Porcellino, Bi-Rite (San Francisco: Day One, Part One)
I am in San Francisco this week for WWDC (Apple‘s Worldwide Developers Conference). I found out a few months ago I’d be able to attend, so of course I made a list and asked for advice beforehand. Now that I’m here, I plan on posting a report as quickly as possible for each day, to stave off procrastination. Let’s see how long it lasts, but for now, my report for “San Francisco: Day One, Part One” (Sunday, June 1, 2014) is as follows:
After a quick and uneventful flight to SFO, I managed to check in at the conference and my hotel and arrive at Porcellino at 4 PM, only a half hour later than I had hoped to meet my friend Andy. Porcellino’s previous incarnation, Incanto, had been on my must-try list for years, since chef Chris Cosentino highlighted offal in many of his dishes. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to dine at Incanto before it shuttered.
Porcellino’s regular menu has no offal save some coppa e porchetta di testi (different kinds of Italian head cheeses), but on some days offal dishes would appear on the specials board. Unfortunately, today was not one of those days. Instead, we had the following dishes…
Paccheri & Porcini Sugo: This was a rather neutral and somewhat disappointing dish. The pasta was perfectly cooked, but nothing in this dish really stood out for me. I didn’t get much flavor from the porcini or the sauce itself.
Lard-Fried Potatoes & Hot Nduja: This dish was excellent! Who doesn’t love lard-fried potatoes? The ‘nduja was a bit funky, in a good way, like a fermented chorizo. It is traditionally made with tripe and other trimmings, so I guess I got some offal there. Andy remarked that perhaps some mayo would have made the dish even better. Maybe some offal aioli? ;-)
Porchetta, Fennel, Arugula, Salsa Verde: My must-order dish from their regular menu, this did not disappoint. The pork was tender and moist, surrounded by striations of fat, and crisp skin and edges all around. The sauce reminded me of chimichuri. The salad was bright and verdant, with a classic lemon dressing. This should be a must-order for anyone who likes pork!
After Porcellino, Andy took me on a walking tour of the Mission District, pointing out various shops, bakeries, and restaurants. When he told me we would pass Craftsman and Wolves, I had to go in to check out “The Rebel Within”, a muffin that contains asiago, sausage, green onion, and a soft cooked farm egg in the center. I was too full to get one then, but I took a quick snap of a row of them. I’ll be back!
We walked a bit further and made it to Bi-Rite Creamery. Anyone who follows me on Instagram knows that I am a big fan of Sweet Rose Creamery in Santa Monica. When I solicited recommendations for SF, I got back many for Bi-Rite, without even asking about ice cream. The line was long, but shorter than Andy feared. He settled on two of the seasonal flavors, Hazelnut and Crème Fraîche; I got one seasonal and one everyday flavor, Strawberry Balsamic and Roasted Banana, respectively. I didn’t get too much of a balsamic taste in my strawberry, but it was still delicious. The roasted banana was excellent! It had both the sweetness of a ripe banana and a little bit of the tart astringency of an unripe banana.
Oh, for those of you who want a comparison between Bi-Rite and Sweet Rose, here’s a quick one: SRC had a fresh strawberry ice cream (and soft serve) recently that was better than Bi-Rite’s, so point to SRC. They also have a banana flavor that was decent, but nothing like the roasted banana I had today, so point to Bi-Rite. The tie breaker, though, goes to SRC’s mint chip. I sampled Bi-Rite’s mint chip today, and I can tell the mint’s from an oil or extract, I’m sure of high quality. However, SRC’s mint chip is made with fresh mint, and once you go fresh, you can’t go … um, back.
Onto Day One, Part Two!
1550 Church St
San Francisco, CA 94131
Craftsman and Wolves
746 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
3692 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110