Super-sous and I wrapped up a delicious week in San Francisco that started with the Fancy Food Show and ended, of course, with double shot Latte.
While in San Francisco we made it a point to try out as many tasty spots as possible in the short time we were there: Water & Flour, Prospect, Incanto, Sweet Bar Bakery (Oakland), Dosa, Gelateria Naia, TCHO chocolate and everything that the Embarcadero has to offer. (Not to mention the Latte “crawl” from Blue Bottle to Four Barrel to Ritual to…)
Yes, we love visiting San Francisco and now we have become even more enchanted with the city after two truly exceptional food experiences: dinner at Incanto and a visit to Sweet Bar Bakery.
It’s rare that Super-sous and I go out to dinner where we don’t have some critique (be it minor or major) about the restaurant, food, service, atmosphere… It’s not about being picky or overly critical. We all, when choosing to go out to eat, want to feel that we are getting a good value for our money, time, etc. Not only that, but when you have access to fresh produce and enjoy to cook, it’s wonderful to go out to eat to broaden your taste horizons and try something beyond the scope of what you can whip up at home any given day or night.
Well, we had a rare (for us) experience at Chris Cosentino’s restaruant Incanto. It was-exceptional. I have known Chef Cosentino for a few years now. We met at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s annual Cooking For Solutions event where we both were guest chefs the same year. (And the good news is – we’ll both be back again this year!) Since meeting Chris and hearing him talk about food, not to mention seeing his mouth watering food photos on Twitter every day, I have wanted to eat at his restaurant in San Francisco. Finally, Super-sous and I had time this past week to check it out. As we often do at new restaurants, we try as many things as possible to taste an array of what is coming out of the kitchen. This night was no exception. And, since we were dining with another couple who had also not tried Incanto before, we went all out: Winter Citrus, fennel, olives, chili and bottarga; Young kales, anchovy & Parmesan; Brussels Sprouts leaves and garum butter; Spaghettini, Sardinian cured tuna heart, egg yolk & parsley; a Caputini pasta dish with pork; Oxtail and Oyster pie, Maitake mushrooms, and Oregon white truffles; Lime leaf panna cotta & bush berry preserves; Maple semifreddo, huckleberries & pecans; and a cheese (dessert) tarte with pecorino and ricotta.
And the wine, picked out by our server, was perfect… both bottles.
Everything was remarkable. Not a dish was under or over seasoned. The flavors and textures were spot on. There wasn’t a morsel left on any of our plates. And, the service was wonderful. Hands down, this had become our favorite restaurant in San Francisco. As I said, exceptional. We are still dreaming about the rich meatiness of the Oxtail and Oyster pie covered in it’s flaky crust. Here’s hoping we can get back there sooner than later. Although Chef Cosentino is known for his tasty salted pig parts, this restaurant has something for everyone; if you find yourself in the city, I can’t recommend it enough.
On the sweet side of things, the day we left, we traveled to Mani Niall’s Sweet Bar Bakery that he recently opened in Oakland. Mani introduced himself to me at the Fancy Food Show last year. He had learned about me through Kickstarter as I funded my seasonal cookbook “Great Food Starts Fresh” largely in part through Kickstarter. Mani also used Kickstarter to help him open his bakery. In his funding research he came across my cookbook project and when he happened to see me at the Fancy Food Show last year, he introduced himself. Of course I already knew about Mani because he had a very successful bakery in L.A. “Mani’s bakery” for many years. He is a very talented pastry chef and we happily traveled across to Oakland to say hello and try his delectable goodies. A gingerbread apple turnover, savory bacon scone, egg sandwich on homemade foccacia, mini blueberry cornmeal upside down cake, snickerdoodle cookie, shortbread and, our favorite, a to-die-for gingersnap cookie. All delicious- nothing overly sweet. The perfect balance. Thank you, Mani, We will be dreaming about your sweets (especially that gingersnap cookie) until the next time we’re in town.