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Going whole hog at Oliveto in Oakland

January 19, 2010 |  6:00 am

301 When the sky is gusting rain, it's hard to think about traveling north. But if you love pork, plan on heading up to Oakland the first week of February for this year's annual whole hog dinner at Oakland’s Oliveto restaurant. The dates are Wednesday, Feb. 3, to Saturday, Feb. 6.

Oliveto chef Paul Canales gets started early making prosciutto, sausages, terrines and pates. An e-mail from owner Bob Klein reports that they’ve just received five wild boar and have a total of some 25 whole animals arriving from farms Oliveto works with throughout the year.

The menu isn’t finalized yet, but here are some favorites from previous years that will certainly be included: pappardelle nere with pork heart and wild mushroom ragu; Piedmontese braised pork shoulder with sausages, borlotti beans, wild boar spareribs and pig skin; choucroute garni with spit-roasted pork “pastrami,” belly rib and grilled classic frankfurter.

As for new items, wrap your taste buds around these: Friulian bread and pork dumplings with pork and date sugo; carved fresh roast ham with crackling and kumquat-clove gravy; and wild boar scalloppine alla Count Pavel Stroganov with chanterelles, caramelized onions, sour cream and sage rice. But the killer dish has to be sobressada and sbriciolono: traditional Catalan spreadable spicy salame and Tuscan wild fennel salsiccia cruda (raw sausage) with lard piadina (flatbread) and wild arugula. It all sounds heartbreakingly delicious.

As you can imagine, reservations for the annual pig fest go fast, so if you want to participate, make those reservations now online at OpenTable or by calling the restaurant at (510) 547-5356.

You also might want to check out Oliveto’s inspiring Oliveto Community Journal, which features stories (and short films) about the restaurant, food issues and small farmers.

Oliveto Restaurant, 5655 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 547-5356.

-- S. Irene Virbila

Drawing by Maggie Klein