Friday, June 19, 2009

Father’s Day Grilling Class at Two

Two is the San Francisco restaurant that for many years was known as Hawthorne Lane. (The restaurant is on the tiny Hawthorne Lane alley in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood, and its address is 22 Hawthorne, thus the focus on the number 2.)

What some of you might not know is Two’s chef and owner, David Gingrass, teaches a monthly cooking class on Saturdays right in the restaurant’s kitchen. I read about the classes a couple of years ago after eating at the restaurant, but because the size is limited and pretty popular, you have to enter your name in a “lottery” to even get a chance to enroll.

I put my name in on Two’s Web site and never heard back, which is typical since I never win in Super Lotto either. But a few months ago I tried again, and this time I got an email saying I was selected for the June class with the theme, “Father’s Day Grilling.” Even though I still had to pay for the class ($80 per person), I still felt like I had won the lottery.

So last Saturday I showed up at 10:30 a.m. at the restaurant along with 18 other students (the class is limited to 20). We were served coffee or mimosas (I don’t drink coffee so I went for a mimosa) at the bar as we met our fellow classmates. Eventually Chef Gingrass showed up and took us back to the kitchen to start our class. (Gingrass initially thought of doing the grilling class outside but because of the overcast weather last weekend, we stayed in the kitchen.)

Chef Gingrass was behind the counter and encouraged others to join him and get our hands dirty in the kitchen. A few hung around the other side of the counter observing, and two friendly servers regularly refilled our glasses of mimosas and wine. We were making six different dishes that day, all related to a summer barbeque that would be perfect for any Father’s Day celebration.

First we made a dish Gingrass called “Peel and Eat Shrimp” served with toasted garlic bread and a dipping sauce. This was fairly easy by shelling the huge shrimp he had and then boiling it in a big pot of water infused with a variety of ingredients like celery, onions, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, fennel, vinegar, ginger powder, mustard seeds, bay leaves, cloves and garlic. I was glad others jumped in to peel the shrimp because I didn’t want my fingers to get dirty so I could keep snapping pictures.

Since the shrimp was so easy to make, it was the first dish ready for us to eat. We passed around plates of shrimp and garlic bread. The bread was so perfectly golden brown I knew it would be hard for me to duplicate at home because we were using Two’s industrial-strength appliances. The shrimp was amazing on its own that few of us even bothered dipping it in the butter sauce.

Our main dish was barbequed baby back ribs, and Chef Gingrass put a few slabs of them covered with foil into the oven. (Although we were encouraged to jump in, the class was really watching Gingrass demonstrate the recipes. I didn’t mind though because it’s always interesting seeing how different chefs work.) While the ribs were cooking, we got down to making the sides: an apple slaw with savoy cabbage and a bow-tie pasta salad.

A meal can’t go without dessert, so Two’s pastry chef Bryn Robson (formerly of Cortez) joined our class to show us how to make a peach and blackberry “buckle.” It was the first time I ever heard of a buckle, but it’s similar to a cobbler except you put the crust on the bottom and throughout the fruit, and not just the top. Chef Robson showed us how to make a mini version in a ramekin but she had already made a huge tray of the buckle for our class.

Men like their meat so Chef Gingrass also showed us how to grill a pepper-crusted New York strip loin. He salted the meat at the last minute and then threw the beef into his wood-burning grill. I bet you guys all wish you could have this grill at your home huh?

We also watched as Chef Gingrass prepared a basic barbeque sauce, and then when the ribs were cooked, he slathered the sauce on the racks before throwing them on the grill to give them that nice color.

Don’t these ribs just make your mouth water? They were ri-dic-u-lous! I was so glad we were about to eat.

The class went by fast and I didn’t realize it was already 12:30 p.m. when we sat down in the restaurant to eat. It was buffet style and we just grabbed our food and went into the dining room to enjoy our work (well, mostly Chef Gingrass’ work).

Here’s my plate. Everything was so amazing and really pretty simple when you look at the recipe. I don’t have a picture of the New York strip loin because Chef Gingrass wanted it to rest for awhile, but the servers brought us some slices later. The meat turned out really tender and juicy.

Here’s Chef Robson’s peach and blackberry buckle with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. This definitely tasted like it came out of a restaurant kitchen because the crust and crumble on top was so perfectly crunchy. This was really sooo good. I’m going to try and make it at home, but I don’t know if it’ll compare.

The class was a really fun way to spend my Saturday. It was also fun to meet other people in the class and to help each other cook. I heard next month’s class in on lobsters. That’s definitely winning the lottery!

Two restaurant, 22 Hawthorne Street (at Howard). PH: 415.777.9779. [UPDATE 11/14/09: Two is now closed so no longer offering classes from the Hawthorne Street location.]]

Other cooking experiences:
Cooking Up Dinner and a Date
Vote for the Argentine Empanada ’08
Creating Elegant Vegetarian Dishes


Carolyn Jung said...

Man, I'm going to have to show those ribs to Meat Boy. ;)
Me? I can't stop looking at the fruit buckle with vanilla ice cream.

foodhoe said...

wow, that looks like a fun class! Are the recipes posted on the restaurant website? Everything looks so good...

Single Guy Ben said...

Carolyn, you should definitely make the buckle.

Foodhoe, yes, the recipes are downloadable as a PDF on the restaurants site. But it's hard to find. This is where you go:

1) go to
2) Click on the "In the Kitchen" tab
3) On the left, you can view photos from past classes, click on the June 13, 2009 class (my class)
4) DON'T LOOK AT THE AWFUL PHOTO OF ME EATING SHRIMP. Instead, look on the upper right corner of the page above the photos and you'll see a link where you can click to download a PDF of all the recipes we made that day.