Community Journal

It’s here: Whole Hog Dinners begin tonight

Our hogs are in the house and we are ready and rearing to go for Whole Hog 2015.

Take a look at our full menu here.

We’ve declared this year to be the year of the Cinta, the amazing Tuscan breed. We’re celebrating this animal with a full line-up of dishes using Cinta Sonoma pigs from our friends at Front Porch Farms. Learn more about the Cinta here.

Reserve your table at the Whole Hog Dinners today.
Call 510-547-5356 or reserve online.

Whole Hog Dinners 2015: A coming out party for a very special pig

Image courtesy of Slow Food

This fresco by Ambrosia Lorenzetti, called Effete del buon governo in campagna (1338-39), depicts a Cinata pig (bottom right). It can be found in the Palazzo Comunale, Siena. Image courtesy of Slow Food

At our Whole Hog Dinners this year, we will be serving a very special pig — the Cinta Sonoma from Front Porch Farm. It’s a pig with a rich history, and we’re thrilled to be able to have gotten four to serve at our dinners. Because we’ve got such a good supply, we’re really going to be able to showcase the Cinta throughout the meal.

Since because so few people know about this species of pig, we want so share a few tidbits we’ve dug up:

The Cinta Senese breed is a domestic pig from Siena, Tuscany, and it has been around since at least the 14th century. The pig has been so beloved that it appears in paintings dating back to the 1330s, like in the fresco pictured above. But today, few people outside of Tuscany know about or get to eat, this marvelous pig.

The Cinta is named for the distinctive light band running across its chests. (“Cinta” is Italian for “sash” or “belt.”) It is known for its relatively high fat content and unparalleled flavor, and is therefore prized in charcuterie. Cintas are most at home on wooded farms, which means that they can be challenging to raise in the modern world. In fact, they were classified as endangered in the 1980s because of the lack of suitable farmland. Luckily for us, Slow Food took an interest in the Cinta and they have helped the population recover.

Today, Cinta Sense have DOP status, which means that they cannot be legally bred and sold anywhere outside of Tuscany. In particular, they come from a part of Tuscany with which we are intimately familiar — the same area as our truffles!

So how have we gotten our hands on the Cinta pigs for the Whole Hog Dinners? Well, the short answer is that they aren’t exactly Cinta Senese.

Our Cintas are technically Cinta Sonomas, and they come from Front Porch Farm up in, you guessed it, Sonoma County. They’re beautiful animals, and they make for delicious food.

Front Porch Farms began researching how they could bring Cintas to California in 2008. As they explain on their website, they needed to recruit “an antiquities foundation, a medieval music-singing soprano (Valeria), a pig-whisperer (Riccio), and an Irish animal transport genius (Mike)” to make it happen.

Cintas finally arrived at Front Porch in June 2012. They brought in four distinct bloodlines to maintain genetic diversity, and these pigs have in turn produced two generations of Cinta Sonomas on their farm. Front Porch raises their Cintas at Acorn Ranch, a property full of both lush grasslands and oak forest. As they say, it’s pig heaven. This land is, importantly, reminiscent of the Tuscan forest region from which the Cinta come; they are able to forage and feast on mushrooms, acorns, berries, truffles, roots, and rhizomes. Front Porch also supplements this diet with barley, peas, and lots of apples. They hope to add chestnuts to that line-up when their newly planted chestnut trees come into maturity.

In 2014, Front Porch began selling their Cintas to restaurants in the Bay Area and we are lucky to have four of these amazing pigs to serve at our Whole Hog Dinners, starting March 3.

Reserve now. Call 510-547-5356 or reserve online.

Whole Hog menu is complete!

Piglets2smallerReserve now.

Whole Hog Dinners 2015
March 3–7, 2015

We’ve got our hogs ready to go and our menu finalized. Get ready for a feast of epic, delicious proportions.

Antipasti: smaller items, soup, and salads

~cold~

Affetati misti: large array of house-cured, aged salumi

Burrata cheese with house-cured prosciutto, candied walnuts, and old aceto balsamico

Minestra of pork, barley, and escarole

Crostino of “young” lonza with swordfish tonnato, capers, and lemon

Country pâté with brioche crostini and spring onions

Garden lettuces vinaigrette

~warm~

Terrina of pork trotters with Puy lentils, frisée, and mustard vinaigrette

Salad of first-of-season asparagus, pancetta, torn bread, and Parmesan cheese

Charcoal-grilled Italian-style sausage with escarole and breadcrumbs

Fritto of battered pig’s ears with bagna cauda, green garlic, and spring onions

Charcoal-grilled pork heart with ragù of beans, Castelvetrano olives, and rosemary

