La Cocina SF Street Food Festival 2012 and the Night Market

by foodhoe on August 2, 2012

I attended a media preview last week for the 4th Annual SF Street Festival that was held at Fort Mason.  In a couple of weeks, food enthusiasts will swarm like hungry locusts to the festival that is presented by La Cocina, without really knowing the inspiring stories of these businesses which began in someone’s home kitchen and grew to be full-blown food operations.  La Cocina is an incubator kitchen whose goal is to reduce the obstacles that can prevent entrepreneurs from creating successful and sustainable small businesses. They provide commercial kitchen space and technical assistance focusing on low-income women and immigrant entrepreneurs to launch, grow and formalize food businesses.

Click here for a useful list of vendors at the SF Street Food Festival which is on Saturday August 18 from 11-7, because there will be 80 of them spread out over 6 blocks!  This year will be the first ever Night Market at the Alemany Farmer’s Market on Friday night, August 17th from 6-9 pm.  This event is a benefit  for La Cocina.  There will be 27 vendors, each making one great thing, from all over the world. Entrance is a $25 donation, and all food and drink is priced under $10 from there.

Just a warning, this is a super long, epic post, I tried to include as many pictures of the food and people that I could…  Let’s just say that I found the street food festival to be so crowded and hard to navigate, that I think it’s a good idea to form a game plan ahead of time… Here’s a link to last year’s preview and my post about the highlights of the festival itself.  When I arrived at the Fort Mason Conference center, the first thing I saw were rows of folding tables and portable grills, griddles and fryers where chefs were busy preparing platters of food.  It smelled wonderful…

I met Mr. K, we got checked in, stuck on our respective name tags and entered the beverage station where I was drawn to the colorful display of Sweets Collection, who make the most gorgeous jello shots in the land.  And the ones being served at the event contained a splash of tequila.

photo courtesy of the sweets collection

Here is the owner Rosa Rodriguez who posed for me with her assistant.

We entered the main room which was abuzz with activity.  There were 35 vendors standing at tables all around the room, each station had an info sheet that described how that business came to be.  I loved that we were able to meet and speak with the chefs and owners while we sampled their dishes and then read their personal stories – that was special indeed!  This venue was much cozier than last year’s media preview.

At the Jarred booth, which specializes in pickled things, the Fried Pickled Green Tomato was rolled up in crushed 4505 chicharrones with buttermilk dressing, then fried in lard.  These were a delight to behold and so good that we circled back several times for more.   Click around on the photos with the Lytro logo to change the focus.

This was the belle of the ball, Clairesquares Caramel Pops.

These begin with a caramel that is dipped in batter, then rolled in crushed shortbread cookies and then deep fried.  Oh and then drizzled with raspberry sauce. The caramel in the center becomes melted and gooey and was out of this world combined with the crunchy fried batter and crushed shortbread crust.  I was so enthralled by its sticky sweet, slightly salty butteryness that I was speechless for a time, and I think my neighbor at the time, Angie from Broccoli and Chocolate was similarly mesmerized by its glossy depths.

I loved these so much that I stalked down Claire, who could be found frying and plating these delectable treats in the cookery area outside.  I read somewhere that she is investing in a commercial fryer based on the enthusiastic response to her bewitchingly delicious caramel pops.

Chef Guisell from Sabores del sur, makes the highly addictive Alfajores, however that night she was serving up her delectable Lomitas.

The Lomitas sandwiches made with slices of braised organic pork, tomato, avocado, aji chiles and mayonnaise.  She said that normally these sandwiches are overflowing with the meat, but that these were a scaled down version for this event.  Thank you chef Guisell!

Azalina’s Malaysian Chilaquiles were beautifully presented, scallion flatbread topped with spicy chicken rendang drizzled with her famous coconut jam.

Earlier, I had watched her chefs hard at work outside squeezing said coconut jam onto the treats.

such beautiful colors!

The Esquites, Corn in a Cup served with cheese and mayonnaise were one of our favorites, portable Elote from El Buen Comer.

Mini Pupusa from Estrellita’s Snacks, filled with revueltas (pork, beans and cheese) inside.  Wonderful gooey and savory filling inside of toasted corn cake with spicy fresh crunchy vegetables on top.  Very worth seeking out.

Mini Gordita with salsa roja, topped with lettuce and queso fresco from Chaac Mool.   Everything I’ve ever had from them has been delicious.  They have a booth at Dolores Park too btw.

Mini Arepas with Carnitas from Maite Catering, who focus on making the perfect, bite-sized treat for any occasion.  They can be found every two Sundays from 3-8PM! @3158 Mission St.  This little arepa was delicious, I liked it even better than the one I had last year by the famous Arepa lady

Mini Huaraches con Nopales, from El Huarache Loco.  Huarache are their signature dish, mini masa cakes stuffed with refried beans and lightly griddled, topped with cooked prickly pear cactus.

Zellas Soulful Kitchen, served Jacked Up Hushpuppies which are corn fritters made from pepper jack cheese, onions, jalapenos, fresh corn, spices fried and drizzled with a remoulade sauce.

The Mini Tamales from Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas, were filled with pork, chicken and Oaxacan cheese with chili strips topped with green and red sauces.  Alicia was so sweet and she says that all of her tamales are filled with love.  I had one with the pork filing, it melted in my mouth with rich savory flavors, so soothing and delicious.

I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Onigilly, which is how the Japanese pronounce the ubiquitous riceball. It makes me think of my old Grandma Nag (that’s short for my mother’s amily name Nagatoishi).  These are big fellas, a traditional Japanese snack made with brown rice and available with a variety of delicious fillings wrapped with toasted sheets of seaweed.

