A16: Food + Wine
Photo credit: Ed Anderson © 2008.
From the Introduction of A16
Entering through the narrow storefront of A16, a bustling restaurant on Chestnut Street in San Francisco’s Marina district, can be simultaneously welcoming and daunting. The place vibrates with energy as black-clad servers weave their way through the dining room, mirroring the traffic pattern of the restaurant’s namesake, the Italian motorway that runs from Naples to Canosa, Puglia. A crush of eager diners waiting for a table, glasses of wine in hand, are teased by the smoky aromas emanating from the dual wood-fired ovens in the kitchen. Despite the hum of activity, the restaurant has a relaxed, welcoming glow about it--an extension of the generous, no-fuss food-and-wine ethos of southern Italy...
The road to A16 began, appropriately, over dinner. Out to eat at the same restaurant, Shelley Lindgren struck up a conversation with Victoria Libin about Italian food and wine. At the time, Shelley and her husband, Greg, both San Francisco restaurant-industry veterans, had drafted plans for an Italian wine bar that served pizza. Meanwhile, Victoria, a lawyer with a deep appreciation for Italian food and culture, wanted to bring the incomparable thin-crust pizza she had enjoyed in Naples to San Francisco. Shelley and Greg began to meet regularly with Victoria and her husband, Paul, to enjoy home-cooked meals complemented by Italian wines and to develop a business plan. A chance encounter in an online forum discussing Neapolitan pizza brought the two couples in contact with Christophe Hille, a French-trained chef with a passion for Neapolitan-style pizza. Soon the newly formed team began developing the concept that would eventually become A16...
While the menu concept expanded beyond just pizza, the wine list took on a life of its own. Grounded in French wines from her years working at Hubert Keller’s Fleur de Lys in San Francisco, Shelley began exploring southern Italian wines with a blank slate and few expectations. As she tasted these unfamiliar wines, she found them to be delightful and intriguing, so much so that she decided to craft her wine list around the unheralded regions of southern Italy.
With the wines chosen and a menu in place, A16 opened its doors in February 2004. Four years later, the journey is far from complete. Nate, who became the executive chef in 2006, refines the menu daily, working closely with chef de cuisine Liza Shaw to broaden the southern Italian repertoire. Shelley continues to be an ambassador for the wines of the south, sourcing little-known producers that deserve attention, and sharing her passion and knowledge with our servers, sommeliers, cooks, and guests. The restaurant evolves as new inspiration strikes, whether from travel, an interaction with a purveyor, or just the changing seasons. But a devotion to the foodways of southern Italy--honest country cooking, wines of character and place--remains our focus as we move forward.
The wine and food of southern Italy have developed alongside each other, creating a singular bond. We honor that connection in the restaurant, with a wine list that draws heavily from southern Italy, and we have done so as well in this book. In part one, Shelley explores the exciting developments taking place in the vineyards of southern Italy. She discusses the history, key producers, and grape varieties of each region, and offers food pairings that correspond to Nate’s recipes, which follow in part two. There is no better way to become familiar with the fascinating Sicilian grape Nerello Mascalese than to make a meal that complements it (in this case, the tubular pasta paccheri tossed with a bracing combination of sardines, capers, and olives). And for anyone already enchanted by Aglianico from Taurasi, Nate presents two beguilingly rustic dishes—lamb crespelle with ricotta and braised pork shoulder with chestnuts--to serve with that powerful wine. The best part of pairing Italian wine with Italian food, however, is that most Italian wines are made to be drunk with food. That means it is hard to make a mistake. Just explore, cook, and taste. And most of all, have fun.
Excerpted from A16: Food + Wine by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren, copyright © 2008. Published by Ten Speed Press. Photo credit: Ed Anderson © 2008.
About Nate ApplemanNate Appleman is executive chef of A16 and SPQR, both in San Francisco, California. In 2007, he was named a rising star chef by the San Francisco Chronicle, and in 2007 and 2008 he was nominated for a James Beard Award.
About Shelley LindgrenShelley Lindgren, wine director of A16 and SPQR, was named Best Wine Director by San Francisco magazine, as well as one of the top ten sommeliers in the country. She is a wine educator at the CIA and at Tante Marie’s Cooking School.
Pork Loin Spiedino with Pine Nut, Garlic, and Currant Soffritto
A spiedo is a kitchen spit over an open fire that is most often used for cooking whole animals, particularly chicken. Spiedino--literally “little spit”--refers to food cooked on skewers, which is how we like to prepare pork loin. Grilled briefly over a smoky fire, the meat takes on an addictive char that counterbalances the sweet, mellow soffritto of pine nuts, garlic, and currants.
pair with Magliocco (Calabria)
2 pounds boneless pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
About 1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup dried currants
3/4cup pine nuts
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup garlic cloves, minced
3 ounces arugula
In a bowl, toss the pork with the salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least overnight or up to 3 days.
To make the soffritto, soak the currants in just enough warm water to cover for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the pine nuts and 1/2 cup of the olive oil to a small, heavy pot and place over low heat. Gradually bring to a low simmer, stirring frequently, and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the pine nuts have started to brown. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook on low heat for about 8 minutes, or until the garlic is a light golden brown. Watch the soffritto carefully; the pine nuts and garlic will burn easily. Drain the currants, add them to the pot, and then remove the pot from the heat. Let the soffritto cool to room temperature. It will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
About 30 minutes before cooking, remove the pork from the refrigerator. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water to cover to prevent them from scorching. Prepare a hot fire in a grill, stacking the coals to one side so you have two areas of heat, one with direct heat and one with indirect heat.
Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over the pork and toss to coat evenly. Drain the skewers, and thread about 5 pieces of pork onto each skewer.
Place the skewers over the coals and grill for about 1 minute on each side, or until well seared. Move the skewers to the cooler side of the grill and continue to cook over indirect heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until cooked medium-well but still juicy.
Arrange a bed of arugula on a platter. Place the pork skewers on top. Drizzle some of the soffritto over the top of the pork and the arugula. Pass the remaining sauce at the table. Serve immediately.
Reprinted with permission from A16: Food + Wine by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren, copyright © 2008. Published by Ten Speed Press. Photo credit: Ed Anderson © 2008.
For a detailed description & pricing info click here.
At San Francisco's acclaimed A16 restaurant (named for the highway that cuts across southern Italy), diners pack the house for chef Nate Appleman's house-cured salumi, textbook Naples-style pizzas, and gutsy slow-cooked meat dishes. Wine director Shelley Lindgren is renowned in the business for her expeditionary commitment to handcrafted southern more...