The 2nd Annual San Francisco Lamb Jam was held Sunday, July 17, and if you are a lamb fan and didn’t make it this year, make sure to put it on your to-do list for 2012!
The fun event featured continuously flowing wine from Paso Robles wineries and a feast of lamb dishes from more than a dozen top Bay Area restaurants (read my event preview). The Lamb Jam provided an opportunity to try food from some great chefs; I can’t wait to visit a few places I just discovered including Oakland’s Wood Tavern Restaurant.
More than a dozen chefs competed for top props in six categories: People’s Choice (voted on by all attendees), Best In Show, Best Loin Dish, Best Shoulder, Best Shank, and Best Loin (the last five were scored by a panel of judges). Results are below.
One of my favorite dishes didn’t get an award, but it is worth mentioning. The Oaxacan Lamb Tacos prepared by Zin Restaurant & Wine Bar were absolutely delicious, and the restaurant’s booth boasted a beautiful presentation of ingredients that you could watch being assembled. I spoke to Chef Jeff Mall of this Healdsburg-based restaurant about his creation. For the tacos, he used tortillas that he made by hand. For the lamb filling, he made a traditional Mole sauce with 21 ingredients. This was something he learned from a chef from Oaxaca he worked with 15 years ago; it was the Oaxacan chef’s mom’s recipe. Chef Mall braised the lamb shanks in a mixture of the mole sauce and a bit of red wine. After the meat was done cooking it was deboned and degreased, then reheated in a mixture of mole and lamb stock. The taco toppings included queso fresco cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds, and intriguing “radish dust.” The radish dust was made with 10 radishes per bunch of cilantro. How does Zin Restaurant make this? Pulse the radishes and cilantro in a food processor until fine. Place mixture into a clean towel and squeeze out all the liquid. Fluff the mixture, and there you have radish dust!
Zin’s lamb tacos also had two savory side dishes that I loved. The first was a roasted butternut squash puree with rajas (these are roasted poblano peppers, cut into strips and cooked in cream with yellow onions). The other side was a jicama and sweet corn slaw with fresh mint and cumin-lime vinaigrette. Okay, I’m hungry now – time to take a field trip to Healdsburg!
SAN FRANCISCO LAMB JAM 2011 WINNERS
People’s Choice: ThirstyBear Brewing Company, Chef Jessica Gorin
Grilled Lamb Loin with Polenta, Mission Figs and Marcona Almond
Best in Show & Best Shank: Nick’s Cove, Chef Adam Mali
Braised Lamb Shank, Lemon-stewed Cannelini Beans, Lavender-Mint Gremolata
Best Leg: Eastside West Restaurant & Bar, Chef Dino Vazquez
Spicy Lamb and Lemongrass Soup “Hue” Style
Best Loin: FIVE Restaurant & Bar, Chef Banks White
Roasted Lamb Loin, Piquillo Pepper Jam, House Yogurt, Cumin Chimichurri
Best Shoulder: Wood Tavern Restaurant, Chef Yang Peng
Braised Lamb Shoulder, Chickpea Puree, Fava Beans, Chimichurri, Herb Salad
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