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Monday, December 13, 2010

Planned Food Truck Cibo per Strada Has Roots in Chez Panisse

Posted By on Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 3:40 PM

click to enlarge Cibo per Strada's Hannah Hoffman.
  • Cibo per Strada's Hannah Hoffman.

From Filipino adobo sandwiches to Korean galbi tacos, local food trucks are vehicles for cultural expression as much as strictly commercial ventures. Early next year ― if all goes as planned ― the Bay Area should see its first food truck steeped in a food culture that's so far been the exclusive province of brick and mortar restaurants: the Mediterranean-inspired farm-to-table cuisine born in the heady early days of Chez Panisse.

Owners of the Cibo per Strada food truck (the name translates as "street food" in Italian) are hoping for a formal launch in the East Bay in January or February. It's a collaboration between Hannah Hoffman who works at the Vintage Berkeley wine shop in Elmwood, entrepreneur Frank Sette, and David Seawell, a former Boulevard sous chef who now cooks at Sutro's at the Cliff House, with help from ex-Spencer on the Go cook John Desmond. Hoffman describes Ciba as "T-minus vehicle date" ― they should lock down an actual truck in the next week or two.

Cibo's fried chicken sandwich with papaya ketchup coleslaw. - CIBO PER STRADA/FACEBOOK
  • Cibo per Strada/Facebook
  • Cibo's fried chicken sandwich with papaya ketchup coleslaw.

Hoffman, 35, grew up immersed ― pretty much literally ― in Chez Panisse. From 1971 till 1987, Hoffman's late mother, Lisa Goines, worked in the pastry department during the glory days of the house of Alice. "I literally grew up on the pastry table," Hoffman says. "From the time I was 3 weeks old I was at the restaurant every day. When I got older I washed lettuce, made ice cream ― I was really active in the kitchen." Hoffman eventually landed a master's degree in food anthropology, doing field work to study the food practices of groups as disparate as Afghan refugees in Fremont and bear couples (the gay kind) in San Francisco.

click to enlarge Cibo's fried chicken sandwich with papaya ketchup coleslaw. - CIBO PER STRADA/FACEBOOK
  • Cibo per Strada/Facebook
  • Cibo's fried chicken sandwich with papaya ketchup coleslaw.

For Cibo per Strada, Hoffman says she's primarily interested in the food of Italy and North Africa, filtered through French technique, presented between halves of bread in sandwich form. Examples: cider-brined slow-roasted pork shoulder with apricot-onion confitand sautéed greens; meatballs with hand-packed ricotta and gremolata; and fried chicken and papaya ketchup coleslaw with pickled onions, all on Acme breads. For breakfast, Hoffman's thinking about herbed egg omelet with Pecorino and roasted tomatoes on a pretzel croissant from Berkeley's OktoberFeast Bakery.

Hoffman wants Cibo to have a dessert focus, too, including seasonal tarts, cookies, and the homemade jelly doughnuts she's proud of. In ingredients will be as organic and locally sourced as possible. And since Cibo's commissary will be in the Alameda Point Collaborative, the nonprofit that also runs the Ploughshares program, the cooks will have access to an urban garden.

Something tells us Auntie Alice is going to be very, very proud.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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