This weekend, like many in my life, centered around food. It all began with an event I’ve been eagerly anticipating from the very moment my taste buds landed in San Francisco…
La Cocina’s Street Food Festival.
I’ve been somewhat obsessed with La Cocina since I arrived in SF. I could just summarize their mission statement, but I think they describe what they do best.
The mission of La Cocina is to cultivate low income food entrepreneurs as they formalize and grow their businesses by providing affordable commercial kitchen space, industry-specific technical assistance and access to market opportunities. We focus primarily on women from communities of color and immigrant communities. Our vision is that entrepreneurs gain financial security by doing what they love to do, creating an innovative, vibrant and inclusive economic landscape.
Impressive, right? The work they do is so compelling and clearly makes such a positive impact on the lives of those who run small food businesses. Plus, the addition of new characters to the local food landscape is something I’m always pretty damn excited about.
Thus, when Saturday morning rolled around, I made my way down to 20th and Folsom to purchase my “Just Snacking” passport and start sampling the goods. I began with a sweet corn pudding from Hapa Ramen, one of the first few trucks (couldn’t make it one block in before caving). I was surprised by how refreshing it was, the chilliness of the pudding perfectly complemented the heat of the day. Despite living on 26th and Folsom last summer, I’m still taken aback when I hit Mission and am forced to discard multiple layers of clothing. Oh, microclimates…
From there it was on to Hard Water for Parker House Rolls with Honey Butter. After four years in North Carolina, what can I say? I have a near-constant hankering for sweet southern cooking, and homemade rolls with honey butter will always fill the hole Durham left in my heart. My sheer giddiness for food made me a little forgetful though…which is why I don’t have photos from the first segment of my feeding frenzy. But that all changed with a Penang Peanut Taco.
From Azalina’s, this taco is the result of scallion flatbread, curried chicken, and coconut jam all fried up into a taco-like creation and spiked with a pickled something to top it all off. I ate this and Azalina’s sweet potato dumpling. The dumpling was rather cute in fact, a small semi-flattened mash of sweet potatoes, cherries, and coconut. Yum yum.
We then moved on to what has since emerged as my new current obsession: Rice Paper Scissors. Run by two bad ass chicks who just want to make Vietnamese street food, I had their Pho Cuon Chay (fresh pho filled with beech mushrooms, fried tofu, and Thai basil) and Grilled Baby Octopus. The octopus was marinated with fish sauce and caramel – a combination I don’t think I knew existed prior to Saturday. Atop the octopus was rau ram (a Vietnamese coriander), salt and pepper, lime, and Rice Paper Scissor’s homemade sweet chile sauce.
Valerie and Katie – the masterminds behind Rice Paper Scissors – are speaking at a co-working space I recently discovered a block from my apartment in Hayes Valley. If you’re interested, it’s going down at Makeshift Society this Friday at 7 PM.
Following the pho and the octopus, plus some free cupcakes and Clairesquare samples, and oh yeah, a cocktail…I was stuffed. I retreated back to my apartment to recover. Yet, when my boyfriend suggested a few hours later that we head back to Mission, I was rushing out the door, my pants fitting just a little bit tighter than they had when I first slipped them that morning.
The Festival at noon and the Festival at 6:15 PM practically seemed to be two different events – all the major hits of the day were out of stock, and the lines had all but disappeared. Tyler went right for fries from Fritas Shack. Think cheddar cheese, heaps of homemade guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, and carne asada piled on top of shoestring fries.
Tyler was in heaven.
How else to finish off a day of gluttony but with a cleanse? Ours involved a double scoop of Tahitian Vanilla and Beer Nut ice cream from Humphrey Slocombe.