Mercado Kitchen: Cupboard Quinoa

CUPBOARD QUINOA Our lovely and handsome volunteer, Ronald Loosen, shared this tasty recipe of his with us. Stop by the info booth to let him know how your version turned out! Recipe below, check it out! QUINOA INGREDIENTS - 2 cups quinoa - Read more

Mercado Kitchen: Valentina's Veggie Medley

We often think that the Winter months bring us a lack of variety in the kitchen. How do we make our meals fun and interesting and into something delectable we want to eat? The answer is simple. Vegetables. California's bounty Read more

Mercado Kitchen: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies by Anna of Three Babes Bakeshop   For the pumpkin puree: 1 small sugar pumpkin, or other culinary pumpkin from Blue House Farm Heat the oven to 350ºF. Remove the stem from the pumpkin, cut in half, and scrape out Read more

Wild for Mushrooms!

  It's hard to believe it's already September and Fall is upon us! While we may notice season changes a little less here in temperate San Francisco, the agricultural world lives by the seasons and there's no denying that we Read more

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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Mercado Kitchen: miniature peach pies

Posted on by Kaiya Gordon in Arata Farm, Blog, Mercado Kitchen, Palmero Date Shop, Recipes | 3 Comments

Happy Belated Memorial Day! While we may not all be apple-eyed, red-and-white-striped patriots, I’d like to believe that everyone has a connection to pie.

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The flaky bits of crust––the sweetness and warmth of the filling––the possibilities of ice cream melting into the core––pie is celebration. And making a pie can be a celebratory process, too!

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Last Thursday, Arata Farms returned for the summer season, bringing stone fruits in tow. Arata is an MCM staple––the farm has been in operation for 5 decades, and has been bringing peaches, cherries, lemons, and quince to mercado shoppers for years (really––here’s a 2012 recipe for Arata Farm pomegranate-poached pears).

Something about peaches make me dream of the slightly surreal; my elementary school playgrounds, tinted; sleeping in picnic blankets instead of bedsheets. When peaches come into season, I suddenly and simultaneously imagine myself to be a baker, a small child, and a party host.

Over this long weekend, I funneled my peach-dreams into mini-pies. I adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. The lemon juice in this recipe is essential––the tart kick of citrus compliments the flavor of the peaches and balances their sweetness. However, if you make this recipe with white peaches, which have a higher acidity than yellow peaches, consider adding less lemon.

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I was impressed with how the peaches tasted after baking; the finished wedges were soft and full, and burst when you bit into them. However, consider adding more peaches than less––our pies were too sparse on the insides. The crust is a quick and easy recipe, and could be adapted for any pie, sweet or savory. If you are vegan, try a coconut pie crust. If you eat a raw diet, you can even make pie crust with dates from Palmero Date Shop.

This week, head to Mission Community Market to pick up stone fruits for some pies of your own! Try different combinations––I’m thinking of plums and blackberries, or apriums and raspberries. Let me know how they turn out in the comments below, or tweet @missionmercado with a picture of your results. The full recipe is after the jump!

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Apriums and apricots: your guide to stone fruits featuring Twin Girls Farm

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

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At the Twin Girls Farms booth, kids circle the cherry samples, grabbing fistfuls of the fruit and grinning. One jumps up and down. “Yay cherries!” he smiles. The booth’s proprietor Jimmy Egoian smiles too. After a few weeks away from Mission Community Market, Twin Girls has just turned the corner from winter season. Their tables are a testament to the warmer weather, and favorites, like yellow and white peaches, are piled high; there are signs pointing to new gems, too––pluots, donut white peaches, apriums, and loquats. I spoke to Jimmy about Twin Girls’ mission, what makes a good fruit, and how to tell the difference between a pluot and an aprium.

Twin Girls is not a superficial farm. “We don’t care what fruits look like,” Jimmy says. “If it eats good, it is good.” In fact, Jimmy explains that bad looking fruits are better tasting. “If it’s cracked,” he says, “it is ten times better.” The cracked fruits have a higher sugar content than their smooth-surfaced companions. When the fruits are growing, that sugar content causes the insides to grow faster than the outside, leading to skins that split and then re-heal.

Scarred (and sweet!) nectrines at Twin Girls Farm's booth

Scarred (and sweet!) nectarines at Twin Girls Farm’s booth.

It’s clear that shoppers respond to Twin Girls’ commitment to eating. Today, visitors are reaching for the new editions to Twin Girls’ table: apriums and pluots. Can’t tell the difference? Jimmy let me in on the secret––“apriums,” Jimmy notes, “are just backwards pluots.” What he means is that both fruits are combinations of apricots and plums, but they differ in composition; while pluots are about 75% plum and 25% apricot, apriums are the opposite.

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Apriums, like any other fruit, come in a variety of strains. The best one, flavorellas, are also the most rare––Jimmy tells me that farms can only grow about 10 to each tree. In comparison, the aprium strain that Twin Girls has on it’s tables, tasty rich apriums, grows 200 aprium fruits on each tree.

Jimmy Egoian, the proprietor of the Twin Girls Farm stall at MCM

Jimmy Egoian, the proprietor of the Twin Girls Farm stall at MCM

Another unique strain of stone fruit that has become a family favorite is the donut peach. Twin Girls has white donut peaches, and when Jimmy hands me one to taste, its sweetness is so concentrated I feel like I’m eating candy. That isn’t because of the donut shape, though, this donut strain just has more sugar. But the distinctive shape is a favorite with kids, who find the oblong shape easy to hold. Adults, too, flock to the donut peaches––perhaps reminiscing about their own childhood.

Yellow peaches are more acidic than their pale counterparts, which gives them that distinctive “tang” that works well in pies and on the grill.

And what is the taste difference between a white and yellow peach? White peaches, distinguishable by their paler, pink skins, are sweeter, and thus more easily bruised. Yellow peaches are more acidic than their pale counterparts, which gives them that distinctive “tang” that works well in pies and on the grill. Try white peaches on their own, with salsas or ceviche, or in drinks.

White peaches are sweeter and less acidic than yellow.

White peaches are sweeter and less acidic than yellow.

One more fruit that I’m interested in is grown in bunches on thick, brown stems. “That’s a loquat,” Jimmy notes, “it’s an old type of fruit.” It may be old, but its introduction to shoppers at Mission Community Market is recent. Loquats, which are ripe in the late winter or early spring, and may not be at the market for much longer, are sweetest when they are soft and orange.

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When I bite into the loquat that Jimmy hands me, I’m reminded of a lychee. Try loquats in jelly, compote, or even wine.

The farm started with yellow peaches a few weeks ago, which Jimmy tells me is about “10 days earlier than early.” But “no matter what,” he continues, “from year to year everyone wants a yellow peach.” To determine when peaches, and other stone fruits like them, will become ripe, farmers look at the “bloom” of the plants. When the bloom comes in farmers can determine whether their crops will be early, on time, or late. Early doesn’t necessarily mean better; Twin Girls’ peaches may have grown premature due to a dry winter. But Jimmy cautions against drought fear-mongering: “we’ve been dealing with little water for 6 or 7 years,” he says.

“The perfect fruit is never the best fruit.”

Along with the crop time, deficient water can affect the shape of the fruit. Lopsided fruits are one result of a drought; when the pits, or stones, of a fruit are not sufficiently hydrated, they may be unable to grow evenly. But other imperfections, are not a problem for Twin Girls’––for this farm, it’s all about the taste. “That’s what’s going to bring people back,” Jimmy says, handing me a slice of aprium. It’s bruised, but very sweet. “The perfect fruit,” he continues, “is never the best fruit.”