Charcuterie is done so well by so many chefs these days that it actually takes something special to make yet another platter of thinly sliced cured meats stand out. But Trou Normand—the second restaurant and bar from the Bar Agricole folks located in a stunning art deco building—is serving up charcuterie worth raving about. A little bowl of aspic, glistening white ribbons of lardo, creamy, pistachio-studded mortadella—but more than anything the coppa. That coppa! Chef Salvatore Cracco makes it in a way so that it's softer than most of the coppa I've had. Scented with anise and streaked with fat, it was by far the favorite. —S.D.
I've been under the weather all week, so have been eating even more ice cream than I normally do, which is something of a dubious achievement. But even if I weren't sick, I'd still gorge on the magnificence churned out by Bootleg Creamery and Cremeux ex Machina. The former was launched a couple of months ago by Jessica Rollison, who makes her pints in a commercial kitchen in Berkeley. She doesn't have a storefront, so you order pints via her weekly newsletter, which directs you to her website. You can either pick them up at her kitchen or once a week she'll deliver them for a fee. I got roasted pistachio and vanilla bourbon, and both were steadfastly amazing, definitely some of the best ice cream I've eaten not only here but anywhere. Rollison's roasted pistachio is its Platonic ideal, thanks to its rich, nutty, almost savory flavor and reassuringly natural olive-drab hue. Her vanilla bourbon is likewise exceptional—the bourbon is present but not overpowering, and doesn't drown out the distinct but delicate flavor of the vanilla beans that speckle the ice cream. And texture-wise, both flavors are as creamy as it gets. Cremeux ex Machina, meanwhile, is based on a dairy farm in Petaluma—yep, they get their milk almost straight from the udder. Currently, you can only buy it at the Ferry Building farmers market on Saturdays or at a couple of gourmet shops—I got my pint of giandua (basically a turbo-charged, Italian version of Nutella) at Little Vine. Technically, Cremeux makes gelato (or "California-style gelato," in their parlance), not ice cream, but really, all I care about is its quality, which is considerable: it's luscious, full-bodied, and harbors a generous cargo of hazelnut bits. If anything can make lying around with a head cold desirable (aside from Scandal binge-watching), it's the combined talents of these two companies. —R.F.M.
Hummus isn't usually something to write home about. Until now, I'm not sure I really have ever given a lick about it. But the house-made hummus at Dolores Park Cafe has been life changing. It's so creamy, so perfect. Order their hummus platter and it comes with a plate slathered in hummus topped with a little peperoncini, tomato slices, olives, cucumber and a drizzle of olive oil (plus a basket of warm pita). I crave it to the point of doing rash things, like parking illegally on one of those crazy warm Dolores Park days when the crowds are thick and parking is only a pipe dream, making my son sit outside on watch to make sure we don't get a ticket. —S.D.
Palo Alto just got their ownPizzeria Delfina. Lucky them. I stopped by for one of the test lunches last Friday and while the pizza was the usual (i.e. delicious), it was the escarole salad with avocado that really stuck with me. There's also a sprawling, lovely patio and sitting out there on a warm afternoon with a glass of wine is almost enough of a draw to get in the car and take a drive from SF. Bonus: Their gelato tastes better in Palo Alto's perfect weather. —S.D.
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