When the restaurant began, San Francisco was really getting crapola truffles. They were flown to New York, picked over, and then sent here. So it wasn’t hard to come up with the idea of bringing them in ourselves — the truffles were really that poor.
So every year I went to Italy, in part to supply our Truffle Dinners. We ended up with really good relationships and superior truffles with very good prices — which we continue to enjoy, despite the fact that last year and this year, I’ve been unable to go, due to my responsibilities with Community Grains. It’s truly been heart wrenching because it’s something I love. I love seeing my friends. I love the adventure. I’ve been doing it for years so I’ve formed my own intimate relationship with Italy.
But amongst all the things I love and am missing, there are things that I’m not going to miss. I don’t miss getting into spats with Italian customs inspectors; I don’t miss having to get off the plane after spying my truffles abandoned on the tarmac (having been ordered off by the pilot, who feared, due to their smell, that my baggage contained illicit substances); I don’t miss worrying that I won’t be able to get back in time for Truffle Dinners.
Getting on a plane from Italy with my pricy quarry was something I learned to meet with trepidation. But still, there is nothing like going on a truffle hunt with very good friends, prying golden truffles from deep within the earth. And when Truffle Dinners roll around, and the aroma of truffles — as good as ever — rise from my plate, so will my memories of all the things I love about Italy.
We look forward to seeing you for Truffle Dinners!
Annual Truffle Dinners
November 15-19, 2016
Our Annual Truffle Dinners dates are set – reserve for November 15th through the 19th! Here’s our early report for Italy’s truffle regions: Very warm summer, with good rains in September. It’s the rains in September we like to see – we should be fine for truffles this year.
Food for Cooler Days
Summer’s in its final innings – we’ll see tomatoes and fennel flowers dwindle away when the rains come. The kitchen’s transitioning into cool weather food. Right now, our best pre-hibernation dishes are:
- Tortelloni of house-made ricotta and Fontina cheeses with brown butter, Delicata squash, hazelnuts, and sage
- Charcoal-grilled dry-aged Magruder sirloin with gremolata rustica, longcooked onions, roast mushrooms, and old aceto balsamico
- Warm apple tarte Tatin with cinnamon ice cream, whipped crème fraîche, and candied walnut
- In our cafe downstairs, Community Grains red flint Floriani polenta is back.
There are lots of gorgeous things on the menu, and these two dishes are particularly stunning. For the next few days, we’ll be having:
- Crudo of Japanese hamachi, with hazelnut milk, lightly fermented cucumber, pickled green apple, harissa verde, and fennel flowers
- Pan-roasted king salmon with fall vegetables. Last Sunday, it was accompanied by fennel purée, broccoli di ciccio, fregola di Sardo, and preserved lemon-fennel pollen salsa verde
These will be available for the next two nights or so, until they run out — we’re at the tail end of Alaskan king salmon season just now.
Stop on by! We’d love to see you.
Stay cool and come for a glass of rose and a light, righteous late summer meal. Or, order for takeout! We have a nifty online app that allows you to order – it’s 20% off your first online order through ChowNow.
or, download our smartphone app:
So long…for a while.
Our wonderful young cellist friend, Tessa Seymour, will be offering us one last concert before she moves to London to begin her professional career. We look forward to what her career will become, and are grateful to be able to present her here again. She will play for a small group of us in the private dining room before and after dinner.
Tessa will be playing her favorite music–there’ll be a fair amount of Bach. It’s a weeknight, so we made the dinner a bit simpler.
Tessa Seymour, Cello
Dinner and Concert
Thursday, September 29th, 6:30 PM
Exclusive of beverage, tax and service charge
Prior to arriving in London in December, Tessa thought she’d make a little cross-country concert tour–30 cities, 30 concerts, 60 days.
Sophie Egan, author of Devoured, in discussion with Paolo Lucchesi
Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 4:30 pm
4:30-5:30 – Conversation (with time for Q&A)
5:30-6:00 – Book signing & mingling downstairs
Why does McDonald’s have 107 items on its menu? Why are breakfast sandwiches, protein bars, and gluten-free anything so popular? Will bland, soulless meal replacements like Soylent revolutionize our definition of a meal?
In Devoured, food journalist Sophie Egan takes us on an eye-opening journey through the American food psyche, making connections between the values that define our national character—work, freedom, and progress—and our eating habits, the good and the bad.
“Breezy, irreverent, often quite funny, Devoured nonetheless has a serious message.” (Joe Queenan, Barron’s)
Sophie Egan is the director of programs and culinary nutrition for the Strategic Initiatives Group at The Culinary Institute of America. Based in San Francisco, Egan is a contributor to The New York Times‘ Well blog, and has written about food and health for KQED, Time, The Wall Street Journal, Bon Appétit,WIRED, and Sunset magazine, where she worked on The Sunset Cookbook and The One-Block Feast book. She holds a master of public health from the University of California, Berkeley, with a focus on health and social behavior, and a bachelor of arts with honors in history from Stanford University. This summer, she was named one of the UC Global Food Initiative’s 30 Under 30.
