Ranch45 expands in Del Mar | Happy Half Hour Podcast

This meat looks geological. Like beautiful and delicious geodes. In the refrigerated case, huge racks of Brandt Beef have been right there at Ranch45 – for a while (40 days, says a label). When meat is dry aged like this, it starts to look prehistoric and opens up a whole new world of flavor. Excess moisture is drawn from the meat over time, breaking down the protein, tenderizing it and concentrating its steak. It works the same way as when you “reduce” a broth or soup to increase flavor.

In the cooler next door, Ranch45 chef Aaron Schwartz is aging bone marrow. It’s true. Ranch45 is dry aging bone marrow. In the performance kitchen in the middle of Solana Beach’s butcher/deli/restaurant/deli, Schwartz roasts one; serve it simply on a plate with salt, pepper, chives, microgreens; and a drizzle of oil.

As a marrow adherent (it’s meat butter), this is the first dry-aged marrow I’ve had. And that’s good.

“Any meat needs to age at least a little to be good,” says Schwartz, who was born and raised in the area and lives with his family (including his wife and business partner, Pamela) in nearby Carmel Valley. “That’s why in the butcher’s shop you’ll see it on hooks.”

Ranch45, bone marrow

Next to the dried marrow and meat there is soap. Bone marrow soap.

“We just hand-wrapped them last night,” says Schwartz. “It’s about using every part of the animal. Waste as little as possible. We go back to how things used to be in butcher shops. Where you knew your butcher and trusted him. That’s why we use Brandt Beef. I have known Eric Brandt and his family for 20 years and still use them for a reason.

Del Mar has something special at Ranch45. As chef of the Marriott Marquis, Schwartz made a name for himself by convincing a large multinational hotel group to invest in local food. Under his leadership, Marquis was one of the largest buyers of local agricultural products in the city. When the pandemic hit, he was put on leave. He spent time at home with his children. Then Pamela convinced him to join Ranch45, which she had run for three years (she’s an accomplished chef and winemaker herself, having spent years overseeing the nearby Pamplemousse Grille and the mighty Arterra).

Now they are expanding, occupying the space next door and setting up a real butcher’s shop there. The idea is to be the supplier to all the best local restaurants and locals who want to know where their meat comes from.

For this podcast, we sit down and chat with Schwartz about simple food ideas from a place you know. About bringing small vendors and general stores back into a community.

In “Hot Plates,” we break the news that The Joint in OB is working on a ramen joint on Newport Avenue, down from their original location, as well as opening two restaurants in Hawaii; Indian star Charminar opens upscale studio Dosa next door; and Ballast Point has a new culinary director in Tommy Dimella (who also spent years in Pamplemousse).

For “Two People, Fifty Bucks”, Aaron points to Juanita’s taco shop in Leucadia, where he takes his family after a surf; Troy raves about Starfish Filipino Eatery at OB (take the sisig); and David pays homage to the pop-up underwater tiki bar experience, Acey Deucey Club.

See you next week.

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