Incanto's Head to tail Dinner 2010
To add to Robert Lauriston's write up in another post, here is my take on the Head to Tail dinner:
The first two dishes were definitely the stars. Venison pluck is the heart, liver and kidneys (no lungs anymore--it is illegal to sell lungs). Heart is really one of the best organs, probably my favorite, with kidney being a close second (especially after Sarah and my successful first attempt at deviled lamb kidneys a few weeks ago). The sauce was quite spicy with some delicious onions and a bunch of fresh mint. The onion ash was literally onion ash, and added a nice bitter counterpoint to the dish. Mint is really a great herb to go with strong flavored meats, and is quite traditional in Asian cuisines. Sarah and I had some great Yak sauteed with mint leaves in Yunnan province in China and we are both excited to try the lamb with mint at Little Yangon (Burmese restaurant in Daly City). I wonder why it's such a successful pairing.
I wish I could eat the next dish for breakfast a few times a week. The server said it was an Italian take on congee, and I buy it. A porridge of day old foccacia crumbs cooked in pork stock was topped with a blood mousse, a slow cooked egg ad shavings of the pork liver. Sounds weird, but the combo worked. The pork liver was really amazing as it had this deep smokiness, almost like shavings of bonito flakes. Perhaps Namu should start topping their Okonomiyaki with this. The blood added a mineraliness as well as richness, and is thee any dish that a soft cooked egg doesn't improve?
The terrine was a delicious meaty terrine. Thin sliced on a salad, great flavor, a nice break from the richness of the previous two dishes. I was a bit disappointed that the beef lips didn't add texture to the terrine the way pig ears do to a head cheese (I can't believe I just wrote that sentence). I wanted something with bit of bite or chew.
The final savory dish was a delicious. light fish broth (though a tad over salted) with cod milt (it is the opposite of cod roe), cod tongue (actually more like jowl), and cod stomach. This was my least favorite dish. I liked the milt and the tongue. The milt has a texture like sweetbreads and a nice flavor. The tongue was chewy and meaty. The stomach wasn't to my liking. A bit too gelatinous. It even made me a bit squeamish.
Dessert was a real mincemeat pie--actual lamb meat with raisins and other fruits in a heavily spiced mixture. Think fruitcake with meat. A delicious crust (had to be made with suet) was on top along with a nice scoop of ice cream. A fitting end to a great meal.
The only downside of this meal was how they ordered the dishes. Chris wanted go heavier to lighter, and while changing it up that way was interesting, I think mixing the heavier and lighter dishes would have been better, though perhaps that is just because I liked the first 2 dishes the best. Regardless, a fabulous meal and great company! Looking forward to next year's.
Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
1550 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131
439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118
6318 Mission St, Daly City, CA 94014
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I actually thought the whole meal had some italian by way of China aspects. The first dish was like the spicy Yak or beef or mutton/mint dish from Western China. The second dish like congee, the third like some of the cold sliced meats in Shanghaiese cuisine, the fourth like a good Taiwanese fish soup. And perhaps the dessert crust was even like the flaky pork pastries.