Iron Chef Offal Menu at Incanto

The return from India of my beloved friend, Lisa, was not only a reason to celebrate, but also very timely as she is one of the few friends who is more culinarily adventurous than I am.  She had actually sent me an e-mail from India that Chef Cosentino would be recreating his Iron Chef meal at Incanto. I’ve been chatting with Lisa about eating at Incanto for over a year so this special offering was more than timely! The special menu is only being offered on specific days for a short time through December.

When we arrived at the restaurant, we were brought back to the famous Dante Room. As it only holds a little more than a dozen people, I made the assumption that everyone in the room that evening would be dining on the special menu and was surprised to later that Lisa and I were the only ones that evening eating the special offering! I brought along a Château Duhart-Milon-Rothschild, 1975 Bordeaux for the meal. We had a fabulous sommelier who had to muscle through a cork which was not easily extracted. Per his recommendation, the bottle was decanted, he cleaned out the original bottle with some house wine, and poured the decanted wine back into original bottle so that it would not open up too quickly. I offered tastes all around and it was agreed that it was a stunning bottle; redolent with molasses up front with subtle integrated spice. It was elegant and complex and we were not prepared for how stunning a pairing it would be for our meal.

First Course – Lamb Heart Tartare. Hands-down, this was the winning dish with the wine; with a bit of capers and herbs, one of the richest, most satisfying tartares I have ever had. What a fabulous start.

Second Course – Financziera Piedmontese – Cockscombs, Duck Bits, and Riso. Neither of us had ever eaten a cockscomb before and this was one of the ingredients we were both looking forward to. It was gelatinous and chewy without being tough. The duck bits included some testicles which were tender. The sauce was light and studded with lemon zest and thinly sliced garlic.

Third Course – “Turf & Surf”; Tripe and Clam. For this course, the sommelier recommended a glass of white and we were served a 2007 Anthìlia Donnafugata. My knowledge of Italian wine is extremely limited but we found this offering clean and enticing without being strident. There was a richness in well-integrated fruit that complemented the dish; a delightful combination of long strips of tender tripe and bits of clams. I’m not sure if it was crudo or not, but it was served crudo style with an elegant, light dressing.

Fourth Course
– Country Fair Gut Fry. With a bit of whismy and wit, we were served a paper cone filled with deep-fried sweetbreads, chitterlins, and fresh chanterelles with two sides, a spicy red sauce that was too spicy for me, and a creamy aïoli with herbs which was my preference. Not sure which bits we liked the best; my first taste was of a chitterlin but following it up with a fresh chanterelle was thrilling. Then to savor a crisp sweetbread and I was in fried bits heaven.

Fifth Course – Pig’s Trotter with Bacon and Tarragon. We were getting really full and worried with the realization that the two of us could easily have shared a single order of the bounty of food we were being offered. Then the pig’s trotter arrived and we were floored. The trotter was mounted over a poached apple which sat atop some bread cubes, bacon, and fresh tarragon. The apple was an inspiration to add a crisp tonality to the intensely rich sauce-stoked bread. A truly stunning dish that was my stand-out of the evening.

Sixth Course – Calves’ Liver and Kidneys. We were definitely on the other side of being way too full at this point as our to-go packages were piling up. But a few bites were had as the two were offered with separate accompaniments; the calves’ liver was served on a compote of spicy, shredded beets and the kidneys on yellow lentils. The two were a bit too disparate for my tastes and surprisingly, both meats were tougher than anticipated. It was my first calf kidney so I am unsure how “toothy” they can be, but I was surprised that the well-prepared liver was as hearty as it was.

Dessert – Yuzu Sorbet. Finally, to cleanse our palate, a tangy, bright sorbet and an after-meal visit by the Chef to see how we liked the evening’s menu. He was incredibly gracious and I expressed my surprise that Lisa and I were the only two eating the sumptious meal that evening. Throughout the evening, I had the bird’s eye view in to the kitchen and was able to watch his attentiveness and determination. It was an amazing meal and is completely inspiring to me to gather a bunch of friends to order Fifth Quarter meals in the future. There is nothing more exciting than to revel in the genius of Chef Cosentino and we San Franciscans should be very proud of his endeavors.

Lastly, apologies for the low-light iPhone photos. I didn’t want to disturb the others in the Dante room with flashes.
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