Cassuola of Gigande beans braised with pork skin

*

Primi

Potato gnocchi with whey-braised pork

Cavatelli with pork ragù allʼabruzzese

Fusilli bucati with garlic pork sausage, Manila clams and turnip greens

Tortellini of mortadella in rich pork brodetto

Agnolotti dal plin of pork offal

*

Secondi: grills, sautées, and rotisserie

Cinta Sonoma alla Caja China: Cinta pig roasted in a box

Spit-roasted house-cured ham

Due of boudins: blanc and noir with house-fermented sauerkraut

Roast pork “osso buco” with roast potatoes, broccoli di ciccio, and salsa verde

Spit-roasted, pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin

*

Dolce

TBD

*

Plus, we’ll be offering these special menu items each day of the week:

Tuesday, March 3
Porchetta: layers of boneless pork middle, fat, skin, rolled in savory, moist, boneless pork meat and spit-roasted over wood

Wednesday, March 4
Front Porch Farms Cinta celebration

Thursday, March 5
 Saucisson en croûte: a lovely French-style pork sausage, wrapped in puff pastry, baked in a terrine and served warm

Friday, March 6
Zampone: the prized Modenese dish of boned pig’s trotter, stuffed with highly seasoned ground pork meat, rind, sinew, and fat, which is then trussed and cooked in broth

Saturday, March 7
Bollito misto: various cuts of meat and sausages, cooked and served in a rich pork broth and accompanied by multiple herby and full-flavored salsas

call 510-547-5356 or reserve online

This Sunday’s Farmhouse Supper: Calabria

Small town of Verbicaro in Calabria, Italy. (photo from Rosetta Constantino of "My Calabria")

Small town of Verbicaro in Calabria, Italy. (photo from Rosetta Constantino of “My Calabria”)

Sunday Farmhouse Supper Menu for February 22, 2015
Calabria

Pitta (flatbread) with anchovies, capers, and oregano

Orecchiette arrabbiata 

Charcoal-grilled involtini of swordfish with frisée, Cara Cara oranges, and arugula

Dessert: TBD

*

Prix fixe $40.

Served family-style. For groups of one to twelve. The whole table must order prix fixe menu.

(Please note that wine and gratuity are not included.)

call 510-547-5356 or reserve online

Larger parties: please let us know at the time of your reservation if your table will be ordering the Sunday Supper menu so that we can plan accordingly. Thanks!

Announcing Oliveto Commons

Join us as we launch Oliveto Commons with a presentation by Gary Nabhan

Photo: Dennis Moroney

“Conservation You Can Taste: How Heritage Grains, Beans, & Fruit Revivals Have Helped Rebuild Local Food Economies”

Sunday March 1
1–3 p.m.

Gary Nabhan is a recipient of a MacArthur Genius Award for his role in both the heirloom seed and local food movements. The author of 26 books, he is an orchard keeper, seed saver, pollinator, habitat restoration ecologist, and Ecumenical Franciscan Brother. His efforts with the Renewing America’s Food Traditions Alliance brought back dozens of fruits, vegetables, livestock breeds and seeds from the verge of extinction.

To honor Gary’s important contribution to sustainable food and agriculture, our Sunday Supper menu for that evening will feature spices and ingredients from Gary’s books. Stay for dinner to complete the experience.

Both of Gary’s bookswill be available for purchase at the event.

This event is the launchpad for our newest venture: Oliveto Commons, a series of community programs with the mission of inspiring a shared sense of possibility, purpose, and unity throughout Oliveto and the community to which we belong. You can learn more about the Commons and see a calendar of upcoming events here.

$15.

Eventbrite - Oliveto Commons Presents Gary Nabhan

 

By |February 19th, 2015|2015, Events, Happened already..., Kitchen Notes, This Just In|2 Comments

Oliveto Commons

We are very excited to announce Oliveto Commons, a series of lectures, classes, workshops, and discussions designed to to better engage with the neighborhood and offer a venue for a connected community. Driving our decision to launch the Commons is our 40-year interest and involvement in agricultural practices, and the desire to open up and make available our public space, with its outstanding new acoustical capabilities, for discussions on food and food-production subjects and activities in our community. We also want to offer a platform for agriculture-centered, pro-environment action for committed and interested parties, such as local farmers, urban gardeners, scientists, and activists.

We are driven by an ingrained curiosity and drive for continual innovation and improvement, and the Commons will be an effective way to better participate in the community and offer vibrant, inclusive, and real food experiences. A fully functional restaurant should offer more than just extraordinary food: it should offer a setting that is about connecting and all that that means.

