Monday, March 29, 2010

day 86


Lion's Head meatball, from China.

Originally a Shanghai delicacy, this meatball has traveled through almost all of China's provinces. Usually pretty large...about softball sized... this meatball gets it's name from it's plate presentation, where it is surrounded by a cabbage leaf, which resembles a lion's mane.

Lugwrench said something nice!

Thanks to Jeff over at the beer blog, Lug Wrench Brewing Company, for featuring MEAT SECTIONS! He found me through The Bruery's website (soooo happy I decided to paint that Melange No. Sechs). It's so awesome when someone takes the time to contact you and compliment your work.

So thanks Jeff, and for all you beer aficionados, check out Lug Wrench Brewing Company.

Day 85


Next in our tour of worldwide meatballs is kufteh berenji, or Persian meatball.

I'll admit I haven't had these bad boys before, but they sound delicious. The addition of rice and split peas makes these meaty morsels stand out in a crowd.

I found several variations of these meatballs in my source cookbook, New Food of Life, by Najmieh Batmanglij, including the addition of sumac, curry, or fava beans. Everything I've made from this Persian tome has been delicious, so I imagine these meatballs are no exception. She accompanies them with a sauce made from tomato, garlic, beef broth, unripe plums, saffron and turmeric.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 84


No meat in this ball... just in time for Passover, it's the much loved Matzoh (Matzo, Matza?) Ball.

So I'll admit that I've never made these bad boys, but these 4 ingredients: matzoh, schmaltz (aka chicken fat), eggs, and chicken broth seem to be a constant in most recipes. Some swear by the addition of some airy agents, like baking soda or seltzer water, in an attempt a lighten these sometimes leaden creations. Any thoughts on those additions?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

day 83

meatball - viet copy
Original watercolor illustration
Prints available by contacting me at

Next up are nem nuong, or Vietnamese meatballs.

If I could only eat one cuisine for the rest of my life, I think it would be Vietnamese. These flavor-packed morsels of porky yumminess show up in a variety of Vietnamese dishes, including pho soup, bahn mi sandwiches, nem nuong cuon (rice rolls), and bun cha hanoi, probably one of the best dishes of all time, consisting of grilled pork, these meat patties, savory dipping broth/sauce, rice noodles and piles of herbs.

There's a great recipe in Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table, as well as here and here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 82

Original watercolor illustration
Prints available by contacting me at

Next up in Meatballs of the World is my favorite, the polpette, or Italian meatball.

Now, there are about a billion variations on this meaty bite, with many chefs insisting on using a mixture of meats, and tons of herbs and seasoning, adding garlic, basil, oregano, and pine nuts. I even found one that added ketchup (seriously, giada?)

I'm sure that's good and all, but I'm fiercely loyal to my southern Italian family roots. Our family recipe has nothing but ground beef, bread crumbs, parsley, egg, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Simple, yet super flavorful.

And I must INSIST that people pan fry their meatballs before plopping them in sauce. Even though some suggest that boiling the meatballs makes them super tender, please believe that there are few things better tasting than a freshly fried meatball, sans sauce. I remember standing next to my grandmother while she fried meatballs, and she would allow me to have one (or maybe two if I was lucky) fried meatballs after they cooled. Now that I make them on my own, I'll admit that my gentleman friend and I eat, like, 10 before shuttling them into the sauce.

Day 81

Original watercolor illustration.
Contact me at for prints.

Oh, snap. It's Meat[ball] Sections!

Following up on the rousing success (at least in my own mind) of Taqueria Week, I decided to launch another weekly theme.... this time Meatballs of The World.

Kicking it off is the old IKEA standby, Swedish meatballs, or Köttbullar. I found a few variations of this meatastic orb of, uh, meatiness, but most used a combination of beef and pork, along with onions, egg and bread. Most also added either nutmeg or allspice, or both, which gives them their unique Swedishness.

Smother them in creamy sauce, serve with lingonberry preserves and they are utsökt ("delicious")!

Monday, March 22, 2010

day 80

Original watercolor 4.5 x5 inches

The boring safe choice at taquerias is pollo asado, grilled chicken. Not bad, just a little dull. I sometimes convince myself a pollo asado burrito is "healthy." Either breast or thighs.

Day 79

original watercolor on heavy weight paper. 5.5 x5.5

Very exciting when a taqueria has cochinita pibil on the menu. This roasted pork shoulder or loin is marinated with annatto seed (for color), sour Seville oranges, garlic, and other spices and then traditionally wrapped in banana leaves and roasted. It is de. licious.

