I love going to the La Cocina Media Preview for the San Francisco Street Food Festival which is happening this Saturday, August 16th. This time, it was held at Pier 70, a historic pier in Potrero Point, way out on the other side of the city from the usual Fort Mason. We pulled up to a magnificently decrepit warehouse with busted out windows and declared it a very cool spot. La Cocina is a non-profit incubator kitchen that works with low-income and immigrant entrepreneurs to cultivate their own food businesses. This is an epic long post with lots of photos of the food we previewed, just a warning…
The interior was strung with lights which lent it a magical and festive air, there was the sound of music in the background and the excited buzz of people gathered for food, fun and libations. It’s the last year for the San Francisco Street Food Festival, (which CNN lists as one of the world’s best food festivals) to take place in the Mission District this Saturday August 16th from 11 a.m until 7p.m. It will sprawl down Folsom St. from 20th to 26th, 21st and 25th from Treat St. to Shotwell St. The Mission venue started as a one block affair and has outgrown the already crowded urban location, someone suggested that perhaps Pier 70 will be its new home, it seems huge enough!
The SF Streetfood Festival is a celebration of entrepreneurship and passionate local producers and restaurants all gathered into 6 blocks of 91 vendors. They expect over 80,000 hungry visitors! Check out the iPhone app for a handy guide to the 2014 vendors, their menus, maps, and inside access to festival games and contests. It’s a really indispensable tool to be able to look up specific vendor’s menus and the intersections where they can be found!
The festival begins on Friday August 15th from 6-10 pm with a Family Meal where you can enjoy unlimited iterations of fried chicken (there will also be BBQ as well as vegetarian options) and an open bar* (cocktails AND craft beer), dessert, live music and games. This is a benefit for La Cocina and you can buy your tickets online here, and check out their awesome Rowdy Raffle. Sunday the 17th is the La Cocina Food & Entrepreneurship Conference, a Thoughtluck discussing the future of food systems, alongside food entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, city officials, culinary experts, and community organizations from all over the world. Alongside thoughtful dialog and hands on workshops, there will be an Food+Art Expo, and more food.
Onto the preview… The bar area was aglow in afternoon light where the fine folks from Rye on the Road a premiere cocktail catring company and Calicraft Brewing Company were dispensing attitude adjusting beverages. I was pleased to run into some friends Brenda who pens the effervescent Bites & Bourbon site, and Ben from Focus:Snap:Eat (read their posts by clicking on the respective links).
Zac Taylor, Orchestrator of Happiness, from the Calicraft Brewing Company was serving Chez Panisse Farmhouse Ale, a refreshing, fruity, spicy ale and another called The City.
The first table I stopped at was 4505 Meats serving their famous chicharrones with pimento cheese and jalapeño. The cracklings are part of their swine so fine product line, and are the stuff of dreams: ethereal and lacy crisps perfectly seasoned and splendid with the rich savory cheese and spicy jalapeno. At the festival, they will be serving Frankaroni ($3) which is Deep fried mac & cheese with bacon studded hot dogs inside, on a stick and their Best Damn Cheeseburger ($8)
AйDa Piroshki was serving Zakuska vodka shots with their Russian Sushi, which was a fabulous bite of fermented herring stacked with pickled apples and beet horseradish on black rye. I am down with Russian Sushi and vodka shots!
One of the best things about the preview is the opportunity to meet and speak with the vendors, each one has such an interesting story to tell This is Luis Estrada of D’maize Catering, who was busy at the grill cooking pupusas
while his wife Zenaida Merlin walked about in a beautiful traditional dress, mingling and handing out samples
This is their Pupusa, a luscious chubby handmade corn tortilla stuffed wih pork and cheese topped with a spicy cabbage curtado. It was so delicious, and so richly satisfying.
She was serving mussels on the shell with a beautiful spicy salsa, a very refreshing concoction
Osha Thai is a local Thai food chain serving a tasty shrimp chip topped with spicy and sweet mango ceviche
They also were serving fragrant Kabocha pumpkin and chicken curry over rice. Mmmmm, red curry with coconut milk is one of my favorites and they will be serving this curry for ($8) and Thai Samosa ($3) on Saturday.
I loved meeting Dionne chef-owner of Zella’s Soulful Kitchen, she is excited to be opening a Marketplace Cafe Counter in the Mandela Foods Cooperative in West Oakland. We sampled bites of her Blackberry-chili glazed rotisserie Chicken with Braised Greens and Macaroni and Cheese, but she’ll be serving Jilled-up Hush Puppies ($3) and Buffalo Blue Chicken Sandwich ($8) at the festival.
We swooned over the Minnie Bell’s Fried chicken, which was absolutely lip smacking, the crisp batter enclosed the juices of the savory flesh that was infused with rosemary and utterly delicious. They will be serving Gumbo with Steamed Rice ($8) and Sweet Cornbread Bites ($3).
He was offering a rich and luscious cheesecake topped with a strawberry basil compote mixed with a bit of ginger and anchored with a buttery homemade shortbread crust.
Chiefo’s Kitchen, is a woman-owned and operated business run by chef Chiefo Chukwudebe who has been busy introducing the Bay Area to the flavors of her native Nigeria. She was serving Roasted plantain and rum bread pudding topped with vanilla creme Anglaise, TCHO chocolate and hibiscus sauce.
Estrellita’s Snacks had one of my favorite bites Elote, grilled corn smeared with rich mayonnaise and dipped in pungent cheese and sprinkled with lime and chile. It is super fresh tasting and full of bright flavors.
Tostaditas topped wth Chicken Tinga, in a delectable slow-cooked, earthy sauce from family owned and operated El Buen Comar.
