The first shop we encountered as we entered San Francisco's Ferry Market was Boccalone. The tagline "tasty salted pig parts" on their sign grabbed me. My husband has taught me to appreciate "the king of meats." I knew there would be some tasty treats inside and certainly some gift opportunities. I was right on both counts.
Boccalone is a salumeria. They use sustainably-raised, heritage-breed pork and slow cold-curing techniques to produce incredible tasting cured meats and fresh sausages. My husband, who is a fan of any pork product save Spam, declared their salumi the best he'd ever tasted. I felt like I'd never tasted pork before. Their salumi is perfectly spiced, more subtle than you'd expect. We just tried the orange and fennel. I'm not a huge fennel enthusiast, but this was really just perfectly balanced. The primary word that came to mind as I savored each piece was "clean." Not the first word you'd expect to come to mind. But it tasted so pure, so perfectly what it should be. You really can taste the difference.
To learn more about Boccalone's process and products, check out their website.
Boccalone also offers some cooked specialties – ciccioli, coppa di testa, mortadella, porchetta, and prosciutto as well as hot and cold pannini and salumi cones. Unfortunately, I could only bring home the salumi to sample since I was traveling. Next time, I'll seriously consider taking a cooler.
My husband's going on a backpacking trip soon and is pretty excited to be taking a couple of these packages of salumi with him. That's gonna make for pretty fancy eating in the woods.
To serve, I tried an idea I'd seen from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. She serves slices of salumi with thin slices of fresh cucumber. The crisp, light, refreshing taste of the cucumber cuts the richer salumi for a nice balance. We also had some fresh grapes and crackers that made for a pretty indulgent snack. This isn't so much a recipe as a guideline. Just slice the salumi as thin as you can, on a bit of a bias looks pretty. Do the same with a cold hothouse cucumber. I like these because you don't need to peel them and the barely there seeds don't interfere.
Tasty salted pig parts, indeed!
Ferry Market, Shop 21