Any cook will tell you that timing is everything. And that was part of the problem for husband-and-wife chef team Justin Meddis and Katie Gulla. Gulla worked day shifts in Berkeley, California, as pastry chef at Chez Panisse, finessing bowls of Kishu tangerines and baking pluot galettes. Across the Bay in San Francisco, Meddis began his duties in the evening, manning the kitchen at a progressive yakitori restaurant called Nojo. Sharing time together wasn't part of the recipe.
That all changed when the duo moved to Gulla's hometown, Durham, North Carolina, in 2013 to open a hybrid butcher shop (his) and bakery (hers) called Rose's Meat Market and Sweet Shop. Despite the fact that it's not actually a restaurant in the conventional sense, Rose's—which also offers butchery demos and sausage making tutorials—was shortlisted for Bon Appetit's Best New Restaurant list this year for their small but ambitious menu, including Meddis's green garlic tonkotsu ramen made from pork bones paired with Gulla's green tea macarons, and fennel and smoked paprika sausage rolled in house-made puff pastry.
The interplay between sweet and savory has never seemed more natural, so we asked the couple for advice on how to achieve crossover appeal.
Owners Justin Meddis and Katie Gulla
Lard, Not Butter
Gulla makes a variety of caramels in her shop—including salted vanilla, cardamom, lavender, bourbon and Earl Grey—using the rendered fat leftover from pasture-raised hogs. "It's a technique that ties the two different sides of the shop together. We started with fennel caramel, since you typically find pork and fennel flavors in things like salami or roasts," she says. The lard adds a smooth, silky texture and lustrous quality.
Salty Ice Cream
Meddis's background in Japanese cuisine adds culinary punch in Blue Devil territory. "Miso is a really versatile and common ingredient in the shop. We use it for ramen or dinner specials like miso-baked beef tendon," he says. You'll sometimes see white miso ice cream wedged between two gingersnap cookies or paired with roasted sour cherries. "White miso has less salt content and a noticeable hint of sweetness," Meddis explains.
What's a Valentine's Day without chocolate? Meddis and Gulla rub steak tips with a mixture of single-origin Cordillera cocoa nibs and smoked paprika, then cold-smoke the meat. "Cocoa nibs add an interesting depth of flavor, similar to a mole sauce," says Meddis. "The nibs are slightly bitter with an underlying chocolate tone."
Homestyle Curried Doughnuts
Kare pan is a Japanese comfort dish that's essentially a chewy, curry-filled doughnut. Meddis makes the curry powder from scratch, amping up the sweetness with caramelized onions, carrots, apples and a blend of 14 different spices. It's mixed with chicken, pork and vegetables, then wrapped in a yeasted doughnut, covered in panko breadcrumbs and deep fried.
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