Archived in 2022

Originally posted on 09 Sep 2007

In May some of us attended Incanto’s Head to Tail Dinner. While we were there we learned of Incanto’s Whole Beast Feast. This special meal requires renting out Incanto’s private Dante Room. During the course of the meal one would be served:

  • A mixed antipasto plate, served family style
  • A choice of either soup or salad, or two salads (in truth I did not see a 2nd salad from which to choose)
  • Whole beast (either pig, lamb or goat), plus sides, carved tableside and shared family style (guess which we picked)
  • Choice of dessert

That’s right. An entire critter cooked and served to you and about 15 of your friends. Well, it’s Incanto so this is sort of thing is to be expected. What’s also expected is that the food and wine will be well worth the price of admission. The Albertellis and I knew we had to do this so we took the leap and reserved the Dante Room for the evening of Saturday, September 8th. I then found ten other people to join us for the meal. More after the jump…

First of all, I’d like to point out that the lovely photo above is courtesy of Guy. He photo-documented the entire meal and has

posted his gallery for all to see. Please click through and have a look. His photos say so much more than I can and they do so more eloquently.

The entire meal, from start to finish, was lovely. The company was beyond charming. The wine, thanks to Bedig’s careful selection, was exquisite. The pig was incomparable. Those pig ears were fantastic. (Could I use more superlatives?) Even the pig’s brain was tasty (if a bit iron-y for my tastes). Non-pig food? Also very good, its sole flaw being that it was not pig. The other few flaws in the evening:

  • One of the guests was allergic to garlic (Don’t make that face. He’s a real good guy and he can’t help it if he’s allergic) and unfortunately the pre-arranged meal for him did not materialize as expected. I spoke with the manager and his needs were accommodated quickly and efficiently. Alas, his day ended up a bit heavy on tomatoes, but how was Incanto to know that he’d had tomatoes for lunch? He was an exceedingly good sport about the entire thing, as I’d imagine one must learn to be with such an allergy else suffer the annoyed stares of all around you. He and I didn’t discuss it afterwards (a failure on my part, for which I publicly apologize now) but I very much hope he wasn’t too inconvenienced by the entire thing.
  • Dessert panzanella with stone fruit and cream? Would be much much better if the role of bread were instead played by pound cake or similar. However the subtlety of the bread was still quite good when playing along with the fruit and cream. Just because there is room for improvement does not mean it was not tasty. On the contrary, it very much was. Unfortunately it arrived after antipasto, soup/salad, sides, pig pig pig pig pig and dessert so we weren’t much up for eating this.
  • Last and most disappointingly: with little or no notice, four of the guests did not show up. In the spirit if full disclosure I should said that I was livid over this for most of the meal but, I think, made a good show of hiding this fact so as not to ruin the meal for the ones who did arrive. I was even more upset when the check came. Yes, I ended up paying about 30% of the tab thanks to the no-shows. This was annoying enough but what disturbed me more is that even with my contribution the other guests still ended up bearing part of the considerable financial burden. More than they had expected. This, IMHO, is unacceptable. Officially I was only organizing the event, not hosting it, yet I was appalled that any guests should have been inconvenienced by the rudeness of others in such a way and feel no small amount of responsibility for it. After all, I was the one who had invited these people.

The attendance issue aside, I was entirely pleased with the event itself. The food was, unsurprisingly, fantastic. The staff at Incanto is courteous and very skilled, regardless of the position held (Deborah (sp), the manager, called me today to check up on how things went last night and to apologize for the “no-garlic” mix up, bless her heart). It was a wonderful event and I’m very glad that we took the opportunity to try it. If you have the time and friends to do so I highly suggest giving this a whirl (try the goat; Chef Cosentino says it’s the least popular!). Many thanks are due to the staff of Incanto for all their work to make the evening the success it was.