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

Mercado Kitchen: Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish Omelette)

After last week's gazpacho recipe, I thought I'd share another one of my favorite dishes I came across when I lived in Barcelona. Tortilla de patatas is a staple in Spanish households and perhaps one of the best-known Spanish dishes. Locals Read more

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.

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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.”

Street Stage Launches at MCM today!

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

Highlighting San Francisco’s talented musicians is an important aspect of the community at Mission Community Market. That’s why MCM is excited to unveil an all-new street stage TODAY! The stage will serve as an important platform for our accomplished musicians to engage with the market and highlight their music. Get your first look at the stage below, then come see it in action tonight as local rockstars Diana Gameros and FriendsLa Gente Trio, and The Paper Dolls bring it to life!

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Our street stage is a new, one-of-a-kind design created by SF’s street stage team, John Francis and Ross Hansen, and was built in collaboration with San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks program. The new stage will carve out a space within MCM for local musicians to call their own. We are thrilled that the platform will allow for increased movement and visibility for performers at MCM. Like the prototype street stage that we debuted last year, we know that this new stage will be met with exuberance from our community of musicians, vendors, and shoppers.

Diana GamerosCelebrate the debut of this new stage with MCM on Thursday, as we kick off the summer with three fantastic musical acts. First, listen to Diana Gameros and Friends at 4pm. Diana Gameros is an innovative and versatile musician who writes bilingual songs of “love, longing, and hope.” Her music is firmly placed in the cultural crossroads between Mexico and the independent music scene of California. If you like what you hear, check out her upcoming gig on June 14th at the SFJAZZ center, and listen to her recent debut album, Eterno Retorno.

La Gente - Rafael SarriaTaking the stage at 5pm is a trio from the Bay Area’s beloved band, La Gente! Come listen and boogie to a high-powered musical blend of Reggae, Cumbia, Hip-Hop, Salsa, Rock, and World Music. Led by singer-songwriter Rafael Bustamarte Sarria, who is also an organizer of The Mission Arts Performance Project, the group has been heralded for transcending genres. La Gente is currently in production for their fourth studio album, and their set is sure to make everyone dance. If you just can’t get enough of La Gente, check out their all-ages Carnaval show this Saturday at The Chapel!

The Paper DollsLastly, don’t miss The Paper Dolls at 6:30 pm. Playing a mixture of old and new, covers and originals, The Paper Dolls are a San Francisco Classic. The talented duo behind the band, Uni and Em Doll, bring crooning vocals, ukeleles, and glitz. Want even more Paper Dolls? Check out their upcoming shows here.

The unique design of this stage is flexible and bright––optimal for the continuously moving atmosphere of the market!  Come and help us ring in the summer with fresh produce, tasty dinner, and great music from local artists Thursday May 22nd, 4pm-8pm, at Mission Community Market!