The other night I was invited by my friend Yaella to join her for round three of my birthday celebrations at an event sponsored by Meatpaper magazine. The main draw for me was an opportunity to enjoy a growing trend of the whole-animal movement. Creative chefs find ways to utilize the entire animal in their cuisine, saving waste and pushing the limits of their skills. Pork was to be butchered and served. I was excited as there simply is no better animal to dissect and consume as a whole. Upon arriving we were greeted and told there was liquor in the front, meat in the back. We queued up for some fancy cocktails that went down way too easily. I immediately noticed that there were way way too many people for my liking. When it comes to food events you've got to have a lot of passed nibbles or I'll start to get surly. It seemed like everybody was well on their way to being surly.
There were buffet tables set up that had scant traces of pork, by means of Fatted Calf terrine, which was rustic and earthy - they never disappoint. Further down the table there was a curious vegetarian offering of potato salad next to a snap pea and asparagus salad. They were tasty and plentiful, but not why anyone had come. Lastly there were unidentified slices of Perbaco salumi of various hues and a bacon marshmallow that Yaella and I agreed would be best served on top of a sweet potato or root vegetable soup. I kept thinking to myself, if this is all we're eating the natives will get restless.
Camino has a kicking kitchen. I've yet to eat off their regular menu, but I suspect I'll return just to witness their use of the screaming fire pit. Apparently there was some butchering at one point in the evening. That would have been nice to see. Now, there was only a sea of people jostling, reaching and scavenging. It wasn't pretty. At one point I saw a tray of five corn dogs sneak over the counter and a fight nearly broke out. A massive guy lunged over a spritely hippy chick as she slid the last dog from the tray and darted into the crowd. He looked like he was going to hit her.
This went on for another hour or so until I gave up hope that we would eat at all. I did manage to try some of the pork loin crostini (I think) and some lard-laced cookies. One benefit of everyone hovering at the kitchen was that the bar remained relatively empty. I got shitfaced.
Ultimately we toughed it out and enjoy some solid East-Bay people. But in the end we were still hungry so we slogged across the bridge and ended the night at Beretta!