It's Better With Billy Butter
When you grow up surfing in OB with the nickname Billy Butter and then become a chef, it's almost inconceivable that you wouldn't turn that moniker into a product.
Billy Joyce, who operates the catering company Surf Side Cuisine, did just that. After a year of developing two flavors, doing nutritional research for labels, and identifying the right manufacturer, Joyce launched them in fall 2016.
Billy Butter's Gourmet Butter so far consists of Roasted Garlic Butter and Sriracha Butter. The six-ounce jars sell at numerous retailers around San Diego, starting with Specialty Produce and Catalina Offshore Products, but also including Stumps in Pt. Loma, Olive Tree Market in OB, Liberty Meat Shop in Liberty Station (hey, buy a tomahawk steak and you'll get a free jar), Siesels, Jensen's, Blue Water Fish Market, Mona Lisa, Seaside Market, and Ramey's Meats in Brawley.
I picked up a couple of jars at Catalina Offshore Products, where fishmonger Tommy Gomes cooked up a small piece of salmon to give me a taste of the Roasted Garlic flavor. First he melted a tablespoon or so in a small pan. Then on his plancha he seasoned the filet with salt and pepper, squirted a little oil on the hot surface, and seared the fish pretty quickly on both sides. Only after plating it did Gomes brush the fish with the melted butter. It was divine. Joyce's butter—made with sweet cream, salt, garlic, lemon juice, dried parsley, canola oil, and dried chives and parsley—is totally decadent. Salmon, garlic, and butter? They're totally made for each other!
The Sriracha Butter, which is made with sweet cream; salt; a pepper sauce of red chili, garlic, sugar, vinegar, and salt; and dried cilantro and chives, has just the right heat. It's got a nice kick but it's not going to set your mouth on fire. The dried herbs add another dimension to the flavor. Melt it and mix into popcorn. Slather it on a flour tortilla, grate and add your favorite cheese, and make a quesadilla. Brush it onto grilled chicken or melt it on a steak. Toss with sautéed or grilled vegetables.
In fact, both butters are wonderfully versatile, although Joyce emphasizes that these are not meant for the oven or as a substitute for unflavored butter for cooking. You'll lose the great flavor as it breaks down or burns. Joyce showed me a Facebook post by a customer who included the Roasted Garlic Butter in a grilled cheese sandwich with chicken. Me? I'm going to be adding one or another to a baked potato, toss it with pastas or grains, melt it and enjoy as a dipping butter for lobster or roasted shrimp, and most certainly spread it on my favorite bread for a snack.
What's next? Joyce is working on new flavors—perhaps a blueberry butter or a cinnamon sugar butter. In the meantime, he'll be making his first appearance at Collaboration Kitchen, where guests will each receive a jar of butter. The event is sold out, but there's a waiting list. Proceeds from the event will go to Urban Surf 4 Kids, an organization that provides water-based events for foster and orphan kids Joyce also supports through sales of his butter.