Food Porn: Chilis And Bones At Incanto

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After reading and writing about the offal exploits of Incanto Chef Chris Cosentino for so long, it was with astronomically high expectations and a dash of apprehension that I finally sat down for dinner at the famed Noe Valley restaurant. Indeed, any man who gets off on serving raw venison liver is a force to be reckoned with. On the other hand, I didn't trudge all the way up Church Street's particularly heart-breaking hill to eat pasta. With that in mind, I present chilis and bones (pictured above), by far the most delicious surprise of the night. According to our server, it's a dish usually served as part of Cosentino's annual Head to Tail Dinner. But lest you think that being a food blogger scores any special treatment, my dining companion is, as they say, "in the business." Like the name suggests, the dish consists of roughly foot-long lengths of meaty tuna spine grilled with a ton of chili, garlic, peppers, capers and mint. "The chef suggests eating them like ribs," our server said, laying down extra napkins. And so we did. We gnawed on those spicy bones like a couple of starving wild dogs.

After the jump: Pig trotters, roasted lamb neck, and more ...

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The other off-the-menu surprise was an amuse bouche crostini with hard-boiled egg, olive oil, and shaved pig's heart. Aha! I thought: here's some of that crazy Cosentino offal action I've heard so much about. It was rich and salty and crunchy and delicate and, it can't be denied, cool as hell. Pretty enough to break your heart too, ain't it? Or shave it. Whatever.

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Ah yes. Here we have the pig's trotter with foie gras, bacon and Golden Delicious apple ($14). Decadent doesn't even begin to describe this dish. Surely this is what the devil eats for dinner.

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This is the roasted lamb neck with spring vegetables and horseradish aioli ($24). Having never contemplated the size of a lamb's neck, I was shocked at the sheer girth of the thing, like a roasted football (albeit a perfectly seasoned one). I swear I heard a final, happy 'bleat' when I dug my knife into the tender meat -- wonderfully lean and texturally similar to oxtail. The sharpness of the horseradish and the crisp tang of the vegetables played expertly to cut the opulence of the lamb.

I'll eat anything that comes out of that kitchen. Yes, even raw venison liver.

-- Brian Bernbaum

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