Friday, August 9, 2013

Bite Me! Preview of the Night Market and SFSFF

The name of this event was Bite Me, and we did. We bit (chewed, and swallowed) one of everything offered. We shared it all! A vendor protested that one person was getting the small half, but we have become professionals at making sure the other person tastes the whole empanada (or tamale, soup, grits, donut burger) when we go to eating events. You want the scoop about this preview event sponsored by La Cocina, Whole Foods, Rye on the Road and Saveur (and many others). We've got the dish right here, down to the goodie bag.

Despite going easy on our July "Cook the Book" lunch, we took a gander at the size of this event and decided we should share one taste from each vendor if we wanted to sample everything without exploding. Three Twins ice cream caught our eye, so we ate dessert first. (But didn't share.) And last, just before we left. This ice cream is irresistible! First time around it was chocolate for J.K. (but of course) and Caramel for Angela. As our last stop, we both rounded out the evening with More Chocolate. Everyone knows that ice cream just melts around the edges...

Chocolate Malt for J.K. and Caramel Swirl for Angela.
But you probably could have guessed!

Los Cilantros was sharing a table with the Twins, handing out a seafood ceviche. Most of the vendors at this event are graduates of La Cocina's program. This non-profit has a  focus on helping women and immigrants on beginning a business. One of their most recent entrepreneurs is the famous (in SF) Tamale Lady of Zeitgeist fame. Los Cilantros shared their traditional Mexican ceviche dish with us, starting us on a tour into Central America and Beyond. (Here we come Russia!)

The nonalcoholic jello "shots" from Sweets Collection were almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. This company can customize any shape. Angela spied Christmas themed treats on their computer photo stream. Cute, light and flavorful treats to quench your thirst.

Different designs but the same margarita flavor.

Rye on the Road was a sponsor of that night's event, providing all the booze at no charge. There were several specialty cocktails on offer, but they cheerfully created J.K.'s Tequila Gimlet, although the bartender was suspicious when she didn't want any sugar in it! There was also plenty of red and white wine floating about on little trays. If they'd had some Sparkling it would have been on, but as it was Angela stuck to water and saved her calories for foods. Thanks to Rye for bringing style and panache to the joint!

We curved around from the bar and ran into these little sammies. Homemade Chicken Salad on a croissant. J.K. even liked this one...Eleganza Catering has a light hand with the sauce, so no mayo overload!

Sharing their table was Love & Hummus. They brought Hummus and Mahumara on little crackers. (You may remember that Angela traded for Mahumara at a SFSwap a while back). You may have seen Love and Hummus spreads for sale at Whole Foods–the reason why they're for sale in a major chain is two-fold: La Cocina helped them get incubated and the local forager for Whole Foods loved their product!

In fact Whole Foods and La Concina are giving Five vendors (picked by you!) a booth if they win this year's local forager contest, a huge way to introduce your business to a Mass of people. And the winners were announced that night! I hope they're all getting ready for an amazing busy day. Congrats to KoJa Kitchen, Clearly Kombucha, Fritas Shack, Kama food lab, and Gyro & Cheesesteak Trolley! Tea Time looks forward to snacking on your bites at the Festival.
a new product!
Tried and true hummus made with love!
 Chaac Mool is a popular food truck around SF. You may have seen it at the StrEat Food Park in SOMA or at an Off the Grid event. They bring the food of their ancestors to you. Get ready for regional Mexican and Mayan food, like the Poolcan we got to sample at the preview event. It was a delicious surprise, especially since it looks so basic with simple ingredients.

Hearty regional food from Chaac Mool.
Estrellita's Snacks will soon be famous on the big screen; look for owner Maria del Carmen  Flores in the new Woody Allen movie Blue Jasmine. We got a touch of Hollywood magic in her El Salvadorean style tamales and plantain chips.

Chicken Tamale

Plantain chips

Sal de Vida was ready for their close up at the Bite Me event. Sharing their black bean soup (sold in mixes, and so delicious it was hard to believe it came from a package!) and a chance to sample their flavored salts. We're excited to see what savory dishes they have at the event on Saturday.

Before she found her calling in making and selling her own soul food, Dianne of Zella's Soulful Kitchen ran the cafe of the non-profit group Youth Uprising based out of Oakland. Foodies should rejoice that she's turned her talents to feeding us her Buffalo Blue Chicken Sandwich. (You may remember last year that her small bite was the Jacked Up Hush Puppies!)

Buffalo Blue fried chicken with cole slaw on a bun, oh so right!
Primanti's in Pittsburgh, PA (and Giordano's in San Francisco) serve fries inside their sandwiches, but Hella Vegan Eats goes them one better by following the latest trend, leaving out the fries and using a doughnut for the bun. Lunch and dessert in one! And a very tasty doughnut, too. If you don't have time to get to the festival (sad pandas for you!) try to catch this Vegan act over at Dear Mom. They pop up there pretty often!