El Huarache Loco was serving their signature dish, Huarache de Nopal (cactus), a mini sandal shaped crust made of griddled masa stuffed with refried beans, , topped with cooked prickly pear cactus and sprinkled with pungent queso fresco.
Mozzeria, was serving Veal-Pork Meatballs in a mouthwatering tomato sauce. They will be serving Margherita Pizza ($3) and an amazing sounding Burrata dish with candied garlic, fried gnocchi and basil ($8) at the festival.
Rice Paper Scissors offered two intriguing options, a Beef Pho Roll and a Mushroom Pho Roll. A very clever and portable bite that incorporated the flavors of the famous Vietnamese noodle soup into a street food festival friendly roll. Made with fresh rice noodles, filled with beef or beech mushrooms and thai basil served with the umami filled nuoc cham chay fish sauce accompaniment.
I really enjoyed the Three Twins ice cream sandwich, which was reminiscent of a childhood favorite. Their version is made from organic madagascar vanilla ice cream in between two soft homemade chocolate wafer cookies that weren’t gummy and didn’t stick to the back of your teeth. It’s a treat that satisfies the soul.
Seabass Ceviche is remarkably fresh and has a light delicate texture that melts in your mouth in an explosion of flavors from being cured in lime juice, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, serranos and avocado, served with chips. Dilsa Lugo, of Los Cilantros is from Cuernavaca, Mexico and recently opened up a restaurant in La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley. It really is so wonderful to see all of the success stories of La Cocina alumni.
I was captivated by the Sprogs offerings, the rice scooters are made daily out of brown rice handpressed with veggies, protein and other ingredients, individually wrapped for on-the-go enjoyment.
They reminded me of musubi but with exciting and non-traditional flavors, such as Kale & Kimchee, Bacon and Eggs fried rice, Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Coconut Red Lentil, and Shiitake. There are also sweet versions with Peanut Butter and Berry, and Rice Pudding.
Nosh This was serving a decadent Almond Crack, a flaky butter-toffee made with darkly toasted organic Kashiwase Farms almonds, Gilt Edge Creamery butter, organic, fair-trade cane sugar and esprit du sel that is dipped that in 72% cacao Guittard chocolate. Yes this can be categorized under crack for sure….
There was a point in the evening when Caleb Zigas, the Executive Director of La Cocina addressed the crowd and talked about all of the amazing people and the reat work that they all do.
She now has products that are sold at Whole Foods Market! I loved her Roti paratha rolls, flaky pastry crust filled with rich spicy curry.
Alicia Villanueva, of Alicia’s Tamales, Los Mayas, is always so happy to serve you her delicious tamales that are filled up with love.
The tamales are tender and filled with luscious meat, and then drizzled with tastebud tantalizing sauces.
Bicycle Banh Mi is a Mother daughter team, their offering was a Fried Chicken and Root Slaw rollup, which was a genius way to give us a taste of the flavors of their food in a friendly bite sized piece. At the festival they will be serving this in a baguette as a Banh Mi, yum!
Binita Pradhan of Bini’s Kitchen serves Himalayan dumplings called Momo with a bewitching smile.
The tender savory dumplings are filled with either meat or vegetables and are covered a fantastic spicy sauce, (so necessary at this point of the evening what with tastebud fatigue you know?)
I am intrigued by shrubs, which reminds me of the kombucha that my grandmother always had fermenting in her refrigerator. Yum Yum Tonics prepares organic, small batches of hand-pressed, seasonal fruits, infused into apple cider vinegar, to create a sweet and sour concoction. The slightly effervescent and tart Strawberry and Rhubarb beverage was a lovely palate cleanser.
Rasoi Kitchen had a beautiful chalk board sign, they are run by a Bay Area couple, Heena and Paresh Patel who take authentic flavors and mix it with non-authentic ways of eating.
Their dish Papdi Chaat were such fun to eat, crispy wafers topped with potatoes and onion, then drizzled with chutneys, yogurt and topped with sev (crunchy noodles made from chickpea flour seasoned with turmeric and cayenne before being deep-fried in oil) and finely minced onion. Wonderful flavors and texture.
Sugar & Spun was serving two different vats of creative cotton candy. One was dotted with red cayenne pepper flecks against the light yellow Spicy Salted Mango, and the other was a delectable Cookies and Cream. Heavenly sweet clouds of ethereal flavors that melt in your mouth in a burst of flavor…
Yvonne’s Southern Sweets, was serving Pecan Pralines ($2), a lovely smooth confection filled with toasted, chopped pecans, along with pecan and sweet potato pies ($4).
Her pralines made SF Weekly’s 92 Best Dishes list of 2011.
We split this fabulous treat made with a scoop of Four Barrel coffee Frozen Kuhsterd drizzled with Burnt Caramel sauce sandwiched in between bacon maple donut from Dynamo Donut was a decadent and lively treat for the tastebuds.
I took a peek at the Don Bugito booth but they only had fried bugs to snack on. If I’m going to eat bugs, I need more filling and backdrop to make them palatable, even something as simple as ice cream…
And there was a recycle evangelist on hand to school you on which receptacle to put your used plates and utensils.
shot of the La Cocina crew. The SF Streetfood Festival 2014 should be memorable, you should definitely check it out! Just make sure to do a little advance planning, I highly recommend downloading their iPhone app, it will give you the upper hand on where to go and what to eat. Otherwise, spend some time looking over the site because there are so many vendors you need to be on top of the game!
p.s. they had a very fun photo booth provided by SnapFiesta with props and hats to get goofy with. I’ll never live this one down…
And here’s my cousin Megu and her son Ken who I brought along as guests.