Atelier Crenn opens today in San Francisco, the new project from former Luce chef Dominique Crenn located in the Marina. The place will exhibit the usual farm-to-market ethos, but kicked up a notch. The chef has forged an alliance with Scrivner Hoppe-Glosser, who, with his dad, owns an ancient property 20 miles north of Sacramento called Gouge Eye Farm, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle. The farm features a smokehouse built in 1860. One of the farmers will be Long Island’s own Jon Price.
Sixty percent of what Atelier Crenn serves will be sourced at the farm, and a look at the current seasonal menu on the restaurant’s website reveals lamb neck, pigeon, maitake mushrooms, burdock root, wild sorrel, quince, and other fetishes of the modern locally sourced and sustained menu. But Gouge Eye is much more ambitious. Future bills of fare will include things like cattails, squab, wild crayfish, and, yes, peacock.
On the farm, peacocks behave rather hilariously, note North Dakota farmers Karen and George Saxowsky, who raise 50 of the avians at a time, and have been doing so since 1993. They keep peacocks not for eating, but because they enjoy having them around. According to a story in The Bismarck Tribune, “Inexplicably, they’re drawn to fire, and a fall bonfire out in the yard is accompanied by peacocks, cozying up and clucking around the scene.” The birds are also said to be extremely dumb, and often fly into trees, dazing themselves.
This naturally engenders the question: What do peacocks taste like? Apparently, the meat is very dark, and not very fatty (though farm-raised specimens are sure to be greasier). Though a peacock looks like a large bird, the dressed weight is below five pounds, since the bird is nearly all feathers. According to Peter Lund Simmonds, who wrote The Curiosities of Food (1859), “As far as my experience goes, with all the basting and sauces, the peacock is, at best, a dry and tough eating bird.”
He also goes on to give a recipe taken, he says, from an ancient source, and we recommend it to Dominique Crenn:
“Take and flay off the skin with the feathers, tail, and the neck and head thereon then take the skin and all the feathres and lay in on the table abroad, and strew thereon ground cumin then take the peacock and roast him, and baste him with the raw yolks of eggs; and when he is roasted, take him off and let him cool awhile, then take him and sew him in his skin, and gild his comb, and so serve him forth with the last course.”
Thanks to Fork in the Road’s San Francisco correspondent Tracy Van Dyk (@tracyjane) for the link.