I've often heard about, but never made it to, the famous parking lot events held in the small parking lot of a Berkeley food triumvirate: Cafe Fanny, Acme Bread, and Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. The most well known of these events is the Oyster Bliss celebration that takes place in the Spring. This past April marked the 16th Annual Oyster Bliss event. Other annual parking lot events are Provence Day and Beaujolais Nouveau Day.
At Cafe Fanny the other day, I noticed a sign announcing a new event -- one featuring the salumi of Paul Bertolli's Fra' Mani. From the sign, and in Bertolli's words,
"I've been waiting for just the right opportunity to celebrate Fra' Mani in the local community where it was born just a little over a year ago. As luck would have it, we found our home a stone's throw away from our friends at Kermit Lynch, where I never fail to find the right wine match for my salumi. I am proud to share the work of our first year with our neighbors and friends in what has become Berkeley's only center for seasonal outdoor Bacchanalia -- Kermit's front yard."
Marc of Mental Masala and The Ethicurean accompanied me to the salami-fest on Saturday. "I know the last thing you probably want to do is go to a sausage-based event," I wrote to him last week when I invited him. Marc's a vegetarian. But he gamely came along and noshed on Acme bread, Fiscalini San Joaquin Gold cheese, and some pistachios as I dug into my plate of pork.
The menu featured two choices: Fra' Mani Grilled Classic Italian Sausage with Cannelini Beans ($12), and a Grand Salumi Platter with 7 different types of charcuterie from the Fra' Mani kitchen ($16). I chose the Salumi platter and was served dry chorizo, salametto, salame toscano, soppressata, salame gentile, mortadella, and salame rosa. This choice was an obvious one as it gave me a chance to taste all of the salumi side-by-side as well as allowing me to taste two new products from Fra' Mani -- the mortadella and the salame rosa. The salame rosa was wonderful and studded with pistachios that added to the flavor profile. And I can't wait to get my hands on some of the mortadella - it's going to be fabulous in sandwiches.
The event also featured wines from Kermit Lynch chosen specifically to go with the Fra' Mani products which were all reasonably priced at between $5 and $8. Before leaving, we tasted a sublime lemon pistachio cake and a good salted chocolate cookie from the Cafe Fanny table.
All in all, a fantastic event.