Dduk Boki: Rice Cakes in a spicy sauce with fish cakes, Korean street food at its best from To Hyang restaurant, which was featured in an episode of the Layover with Anthony Bourdain, you can see the entire episode here on You Tube.

OSHA Thai served pumpkin curry made from kabocha squash, bell pepper, bamboo shoots, sweet basil and garlic in Thai red chili curry sauce.

Lali’s Georgian savory kidney bean spread-pkhali with walnuts, cilantro, balsamic vinegar, and garlic served with Georgian mini corn bread-mchadi, looked like meatballs, but were vegan! Really interesting flavors.

Mr. K really enjoyed the Moi Moi from Chiefo’s Kitchen which specializes in West African cuisine.  The MOI – MOI are savory cakes made with steamed, pureed black eyed peas. Seasoned with tomatoes, onions, assorted peppers and a hint of crayfish. Topped with Nigerian tomato sauce, fried onions and choice of crispy corned beef, boiled egg or fried fish

photo courtesy of Chiefo’s Kitchen’s website

Hella Vegan Eats made delicious Pad Thai filled spring rolls, filled with shiitake mushrooms, tofu, carrot, peanuts and glass noodles.

Tucked into a back corner was Saint & Olive, which makes sweet and savory biscotti based on her great aunts prized family recipe.  I loved the family portrait on the table, there was such a clear family resemblance in the those proud women’s faces, especially the one standing right there in front of me!  I digress, the biscotti are wonderful, so artfully packaged and the flavors are especially intriguing: sweet potato maple bacon, Mexican hot chocolate, chocolate dipped almond toffee with sea salt, black pepper walnut, prosciutto parmesan. I kid you not, we received all of these treats in our goody bags!  The texture is sublime, tender and crunchy and a riot of fun and creative flavors, don’t miss these sweet and savory treats!


Next to her was Sal de Vida, whose products include infused finishing salts, rice mixes and spreads.  The salts she had on display were Rosemary lavendar, balsamic vinegar, cilantro, cabernet…  so many possibilities!  I got a sample of her orange salt, which I have yet to try.

The Cake Pops from La Luna Cupcakes were delicious.  The perfect size snack for when you are trying to make your way through 35 different food stands!  Handmade rich chocolate cake, blended with creamy chocolate frosting dipped in dark chocolate and topped with sprinkles and pretty things.  This is a Lytro picture, so you can click on the singer in the background.

The La Cocina Lineup!  Congratulations to all of these wonderfully talented entrepreneurs! There is going to be such a wide variety of global cuisines to sample at the SF Street Food Festival.

We all were given a very cool canvas bag filled with goodies, La Cocina really went out of their way to spoil us!  Dark chocolate coated caramels sprinkled with sea salt s from Kika’s Treats, orange infused salt from Sal de Vida, some cocoa nib brownie truffles from NeoCocoa, kettle corn from Endless Summer, interesting Nigerian ChinChin snacks from Chiefos Kitchen and lovely lovely biscotti care package from Saint & Olive with beautiful hand lettered(!) labels.


Night Market at the Alemany Farmer’s Market on Friday night, August 17th from 6-9 pm.
27 vendors, entrance is a $25 donation, and all food and drink is priced under $10 from there benefit for La Cocina

SF Street Festival Saturday August 18 from 11-7.  Click here for a useful list of vendors, there will be 80 of them spread out over 6 blocks on Folsom

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa August 2, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Gorgeous food! That pupusa looks ever so scrumptious.




Ben @Focus:Snap:Eat August 3, 2012 at 9:45 am

That’s sooo much food! Now I feel like I don’t have to go to the street festival after seeing your tour! LOL. That shot of the caramel pops looked beautiful despite the reality that they’re are deep-fried! Ha! I think you should blow it up and frame it. I’m also glad to see that this year’s street fest will include smaller restaurants like To Hyang!


foodhoe August 5, 2012 at 10:35 am

The festival is so fun and so chaotic. This was such an awesome way to sample all of the foods. I might go to the festival just go have one of those Caramel Pops since you can’t get them anywhere else…


Ben @Focus:Snap:Eat August 6, 2012 at 10:03 am

Right, like I’m going to go eat a deep-fried caramel pop! ;-P


Sandy @ tinytinyfork August 3, 2012 at 11:09 am

Color me jealous!!! It’s friday and I could sure use one of those jello shots!


melissa August 4, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Everything looked delicious!


Kristen August 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Despite the fact that I was death con level a billion and couldn’t taste anything, I loved those caramel pops and jello shots.


Passionate Eater August 6, 2012 at 11:28 pm

What an amazing array of gorgeous food! It is an epic post, indeed! I really can’t get those jello shots out of my mind, they are too beautiful to eat! I agree with Ben, your pictures and descriptions are so satisfying, there is no need to attend the festival!


grace August 10, 2012 at 1:54 am

yet again, i bemoan the fact that i live in the boonies with no access to events like this. sigh. thanks for the imagery. 🙂


Gretchen August 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm

We were excited to see your light field pictures. Food is a popular subject matter, and we’ve added some of your pictures to a special foodie collection Creative mode is a great option for getting macro shots. A few of my colleagues will be at the festival this weekend. We look forward to seeing your pictures.


foodhoe August 18, 2012 at 10:10 am

Hi gretchen, thanks for visiting! I love the camera but have such unreliable results… I know it’s operator error, but sometimes its just amazing. I’ll be looking for fellow Lytro users,’I have yet to see one in the wild


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