Pictures of San Francisco's First Annual Lamb Jam

Lamb Galore at San Francisco's Lamb Jam

Yesterday I was one of five lucky people who judged the first annual Lamb Jam in San Francisco. The culinary competition was put on by Fans of Lamb and the American Lamb Board, hosted by chef Matt Accarrino of SPQR restaurant, and featured 20 of the city's top eateries. Each participating chef — among them Chef vs. City star Chris Cosentino and Top Chef season 6 contestant Mattin Noblia — was given a different part of lamb and asked to create a delicious bite. From lamb sausage to lamb crostini, there was no shortage of creativity and good eats.

The judges were asked to arrive early before the crowds descended upon the event. We sat apart from everyone and did not know which restaurant created each dish.

The folks voting for people's choice placed their ballots in here.

The first five dishes used lamb shank. We started with a flavorful Persian presentation of lamb shank braised in seven spices. It was wonderfully aromatic and a great way to begin the judging.

An incredibly spicy lamb shank served on Mexican rice was next. It would have been scrumptious with a soft taco and icy beer.

This rosemary and red wine marinated lamb was delish, but the heirloom tomato panzanella overshadowed the lamb. I wanted to eat the salad and not the lamb.

To take a look at all 20 dishes and see my thoughts of each one, keep reading.

The judges were asked to arrive early before the crowds descended upon the event. We sat apart from everyone and did not know which restaurant created each dish.

The folks voting for people's choice placed their ballots in here.

The first five dishes used lamb shank. We started with a flavorful Persian presentation of lamb shank braised in seven spices. It was wonderfully aromatic and a great way to begin the judging.

An incredibly spicy lamb shank served on Mexican rice was next. It would have been scrumptious with a soft taco and icy beer.

This rosemary and red wine marinated lamb was delish, but the heirloom tomato panzanella overshadowed the lamb. I wanted to eat the salad and not the lamb.

Braised lamb shank with falafel, feta, and minted yogurt was my favorite preparation of the shanks.

This braised lamb leg won the people's choice award, but I think it won because it was served on a bed of blue cheese grits. They were to die for.

Lamb crostini was actually a Mexican-style preparation served on a crispy, just-fried tortilla chip.

"Lamb couscous royale" was perhaps my least favorite preparation of the event. The lamb lacked flavor and was tough.

Who knew lamb leg could be so tasty when it's thinly sliced? Served on Yorkshire pudding, this was the best of the lamb legs.

On to the lamb loin: this lamb with spinach and feta salsa verde was good but lacked something to make it really stand out.

After tasting so many dishes, I was starting to slow down. Thankfully, this one-bite was perfect!

We were told not to judge the rack of lamb and just judge the crepenelle  — a wildly juicy and slightly salty lamb patty.

Although this red curry leg of lamb sandwich looks good, it was far too salty for my liking.

The most out-there preparation was this lamb sausage and lamb kidney dish. It was served with minted radishes and a hay-infused aioli.

This braised lamb shoulder with white beans was another case where I preferred the accompaniment over the lamb.

Hand-rolled pasta with braised lamb shoulder was so amazing I could have eaten an entire plateful.

This interesting spiced lamb loin was a favorite of my cojudge Jay Barmann of Grub Street.

Lamb loin with smoked garlic puree, vegetables, and herbs was too convoluted. It was all over the place in terms of flavor.

Braised lamb shoulder with white bean fabada was good, but again, I liked the beans better than the lamb.

These lamb meatball lettuce wraps won me over with their dainty and beautiful presentation.

If I weren't totally full, I think I would have enjoyed this lamb merguez sausage and couscous a lot more.

After the judging concluded, they brought out a whole roasted lamb and sliced it up for everyone to enjoy.
Latest