Sunday, September 5, 2010

So What Does a Food Lover Do . . .

when confronted with the bounty of the Ferry Building Farmers Market? She loses all control. That’s what she does.

So some shopping was in order. Our purchases included (clockwise from the top)--crusty ciabatta from the Acme Bakery, Pierce Pt. herbed rind cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, salame pepato (peppered salami) from Boccalone, Mt. Tam triple cream cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, Promontory Cheddar from the Beehive Cheese Company (purchased in Napa later in the day) and (in the center), pancetta from Boccalone (more on Boccalone later), and Serrano chile goat cheese spread from Bodega Goat Cheese.

But, we weren’t done yet. We have organic sour dills from Happy Girl Kitchen (not quite a Jewish deli half sour, but still a great pickle), Bariani Early Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil (harvested 10/09 and bottled 7/20/10 – pretentious enough yet?), imported organic penne, Rancho Gordo flageolet white beans, and Bella Viva Orchards High Performance Fuel Trail Mix.

But, there’s still more. We bought a variety of radicchio that looks like it was crossed with romaine lettuce, powerfully aromatic Italian arugula, baby bok choy, and a mix of red, white, and purple new potatoes.

After all that shopping, it was time for…

Tasty Salted Pig Parts

Our main objective for visiting the Ferry Building (some shops shown in the photos right and below) was to shop at Chris Cosentino’s salumi shop, Boccalone. Chris, along with Aaron Sanchez, stars in the Food Network’s Chefs vs. City where they “…challenge two local foodies in an action-packed food adventure to locate that city's biggest, boldest, most unexpected food places. From wine stomping in Malibu, to eating the spiciest curry in all of NYC, to braving the coldest room in Las Vegas, Chefs vs. City will test the wits, guts, and skills of both teams as they race to the finish line” (from the Food Network’s website).

Lest you think I spend twenty-four hours a day watching the Food Network, let me assure you that such is not the case. And, if I were forced to tell the truth, I’d have to admit that I think that Chefs vs. City is a pretty lame program. But when I learned that Chris, along with business partner Mark Pastore, have a salumi store in San Francisco’s Ferry Building I knew that a visit was a must.

“Boccalone is the creation of Chris Cosentino and Mark Pastore, who are known for their authentic Italian cuisine and commitment to sustainability at Incanto restaurant in San Francisco. Mark realized his dream of owning a traditional Italian restaurant when he opened Incanto in 2002.
Chris joined him as chef in 2003 and soon added house-made salumi to his highly-regarded menu. Since the first mortadella and fennel salame was added to the menu, customers have been asking to take Incanto’s salumi home…” (from Boccalone’s web site).

And “Tasty Salted Pig Parts” became the store’s slogan.

So more shopping was in order. All of Boccalone’s salame feature heritage-breed pork, Italian sea salt, and the highest-quality spices, and are slow-cured in a natural casing. My choices that day, along with the pancetta, were a brown sugar and fennel salami, a Salame Pepato (medium-grind salame seasoned with three specialty varieties of black pepper), and a Soppressata (dry-cured salame in the traditional Calabrian style with spices and a hint of chile).

And I purchased something completely new to me--“Nduja (say "en-doo-ya"), a spicy spreadable salami, originating from Calabria. “Nduja is cured in a casing like hard salami, but it maintains a soft texture that is spreadable at room temperature. Nduja will change the way you think about salami. It is perfect when spread on grilled bread, in a sandwich, or on pizza. It adds amazing flavor to pasta sauces, vegetables and cooked beans” (from Boccalone’s web site).

And now it was time—barely—for lunch. Since we were short on time to catch the ferry back to Vallejo, we decided to “grab and go” two of Boccalone’s sandwiches. From the cold Panini list, we decided to share a Boccalone Combo with greens, provolone, and oregano vinaigrette and a Prosciutto Crudo with greens and olive oil.

So with sandwiches in hand, we dashed for the ferry, where we grabbed one of the side booths. Time to unwrap the sandwiches. Wow. And we thought that the sandwiches at Salumi in Seattle were good. The Boccalone sandwiches were approaching Andreoli (Scottsdale, AZ) territory. First, the rolls were to die for. This was the closest we have come to a good South Philadelphia (Italian section of the city) sandwich roll. They were chewy without being dense and heavy, but were still sturdy enough to absorb the olive oil and vinaigrette without dissolving.

The combo contained a generous amount of the prosciutto crudo, cooked style salame, and capocollo (made from the neck meat of the pig and cured whole with aromatic herbs and spices.) And the prosciutto crudo sandwich contained a most generous amount of this Italian classic cured meat. What could be better than taking a leisurely cruise (OK, it was just a ferry ride) while contentedly munching on Tasty Salted Pig Parts.

While I still give Andreoli a slight edge, a 4.99 Addie rating seems a bit bogus, so we’ve agreed that Boccalone and its wonderful meats also merit a 5.0 Addie rating.

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