Paolo Lucchesi is the editor of The San Francisco Chronicle Food & Wine team. Before coming to The Chronicle food section in 2010 as its Inside Scoop columnist, he served as the founding editor of Eater San Francisco, which launched in fall 2007, and later Eater National, which launched in fall 2009.
Free event; book signing to follow.
Feel free to stick around afterwards for dinner in the cafe or make a reservation for the dining room!
Tuesday through Friday, September 13-16, 2016
Antipasti: smaller items, soup, salads
Beefsteak tomato “crudo” with Beldi olives
Sampling of year’s best tomatoes
Salad of tomatoes with opposing characteristics, olive oil, and Black Trifele tomato
Antipasto of Kushi oysters, tomato gelée, sea beans, and fines herbes
Tomato-braised honeycomb tripe with fresh Cannellini beans, hot pepper vinegar, and Parmesan cheese
Charcoal-grilled lamb’s heart with sun-dried tomato pesto, Japanese eggplant, and Pecorino cheese
Tomato and lobster “boudin rouge” with grilled Little Gem lettuce and tomato salsa
Charcoal-grilled pizzette with Eary Girl tomatoes, burrata, and spicy lamb coppa
Polenta-fried green tomatoes and sand dabs with fennel pollen aïoli
Granita of tomato water with razor clams, pickled Jalapeños, fresh coriander, and Sweet Gem tomatoes
Linguine rose with essence of tomato
Ravioli of burrata cheese with fresh tomato salsa, olive oil, and breadcrumbs
Acquerello Carnaroli risotto of concentrated tomatoes with cherry tomato “raisins” and ricotta salata
Spaghetti all’ amatriciana
Pappardelle verde with fresh tomato sugo
Saffron chitarra with tomato-braised sardines, garlic, and hot pepper
Whole grain bigoli with pancetta, spicy tomato ragù, and Borlotti beans
Secondi: grills, sautés, roasts, and rotisserie
Due of Devil’s Gulch rabbit: sun-dried tomato-basil-rabbit sausage, and pancetta-wrapped loin
Gratinata of concentrated tomato petals with ricotta salata, fresh Borlotti beans, and soft-herb salad
Roast pigeon with whole grain seeded crostone, Brentwood corn, and tomato mostarda
Tomato-braised beef short ribs with Community Grains yellow dent corn polenta, onion jam, and natural sugo
Spit-roasted tomato-glazed chicken with braised wax beans
Lemon-mascarpone tart with tomato marmalade
We dug into our archives and found plenty of classics. Paul Bertolli’s iconic “12 ways of Looking at Tomatoes” from 2001 included:
It’s spectacular food that’s become part of the canon – and for good reason, too. But food has changed, and creativity remains our ruling ethic and driving force. Chef Jonah and the kitchen want to do things that are truly exciting and new.
So, in the end, these past menus are inspiring Jonah to move past traditional methods and employ more unusual ones. We’ll be:
- roasting them to raisins for a concentrated tomato risotto;
- sculpting them into petals for a gratinata; and
- transmuting them to ice for a savory granita made from tomato water, accompanied by razor clams.
Craziness, right? There will still be plenty of pop gems – the classic spaghetti all’amatriciana will be one. Currently, Chef Jonah is putting the finishing touches on the full menu, which we will send to you very soon.
A rare opportunity to taste an array of truly great wines
Saturday, September 10, 2016 6:30 pm
Reserve by phone (510) 547-5356
When we opened Oliveto thirty years ago, among Italian winemakers, Bruno Giacosa was considered to be peerless: a traditionalist of Piemonte, and his stature remains. He possesses what seems to be an uncanny ability to create emotive wines that age into uncommon beauties. There are many extraordinary wines and winemakers from this area, but year after year, Bruno Giacosa wines are always at the very top. They are considered great wines, meaning in part, that they are meant to age. We were fortunate to have collected a few of these and keep them close, knowing they would only get better.
But there does come a time to open our cache — and you can only expect so much from a 50 year-old, even a Giacosa Barolo. So it is with great, long-restrained anticipation that we open our ’67, along with four other great vintage Giacosa wines, notably the 1979 Santo Stefano, on Saturday, September 10th, with a special dinner to match:
Bruno Giacosa Spumonte
1967 Barolo, Serralunga
1979 Santo Stefano, Barbaresco
2000 Asili di Barbaresco Riserva
2001 Asili di Barbaresco
2005 Asili di Barbaresco
House-cured 24-month prosciutti
Charcoal-grilled whole grain crostino of poultry liver pâté
Agnolotti dal plin
Grilled pigeon and cotechino with elephant heart plums
Blanco di Maggio onion agrodolce
Raspberry almond financier with fresh blackberries and nocinoice cream
225 plus tax and service charge
Very limited space