Kicking off the Commons on March 1st will be Conservation You Can Taste: How Heritage Grains, Beans & Fruit Revivals Have Helped Rebuild Local Food Economies with Gary Nabhan, recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award for his role in the heirloom seed and local food movements.

Future programs this spring and summer will include conversations with, and films about, important and thoughtful leaders in food, agriculture, and the environment. An ongoing discussion of how agriculture, soils practices, and how what we grow in our gardens affects our health and the environment will have a central place at the Commons. And, there will be plenty of fun to accompany the good information, participation, and food.

The Commons will feature programming in six distinct areas: It’s Complicated, a series of conversations about eating, cooking, and the politics of food, the first of which will be our event on March 1st; Wine & Spirits, designed to explore and educate guests about the world of wine and cocktails; How-To, skill building classes to offer home cooks culinary tips and tricks by the talented team at Oliveto and guest chefs; Oliveto Live, a series of musical and other live performances that fully utilize the acoustical capabilities of the Meyer Sound system; and Personal Story, a way for farmers, producers, and food luminaries to share the stories and inspirations behind their life’s work.


Oliveto Commons Spring Events:

Conservation You Can Taste: How Heritage Grains, Beans & Fruit Revivals Have Helped Rebuild Local Food Economies with Gary Nabhan
Sunday, March 1, 1 to 3 p.m.

The author of 26 books, Nabhan is an orchard keeper, seed saver, pollinator, habitat restoration ecologist and Ecumenical Franciscan Brother. His efforts with the Renewing America’s Food Traditions Alliance brought back dozens of fruits, vegetables, livestock breeds and seeds on the verge of extinction.

$15 tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Books available for purchase separately. Optional Sunday Supper Prix Fixe menu featuring native ingredients highlighted in Nabhan’s book will be available following the discussion for $40 per person

**

Front Porch Farms at Whole Hog Dinners
Wednesday, March 4, 5 to 9 p.m.

Oliveto will host the farmers from Front Porch Farms on the second night of their annual Whole Hog Dinners event (March 3 to March 7). Front Porch Farms is the first American farm to raise the 700-year-old Tuscan Cinta Sinese breed of pig and forest-feed it, using old and new methods of animal husbandry, to produce a pig whose intricate flavor and fat content make it ideal for salumi making. Reserve a table for this beautiful feast and celebration of The Pig, and hear the intriguing story of how Front Porch brought the Cinta here and what they learned about breeding and raising heritage animals using traditional methods. Oliveto’s friends from Front Porch will circulate throughout the dining room as dinner progresses. (Menu prices vary)

**

Aged Wine Tasting
Wednesday, March 25, 6:15 to 7 p.m.

Four rare wines from Oliveto’s one-of-a-kind aged wine program, comprised primarily of notable vintages of Barbaresco, Barolo, and Brunello, will be available to sample in a tasting led by Oliveto General Manager Shane Walker. A select bottle of aged wine will be available for purchase at wholesale price if participants choose to dine following the tasting. ($30 per person in the Sienna Room)

**

Kids Bake with Yakira
Sunday, April 4, Time TBD

Parents and kids are invited to join Oliveto’s Pastry Coordinator Yakira Batres, for an Easter bread baking class. Participants will bring home a variety of baked treats and learn kid-friendly baking tips. ($25 per parent-child pair)

**

Knife Skills 101
Sunday, April 19, 1 to 2:30 p.m.

What knives you should keep in your home kitchen, what they are best for and how do you maintain them? Chef Jonah Rhodehamel will lead a class to answer these questions. Participants should bring their own knives for a sharpening and learn how to do it at home. They’ll also use their knives during the section on knife skills. ($20 per person)

All Oliveto Commons events take place in the upstairs restaurant. We’ll be posting links to Eventbrite tickets as each event nears. For additional information, call 510 547-5356.

By |February 19th, 2015|2015, Events, Oliveto Commons 2015|0 Comments

Whole Hog Dinners 2015: Featured Menu Items

pig2Each night of our Whole Hog Dinners, we’ll either be hosting a special event or featuring a special menu item. This is, of course, in addition to the usual enormous and delicious menu of salumiantipastiragus, sausages, roasts, and stews that Chef Jonah will prepare. We’ll announce the rest of the menu next week.

On Tuesday March 3, we’ll have a wonderful porchetta (layers of boneless pork middle, fat, skin, rolled in savory, moist, boneless pork meat and spit-roasted over wood).

