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

Mercado Kitchen: Traditional Gazpacho

Surprise! I have another tomato-based recipe for you! Gotta take advantage of the season while you can; am I right? Gazpacho is a cold soup made of raw fruits and vegetables originating from Spain. This recipe is very close to Read more

Wild for Mushrooms!

Posted on by Valentina Cekovski in Blog, Far West Fungi, Vendor of the Week, Vendors | Leave a comment

 

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 are transitioning.

Soon the market will be full of apples, winter squash, and tender greens. But let’s not overlook one crop that also thrives in the fall and winter- mushrooms! With cooler temperatures and more moisture in the air, perfect growing conditions will soon dominate for mushrooms.

 

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Annabelle and Abby, our MCM Mushroom Magicians!

We are so lucky to have such a fabulous mushroom farm at our market, Far West Fungi. The Garrone family has been sustainably growing, distributing and marketing delicious mushrooms in the Bay Area for over 25 years! At their 60,000 square foot farm and facility in Moss Landing (right in the heart of Monterey Bay) they take great care to grow quality organic mushrooms. And the coastal fog gives the mushrooms that moisture they need to thrive.

What are mushrooms?

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The mycelium of the fungi grow underground and the mushroom “fruits” are above ground.

Mushrooms are just one part of a fungal organism. They are like the fruit of a fungal mycelium (thread-like structure) that grows underground (or through whatever it’s munching on). Far West Fungi’s site says it best- “The mushrooms is to mycelium what the apple is to it’s tree.” When the time and conditions are right, a lump forms on the mycelium and then “fruits” into a mushroom. And though some mushrooms are poisonous, sometimes they can be perfectly delicious.

Varieties at the Market and What You Should Know

Just like there are many types of fruit, mushrooms come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and growth patterns. They also contain such a range and density of nutrients for a variety of health benefits unlike any other organism. Here is a little guide to at least help you out at the market.

 

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Crimini

Most of us may be familiar with the classic Button Mushroom, or Crimini. They are mild in taste, easy to slice and can be used with versatility on dishes such as pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, and salads.

maitake

Maitake

 

 

Otherwise known as hen-of the-woods, this mushroom cluster can be grilled, sautéed or used in soups and stews. It can help build up your immune system and is traditionally used medicinally in Japan.

 

 

 

 

shiitake

Shiitake

 

Shiitake are another meaty mushroom used often in Japanese cooking. They are versatile and the stems can be used for a good veggie stock. Studies show links between a protein that shiitake produce and cancer-prevention!

 

pinks

Tree Oysters/Pinks

 

Oysters are a delicious and meaty wild mushrooms which cooks very evenly when sautéed. The pinks are a variety of the tree oyster and happen to have a shorter shelf life so use ‘em up quickly. They have antioxidant properties and are rich in iron.

 

 

 

kingtrumpets

King Trumpets

 

Also known as a King Oyster, these tasty and versatile mushrooms are cute and dense- they soak up a lot of flavor and have a pleasant abalone/scallop-like texture. They are high in protein and support healthy cholesterol levels.

 

 

 

lions

Lion’s Mane

 

 

This fuzzy looking creature is part of the Tooth fungus family. It is often compared to seafood when used in cooking. A special benefit of this mushroom is that it has been linked to nerve-cell growth in anti-dementia studies.

 

nameko

Nameko

These gelatinous coated cuties are great for miso soups or a breakfast frittata. They have immune system strengthening properties as well as some anti-cancerous properties.

 

 

 

 

Piopini

Pioppini

 

 

 

They are peppery and nutty and great for a stir-fry. They also contain many antioxidant properties and can be used medicinally for anti-inflammation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more resources on health benefits of mushrooms, check out this Infographic!

With the fall temperatures and higher possibility of rain, we are looking forward to seeing more varieties at the market this fall and winter like Hen of the Woods, Wine caps, Hedgehog mushrooms and more! Check out FWF’s Calendar online for a complete list.

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At the market. Look at all those varieties!

Please remember Far West Fungi does not attend the Market on every third Thursday of the month!

 

More Than a Vendor

Posted on by EmilyN in Vendor of the Week | Leave a comment

Sure, we know who has our favorite pluots or who bakes a mean vegan brownie, but every vendor has their own story. Sometimes it’s difficult to imagine these people outside of the market setting, but many of our vendors have a lot going on outside of their market personas. Can you guess which vendor is a belly dancer or who works at an investment firm? The farmers market thing just seems so natural, but there are multiple layers to these proverbial onions!

