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Porno for Food Pyros

Call it a mania. Call it culinary genius. Either way, local chefs are playing with fire to great effect.

Charred brassicas from Hi Lo BBQ

Charred brassicas from Hi Lo BBQ

Wood-fired ovens have long been a thing—like since ancient Pompeii. But today’s chefs are infatuated with a new toy—the behemoth grill. Inspired by grilling gurus such as Basque chef Victor Arguinzoniz, cooks are using open fire to turn out food that’s thoroughly caveman, totally modern, and remarkably pretty to boot. A guide to what’s crackling.

 

Burn After Reading: Dishes That Have Had the Fire Put to Them
Vegetarians, rejoice. No longer do smoke and fire signal big hunks of meat (though certainly, carnivores have plenty to choose from). Here, eight charred, seasonal dishes, all available at press time.

Grilled branzino at Coqueta Slivers of Castelvetrano olives and Meyer lemon salsa elevate this simple fish dish to the sublime. Pier 5 (Embarcadero near Broadway St.), 415-704-8866

Hi Lo BBQ's brassicas

Hi Lo BBQ's brassicas

Clam and cabbage at TBD Clams and sweet, smoky, fire-roasted cabbage come with a warming dashi broth. 1077 Mission St. (near 7th St.), 415-431-1826

Mixed heirloom brassicas at Hi Lo BBQ Charred cabbage and romanesco cauliflower meet Meyer lemon, chopped almonds, and nettle purée for a dish both pretty and tasty. 3416 19th St. (near Mission St.), 415-874-9921

Grilled kale salad at Fog City The ubiquitous kale salad gets a smoky new lease on life with watermelon radish and a rich, tangy goat cheese dressing. 1300 Battery St. (at Embarcadero), 415-982-2000

Grilled mussels with pancetta at Bar Jules With a caper-thyme vinaigrette and a little smoke from the fire, this is bivalve perfection. 609 Hayes St. (near Laguna St.), 415-621-5482

Grilled flatbread at Penrose An ever-changing flatbread is invigorated by toppings such as chermoula, tahini yogurt, and harissa. 3311 Grand Ave. (near Elwood Ave.), Oakland, 510-444-1649

Kabocha squash and grilled new onion salad at Camino Grilled new onions meet sweet roasted squash in a tangy puddle of yogurt. 3917 Grand Ave. (at Boulevard Way), Oakland, 510-547-5035

Roast pork loin at Homestead Pork loin is slow-roasted over the coals of a fireplace and then paired with veggies and a killer hunk of spoon bread. 4029 Piedmont Ave. (near Glen Ave.), Oakland, 510-420-6962

 

Read more: 
Five Ways to Cook With an Inferno  
Equipment: The It Grill
Three Steps to Becoming a Fire Tamer 
Know Your Wood
What to Drink With Your Smoke and Char
Environmental Report: Spare the Air—or the Dinner

 

Originally published in the March issue of San Francisco

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