A Sweet Addition to MCM

A woman hangs out of a window, leaning over the edge to serve grits. On the other side of the window, the grits are cooked in small batches, with lots of cream, cheese, and hot sauce. That’s the vision that Read more

Shop Whole Foods Potrero and Castro to Support MCM

Thanks to Whole Foods Market, when you shop at the Potrero or Market-Castro stores, bring in your own bags for groceries and you'll have the option of receiving a 5¢ credit (per bag) or to donate the 5¢ to MCM. Read more

Mercado Kitchen: Quick Persian Pickles

If you haven't picked up cucumbers from Blue House Farms yet, now is the time. Quick pickling the cucumbers is simple and results in sweet, tangy pickles that are perfect on kabobs, in burgers, or thrown on salads. They're easy Read more

Mercado Kitchen: Fig-Ginger Chutney

Posted on by Kaiya Gordon in Arata Farm, Blog, Recipes | Leave a comment

I usually say I don’t like nice things––too much pressure, too fancy, makes me feel like a jerk, etc.

But when the nice thing is something that you make for yourself and costs about six dollars, it’s worth it, right?

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As my first spoonful of this chutney made its way towards my mouth, I felt a little bit nervous. I wasn’t sure about how much ginger I had added, I hadn’t made chutney before, and I felt a lot of pressure for this to be really good––when would I have three 1/2 more figs again to use at my leisure? But the first taste was surprising––electric. This chutney is better than good: I want it spread on every slice of bread I have in my house, on the side of every vegetable I eat this week, and over vanilla ice cream for desert.

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This chutney only uses six main ingredients, most of which you will likely already have in your pantry. And it is surprisingly easy to make; I finished the process during the–heartbreaking–United States vs. Portugal soccer game last Sunday. Oh––did I mention that this would make a great dip for a World Cup viewing party? Put it on wheat crackers, toasted slices of baguette with basil, or strips of corn tortilla.

Chutney differs from jam (even savory jam!) because it is made with larger chunks of fruit and is simmered for a shorter length of time, leading to less water evaporating and fruit congealing. To determine whether your chutney is done simmering, draw a line through it with a wooden spoon. If the chutney fills the line back in immediately, it isn’t done. If the line holds, and you can see the bottom of the pot, your chutney is ready to eat.

This Thursday, Arata Farms will be bringing their last batch of Black Mission Figs! Get a basket before they go, and then try this chutney out. Let me know how it goes by tweeting @missionmercado, or leaving a comment below.

I already can’t wait for Arata’s White Kadota Fig season––I’m picturing a sweet chutney with white wine and raisins.

fig chutney

Fig-Ginger Chutney

Recipe adapted from Not Enough CinnamonThe full recipe appears after the jump.

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Not blacksmiths but Tea Smiths

Posted on by Kaiya Gordon in Blog, The Tea Smiths, Vendor of the Week | Leave a comment

The Tea Smiths are Chad Smith and Grace Landsdale––though the two are engaged, and Grace plans to be a Smith soon, too. In one way, she already is. “We’re tea smiths, instead of blacksmiths,” laughs Smith.

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“We focus on herbal medicinal teas,” he continues. “We like teas with a purpose.” The Smith’s collection is expansive, and the couple offer a wide variety of green, black, and yerba mate teas, along with their herbal blends. Their most popular tea, however, is one of those “teas with a purpose:” a tea to aid sleep called “sleep blend.” Landsdale points me to another health tea, her favorite, healthy tummy. It’s made to coat the lining of the stomach and consists of peppermint, calendula flowers, marshmallow root, and chamomile flowers.

Healthy Tummy tea, with marshmallow root and peppermint.

Healthy Tummy tea, with marshmallow root and peppermint.

Along with their stock blends, The Tea Smiths offer custom tea blends. Customers can order online, or they can discuss their desired blend with The Smiths at Mission Community Market and pick it up the next week. And if you’ve got kids––don’t worry. The Smiths are in the process of brewing up a child’s line of teas. They’ll be a little bit sweeter and can help out sleeping problems and tummy issues too.

