I had noticed, sometime before we left for San Francisco, that Fergus Henderson would be having a St. John evening at Incanto to promote his new St. John hotel just off Leicester Square in London. Incanto sold out within three hours of taking reservations but had thoughtfully reserved twenty-five spaces for walk-ins on a first come first serve basis. This is where I thought I would have a go and aim to get there in time to beat the queue. My wife and I walk most places we go, I don’t know why, we just do, and so when we got off at Market near The Castro and walked our way down Church Street I saw it was roughly 12 blocks away. What I didn’t take into account, foolishly, was that the blocks stem up and down incredibly steep hills.
After scaling the hills we stopped in Omnivore bookstore, which is San Francisco’s equivalent to Books For Cooks in London and is also just around the corner from Incanto. After speaking with Sam from Omnivore books she told me how people had been queuing round the block all afternoon and so decided to stay and browse the bookstore, which is phenomenally well stocked, and chat with Sam about places to eat and check out in the city. As we walked past Incanto, the queue now gone, I stuck my nose in just on the off chance they had had a late cancellation. They hadn’t. Fergus Henderson and Chris Cosentino were stood happily chatting before the rush of service. I had a nosey around, wished I was eating there and went home with a menu anyway. Next time I am here I will plan ahead more thoroughly and make a reservation well in advance. Chris Cosentino and Mark Pastore also have a side business called Boccalone with the tag line ‘Tasty Salted Pig Parts’ and produces and sells exactly that. Boccalone’s outlet is based in the Ferry Building and amongst various salami’s are vac-packed guanciale, pig liver, porchetta di testa, coppa di testa, and whole array of, well, tasty salted pig parts. As well as sandwiches stuffed with your choice of porcine meat, one of the most popular snacks are the Boccalone meat cones. For $4.50 you can have a custom cone and choose three types of cured pig to have sliced. I chose the almost crimson red coppocollo, made from pig shoulder with some Coppa di testa and porchetta di testa, both made from the head. They were all gorgeous and if, like me, you love all food piggy, then this place could have you sat at the counter for hours. Unfortunately I don’t fly home for another ten days and so some of the more interesting and flavourful parts like the guanciale, would not last without refrigeration. I bought some salamis that would last the duration of my trip sat in my bag, said my tearful goodbyes and hoped that it wouldn’t be too long before our next encounter. Another great reason to come back to this city.