Last Night: Meatpaper's Meat & Greet
January 11, 2009
Better than: Uncreative protein
Outside the entrance of Acme Chophouse (24 Willie Mays Plaza) is a large letter A with a meat cleaver piercing it, an ideal location to celebrate the release of the new issue of Meatpaper, a quarterly journal inspired by edible endeavors of the flesh.
This wasn't the publication's first "Meat & Greet" event, but it was certainly its most popular. We arrived to a line almost out the door, and a quick look inside found several similar lines to taste some of the most provocative ideas in meat that we've ever had.
Warning: Images after the cut are NSFV (not safe for vegans) . . .
Chef Ryan Farr was demonstrating how to break down a whole pig. By the time I found him, it seemed as though his work was done: The head and tail, among other parts, were resting underneath his table. I was happy that I didn't have to be confronted with the initial chop down even though I knew I'd learn from it, but it was illuminating to return to his station an hour later to see that there was a lot more meat to be removed (from cheeks, ribs and whatever else), and very little of the animal to be wasted.
Anyone offended by meat was probably fairly far from the building, but chef and culinary instructor Leif Hedendal had a few beautiful and tasty fruit and veggie morsels, including crostini with hummus, olive, radish and beet; mushroom and onion croquettes; plump dates and homemade potato chips with pureed potato on top.
Due to the length of the lines, we weren't able to sample the "nose to tail" beef tasting presented by OPENrestaurant, but, thanks to Acme's exposed kitchen, we were able to watch it being prepared and come to life. We did make the (not so) tough choice to wait in line for Perbacco (230 California) chef/owner Staffan Terje's imaginative meat desserts.
Meat sweets are ever the rage now, but none quite so creative as Terje's bacon marshmallows and his chocolate and blood sausage pudding. The marshmallow was an extraordinary combination of too sweet and too salty, which sort of evened out into something I really shouldn't have liked but kinda did. I do wish I hadn't asked what the pudding was before I tried it; while not particularly meaty in flavor (it just tasted like chocolate that was a bit. . . off), the idea of what it was made me a bit queasy. Though I still love the spirit of experimentation going on there, I quickly understood why there were many unfinished cups of it around the restaurant.
Personal bias: I'd been eating almost nothing but farm-fresh vegetables for the previous four days, so this was a slight shock to the system.
Random detail: Meat makes people smile.
By the way: The open bar featured a "Bloody Mary Con Carne" with beef stock and bacon-infused vodka, but it was gone by the time we got there.