Festive and satisfying vegan food FTW!

Delicioso Creperie will bring you flavors from all over the world in their crepes. Owner Gabriela was a globe trotting child, living in Mexico, Lebanon and France, which has Eat Pray Love beat big time if you ask us! Just check out her Orange Blossom crepe with Nutella and berries at the festival if you need proof.

Crepe with homemade whipped cream

We got to taste a version of El Huarache Loco's big bite the Huarache de Nopal. This dish has so many layers of goodies including beans mixed into the organic tortilla and a cactus salad garnish.

A corn and bean tortilla with cilantro, onions, salsa, crema and queso fresco!
El Buen Comer had several tamales on offer, each paired with its own personalized sauce. The perfect small bite size, these tamales gave us a taste of what's to come at SFSFF 2013. Owner and Chef Isabel Pazos externed at Mijita and Delfina, so she's got her cooking chops verified!

Pork with Tomatillo

Chicken with mole

The cupcake craze is here to stay, and La Luna Cupcakes is ready to fulfill your cravings! There was no need to share these bite sized morsels, so Angela got to enjoy the cake drenched in caramel all by herself. Of course, that meant J.K. kept all the chocolate goodness. Keep your eye out for cake pops at the festival!

Dulche de Leche for Angela and Chocolate (no surprise there!) for J.K.


Lots of Chefs showed their hometown pride by wearing clothes/costumes native to their food's origins. Constanza of Maite Catering brought us food and fashion from Columbia. If you're curious about Columbian hotdogs, you can catch her serving them up at El Rio.

Everything fried with cheese on top is yummy!
Bini's Kitchen took us away from Columbia and to Nepal! Her dumplings resemble Chinese style soup dumplings in looks, but the flavors are a bit different. Deliciously different! She'll be serving them up at the festival, so make sure to try both the veggie and meat versions. If you can't fit them in, try to catch up with Bini at an Off the Grid event!

Neo Cocoa served up three flavors of soft ganache chocolates. J.K. always says her tequila gimlet is the business end of a margarita. Well, these are the business end of a truffle! Flavored chocolate that melts in your mouth. They didn't stay in our hands long enough to melt there.

Endless Summer Sweets served up sliced strawberries with freshly whipped cream to eat on the spot and kettle corn packaged to take home. Tea Time always uses our "leftover" coupons at the Festival to buy their crispy sweet kettle corn to take home. Last year we got Three bags! (One for each of us.) They'll also have their famous Funnel Cakes available.

Sweet and Salty, kettle corn hits the spot!

Brigadeiros from Kika's Treats, made with TCHO 84% dark chocolate and TCHO's chocolate nibs. Owner Cristina Arantes found time to work with Ben & Jerry's to develop a new, Kika's Treats ice cream flavor. Look for it soon at your local Ben & Jerry's shop. And don't miss the chocolate-covered frozen bananas at the Street Food Festival!

Perhaps you've heard of Merlin's? No? Well, make sure you don't miss out grabbing some papusas from D'Maize, because we heard the rumor that they've got a wizard in the kitchen! Of course Angela asked for a couple pointers since she's just started making them herself. One great thing about this event was that all the vendors Wanted you to ask questions, they were ready and willing to share their stories and inspirations concerning food, small business, La Cocina, anything!

El Pipila is named after a local hero in her hometown of Guanajuato, Mexico. Chef Guadalupe should know her hometown hero would be proud of his namesake, as they are serving up yummy handmade corn Sopes with meat, veggies and queso fresco and salsa.

J.K. snuck away to get her tequila and lime fix and Angela stumbled across these delightful treats at Azalina's table. This sweet potato dumpling with a fresh crisp garnish is vegan and beautiful. You can get this awesome small bite at the festival, keep your eye out and snatch up these Malaysian goodies before they're gone!

A sweet potato treat!

Dumpling's tasty filling gets a close up.

Alicia's Tamales Los Mayas We stopped here to pick up a tamale filled with love. That's right! These tamales are have your choice of fillings, Chicken, Pork or Cheese, but they are all made with love. If you need extra lovin', get the the Big Bite to enjoy all three flavors! We also enjoyed the homemade green sauce on our lovin' tamale.

