From Kraft Mac - N - Cheese to Farm Fresh Steak Tartare

Dear Friends,

As anybody who knows me will attest, I love memes. The dumber (and/or generally more offensive) they are, the harder I laugh. Recently I saw a great one about "raw" food. It showed a half-eaten roll of cookie dough with a caption that said, "who knew the raw food diet could be so delicious?" I loved this.

Anyway - this got me thinking about raw food. You know, I can't say I'm particularly a fan of the idea. I mean, there's a reason cooking and human civilization evolved hand in hand, right? I'm no nutritionist, but I do question whether you can actually eat kale if it's not sautéed in extra-virgin olive oil with a big handful of coarse chopped garlic - just saying.

Now, one of the first things I learned how to "cook" was technically a raw food... wait - actually, now that I think about it, the very first thing I learned to cook was macaroni and cheese - Kraft macaroni & cheese in the blue box to be precise. It had that silver foil pouch full of a really sharp, grainy, cheese powder (seriously, cheese powder? I could totally eat that right now...).

There was only one problem with Kraft macaroni and cheese, and that problem involved portion size. As you may remember, a box of Kraft macaroni was incredibly satisfying, but after you had chowed down almost all of it (usually standing over the hot pan still resting on the stove) you were really, truly, roll me home, stuffed to the gills. And here's when that problem reared its head - you inevitably had about 2/3 of a cup left in the bottom of the pan.

Now - can we talk? Nobody (and I mean nobody ever) puts 2/3 of a cup of freshly cooked, still hot, incredibly delicious Kraft macaroni and cheese into a Tupperware and sticks that business back in the fridge. Sorry - not happening - nope. No, pretty much everybody does the only logical thing you can do. They suck it up. They steel themselves. And committing themselves to the task with all due attention, fork-full by deliberate fork-full, they slowly but surely put the rest of that bad boy away.

This is our essential humanity I'm talking about here people! This is the thing that separates us from the dumb beasts. We understand what must be done and we do it, regardless of the pain and sacrifice incurred. Uh, jeeze... I'm afraid I may have digressed.

How did I get here...? Oh yeah - raw foods. Let me start over for a minute. Probably the second thing I ever learned how to "cook" for myself was steak tartare. So yeah - despite what I said above, there are a few foods that should actually be eaten raw, steak tartare being one of those.

I was probably 12 or 13 years old when one evening my mom prepared some kind of this fancy raw ground meat deal for her and my dad. It had chopped onion, garlic, lemon, spices, pickles, freaking raw egg yolk - all kinds of crazy good stuff. I remember there was a spice blend she used from Spice Island called Beau Monde that I absolutely loved - celery, onion, salt, sugar? Pretty sure they still make that one.

Anyway - having tasted some of this very sexy adult fare, I was pretty well hooked on the idea. Before long I was chopping my own garlic and onions, and no package of ground beef in our fridge was safe from my marauding, refrigerator plundering, tartare chef aspirations. Yep - I'd take whatever seemed like it might be interesting (and available in our larder), mash it in with delicious "ground round", and stuff the whole mixture in my mouth. Seriously, it is only by the obvious grace of a kind and loving god that I didn't die from some horrible food poisoning given the shear volume of raw grocery store meat I ate over about a two year period. I certainly tempted fate.

Look - there was a point to this long drawn out story of my culinary origins. And that point is that we are now serving an absolutely stunning, top-notch Steak Tartare. It is wildly delicious and infinitely more elegant than the business described above that I used to throw together in our kitchen as a 12 year old boy.

Our TFB tartare is made from the highest quality sustainable local wagyu from Strube Ranch. We chop this amazing beef by hand with a very sharp knife fresh daily (so yes, do come early because we will run out). To the chopped wagyu we add cornichon pickles, capers, shallots, a nice splash of sherry wine vinegar, and not much more. We top it with an extremely fresh egg yolk from Milagro Farm and serve it with a couple of slices of warm pain de campagne straight off the grill - and voila - you gotcherself a darn good snack, appetizer, or throw in a market salad and you've got dinner. But don't take my word for it - come try it. We promise you won't be sorry.

bon appetit,


PS - speaking of mac & cheese, we recently finished competing in a mac & cheese contest organized by Antonelli's Cheese Shop. It was a ton of fun - we did a green garlic mac with multiple cheeses and a rye bread crumb topping that was very well received. Well - the contest is over, but we're about to add a new spring version of what was a very popular dish. I'm lobbying for bacon. Stay tuned...