-hip bakery recommended to me by my former coworker, Gordon. I tried the Rebel Within, a mindblowing savory muffin with a soft-boiled egg inside, and a morning bun, while listening to Spanish music.

The Rebel Within

The Rebel Within

The remaining morning on Monday was spent taking BART to Berkeley. I had a date at 11:30, but since I had time to kill, I perused a used bookstore on Telegraph and picked up some books in which I’d been interested: The China Study, The 4-Hour Body, and Foundation.

My date at 11:30 was with myself at Chez Panisse, Alice Waters’s famous restaurant. Jake used to work as a wine runner at Chez during college, and he recommended that I eat at Chez Panisse Cafe for lunch. I luckily scored a reservation for 1. I had a pleasant experience at the original restaurant of California cuisine while surrounded by well-dressed older folks and a professional wait staff.

Chez Panisse

Unobtrusive frontage

This is for real.

This is for real.

First course: butter lettuce with smoked salmon and dill.

First course: butter lettuce with smoked salmon and dill.

Entrée: Bucatini alla matriciana, one of the best I've had.

Entrée: Bucatini alla matriciana, one of the best matriciana dishes I’ve had.

Dessert: overpriced lemon curd with cream and fruit sauce.

Dessert: overpriced lemon curd with cream and fruit sauce.

Monday afternoon, I took BART to CalTrain from Berkeley to Palo Alto to meet up with my sister Michelle, a PhD student at Stanford University. After eating my first non-restaurant meal since Friday lunch, we decided to watch The Hundred-Foot Journey in the theater across campus. The movie left me with an inspired feeling. Charlotte Le Bon is beautiful.

CalTrain

Me gusta public transportation.

A trip summary: I ate at bakeries for breakfasts, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a much better movie than Hot Tub Time Machine, and my sister is smart.

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