Now we mosey over to the outside vendors. In fact, most of these guys will be at the revamped Night Market (which is a fundraiser for La Cocina the night before the Food Festival). Also appearing, the hot "new" sport Berlin style Ping Pong. You can get your tickets to the Night Market HERE. Plus, we give you a blurb from the press kit about the revamped food pre-party on Friday night:

 "Alemany Market will be transformed into six separate regions, running for one night only, representing different regions of the world. La Cocina businesses and famous chefs from San Francisco and beyond have together crafted unique menus for each region in this outdoor night market.  Additionally, each region will host a craft cocktail & beer bar specially designed for their menu. The event is from 6-10 PM, with free shuttles and parking on-site. Buy a ticket. Pass it on to your friends. Plan your attack. Get hungry. See you soon."

Berlin style ping pong. Everyone is welcome to play!

But there can be only one!
 When the SFSFF held a Go Game a couple years back, we "StrEaters" competed. While we didn't win the big prize, it was our first introduction to Anda Piroshki at 331 Cortland. We did win some bagels and babka from Wise Sons, as well as 6 Piroshki which ended up being two each (Angela, Mel, J.K.) and a delightful snack one afternoon. In addition to Anda Piroshki starting a new trend–food as chaser to a vodka shot, this company is expanding and recently recieved one of the largest Kiva Zip loans to date.

First we downed a shot of vodka, then we had a tidbit chaser.

Your choice of Russian treats!
Potato with herring. Angela gives it a thumbs up!

Rye bread with cured fat.
Saint & Olive are known for their biscotti but on festive occasions they go all out. The roving cannoli vendor (Owner/Chef Olive) is channeling a cigarette girl, but there's nothing smoky about these cannoli. More sweet potato here in this cannoli, with pistachios as garnish. Yum.

Guisel of Sabores del Sur served us two empanadas, even after we told her that we were sharing out of necessity. "Take it home!" she ordered us and we cheerfully complied. When she's not selling delicious Chilean alfajores and empanadas at farmers' markets throughout the Bay Area, Guisel and her husband are out on their motorcycles.

Please, take it home!

Chef Stephanie of Sugarfoot Grits enticed us to share a cup of her cheesy, bacony, smooth grits. This was one dish that made us wish we had room to fit in another cup! If you feel you've eaten too much soul food at the Night Market, maybe you can sign up to take a class with Stephanie. She's also a Belly Dance Instructor when she's not cooking in the kitchen.

Minnie Bell's Soul Movement is named after family. Chef Fernay uses her Grandma's recipes to create sinful soul food to bless your tastebuds. There was a lot of seafood in our little cup that we shared.

Most of the Night Market vendors have their own drinks/cocktails as well, so get ready for a thirsty party... One to watch out for will be the Spiked Besap from Chiefo's Kitchen. This version of the Hibiscus cooler was a great pairing with the Roasted Plantain Bread Pudding. Yum.

Now that they're so popular, Zepeda Foods doesn't have as much time to spend in the garden. But don't worry, they still make it a special point to hand pick the produce they use in their salsas! The basic ingredients were all around their table, limes, tomatoes, delicious and fresh foods to make the best product.

Onigilly is a longtime favorite of Tea Time. We started out chasing their truck, and were delighted when they opened a brick-and-mortar, complete with izakaya happy hour, on Kearny Street in the FiDi. Their sushi tacos and rice balls always hit the spot for us. They cover all the bases with lots of veggie and meat options.

After we got through everything and spoke with the vendors, we had to walk around a tiny bit to let things settle. We also had a break from the sponsor(s), clueing us into the Whole Foods local forager winners for this years event. It was a great chance to learn more about how local small business is supported by big business And nonprofit.

We finally found an empty table, so we could get a picture of the adorable centerpiece.

And, as if all that weren't enough, as we left we were handed heavyweight gift bags! Actually, we weren't allowed to leave without them. The bag itself is real canvas, so it will last a long time, and we plan to use them with pride at the festival. J.K. has way too many bags (let us know if you need one!) but this is definitely one she'll use frequently.

A copy of Saveur magazine and other literature.

Juice, tea drinks, cookies and miso.

 And trinkets! Including
Official "Off The Grid" chopsticks!
 Two of the vendors, Endless Summer Sweets and Sal de Vida, had samples packed up for us to take home. Plus we got a bonus "to go" empanada from Sabores del Sur (not shown). All in all it was a really fun evening and we waddled away with our excitement about this year's Street Food Fest redoubled. If you'd like to learn more about what we ate last year, you can check out our posts (1, 2, 3, 4). Also, if the cost of a days worth of eating out isn't in your budget (we *really* recommend getting a 'passport' and splitting the cost with friends) the nice guys at SFSFF have you covered! Simply follow this link and pick up a volunteer shift. You'll get to help with an epic food event, free t-shirt, and even some free grub/drinks!
Kettle Corn and choice of Culinary Salt flavor