Cochinita pibil is more of a Yucetan or Mayan dish, so it rarely makes an appearance at taquerias. One of my favorite restaurants, Poc Chuc has a great version.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 78

Another taqueria favorite is nopales, or prickly cactus paddles.

There's a fancier upscale mexican joint in the Financial District, Tlaloc, that has a ton of nopales dishes on its menu. It's a little frou-frou for my taqueria tastes, but I also appreciate it when a place has them on the menu. (And Tlaloc had the genius idea to combine nopales AND chicken mole in one burrito! insane, I tell you. )

The nopales are the texture of roasted peppers, with a slightly more tangy flavor. Muy delicioso.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Day 77

Oh snap. It's cabeza. I know it sounds gross, being cow head and all. But usually it's mostly beef cheeks, which sound fancier, right? Basically, cabeza to me tastes like and has the texture of a delicious mexican pot roast, in a taco. yum.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Eater SF is the Best

Thanks to Eater SF for featuring the "Al Pastor" illustration today

Friday, March 19, 2010, by Jackson West

Painting by Alyson of Meat Sections from the Eater SF Flickr Pool

·Trendwatch: Is Country Ham the New Bacon? [Salon]
·Wall Street Journal Resto Critic Quits When Asked to Cover "Food Trends" [NYT]
·AOL Site that Poached Unemployed Gourmet Editors Launches [Kitchen Daily]
·"How to Make an Episode of 30 Minute Meals" [Food Network Humor]
·James Beard Awards Adds "Best TV Food Personality" Category [Grub Street NY]
·Economist Calles for Bluefin Ban Before "Sustainable Exploitation" [Economist]
·Organic Food Sales Plateau, Crappy Economy Blamed [Reuters]

Day 76


Yes, my no. 3 taqueria meat choice.... carne asada. While it simply means roasted meat, it is most commonly made from either a skirt steak or flank steak. either way, it's a tasty does of iron.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

day 75

5x7 print available here.

My no. 2 choice at taquerias is usually al pastor. This delicious schwarma-like porky concoction is usually made from slices of either shoulder or loin, marinated, stacked together, and roasted on a spit. It is greasy, fatty, spicy and oh so yum. The more cinnamon and spiciness involved, the better. And, fun fact, it was likely a Mexican adaptation of spit roasted meat brought to Mexico from Lebanese immigrants. see?

These recipes sound delicious, but it really won't be the same without the vertical spit. At least I don't think so.

Monday, March 15, 2010

day 74

5x7 print available in my shop, here.

Ok. hold onto your elastic-waist pants. It's time for Taqueria Week here at MEAT SECTIONS.

Kicking things off is my favorite taqueria meat choice.... carnitas. Ample choices here in SF, including the fancy ones at Nopalito, mobile ones at El Tonnayense, and cheap DIY ones from Trader Joe's. But I think my favorite still hail from La Bamba , part of the famed "Burrito Triangle" in Mountain View, CA.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

day 68


Meat section diagram of a cloud.

Appropriate, given the freaky weather in SF yesterday, which included a hail storm. It wasn't all bad though.

day 67


a HEAD of lettuce. get it? get it? [groan]

and as a little administrative note, I'm changing up the posting schedule. While I'll be doing a meat section a day, I'm going to start just posting every other day. Scanning and uploading are somewhat annoying, and plus, this way, you faithful readers will get double the hot meat action in one day. can you handle it?

Monday, March 8, 2010

day 66

original watercolor and ink on drawing paper.

ice cream cone meat section. gotta love the chocolate plugs. prevents drips and is, uh, chocolate.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 65


original watercolor and ink illustration

Meat section of English tea, depending on class.

When I was in England, I remember some brits saying that you could tell the class (and sometimes religion) of a person, depending on whether they added milk and sugar to the cup before pouring the tea, or adding them after the tea was already in the cup.

so yeah. that's what this is.

Friday, March 5, 2010

day 64

Chart of my head, mostly what inspires me.

If you reeeeally want to read more about my inspiration, you can check out my contribution to sfgirlbybay's Blog It Forward mashup here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

day 62


original painting, acrylic and pencil on canvas and vellum.

How to butcher a Bossy Meat Creature. You've been warned about the mouth.

day 61


original watercolor. 6X9

pomelo meat section.

I know there is more pith than fruit. that doesn't mean you should eat it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

day 60


Original drawing, 5 x6 inches. ink on hemp paper.

Super Pig's superpower is to provide super tasty meat to all the boys and girls.

EDIT: super prints now available in the ole shop!

I had superpowers on the brain after going to my friend Kirk's reading last night, where he presented a read-through of 4 ten minute plays that he wrote. One, obviously, involved superpowers. There were also gay ninjas. And flying jellyfish. It was awesome.