Oscar went whole hog for his birthday dinner. Here's the menu that Incanto Restaurant came up with.
Incanto mixed antipasto platter: all cured in house, and includes head cheese, mortadella, chunky pork pate, roasted garlic, mild peppers and house country style mustard. I liked the mortadella best because it was thinly sliced, and mild. Goal: taste and enjoy but save room for the main event.
Choice of wild greens with Zinfandel vinaigrette or Grilled Squid & watermelon with chilli and mint. There's nothing to complain about with the wild greens, which were fresh and nicely dressed. But the adventurous eaters were universally thrilled with the flavors, texture and heat of the squid salad. Who knew watermelon and squid made such a sweet heat blend of squishy, soft meets crunchy, sweet and savory? Perhaps it's the inclusion of jalapeno, purple onion and a vinaigrette made with vinegar, squid cooking liquid, and squid ink. The heat wasn't too scorching, but instead steady during chewing and a few seconds after swallowing.
Main Event: Whole roasted suckling pig with its "Nasty Bits" such as head, kidney, heart, trotters, and liver. The care and attention to caring for and cooking this animal showed in every juicy bite. It was succulent, meaty, and delicious, and I couldn't stop eating the reddish, crisp, strips of roasted skin. Incanto's young pig meat was more flavorful and marbled with fat than pork elsewhere.
Mainly the men ate parts of the pig head, including the snout. There weren't mucousy parts inside, as one guest wondered aloud. Oscar said it was more crisp than other parts he sampled and didn't appear grossed out. I tried some of the cheek meat. Tasty but the carved slices were more appealing because the only effort in eating a bite is lifting your fork.
As the feasting and partying continued, Oscar had an Arrested Development moment when he called out to fellow Chronicle scribe Joe Garofoli and asked, "Joe, do you want some head?" Pause. Guffaws and laughter. "There's gotta be a better way to say that."
Side dishes included: Creamy polenta with mascarpone and Roasted fennel with summer onions. Addictive stuff. The key to the fennel and onions seem to be the dressing and thin slices. Nice crunch and herbaceous, mellow earthy flavors.
Dessert choices were: Creme fraiche panna cotta with strawberries or Peach crostata with saffron gelato. Bonus sweet treat for all? Pig shaped cookies made with pork fat. The panna cotta was sweet, delicate, and fruity. Peach with saffron gelato was creamy-good-slightly-firm fruitiness, and it was my first time trying that flavor combination. The cookies? They looked like butter or gingerbread cookies and were not too sweet. Eating them was fun and interesting. It was unexpected surprises like the pork cookies that made the Incanto Whole Beast outing a more than fitting meal for our special celebration.