All of The Smith’s ingredients are ordered from certified organic distributers, and The Smiths are in the process of getting certified organic themselves. “A lot of people seem to dismiss the importance of organic teas,” says Smith. But for The Smiths, it’s all about the quality and safety of ingredients. In addition to their own tests, they work with master herbalists to create teas that are effective and safe. Some of their ingredients I had never heard of before, like marshmallow roots–used as a throat coat–and kava kava roots. Kava kava has an earthy taste, and is used as a muscle relaxer. In recent years, it’s gotten a bad reputation for liver problems associated with using the entirety of the root, but Smith assures me that if you use water to extract the root, like The Smiths do, it’s safe.

Smith has been making tea for about a year. He calls it “total tea immersion.” In addition to his daytime tea brews, however, Smith works with other brews at night––beer. A bartender in San Francisco, Smith says that he “destroys livers at night and repairs them in the morning.” But tea brewing and bartending actually have more in common than livers; as a bartender, Smith works to create new drinks. Now, at The Tea Smiths, he matches herbs and flavors to create the best teas. “It’s an ongoing process,” Smith says. “There are trials on a daily basis.”

“It’s an ongoing process. There are trials on a daily basis.”

The Tea Smiths have a large stock of green, black, yerba mate, and herbal teas. All ingredients are organic.

The Tea Smiths have a large stock of green, black, yerba mate, and herbal teas. All ingredients are organic.

Perhaps one reason why The Smith’s teas are doing so well is that process. The couple is in the middle of a wide rebrand, and before setting any new tea on the table, the two undergo tastings and testings to be sure that every recipe is perfect. One way that The Tea Smiths address customer satisfaction is by speaking to the customers about what they do and don’t like. “If we hear a complaint 3 or 4 times, we start to think that maybe we should change something,” Smith says. On the contrary, if they “get a lot of requests for one herb,” they’ll add it to the list. Often, The Smiths say that they’re swamped with requests for one sort of tea––the craze of the day, so to speak.

“We’ve always wanted to focus our teas within San Francisco.”

For The Tea Smiths, working at Mission Community Market is a realized dream. “We fell in love with the city and wanted to move to San Francisco,” Smith says. “We’ve always wanted to focus our teas within San Francisco.”

What do ULUV?

Posted on by Kaiya Gordon in Blog, Live Music | Leave a comment

It’s 9pm on a weeknight. Perhaps you just got off work––or you’ve finished dinner with a friend, had a few drinks. As you walk along Valencia, the skies are clear and the air is slightly chilly––you can feel the tingle on your arms and ears. Around you, the street is glowing with the lights of open businesses, and sounds of live music waft through the street. On both sides of Valencia, you can see events––people crowding bars and coffee shops to see the “next big thing,” or an accomplished jazz musician, or a young cellist. The crowds spill out onto the sidewalk, laughing and talking about what they thought of the music.

Sound familiar? Probably not––yet. But ULUV Music is determined to change that. The organization’s goal is to increase local music industry in San Francisco by cultivating local artists and creating venues. To get started, ULUV is focusing its community outreach on Valencia Street. “This [the Mission] is ground zero,” says Hector Corral, a team member at ULUV.

To start conversations about their work in the Mission, ULUV has a booth at Mission Community market, where I am able to speak to Corral and Liz Irby, ULUV’s director of operations. As I approach the table, Irby is giving out stickers to a crowd of kids.

“The mission of ULUV is to support music community,” Irby tells me, “and to reestablish the Bay Area as a preeminent place for music.”

And reestablishing the Bay Area’s music scene means that many nights would look like the scene described above, which ULUV calls a “music corridor.” Their goal is to increase foot traffic and provide venue options to passers-by ever night of the week, thus reasserting SF’s place in the music industry and cultivating music communities on the streets of San Francisco. To do so, ULUV is initiating district programs and hosting events. Though speak to me about both, it seems that the district initiatives are at the heart of their efforts.  And they’re starting in the Mission. “The Mission is a good representation of what we want San Francisco to be,” Corral says. Irby agrees: “it’s an incredibly vibrant part of San Francisco.” She notes that though there are some music venues throughout the district, it isn’t considered a music hotspot. “We want people to think of the Mission as a place for live music,” she says.

