"Paris Chic, Cali Cool.” That’s the tagline behind the eco-friendly clothing brand Amour Vert. Usually, the people who refer to California as “Cali" are non-natives. The term implies a certain unfamiliarity with the golden state and a desire to be more ~CaLiFoRnIaN~. Yet, the slogan is fitting. Founded out of a need for clothing that doesn't sacrifice style for sustainability, Amour Vert’s garments are created by a French designer and made within a 20 mile radius.
Until now, the Palo Alto-based brand was only available in department stores and small boutiques but Amour Vert opens its first retail store today. Nestled in the heart of Hayes Valley, at 437 Hayes, the boutique neighbors the french confectioner Chantal Guillon Macarons and clothing store Steven Alan.
If you’ve ever found yourself waiting for the 16 Express on the corner of Fell and Gough, then it’s easy to bet you’ve swiveled around on that red bench to peer through the glass wall of the charcuterie and butcher shop behind, where ruby-colored sausages, pâtés, smoked ham, bacon and meatloaf show off their curves inside a refrigerated display. Unthinkingly, you’ll have walked in.
The Hayes Valley location of the Fatted Calf Charcuterie — the store also has a Napa outpost and a weekly presence at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market — sells a plethora of coveted artisanal delights as well, like hard cheese, house-pickled beets, dried beans, and impeccable pastas. Among the sandwiches, the coffee-bourbon barbeque pulled pork sandwich contains a moist piquancy, while the toasty Croque Monseiur, dripping of Mornay sauce and overlaid with squiggles of cured ham, is worth missing the next bus for. (Grab an extra napkin — these beasts invariably fall apart in your hands and lap.)
You can’t take the entire shop with you, but luckily owners Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller just published their first cookbook, In the Charcuterie (Ten Speed Press, 2013), which reads like a whole world of meat — one I’ve become enamored with, after making the Flaky Leaf Lard Biscuits. I caught up with Boetticher before the couple left on a promotional trip, asking him about their journey in charcuterie.
"We're doing this to help give the community a choice," Ayr told me, sweeping his arm out. "Everyone should have a voice when it comes to issues of land use and green space, which is rapidly disappearing in the city. That's why we're inviting the community to meet here tonight [Tue/4 at 6:30pm, also Sat/8 at 3pm] and see what we're about. This is a land liberation concept, we're calling it Free the Land, or Liberate the Land."
Ayr was leading me around the former site of Hayes Valley Farm, the lauded public experiment in urban farming on an undulating patch that used to be a freeway entrance, which has now been cleared to make way for a 185-unit development on half the the lot (low-income housing is slated eventually for the other half).
Well, not quite cleared. Ayr was showing me around an Occupy-like scene, with an agricultural twist.