I received an invitation to an alfresco luncheon of wood-fired pizza and roasted pig face, to be served in a beautiful lakeside setting just a 35 minute drive from San Francisco. I first focused on the words roasted pig face and then the words blogger discount caught my eye. I signed up to attend at a discounted price, but $49 for a four course meal with beer and wine pairings – which ended up being an epic 4 hour feast, is really quite a deal! I got totally lost on the way to Fairfield, taking a long scenic route past Stockton, arriving flustered and a bit late.
I had called to let the host Steve (aka Don Stefano) know that I was going to be late, so although I missed the cocktails and mingling he and his lovely wife Bubbs set me up and we got straight to business. Steve began his career as a winemaker and is a self-trained cook drawing inspiration from chefs and winemakers he’s visited around the world who’ve been generous enough to share their creations with him. He shares his experience through Feastly, a website that connects aspiring chefs with enthusiastic eaters who can enjoy well prepared meals served in the chef’s home. It is a form of social media that gets people off their computers and engaged with people around a cozy table, where attendees can delight in the experience of dining with total strangers. There were a couple of other blogger friends (Christina from East Bay Dish, Brenda who writes Bites and Bourbon and her husband Pat), so I knew half the table already! The other attendees were food enthusiasts, we all had a shared love of good food and wine and I was soon toasting and enjoying the meal. So there’s my spot at the table, catching up by enjoying my three courses and beverages concurrently…
Here’s the first course, a mound of gooey rich burrata cheese which melts like butter when you pop it in your mouth, leaving a rich dairy essence on your tongue. It was served with sweet, juicy slices of tomato fresh from the garden, topped with olive oil, fresh basil and sparkling with salt, a simple yet heady combination. I enjoyed the glass of Vinho Verde, from northern Portugal that was slightly effervescent.
Then a plate of Charcuterie, an assortment of salumi, that included ethereal translucent slices of prosciutto, salami, mortadella, coppa and smoked pheasant, all either house made or sourced from local artisanal producers. This was served with a glass of Soave, made from Garganega grapes and grown in the Veneto region of Italy.
The next course was the dramatic Roasted Pig’s Face with BBQ Sauce. I arrived a bit late and missed the unveiling of the pig’s head in all of its porcine glory, and so I lifted this most excellent photo from Brenda’s post about the feast that you can read about here.
I had the pleasure of dining on a whole pig feast at Incanto, but I don’t recall ever sampling the succulent meat of the face. This dish was inspired by Jonathon Sawyer, chef/owner of the Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland which is dedicated to zero-waste cooking. I was amazed at the lovely succulent texture of every bite. Brenda was especially good at digging up delectable morsels lined with veins of fat, note to self, sit by this woman if you can.
Surrounding the plate of pork were toasted buttery brioche buns that we slathered with the sweet, smokey, savory BBQ sauce and piled up with mounds of the tender pork. The creamy and flavorful coleslaw was a brightly flavored accompaniment, served slightly warmed and made from an old family recipe.
Christina poured me a cup of Moose Drool brown ale, which was perfect to wash down the luscious rich pork.
We took a moment to walk around the delightful lakeside setting, behind me was a burbling fountain amidst pots of fragrant herbs and the lake stretched out in all directions.
Around the corner we wandered around in the lush garden
Someone pointed out that there were tiny little frogs hopping around, I guess they come in from the nearby lake! They were adorable, barely an inch or so of cute chubby frog.
We gathered back at the table where Steve had been stoking the flames of his custom made wood fired brick oven.
Here he is, the intrepid pizza warrior. He is a self-proclaimed fanatic about making the perfect thin crust, bubbly and with slightly charred edges. He has been hard at work perfecting his recipe and we got to taste two of the consensus favorites: Tarte Flambée and his special Pizza Don Stefano.
We loved the Tart Flambée, made with Bacon, onions, and melted gruyere on a rich base of fromage blanc. It was so flavorful, the onions were charred and caramelized and the flavors melded together creating a magical taste sensation. The exceptional crust was lightly crunchy, crisp, chewy and the bread to cheesy topping ratio was just right. It was served with an Alsatian Pinot Gris.
Steve offered one lucky participant the opportunity to make the next pizza! Here is Christina, ready to tackle throwing a pizza pie.
She was patiently guided through stretching the dough out, which is cold-fermented and takes 3 days to prepare.
Once the dough was stretched out properly, she spread a thin layer of tomato sauce then sprinkled fresh Mozarella and Fontina cheeses, fennel sausage, and Jimmy Nardello peppers fresh from their garden.
After removing from the inferno-oven, it is finished with dried red pepper flakes and a few leaves of arugula. It was a deeply satisfying pizza served with an Aglianico from Campania, which was dark red, soft and velvety, very drinkable.
I was pretty well stuffed, but managed a few bites of the Blueberry galette served by a scoop of meyer lemon ice cream, and accompanied by a glass of refreshing housemade limoncello, which is made with vodka and packs a hidden wallop.
Steve and Bubs were such gracious hosts. They welcomed us into their home, served an amazing feast and even sent us home with tomatoes from their garden. Oh and don’t forget, Don Stefano has another roast pig face and pizza feast scheduled for later this month…
My trip home was a straightforward hop onto 680 and it was a much shorter drive without the detours. I highly recommend checking out Feastly, there are a bunch of delicious sounding meals coming up in the SF/Bay Area, and they are expanding out hopefully in an area near you. Their tag line: Authentic food in local homes. It’s like dining out, but better.