“We want people to think of the Mission as a place for live music.”

To create the “music corridor,” ULUV is encouraging small businesses to get Limited Live Performance permits. The permits cost $405 and allows any venue to host music from 5pm to 10pm. Currently, ULUV is targeting coffee shops, bars, and bookstores––more permits, ULUV believes, means more vendors.

Along with the targeted vendors, ULUV currently has a list of 350 partner artists, all of which they will work to get playing in the new vendors when they are available. The musicians are all from the Bay Area, though San Francisco artists are the first priority. “The local artists are what really gives a city a lot of its flavor,” Irby says.

ULUV is picky about which artists it supports. After a band shows interest in the organization, they attend a few live shows before they begin a relationship. Even if ULUV is interested in a band’s sound, they meet with all the members first. Working relationships are important to ULUV––to invest their time in a musician, they have to be sure that there won’t be problems in the future. “These are all good musicians that sound good,” Irby says.

In the coming months, ULUV hopes to get 10-20 vendors set up with LLP permits. Then, they’ll start promoting their music festival, planned for October in the Mission District. “And then we’ll take over the world,” Irby jokes.

This is ULUV’s second annual festival. It’s a free, donation-based and family friendly festival, spreading over multiple vendors in the Mission and two outdoor stages on Valencia street. ULUV assures me that all of the vendors will be Mission locals, though musicians might vary in hometown. Last year, Irby says, “the music was very diverse.” Held south of Market, the event drew over 1,700 throughout the course of the day, though Irby hopes that this year can be bigger. “The space looked beautiful,” she says, “and the bands said that the sound was the best of any festival they had played.”

Before their October event, ULUV is hosting a “music day,” on June 21st. Venues scattered throughout San Francisco will be hosting musicians from 12pm-5pm. Local Mission venues are Blue Fig, Fourbarrel Coffee, and Chile Lindo. Then, at 6pm, bands will gather at Dolores Park, for an after party–including open mics and beer–at Dolores Park Cafe.

They may be at “ground zero,” but ULUV team members are enthusiastic. “I love music,” says Irby. “I think that music has the power to do a lot of social good. And I love San Francisco, and I think it is very possible to live in this city and have a music career.”  Corral agrees, and stresses the importance of local, live music shows: “there is something inspiring about the small guys,” he says. “I love their stage presence, and the live crowd.”

“There is something inspiring about the small guys. I love their stage presence, and the live crowd.”

ULUV Music will be at Mission Community Market this Thursday, 6/12 and next, 6/19. Stop by their booth to ask questions, and follow them on instagram

When farm is family, the fruit is too: farm profile featuring Arata Farms

Posted on by Kaiya Gordon in Arata Farm, Blog, Vendor of the Week | Leave a comment

Farm profile header3Ask Nicholas Arata what his favorite peach is and you’ll be rewarded with a family story. “The Reginas [yellow peaches] are my favorite yellow fleshed peach to eat,” he says, noting that the farm has had Regina trees for 30 years. In fact, says Nicholas, “they were planted the spring I was born, or the season before that. When you look off into the backyard, they are the first trees you can see.”

Arata has a grove of about 150 Regina trees. “When you think of your grandmother making peach cobbler, or something nostalgic with peaches,” Nicholas continues, “I think of the Regina flavor.”

“When you think of your grandmother making peach cobbler…I think of the Regina [peach] flavor.”

Nicholas isn’t the only Arata who grew up surrounded by trees. The farm is owned by his father, Mike Arata, and has been in the Arata family for 4 generations; this Mike Arata, the third in the family, grew up working on the farm with his grandfather, Mike Arata I. Now, the Arata farm continues to sell produce at local markets, including MCM, and at their stall in Brentwood.

This week, Arata’s table is in transition. Though some fruits, like cherries, which had an especially early crop this year, are on their way out, shoppers have plenty to look forward to. The table is spotted with figs, pluots, santa rosa plums, wesley apricots, and angelcots. And next week, the Reginas will come in.

