Dear Friends of Flatiron,
It’s my great honor to be asked to take over writing Flatiron’s most exciting weekly column “What to Drink This Weekend”. You see, my wife and I just moved here and, though I’ve worked for Flatiron Wines in NYC for years, my new San Fran community of coworkers and customers are introducing me to a ton of Bay Area delights. Just last week I was munching on salumi with a butcher friend from The Fatted Calf, learning about how they make their goods in small batches by hand while drinking a great bottle of Cab Franc from Smith Story. Everyday I seem to meet someone new or discover some amazing place that revolutionizes my preconceived notions of just how good you all have it out here on the West Coast.
Right now it’s all about apples. Growing up in New York I’m familiar with a pretty broad spectrum of Malus pumila and have tasted my fair share of ciders. But aside from the occasional stellar pie, I wasn’t all that crazy about the fruit or the beverage for that matter. But the other day, while at my other job which brings me in close contact with the freshest-of-the-fresh farm direct fruit, I bit into a particularly vinous Arkansas Black apple from Oz Farm. I was struck by how adult the flavors were. This wasn’t some candy-sweet creation from the labs of a Franken-farmer. This was a serious piece of heirloom fruit that had been on the tree just hours before. The beginnings of a weekend meal started to materialize in my brain.
After sharing my pomme-piphany with a fellow Flatiron staffer they recommended I snag a bottle of “Trois Pepin” from Cidrerie du Vulcain. Bam! Another misconception shattered. Cider can be serious! Apples, pears and quinces are fermented dry by Jacques Perritaz in Fribourg Switzerland and blended together to make one of the best non-wine bubblies money can buy. The flavors dance between floral, fruit and mineral with a mousse that somehow conveys texture of a firm apple. Grainy, yet crunchy, with a ethereal honeyed note cut by pleasingly sharp orchard fruit acidity. What a way to start a meal!
Fruit is great, but I’m really all about the meat. Our first meal in SF was at Zuni Cafe and that Roast Chicken with Bread Salad was the stuff of dreams for me for more than a month. But when the weather starts to cool off, as it has been, my tastes start to crave something richer, fattier, more porcine. While foraging for provisions I discovered perfectly prepped and pre-vac-packed whole pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon and topped with sage at Bi-Rite Divisadero. This was going to be spot on with the bottle of G.B Burlotto Verduno Pelaverga that Flori, our Italian wine expert, recommended earlier. The wine is a riot of violets, roses, strawberries, wild herbs and freshly rained on gravel. Just the thing to cut through the fat and lift the sweetness of the meat. I plan on pan searing it and finishing it in the oven and serving it alongside some roasted apples and fennel.
As I settle into my new home in this wonderful city I can’t help but feel how truly fortunate I am to be here. Despite all that’s going on in the world, I feel like I’ve landed in a place where everyone encourages each other to live their best. Right now, my homage to that triumph that is San Francisco is this dish and these wines I’ve shared with you in words today. I look forward to sharing more with you as well as learning and discovering all the special things that make this place great. I’ll be sure to let you know how this weekend’s pairing turns out and look forward to hearing from you what inspires you right now in this great city of ours!