Eastside Road, October 17, 2015—ON MORE THANone occasion Franco Dunn's name has figured in posts here. He's the man who makes the sausages we have so often. I don't know if he's a citizen of Healdsburg, the town seven miles distant that we think of as our town (we live in the country), or of Geyserville, eight or ten years further north, a much smaller town, where coincidentally one of my grandfathers was born, in 1882. I think Franco makes his sausage in Geyserville, but we see him Saturday mornings at the Healdsburg farm market.
Franco studied his craft in Italy, but his view goes beyond Italy — he speaks knowledgeably of the charcuterie of many countries. And he doesn't restrict himself to sausages: we buy and greatly appreciate his pancetta; I think I've had his lardo; and I could happily dine on his rillettes every week.
My Grande Dictionnaire Encylopédique Larousse tells me that rillettes is a dialect word from the west of France, from the old French rille, "longue bande de lard" — a long strip of bacon: perhaps rille is French for "rasher." But rillettes have little to do with bacon: it is, GDEL goes on to say, a preparation made by the long cooking, in their own fat or in that of pork, of bits of meat cut from pork, rabbit, goose, or chicken, which is then covered with a protective layer of lard.
The last time we dined on Franco's rillettes — again, as tonight, spread on toast — Cook mused that perhaps it was the inspiration of deviled ham. I recall deviled ham rather fondly from occasional meetings with it when I was a boy. Underwood's deviled ham, I think it was; it came in small round flat cans, which were I think wrapped in paper. I thought it was quite special; I associated it vaguely with cosmopolitan sophistication, probably because I was dimly aware that it was typically involved with canapés. I have no idea where that impression came from.
Franco's rillettes are better than any canned deviled ham. They have that marvelous shaggy texture; they're spicy and pointed and rich. As you see we had Middleton Gardens's lima beans with them — this was Saturday, after all, market day — and Green Zebra tomatoes, which Cook salts perfectly; and Preston of Dry Creek's strawberries for dessert. I do love Saturday.
Garnacha/Monastrell, Laya (Almansa), Old Vines, 2013☛Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants