As sure as Punxsutawney Phil popping his head out of the ground, as inevitable as kindergarteners slathering themselves in pink paint and red glitter, so February brings to the Bay Area one of its favorite annual rituals. Of course, this one involves pork blood.
The granddaddy of pig feasts, Oliveto
's 11-year-old Whole Hog Dinner
takes place starting tomorrow, Feb. 3, and lasting until Feb. 6. Chef Paul Canales and his team spend months curing, roasting, stewing, and rendering whole pigs in preparation for this event, arguably the restaurant's highest-profile event of the year. The 2010 menu
includes warm pork tongue with artichokes, Catalonian spreadable sobressada
, and cannelloni stuffed with pork and chanterelles. Canales & co. are probably still smarting from their recent downgrading
in the press, so look to this dinner for them to reestablish their rep. (FYI: Our dreams are still haunted, in the best way, by a blood pudding with dried-fruit mostarda from 2006.)
5655 College (at Shafter), Oakland, (510) 547-5356
Oliveto has inspired dozens of offal dinners around the country. The newest, splashiest, and most ambitious of these is Cochon 555
, a touring porcine bacchanalia-slash-competition bringing together meat-loving chefs with throngs of meat-loving customers.
Cochon 555 is coming to San Francisco June 6, but for those of you who can't wait to spend an afternoon porking (out), the Napa event takes place Feb. 28 at Silverado Resort. The lineup this year includes chefs from the French Laundry, Zazu, Namu, and Ubuntu (writing that makes us feel a little like David Letterman at the Oscars). Buy your $110 tickets here.
Cochon 555 Silverado Resort, 1600 Atlas Peak (at Club House Dr.), Napa, (707) 257-0200
course, if you don't want to brave the crowds, or can't get a
reservation, you and your friends can rent out Incanto's private room
for one of its Whole Pig Dinners. Or head to Spices! on Eighth Ave. and Clement to reassemble a whole hog from orders of spicy pig ear, explosive pig intestines, and numbing spicy pork kidney.