Thursday, September 20, 2007

Boccalone, serious about salumi

On Saturday morning, Mike and I stopped by the restaurant, Incanto, right around the corner from us, for a taste of their new venture - artisanal salumi! Or in their words, 'Tasty Salted Pig Parts." I am crazy for cured meats so this was a heaven sent activity for a Saturday morning in my world.

Boccalone is run by Incanto’s chef and owner, Chris Cosentino and Mark Pastore. They are known for their authentic Italian cuisine and commitment to sustainability. We have dined at Incanto several times and it is consistently delicious. Their homemade pastas are wonderful. Perhaps my favorite thing to do is to go, without a reservation (gasp!) and sit in the bar area, sipping flights of vino and twirling pasta, while picturesque dishes pass us by on their way to the dining room.

Boccalone is currently making more than 20 varieties of salumi using traditional (i.e. time and labor-intensive) methods. They sponsor a Salumi Society Membership where you can subscribe to receive a bag of the meats that are at their peak, two times a month. Each bag, or sachetto, will include a mix of fresh sausage, cooked meats, and cured meats. It is a nice idea, but you really must be committed to the pig in order to do this membership. If a smaller portion is more your style, like me, they will be selling their products at BiRite Market and Avedano.

During the tasting, my favorite tastings included the salumi with fennel and brown sugar. It was gentle and sweet. The blood sausage with the quail's egg was divine. The bite was salty, earthy, and flavorful. Perhaps my very favorite was the lardo served on a fig. The melting fat paired with melting fig melted in your mouth. Worth mention are their sausages. Their sweet sausage might be the best sausage I have ever had. Their spicy sausage is sweet, but leaves some heat in your mouth. I enjoyed its complexity. Boccalone definitely has a good thing going on and Bay Area dwellers are quite lucky!

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