Now that my situation has been rectified, I must admit that I was committing a grave mistake by failing to visit San Francisco in the last 14 years. In the coming days, I do promise to attempt a deeper delve into the food I consumed while actually on my visit, but right now I’m already floating down memory lane by eating the fabulous foods that I brought back with me. Thanks to the luxury of traveling with a small insulated tote, I was able to return from my short trip laden with the fabulous products which I did not have time to eat while there.
The pimentos de padron, you’ll see, the bright green at the top of the picture, I picked up on Saturday morning, during our stroll through the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market. It was early, it was the first stand. Upon spotting them, I remembered a passage from either Calvin Trillin or Jeffrey Steingarten (I can’t remember at the moment) about the wonders of these. I immediately bought them. I worried, then, that I was going to pick up hundreds of other products in the course of my walk, but in fact I managed to hold out until we made it to the permanent stores inside the building. Frying them up in olive oil and sprinkling salt atop, I prepared them in the traditional fashion and immediately understand the love these created. In any bite, a game of mystery is involved–will it be violently spicy or a gentle burn–the flavor wavering between faint (allowing the olive oil to come to the front) and strong, almost resembling a slightly spicy green bell pepper. These epitomize the Spanish style to me, allowing for simple preparation of a fabulous ingrediant.
Moving to Italy and to meat, at Boccalone we sampled $3.50 Meat Cones. As much as I love prosciutto, I found myself enthralled by the slightly different texture and flavor of the prosciutto cotto (meat product in upper right hand corner of white plate) and needed to buy that. The Coppa di Testa is in the lower left–also known as head cheese, and when properly prepared (as this was) a delightful melange of textures and flavors. The final product I picked up there was one which is much enamored by bloggers and I’d heard rave reviews about. In the upper left hand corner you can see the Nduja, a wonderfully spiced salami that is actually spreadable. The texture is so unexpected with the flavor that it makes for a strange experience to eat, yet is delicious at the same time as arousing curiousities of the tongue.
The next stop was the Cowgirl Creamery. It was a good thing there were not more shelves in this store I could simply pull stuff off of, because I could not help myself here. I wanted it all. I started with a taste of Burrata, an extra creamy cheese, like soft mozzarella. This is my favorite new cheese–the white lump in the lower right hand corner. Moving counter-clockwise the next cheese is the Cowgirl Creamery’s own Red Hawk. My own cheese preferences tend to run soft and stinky, and this was a perfect cheese for me, the epitome of both of those! Next is the Inverness, also by Cowgirl, and this, while soft and stinky, was also a much more refined cheese, which was nice–you can only take so much stink at once. Wait, did I really say that? Because I’ll need to back track that for the next two cheeses, the Sottocenere and the Truffle Tremor. I had tried the Truffle Tremor at an event about a year ago and hadn’t seen it around much, so when I saw it, I decided to get some. “You like truffle cheese?” my friend and host for the weekend asked. I nodded. “That’s kid stuff, try this” and she requested the Sottocenere to taste. It is a totally different cheese, a totally different flavor. I must admit the harder cheese, more earthy truffle of the Sottocenere was appealing, while the soft stink of the Truffle Tremor tugged at my cheese loving heart strings. I had to have them both.
Just in case our little hedonistic San Francisco picnic was not yet complete, in the center of the plate is a bowl of Ryan Farr’s 4505 Chicharrones. I had heard of these and wanted to try them, but hadn’t by Sunday night and we were returning Monday morning. Luckily he happened to be cooking at the Cochon 555 event we were at on Sunday night. He was serving up tacos with chicharrones in place of tortillas, and man, were they delicious (as were his corndogs, ‘rolled face’ and really everything else hand the other 5 chefs made). But again, my host doth protest “These aren’t the real chicharrones” she said, “we have to get the normal spicing, this is different,” and working her magical ways on the gorgeous and friendly (and exceedingly nice) Ryan Farr, she charmed him right out of a hidden stash of those chicharrones.
“You know what my favorite part of the meal was?” B asked me as we finished. He had not been in San Francisco with me, and yes, I was curious. “The crackers that you made to go with everything” Ah, yes, folks, he’s a charmer. But really he should thank Alton Brown for the recipe–I took out the seeds and tilted it a little more heavily toward whole wheat flour, since I was using the amazing Bluebird Farms stuff. See, we’ve got good stuff here too!