On Wednesday, we will be hosting Front Porch Farms and highlighting their Cinta Sonoma pigs. If you would like to sit at or near their table, please let us know when you make your reservation.

On Thursday, we’ll serve a saucisson en croute, a lovely French-style pork sausage, wrapped in puff pastry, baked in a terrine and served warm.

On Fridayzampone: The prized Modenese dish of boned pig’s trotter, stuffed with highly seasoned ground pork meat, rind, sinew, and fat, which is then trussed and cooked in broth.

Finally, on Saturday, we’ll have full-out bollito misto (mixed boil) of various cuts of meat and sausages, cooked and served in a rich pork broth and accompanied by multiple herby and full-flavored salsas.

call 510-547-5356 or reserve online

Oliveto’s Sound System is in The New Yorker

Olivetos_30-Oct-14_209576 550

We were thrilled to music critic Alex Ross’s most recent piece in The New Yorker — it is all about Meyer Sound and features our new Constellation and Libra sound systems. He really couldn’t have described the system better:

On a recent visit to Oliveto, a nouvelle Italian restaurant in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, California, I paid attention less to the food than to the sound. I was at a table of six, in the restaurant’s upstairs section. It was a Friday night, and by the middle of the meal the room was crowded. Conditions were primed for restaurant cacophony: that inexorable crescendo of talking, barking, cackling, and clanking, which threatens to drown out any conversation and prompts diners to shout at one another, adding to the din. On this night, though, I found myself able to tune out the noise and hear only what I wanted to hear. When someone at a nearby table began guffawing at his own jokes, I could still follow the remarks of the calm-voiced man sitting next to me. Friends on the other side of the table spoke across the breadbasket without having to raise their voices. Although we were aware of a general buzz, it all happened at a comfortable distance. It was two hours of acoustical paradise. …

Read the rest of the article on The New Yorker website, or grab a copy of their February 23 issue when it hits newsstands.

Whole Hog Dinners 2015: The Year of the Cinta

Whole Hog Dinners 2015: The Year of the Cinta
March 3–7

Peter & Mimi Buckley of Front Porch Farm Welcoming the Cinta

Peter & Mimi Buckley of Front Porch Farm with their Cinta pigs.

For centuries, the Cinta Senese, the prized breed of Tuscan pig, had never been found outside of the area around Siena. Almost three years ago, Peter and Mimi Buckley managed to import 21 Cintas into California to their Front Porch Farm for the purpose of breeding. Over time, the stock has grown and the feeding protocols have been refined.

We’ve brought Peter and Mimi’s Cintas into the Oliveto kitchen, where we have been curing and roasting the pigs. We’ve been loving the results.

This year, we’ll be able to feature these wonderful pigs throughout our Whole Hog Dinners, scheduled for March 3–7.

Call 510-547-5356 or reserve online.

The China Box is coming… RESCHEDULED!

china_box_instructions_629

NOTE: Due to the rain, we’ve RESCHEDULED this event for TOMORROW, February 11.

We’re going to be cooking up a lot of whole animals this year, starting this Friday with a Red Waddle pig from Heritage Foods. But we won’t be roasting them on a spit or digging a giant pit in the ground of the BART station. We’ve got a much, much better tool, and it’s called La Caja China, or the China Box.

We’ve used our China Box in the past to roast pigs and goats, but this year we’re really going to fire it up with a regular schedule of whole-roasted animals. (After this week, we’ve got events scheduled for February 27, March 20, April 3, May 1, June 5, and July 10.) Why do we love it? The aluminum-lined box cooks whole animals by making use of moist, radiant heat. The pig, goat, or lamb is laid flat and placed in the box. Hot charcoal goes on top. Using the magic of science, the interior of the box builds up even heat and high pressure to cook the animal in 3 hours or so (a veritable millisecond in barbecue land). The meat emerges tender and juicy, with crackling crisp skin and incredible flavor.

The China Box, confusingly, doesn’t come from China. It is a Latin American invention, most frequently associated with Cuban cuisine. Its exact origins are shrouded in mystery. Some claim that the tool was a product of 19th century Chinese laborers in Cuba. However, further research has shown that there weren’t any China boxes around that early and that there was little culinary integration between the two cultures.

More realistically, the “China” moniker follows the Hispanic usage of the word to describe something that is clever or exotic. According to food anthropologist Sidney Mintz, this means that the proper translation of “la caja china” is “the clever box.” We can get behind that name.

Expect to see lots of whole animals on the menu soon.

By |February 3rd, 2015|2015, Events, Happened already..., Kitchen Notes, This Just In|0 Comments