Tag Archives: Pork

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)


Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)

The pork loin at Fringale is about as good as any pork dish I’ve had at a restaurant all year.  Thick, hammerhead-sized slices of tender pork are choked by their semi-crisp bacon muffler and, with a swirl through the braised savoy cabbage and a semi-sweet caramelized onion jus, it’s simple and sumptuous. What a treat to get cabbage when it’s done so miraculously: tender, crunchy, and looks like little bits of braised apple in there to complement the pork. It’s a perfectly balanced dish.

Fringale’s been around for over a generation in restaurant years; doesn’t get the yelpies or real press it deserves; but retains a status as a SOMA neighborhood gem and still serves up awesome dishes like this one. The owner is often there and when he’s not, un autre bon ami amicably fills in, and they are great fun to hang out with at the bar. They’re good storytellers, manage a busy tiny space with calm and grace, and make you want to go back just for an appetizer and glass of wine.

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)

And, not for overkill, but if the mood strikes…the potatoes gratin are wicked. See below for your personal ramekin of cheesy potato glory.

Fringale's got wicked au gratin

Fringale’s got wicked au gratin

The Grade: Awesome (highest grade)
The Damage: $19 (great deal for SF)
The Skinny: Fringale restaurant
570 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: (415) 543-0573


Charcuterie plate – Poggio – Sausalito CA


Peter McNee of Poggio (Sausalito CA)  at  Cochon555, San Francisco

June 0f 2009 was the cruelest month, for there were some unbelievable dining events. The best of these, far and away, was Cochon 555. A friendly competition between 5 of the Bay Area’s best chefs, each of whom had a different breed of heritage pig to cook and make dishes from. Unbelievable. I could write 100 posts on that event alone. And I just might…

Among the (many) favorite dishes of the evening was a splendid charcuterie plate from Peter McNee, the chef at Poggio restaurant in Sausalito. (Poggio won the event and was crowned SF’s “Prince of Porc” for the season.) Pork cotto, pastrami, tongue, rillette, mortadella, uh, did I miss anything? This was just a beautiful array of tastes, textures, and visual stun. The salumi and friends with their fatty, nutty, meaty spots looked like an Impressionist (or stipling) landscape. The giant platter looked even better than my plate, with each meat sliced and stacked. That’s my idea of cornucopia.

Cochon555 SF: Charcuterie Plate from Poggio's Peter McNee

Cochon555 SF: Charcuterie Plate from Poggio’s Peter McNee

When you visit Poggio, sit at the bar for your appetizer if it’s Tuesday through Saturday. Ask Tony the bar man for the house-made prosciutto ($15 for the platter); it’s not on the menu and only available while supplies last. (Honestly, since they’ve been aging their prosciutto for nearly 2 years now; it won’t last long.)

And **do not miss** any future Cochon555 event. Sign up for the newsletter (upper RH corner once page loads) so you know when they’ll return in the fall.

Poggio on Urbanspoon

High on the Hog @ EPIC Roasthouse

High on the Hog, EPIC Roasthouse

When: Saturday, June 27, 1 to 4 pm

What: “High on the Hog” – an afternoon of “swing, swirl, swine”

A  festival of pork dishes from EPIC Roasthouse Co-owner/Chef Jan Birnbaum, plus pinot noir pairings from 9 regional wine producers, including Iron Horse Vineyards & Hirsch Vineyards. Good stuff.

Extras: “Passion for Pinot” author Jordan McKay in the house for a book signing, and some stompin’ bluegrass from Nell Robinson & Red Level Band. 

Where: EPIC Roasthouse (www.epicroasthousesf.com)

369 The Embarcadero (S. of the Ferry Building)

How: Call 415.369.9995 for reservations.

How Much: $50 for a great party and Slow Food event.

Great Pork Event: Cochon 555 (Sunday, June 14 2009)

Cochon 555 Comes to SF This Sunday June 14

Pig lovers rejoice, and go to The Fairmont this Sunday June 14 (5 to 8 pm) for a whole pig breakdown demo and snout-to-tail pig chef competition to promote awareness and raise support for local and national farms who breed heritage pigs.  With over 350 pounds of pig tasties to dole out to you and your friends, lucky reader, be ready to enjoy yourself at this glorious pig-out. (See www.amusecochon.com for tickets; type “baconbits” into the promo code field for $30 off tickets.)

