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Do you know where to get grass-fed veal in any restaurants in San Francisco/North Marin

mansfield Oct 20, 2009 12:09 PM

Many thanks

  1. Robert Lauriston Oct 20, 2009 12:38 PM

    Availability is extremely limited. I've seen it at Cafe Rouge in Berkeley.

    1. rworange Oct 20, 2009 09:25 PM

      Of all places, Il Fornaio

      I've seen this somewhere recently, not the above. I just can't remember where.

      1. Robert Lauriston Oct 21, 2009 12:52 PM

        Oliveto apparently has some Magruder Ranch vitellone on hand right now:


        6 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          Robert Lauriston Oct 21, 2009 01:51 PM

          More about Oliveto's vitellone--makes it sound like they can go through the meant from two 600-lb. animals in two or three days, which seems implausible.


          Some other sources:


          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            sfbing Oct 21, 2009 02:32 PM

            Depends on what they mean by 600lb: live weight, hanging weight, or cut and wrap? It is very likely to be live weight, based on typical veal calf sizes.

            Based on my experience buying a grass fed veal calf, a live weight of about 400 lb will give a hanging weight of about 180lb (after the blood, skin, and intestines and such have been removed), and maybe 100lbs of cut and wrapped meat (steaks, chops, ground meat, etc.).

            Still, 300lbs of veal meat in 2-3 days does seem like a lot, even for a restaurant.

            1. re: sfbing
              SteveG Oct 21, 2009 05:32 PM

              Well, places like Oliveto make a lot of concentrated stock from the same animal to go along with whatever prime cut of meat goes onto a plate, and for depth of flavor the stock will be made with some meat in addition to the bones.

              The blog Robert linked to mentions, "Tonight we will be using the loin, and Friday we will be serving the rib eye." Sounds to me like the less choice cuts are going into sausages, pasta fillings, and ragouts on menus later on.

              1. re: SteveG
                Robert Lauriston Oct 21, 2009 06:49 PM

                Yeah, maybe they put up some ragù and so on. Demi-glace is not traditional in Italian cooking, but Oliveto's not rigid about such things.

                I'm eating there Friday, I'll try to remember to ask.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  SteveG Oct 22, 2009 10:56 AM

                  On second thought, my statement was mainly influenced by the Bertolli cookbook, which for obvious reasons doesn't apply directly to the current incarnation of Oliveto. He definitely uses it in the ragus...his recipe for pigeon ragu reserves a few good pieces of meat & organs to be diced, and everything else goes in a stock pot for extended extraction and then concentration. I should have been clearer that I wasn't talking exclusively about steak or lamb chop type dishes.

                  1. re: SteveG
                    Robert Lauriston Oct 22, 2009 12:23 PM

                    I think Oliveto still does stuff like that, as do Chez Panisse and Camino. Traditional Italian ragù recipes usually have meat, milk, and wine, no stock or reductions, but California chefs mix and match techniques to maximize flavor.

                    However they make them, Oliveto's ragùs are some of the best I've had anywhere. Mmm, maybe I'll get some of that wild boar ragù tomorrow night.

        2. moto Oct 21, 2009 02:15 PM

          it might be easier to get the info from the distributors/producers of the vitellone: for example, Prather Ranch probably knows which restaurants serve it--are there not also producers in Marin Co. itself?

          3 Replies
          1. re: moto
            mansfield Oct 21, 2009 08:32 PM

            Thanks to all. I called Prather but they said no restaurants are buying it!

            1. re: mansfield
              trepverter Oct 23, 2009 11:37 AM

              a calf's diet has more to do with it's age than anything else. a calf slaughtered younger than 20 weeks will most likely be exclusively milk or formula fed, regardless of where it comes from. after 20 weeks, some producers start mixing in grain, hay and fodder. "pastured" veal will have some grass in it's diet if it is older than 20-24 weeks. 24+ week old animals are usually sold as "calf" and not "veal"

              1. re: trepverter
                Robert Lauriston Oct 23, 2009 11:53 AM

                Grass-fed American veal (what Italians call vitellone) is a fairly new development that has nothing to do with the way most American "veal" is produced.

                Natural milk-fed veal (what Italians call vitello) is even harder to get.

          2. s
            SteveG Oct 23, 2009 12:03 PM

            Just had a fantastic Vitello Tonnato at Quince last night. Really stunningly delicious preparation, and a pretty reasonable price of $14 or $16 considering the work that goes into such a dish.

            It was made with Four Story Hill Farm Vitellone, with a perfect, intense tuna sauce, thin-sliced raw tuna arranged on top in an artful mound that reminded me vaguely of a rose, and various wonderful garnishes like flash fried capers that became puffballs of briny herbal deliciousness. Way more complexity in ingredients and flavors than the original Italian version, but definitely delicious.

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