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Jul 20, 2006 12:10 AM

Fatted Calf Thread - Share Your Faves

Many a hound worships at the temple of Taylor and Topiana every Saturday. But I know I'm not the only one left scratching my head when looking at their menu. As I am not fluent in French, Italian and Spanish my order often amounts to guesswork and I don't know what I'm getting until I show up at the market. So I thought it might be nice to devote a thread to the best (and worst) of the Bay Area's favorite charcut stand. I'll do my best to estimate prices based on memory, but don't quote me on them.

Ciccioli - I ordered this on a whim a couple of weeks ago and it blew me away. The minced pork in a jar is lighter and smoother than pate, with an almost creamy texture remeniscent of tuna (!?). The flavor is incredible - mellow and subtle with the occasional kick of spice. Mrs Mousse and I sat there eating it with our jaws dropped and almost finished the whole thing in one sitting. Very highly recommended. Available in 8 ounce jars, about $10 per jar.

Bacon - What can I say about Fatted Calf's bacon that hasn't been said already? It's perfect. It will teach you to love bacon all over again. It's the one item I order from them every single week. I find myself wanting to incorporate it into every dish I eat. Very highly recommended. Price is about $10 per pound, available in one pound bags (you can get smaller bags if you preorder).

Mortadella - This salami is perfect for potlucks; just get a few because they'll go fast. Smaller in diameter than traditional mortadella it's sized so that two people could reasonably eat it in a week (as are all FC salamis). Moist and flavorful with the satisfying crunch of roasted pistachios. Each salami weighs about a pound and goes for about $10. Highly Recommended

Devil's Gulch Rabbit Pate - My favorite of the Fatted Calf pates, it's a bit lighter than the pork but more satisfying than the guinea hen. It makes the perfect appetizer with an Acme loaf and a pad of Lurpak butter. I could eat this stuff all day. Cost is $14-$15 per pound, available in half pound slabs (or smaller if you preorder). Highly Recommended.

Morrel Mushroom Sausages - Fatted Calf's sausages are all good but these left me dumbfounded. Only available for a brief span each year, the pork links are infused with generous chunks of mushroomy goodness. I can't recall the price, but they were worth it. Very Highly Recommended.

Fegatelli and Petit Sec - These mini salamis make the perfect snack so I love to keep a few around the house. Kind of like a gourmet slim jim, they are extremely fun to bite into. The Fegatelli is spicy whereas the Petit Sec is herby - buy them both and decide which one you prefer. At $2.50 a piece (5 for $10) they're a great way to sample Fatted Calf without spending a fortune. Highly Recommended.

Beef Jerky - It made a nice snack and I like that it keeps well but it just didn't satisfy me the way their other products do. The texture was too tough (I know it's jerky, but I've had good jerky that wasn't so tough) and the flavor had too much going on at once. I might pick some up before a camping trp, but at $24 per pound I probably wont buy it again. Not Recommended.

Quail Stuffed With Sausage - I was shocked, shocked, by how disappointing this was. There was WAY too much sausage, the bird was practically bursting with it. Now, I love sausage but when I'm grilling stuffed quail I want to taste the quail, and all I could taste was the fat porcini sausage. At $9 a piece I'd rather go get the stuffed quails at Gregoire. Not Recommended.

Harissa Marinated Lamb Brochettes - Although the price was right ($3 a piece) this lamb on a stick just didn't do it for me. The meat was too tough and the harissa marinade was so spicey that I couldn't enjoy the flavor of the lamb. I'd just as soon grill up some lamb chops. Not Recommended.

Well, those are just a few of my thoughts on recent purchases. Please share your own experiences. With our new bumping technology I hope to keep this as an active thread and useful reference point.

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  1. I'm a huge fan too and don't understand why there isn't a long line. They should be mobbed! I love their Spanish chorizo but even better is their Mexican chorizo which is so authentic and delicious I look at them and think they are too young to be so well versed in so many aspects of charcuterie. At least they should be stuck up and snobby, but they are not!