5 San Francisco chefs will go at it, each wrangling his own great dishes from 5 heritage pigs, while 5 family-owned wineries will pour freely. One meat expert will break down an entire heritage pig for your shock, awe, and amazement. A small cadre of celebrity food judges will evaluate the porcine output and crown San Francisco’s “Prince of Porc,” which has a very different ring than “Top Chef.”

Officially, this is a benefit for our heritage pig farms, but with your wine & swine in hand, you’ll benefit just as much.

Cochon 555 Details:

  • Chef competitors: Staffan Terje of Perbacco;  Ravi Kapur of Boulevard; Nate Appleman of A16/ SPQR; Peter McNee of Poggio Trattoria; and Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats. (Check out Ryan’s chicharrones!)
  • Wines from Krupp Brothers, Hirsch Vineyards, Elk Cove Winery, Arcadian Winery, and K Vintners/ Charles Smith’s Wines.
  • Whole pig breakdown demonstration by Taylor Boetticher of Fatted Calf Charcuterie. (They produce outrageously good meaty goods, including one of America’s best bacons. Check site for retail outlets or order online for delivery at Berkeley and SF Farmer’s Markets.)
  • Event produced by Taste Network; check out their other events across the US and sign up for their newsletter.

Cochon 555 Official Overview: 

A group of top San Francisco chefs will each prepare a heritage breed hog from head to toe for this competition. Cochon 555 is the only national chef competition promoting heritage pigs and breed diversity. Guests and professional judges will determine a winner based on utilization, presentation and overall best flavor. The winner will be crowned the “Prince of Porc”. In addition, five family-owned wineries will showcase their wines. 

The Damage: $125 per person ($95 with promo code BACONBITS)

  • Industry discount available.
  • Advance tickets required.
  • For tickets or more info visit www.amusecochon.com
  • Save $30 per ticket with promo code: BACONBITS

The Event Skinny: Cochon 555 at The Fairmont

950 Mason Street, San Francisco, Ca 94108

5 pm to 8 pm, Sunday June 14, 2009


Pork Chop (Monk’s Kettle, SF)

Awesome Pork Chop

Grilled Pork Chop, mustard sauce (Monk's Kettle, SF)
Grilled Pork Chop, mustard sauce (Monk's Kettle, SF)

Within a week, I had two of the best pork dishes of the year. And one of my favorite pork dishes from 2009 is the grilled pork chop from Monk’s Kettle, a gastro-pub in San Francisco’s Mission District.

The pork chop at Monk’s Kettle is simply outstanding. It’s double-cut thick with nice, tire-burn grill marks, and the perfect sunrise pink interior that’s tender, juicy, and hard to come up for air for after bite one.  The chop (Coleman Natural Hampshire) has been brined in apple cider with brown sugar (and the necessary bay leaf)to really heighten the flavors. Did I say juicy?

The mustard sauce that swaddles the pork chop like a pale yellow superhero cape is utterly fantastic. It’s a creamy Bechamel sauce with stone ground mustard, a sort of plate-licking temptation that disappears instantly like a demon. You’ll not see much sauce remaining when your server collects your UFO-shaped dish.

The sides here are also great, making this dish one of my favorite pork dishes of 2009. And there’s enough on this plate to feed a substantially hungry person, either once or twice.

The orb-like accompanying side that appears to be a polenta imposter is actually a cheddar-scallion potato cake. Crunchy exterior, great surprise inside. So good I want it for breakfast. Chef Kevin Kroger uses house-cured bacon, not as just a tiny flavoring or afterthought to bolster the Brussel sprouts, but as another serious element. I think it’s actually the Fifth Element on this plate. I’m keen on bacon & Brussel sprouts, and this pairing favors Monk’s fine, crispy, maple-smoked bacon. The interplay between the elements in this dish is wonderful.

