Casing the Joint
Patrons of the Saturday farmers market at Ferry Plaza may have noticed that the Gingrass Charcuterie stall has been replaced by Gingrass Family Sausages. The Gingrasses are selling the same items, according to David Gingrass of Hawthorne Lane, but under a new name meant to be more "user-friendly."
What the Gingrasses sell is a variety of unusual sausages, such as cheese and sun-dried tomato, as well as duck with dried fruit. All the sausages are made at his restaurant, and they're used there, too. The lunch menu sometimes features a plate of three kinds of sausages in sheep casings; the restaurant also offers a lamb-sausage pizza. Tipplers at the bar can enjoy little bowls of housemade pepperoni, which David Gingrass makes entirely from dry-cured pork. "I don't even know that there is such a thing as traditional pepperoni," he says in reply to Dish's question. "In America, pepperoni basically means spicy sausage."
The Gingrass sausages are all precooked. Poaching, David says, makes it easier to grill or fry them without having the casings burst, as often happens with fresh sausages cooked through in a pan or on a grill. "The casings are likely to shrink [in those situations]," he says, "and then they rupture."
Gingrass, who revealed some of his trade secrets in the magazine Fine Cooking (February/March 1995), has been making sausages "for a long time," but he doesn't do it for the money. Business at the Ferry Plaza stall is "steady," he says. "We're not losing money, but we're not making it, either. I just enjoy being connected to farmers markets" -- where people serious about food can be found early on Saturday mornings. Gingrass is one of them -- sausages and all.
A Cybermenu Venue
Webmeister Kerry Tracy has an interesting idea -- a Web guide to restaurants, including menus and prices, in select-ed U.S. cities. (San Francisco is one of them.) The actual Web site (http://www.kerrymenu.com), alas, is a disappointment. Listings are skimpy, and seem to be aimed mainly at the out-of-towner with a fat expense account. Surely S.F.'s Flying Saucer can't be the only "eclectic" restaurant in the city. Dish demands a recount.
On the other hand, it can be amusing -- and maybe even useful -- to browse through menus. You can get a fairly good sense of what a place is going to cost, for instance, without having to make that embarrassing telephone inquiry about price ranges. But a service of this kind must be updated frequently, and even then, it's unlikely to give useful information about daily specials. There's still no substitute for phoning before you go, or checking a place out firsthand.