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San Francisco's making room for a new chef-sausage maker. Oliveto's founding chef Paul Bertolli got things started a few years ago with his Fra' Mani, and now Chris Cosentino of Incanto has launched a line of "Tasty Pig Parts" called Boccalone. Cosentino's in New York City this week to promote The Next Iron Chef (premiering Sunday on the Food Network); he stopped by yesterday to give us a taste of his salumi.
There is little that is quiet about Cosentino. He'll be the first to tell you he's got a loud mouth - that's what boccalone means ("That's me!" he cheered, pointing at the name on the label, in case we weren't sure.) His bleached-blonde mohawk and sailor's vocabulary help drive home the point: The man is effusive. So it's a treat to discover his salumi are so deliciously restrained. His brown sugar and fennel pork sausage has only the gentlest hits of anise; the orange and wild fennel pollen version has equally quiet citrus notes that let the porky goodness come through. Though a little chewy, especially compared to the smooth fat, the soppressata had delicate porky flavor with "none of that harsh cured wang," Cosentino explained, introducing a new word to the world's salumi phrase book.
For the time being, Boccalone meats will only be available to other San Francisco chefs and to members of Cosentino's Salumi Society, or his meat CSA; Cosentino plans to ship them nationally at a later date.