Monk's Kettle Chef Kevin Kroger
Monk's Kettle Chef Kevin Kroger

The Spot: Monk’s Kettle

Aside from simply the pork chop, Monk’s Kettle is one of the best places in San Francisco Bay Area to sample an astounding array of beers. Their 24 draught taps change 3 to 5 times weekly. The beer menu itself is 6 legal-sized pages listing (and explaining) a worldwide variety of familiars and odds, with prices that range from your low-budge suds (PBR and such) to party-like-a-rock-star froth (including champenoise-style beers that set you back between $45 and $60 for 12 oz.). The staff is authentically friendly, very knowledgeable about the beers they have, and enjoy helping folks match their flavor palette or dare into new territory. If you’re no pork chopper, just go by for a beer sometime.

God bless the Monks
God bless the Monks

The Grade: Awesome / Phenomenal (my highest grade)

The Damage: $24.50

The Skinny: Monk’s Kettle

3141 – 16th Street, San Francisco (between Valencia & Guerrero Streets)
Phone: (415) 865-9523
Website: http://www.monkskettle.com 

Monk's Kettle on Urbanspoon

Grilled Pork Loin (South FWB, San Francisco CA)



South FWB (an acronym for “food and wine bar”) is a great little hideaway in San Francisco’s SOMA (the acronym for “South of Market” district), directly across from the CalTrain station on Townsend Street. It’s intimate but comfortable, stylish but not pretentious, and the food and service will not disappoint. In short, South FWB is a hidden culinary gem in a city full of great restaurants.


South FWB offers a very simple, nicely grilled pork loin, drizzled with its own jus, and capped with small strips of pear and micro-greens. The pork has perfect grill marks, and a small ramekin heaped with crispy shoestring sweet potatoes adds a spicy touch. Simplicity is bliss; the grilled pork loin is a seasonal lunch offering.

Grilled Pork Loin, South FWB, San Francisco CA
Grilled Pork Loin, South FWB, San Francisco CA

THE DAMAGE: $14 (lunch)

330 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Phone: (415) 974 5599 

Website: http://www.southfwb.com/

Menu: http://www.southfwb.com/menu 

South Food and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Pork Belly (Baraka, San Francisco CA)


The Dish: Slow-Roasted Pork Belly

For meat lovers, pork belly is clearly in the meaty appetizer Pantheon. And, in keeping with its perennially high commodity market valuation status, pork belly is nearly always served in frustratingly miniscule portions. (It’s still hard for me to take Wall Street financial commentators in pin-striped suits seriously when they soberly converse about the fluctuating price of pork bellies, but it’s one of the few remaining amusing ironies of capitalism.)

Fantastic Pork Belly, Baraka SF
Fantastic Pork Belly, Baraka SF

Again, Baraka in San Francisco delivers a most welcome surprise with its slow-roasted pork belly appetizer, both in terms of quantity (about 4 times the amount of belly you’ll usually get) and quality. In the large cut portion, the belly is meatier and fleshier and has more hints of ham in flavor than other, smaller pork belly appetizers.

While Baraka’s pork belly does not have the de facto crisped skin, that’s no detriment to the overall delight. The dish has a marvelous and savory balance of flavors, with the combination of earthy lentils, slightly sweet Anchor Steam Porter foam, and a bit of warm crunch from the braised trotters (the more pleasant British term for pig’s feet/ankles). This will rank as one of my favorite appetizers in San Francisco for this year.

Described on the menu: Slow Roasted Pork Belly – Braised Trotters, De Puy Lentils, Anchor Steam Porter Foam

The Grade: Sterling (5 out of 5)

Also could be described as excellent or exceptional.

The Damage: $11

An incredible value for the price, the pork belly appetizer is definitely generous enough to share.

The Skinny: Baraka
288 Connecticut Street (at 18TH Street)
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: (415) 255-0370
Dinner only, Sunday – Thursday 5:30pm to 10:00pm; Fridays/Saturdays 5:30pm to 11:00pm

Chef:  Chad Newton (former Sous Chef at Postrio)

Sous Chef: Ashton Mullikin (worked with New Orleans greats Susan Spicer, Andrew Jaeger)

Baraka website: http://www.sfbaraka.com/

Open Table: Baraka online reservations

Baraka on Urbanspoon