Left: Arata's peaches, cherries (done for the season), and pluots. Right: Along with their yellow regina peaches, Arata has a grove of white peach trees.

Left: Arata’s peaches, cherries (done for the season), and pluots. Right: Along with their yellow regina peaches, Arata has a grove of white peach trees.

As I speak to Nicholas, he and his father call back to each other. “How long have we had the Reginas?” Nicholas asks. It is apparent that Arata is a collaborative farm––as the two banter, they swap information about fruits.

And as I speak to the Aratas, it becomes clear that they know their trees like they are a part of the family.

Arata's black mission figs, which they hand pick from their crop.

Arata’s black mission figs, which they hand pick from their crop.

One of the highlights of the Arata table are the black mission figs. Mike tells me that the figs will be at the table next week, too, though neither Mike nor Nicholas is sure how many there will be. “There are crops every year,” Nicholas says, “but we go through the trees and hand-pick the ripe ones.”

Nicholas describes black mission figs as “standard fig flavor,” saying that “they taste like a fig newton.” Along with the black missions, Arata grows white Kadota figs. “The Kadota’s are sweet––honey sweet,” Nicholas explains. “They’re sticky inside, almost seedy. They’re more creamy.”

Figs are versatile and add subtle sweetness to a variety of dishes. They can be made into jam or dressing, or used in salad, tartlets, cake, crumble , or–the option I’m salivating over–creme brulée.

Or they can be prepared simply: “one gal just bought my last basket––she was excited to cut them up and put them on ice cream,” Nicholas says. “A lot of people grill them, and a lot of people bake them.”

Another highlight are Arata’s white apricots, called angelcots. “They’re a new item for the states,” Mike tells me. The two try to figure out where angelcots are most popular––Nicholas thinks that they come from the Middle East, and, in fact, he’s right. Angelcots are the hybrid of Iranian and Moroccan apricots.

Angelcots look like white apricots and taste sweeter than their familiar counterparts.

Angelcots look like white apricots and taste sweeter than their familiar counterparts.

Angelcots are picked like white peaches. The fruit is very tender, with a lot of liquid inside, which makes them especially sweet. “They’re great bruised,” says Nicholas. “They just bruise because they are so delicate. People think of a bruise as a bad spot, but it’s just the matter of the fruit.”

Try angelcots in a pastry or with goat cheese for a quick and fulfilling snack.

And on Thursday, be sure to stop by and check in on Arata farms––they’ll treat you like family.

Blueberries two ways featuring Zuckerman Family Farms

Posted on by Kaiya Gordon in Mercado Kitchen, Vendor of the Week, Zuckerman's Farm | Leave a comment

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At Mission Community Market, Zuckerman Family Farms is your go-to-spot for asparagus and potatoes. The farm, located in Stockton, is known best for their white potatoes. But summer weather has brought changes to the booth: the season of asparagus, a spring vegetable, is over, and this summer, blueberries have joined the Zuckerman table.

“Every season something new comes through,” says Marvin, a seller for Zuckerman farms. This is his first year selling blueberries at Mission Mercado––in fact, as I speak with him, this is Marvin’s first day as a blueberry seller. The berries have a short season, and don’t come every year.

Shoppers linger around the booth, dipping their hands into an open blueberry container to sample. Marvin says that though the blueberries mostly go in oatmeals and muffins, the fruit is versatile. In fact, I can’t think of a berry more suited to a variety of cooking techniques––blueberries, while sweet, are relatively mild in flavor, and can be baked, grilled, pureed, or eaten raw.

For that reason, blueberries are an effortless summer classic, ready to be packed in lunches, enjoyed during sunset porch–dinners, or floated in drinks. I explored two ways that blueberries could be prepared and paired with corn.

blueberries two ways

Blueberries from Zuckerman farms are resilient and warm from the sun; the addition of fresh, locally produced blueberries is what makes the following recipes come to life. I encourage you to use berries from your local farmer’s market––the flavor in international bulk-produced fruit is just not the same.

The full recipes appear after the jump!

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