Keep reading every week to catch a “vendor highlight” and learn about the magic that goes into those beans.

This week, we will highlight a dancer. She is also known as Maria Young, the vendor at the Crystal Eyes stand. Besides selling her beautiful gems and jewels, she is actively involved in the West African Dance scene. If you have never heard the West African rhythm, it is heavy in percussion and is based on the traditions found in West African regions from the coast to the highlands. Seeing a performance, or being a part of one, is a “therapeutic experience”. Maria’s favorite part is the drums and “getting lost in the beat.” She used to teach and lead classes in Northern California, but took a hiatus these last few years for other passions (like her gems and specialty stones).

However, she is getting back in the swing of things and would like to begin dancing more. Maria stated, “I’m older and cannot move like I used to, but man, it just feels good.” While we wish her luck in finding the best West African Dance crew, you can still expect to see Maria and Crystal Eyes every week at MCM. All of the items that lay upon her beautifully-decorated table are naturally-found materials. She mainly sells crystals, jewelry, incense, sage, and palo santo at the market each Thursday from 4-8pm.

Stop by this week and strike up a conversation with this San Francisco native and talented West African Dancer!

A Sweet Addition to MCM

Posted on by Kaiya Gordon in Blog, La Cocina, Sugarfoot Grits, Vendor of the Week | 1 Comment

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 Stephanie Fields had before she started Sugarfoot Grits. A southerner passionate about food, Fields came to Sugarfoot Grits with her favorite food and a great nickname. “Sugarfoot is a family nickname,” Fields says. “My uncle called me Sugarfoot when I worked in his restaurant. He gave me a lot of love.”

"Sugarfoot is a family nickname.

“Sugarfoot is a family nickname. My uncle called me Sugarfoot when I worked in his restaurant. He gave me a lot of love.”

But before Fields was dreaming of corn, she was a long-time Mission Mercado shopper. The southern-style greens that she serves alongside her bowls of grits come from Blue House Farms, and she supports many farmers by stocking her personal kitchen with their produce. Now, Fields is taking on a new position at MCM––one behind the vendor table.

Sugarfoot Grits initially expressed interest in selling at MCM in 2013, before Fields was accepted to La Cocina program and expanded her business. “I wasn’t ready then,” Fields says. “But Emily [MCM’s market manager] kept up with me and now, I’m ready.”

La Cocina is a San Francisco initiative based in the Mission District that works to give low-income women the tools that they need for success in the food industry.

To Fields, the support that came from La Cocina meant everything for her business. “I had decided that I was going to do the business no matter what,” Fields says. “But in retrospect, I’m not sure that I could have done it without [La Cocina’s] help.” And the training that La Cocina gave behind the tent didn’t stop after Fields brought Sugarfoot Grits to market. “It’s about the general day to day support,” says Fields. “During my first outdoor festival they came and stood with me for my health inspection. Health inspections are scary––it’s like Mary Poppins checking the dust under everything,” she says, laughing. “It sounds boring, but that support means a lot.”

“I had decided that I was going to do the business no matter what. But in retrospect, I’m not sure that I could have done it without [La Cocina’s] help.”

La Cocina also supported Fields through a “night market,” which was the first market that Fields had ever done. “We had a line of 20 people at all times,” she says. “It was crazy.”

But all of her work with La Cocina, as well as the plethora of pop-ups that she has done over the years, has armed Fields with the tools she needs to run a successful business––and the flavors she needs to make her grits delicious. Fields cooks her grits in small batches on-site, which means that each bowl is fresh and hot. The on-site cooking also serves as a demonstration for customers. “It makes it more interesting,” says Fields.

Fields’ corn grits are organic, and cooked with cream and cheese sourced locally. Fields tops the grits with more cheese, and southern-style greens, braised in apple-cider vinegar and with lots of added mushrooms. “I try to make it more vegetarian friendly,” Fields says. The mushrooms add savory-flavor to the grits and make them more hearty. But Fields’ grits aren’t only for vegetarians––she has pulled-pork, too, and plans on bringing chicken and dumplings to the market in future weeks. Other menu plans include sweet potato pies and a tomato-based soup with beef, lima beans, and corn.

Perhaps the flavors in her grits are welcoming because they don’t come from a traditional kitchen. “I have no culinary training,” Fields says, “I started cooking for myself for real after college.” During that time, Fields says that she was “cooking lots and lots of vegetables and couscous.”

