Chris Isaak sings about San Francisco days, San Francisco nights. I would have to change it just a bit to Boccalone days, Boccalone nights thanks to celebrity chef Chris Cosentino‘s salumeria located in the Ferry Building. Yes, I said celebrity chef. When I go somewhere, anywhere, it has to be to eat. I want to try it all. For all the times that I had been to San Francisco, I had yet to dine at Cosentino’s Incanto. So, for this trip I was geared up and ready. I was ready to throw down some cash and since I was fresh off of watching Anthony Bourdain in Parts Unknown, I grabbed my crew ready to waltz into Incanto and have Bourdain’s life fall into my lap. Really? I mean, who do I think I am? Clearly someone who did not call ahead. I’m even embarrassed to be admitting it. It was a Wednesday night and in my experience if you go early enough, like when they open, you can usually get a table or sit at the bar. When I’m with my girls, I usually eat quickly and enjoy an amazing meal and everybody wins! The kids get exposure to culinary adventures with my guidance and the server gets a early quick turn of a table with a nice tip to go along. I like doing this even when I don’t have my kids. I like to have time to soak up the city and grab a drink or, with my kids, move on to another place for dessert. I should have taken it as an omen when we learned that Incanto was closed that night. I was crushed. This is pretty much how the trip would go. A culinary comedy of errors. The trip was short and dinner would not be in the cards for us.
Fortunately, the Hotel Monaco in Union Square offered a lovely reception in the lounge where I regrouped and pretty much realized that we were not located in the best walking center for food. My six year old could not have cared less as she was busy socializing and getting her Martinelli’s Apple Cider on!
The Ferry Building itself is a feast for eyes and going there on an empty stomach gets one all aflutter. Laura immediately noticed the spring in my step and said, “we have stepped into your Disneyland!” Whenever I enter a food paradise I feel just like Tim Burton’s character Jack Skellington from A Nightmare Before Christmas when he enters Christmas Town, “what’s this? whatever could it be?” The apple does not fall far from the tree. At one point I thought I lost my 6 year old only to find her nuzzled up to the the sales girl at the Stonehouse Olive Oil boutique noshing on bread, dipping away into various oils. We walked away with 6 bottles. We tasted our way through the Cowgirl Creamery Artisan Cheese Shop, later slathering fromage blanc and sheeps milk ricotta onto our freshly baked onion bread from Acme Bread Company. The best was left for last. Meat cones. Yep, I said it. For those of you who know me well, you are already agog by the sheer fact that I have consumed this much gluten and dairy (albeit, I stuck to my usual goat and sheep) and now I am about to talk not only about meat, but, “tasty salted pig parts,” in a CONE! I had to people! It was beautiful, man! I had Lonza (Cured and dried pork loin, it is very similar in both taste and texture to prosciutto. This is the back loin that is cured in salt and fennel.), orange and fennel salami. Delizioso!
There are the greatest chefs, the masters, who are analogous to our greatest musicians and then there are the others, either marketing geniuses, or those who were in the right place at the right time. Their melody is lacking, but we all listen just the same. Cosentino has the melody and the marketing. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if he is a music aficionado of some sort. I wonder if music has had an impact on all great chefs lives? In fact, isn’t it a symphony when you have the perfect meal? It just depends on my mood. It could be a handmade tortilla, the inside perfectly seasoned, spicy and wet, dripping from my fingers downed with an ice cold beer with a shot of good tequila, or maybe some sweet slightly briny oysters with a crisp chablis? That’s why food is fore play especially when accompanied by a great playlist, and well, I’m done.