Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sucka Duckin

Also known as ducking the suckers, for all you readers in the Sucka-free City. Which is changing, rapidly.

I really love the restaurant that this dish comes from, a million things have been written about it already but I also feel compelled to add my two cents. I mean, it has to be amazing, right? An entire neighborhood was renamed after it. The Western Addition/Alamo Square/Panhandle neighborhoods now bear the name of a restaurant that takes up one street corner.

Truth be told NOPA is pretty great. Their list of wines by the glass leaves a lot to be desired, but it's nothing any one of their cocktails can't compensate for.  

Onward with the food. Nopa's menu is focused on seasonal items, from local farms. Their focus allows them to directly support sustainable food raising practices, and the local food economy. It also means they have to change their menu everyday, because when food is raised right, creating a consistent supply to meet high-volume demand is a challenge. That's right folks standardized demand is what's killing us, but with a little creativity restauranteurs can eliminate that demand for the same thing every time.  You may not be able to order this exact dish when you visit, but fear not, there are many wonderful dishes you can order at this restaurant.

Today they are serving duck-liver mousse with pickled onions, chopped boiled egg and a caper relish. I must point out that this is not foie. Foie gras is a french delicacy, made from goose and sometimes duck liver that is specially fattened by force-feeding the animal. This food is so controversial, that San Francisco banned it's sale. Critics say the feeding techniques used to fatten the liver, border animal torture. Selling it in SF carries a hefty fine, hence the need for me to distinguish that I was not served foie at Nopa; this is just regular ol' run of the mill liver from happy ducks who are not force fed to my knowledge.

Anyhow this treatment of the organ is just as delicious. On it's own, liver is mineral-forward, mushy-- like play-doh that falls apart when you bite into it-- and kind of disgusting. However, spread atop thick cut toast, with a little EVOO drizzled over it, it's quite good.  The housemade pickled onions brighten an otherwise vitamin-flavored food, with a pop of acidity that masks the vitamin after-taste and adds complexity by heightening the dishes meaty flavors. The capers bring salt and the chopped egg serves as a base for all of it come together. The toast gives the dish a more favorable texture that liver would not have otherwise. All in all it's delicious and if you catch it on the menu you should order it. Otherwise there's always that double-cut pork chop. 560 Divisadero St. at Hayes, (415) 864-8643. $$

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