“I learned about food then,” Fields notes. Then, in 2012, grits became her signature dish. “Grits are my favorite food,” she says. “I started bringing cheese grits to parties, and I started having pop-ups.”

Fields’ food is more than a warm bowl––to her, grits are a connection to her home and family. “I cooked grits growing up,” she says. “I’m from North Carolina, and [the grits] connect me to my family and cultural lineage. The South has a rich but difficult history. This is a positive way to connect with people.” And, Fields notes, laughing “In San Francisco, being from the South makes me special.”

“I’m from North Carolina, and [the grits] connect me to my family and cultural lineage. The South has a rich but difficult history. This is a positive way to connect with people.”

Now, Fields has a chance to bring her favorite food to a new audience. “I spend most of my time in the Mission District,” she says, “and I’m just glad to be in the neighborhood.” And so far, that audience has welcomed Sugarfoot Grits with open arms. “I had one lady who was really sweet, who said ‘welcome to the neighborhood,’” Fields says. “That made my day.”

A Happy Farm Makes Happy Produce: Farm Profile Featuring Happy Boy Farms

Posted on by Kaiya Gordon in Blog, Happy Boy Farms, Vendor of the Week | Leave a comment

Farm profile header3

Happy Boy Farms returned to Mission Community Market two weeks ago, bringing their bags of lettuce, buckets of tomatoes, and fresh stance on organic produce with them. The farm is remarkable because of its variety––in the summertime, Happy Boy sells from over 200 acres worth of production. These acres vary in climate and geography; because the farm grows on multiple fields in multiple counties, some of Happy Boy’s fields are hot and dry, while others get coastal breezes even in the summertime. The result is a a varied landscape for produce.

Drivers at Happy Boy's MCM stall.

Staff at Happy Boy’s MCM stall.

Working for the farm means variation, too. Iva, a driver with Happy Boy, tells me that drivers “play with a lot of different skill-sets,” including interacting with customers, handling produce, navigating markets, and driving long distances. Happy Boy’s drivers start their journeys from the farms packing sheds, where Happy Boy houses seedlings. Before the drivers even arrive at a market, they start out by checking in on the farm’s teeny plants. That initial interaction fosters an intimate relationship between the drivers and Happy Boy’s crops, beneficial for shoppers browsing at Happy Boy’s stalls.

At their MCM stall, the mounds of tomatoes crowding their front tables are framed by the bunches of herbs and barrels of greens behind them. The stall hosts zucchinis, summer squashes, and bagged salad. A few customers in line are clutching finger-fulls of carrots, and some other are cradling bags of Happy Boy’s heirloom tomatoes. In addition to the vegetables, basil and fennel leaves are fanned out on Happy Boy’s tables. While most are likely familiar with basil, fennel’s bulbous white bottom and sprawling top is alien to many shoppers. Fennel has a taste similar to licorice and anise, though it is described as sweeter.

“I’m a really big fennel fan,” Iva tells me. “I feel like every year I work farmer’s markets people get more and more excited about fennel.” Iva suggests getting the most out of fennel by using the stems in pesto. Other recipe suggestions include caramelizing fennel in a salad, baking it with fish, or incorporating the seeds into biscuits.

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During the summertime, Happy Boy has San Marzano, Earl Girl, cherry, and heirloom tomatoes. Iva’s favorites are the purple heirlooms, which she suggests slicing and placing on top of a cooked dish, dicing for salsa, or eating them on their own for a snack. Earlygirl tomatoes are often prepared with mozzarella and basil, and San Marzanos make excellent sauces.

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After customers have come and picked through Happy Boy’s stalls, the farm donates all of its leftover produce. “Personally, one of my favorite things is knowing that everything we have is going to be eaten and enjoyed,” Iva says.

“Personally, one of my favorite things is knowing that everything we have is going to be eaten and enjoyed.”

At MCM, Iva notes, Happy Boy’s customers are variable. And though everyone living in The Mission District is aware of the changes the area has been going through, Iva says that she believes the market has stayed true to the heart and culture of the Mission. “I love the mission,” she says, “and the market is something that feels like it could really build a community. I like the size of it; it feels like people are wandering through.”

“I love the mission, and the market is something that feels like it could really build a community.”

“I love being outside, I love interacting with people––I love people who come from outside California who are surprised by whats possible,” Iva says. “One of the best things is when people are excited when new things come in.”

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.”