    Mexican chorizo + dry cotija cheese + good fresh tortilla is all you need in this world.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Earl Grey

      I haven't yet tried their Mexican chorizo, but if it's a good as all their other stuff that I HAVE tried....hold me back!
      I like to roast or grill some chicken wings and then cover them with "melted" chorizo and cook in the oven for about 15 minutes with some sliced onions. Me gustan mucho los chicken wings con chorizo.

      1. re: Earl Grey

        There used to be long lines at the Berkeley stand, but now the regulars order ahead.

      2. once again, i got's to ask a question or maybe a couple.

        are there any good items that are completely non-pork based? i do like some charcuterie, pates, and salumi but it's got be either beef, lamb, duck, pure foie gras, no pork, and no lard.

        if it does have some of that stuff then I'll be there in a jiffy along with getting some roast chicken and potatoers from Roli Roti.

        8 Replies
        1. re: kevin

          It would be best to drop by Saturday and ask Taylor, but I believe that almost every Fatted Calf product contains pork even the ones that are mostly rabbit, duck, hen or beef.

          1. re: kevin

            I think you're going to have a hard time. Pork is pretty much the point here.

            1. re: Earl Grey

              Gosh, then shouldn't thre name be "The Fatted Pig?"

            2. re: kevin

              They do have duck confit, which is 100% duck and duck fat.

              1. re: wally

                is the foie gras terrine or foie gras pate and the duck prosciutto all park also?

                1. re: kevin

                  If avoiding pork an important part of your belief system, I urge you to email The Fatted Calf about specific products before buying anything. They update their weekly menu on line every Thursday and they are usually pretty responsive to emails.

                  1. re: Morton the Mousse

                    thanks morton, i still have to also try Sketch based on your recs. as a side note, do you think sketch ice cream does have some butterfat flavor and at least some creaminess?

                  2. re: kevin

                    No, those were all duck. However the foie gras was only special for the winter holidays.

              2. We had the quail stuffed with sausage and a fig. Most excellent. The sausage does not overwhelm anything. They whole was much greater than the parts and blended well.

                1. Ok - the bacon - did you know you can freeze it? I am never without it. Their toulouse sausages are to die for too, I discovered them a few weeks ago and I cant stop ordering them, their merguez are wonderful too and those morel ones, phew, wow. The Ciccioli was described to me by Taylor as 'a kind of Italian rillette, a little spicy' and is delicious. I have some in the fridge and I haven't had breakfast yet, so, er since your remind me of it, why ever not..?
                  The duck liver mousse which does some alcohol (brandy?) overtones was very very good. I love the spanish chorizo, maybe need to try the mexican but not really sure what to do with it? Last Christmas their foie gras with truffles was so good - I ate it for breakfast and hoped no one else would notice that it was all gone. Our staple from Fatted Calf - and the reason we first tried them after reading about them on CH about 2 years ago, was because of the Saucisson Sec. It makes a certain Frenchman I know, (as well as me) very happy indeed...

                  1. Great guide Morton and some other good suggestions.

                    Do you have an opinion on whether Ferry Plaza or Berkeley is the better stop?

                    What IS the protocol at the stands? I can't tell you how blown off I get when I ask questions at the Berkeley Stand. I usually go early when the market opens, but they are set up and there usually are no other customers around but I don't get a lot of response when I ask about something. If the Ferry Plaza stand is better, I might break down and go there more often.

                    I don't approach Fatted Calf any differently than any vendor in my decades of farmer market shopping. I know it ain't me.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: rworange

                      There's no big difference between the two stands, at least until they start selling out. The most knowledgeable people are the owners, Taylor and Toponia, but they're not always on hand. Toponia's easy to recognize as she's 5'1" and looks about 18.

                      1. re: rworange

                        Taylor usually works the SF stand ever since they moved their manufacturing to SF. The folks at the Berkeley stand have little knowledge about the products, which can be a bit frustrating (and which is a big part of the reason for this thread). If you want detailed information, best to go to SF and talk to Taylor - he is passionate, articulate and friendly. You might also try emailing Taylor, or contacting Biggles.

                        1. re: Morton the Mousse

                          here is my Flickr Photo Set of The Fatted Calf at their Ferry Plaza location:


                          Taylor is the younger of the two.

                          1. re: Morton the Mousse

                            I went to Berkeley two weeks ago and Toponia was there.