What did the Mission say?

As I approached the youth surveyor’s booth at MCM last Thursday, all six surveyors were engaged in conversation with a passer-by. They looked relaxed and in charge, fielding questions about where to use the bathroom even as they explained Read more

La Cocina Entrepreneurs Hit the Streets

Over the past six years, La Cocina’s Street Food Festival has become a San Francisco staple. The festival features innovative food, education and discussion, and a chance for the SF community to share experience and taste with each other. At the Read more

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

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.

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Fig-Ginger Chutney

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

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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.

Mercado Kitchen: miniature peach pies

Posted on by Kaiya Gordon in Arata Farm, Blog, Mercado Kitchen, Palmero Date Shop, Recipes | 2 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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Spotted at MCM: Craftsman and Wolves

Posted on by Carletta Wong in Arata Farm, Blog, Hale Apple Farm, Spotted at MCM, Tomatero Farm | Leave a comment

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Chef William and sous chef Connie from nearby Mission patisserie Craftsman and Wolves were spotted shopping at the Mission Community Market last Thursday. They are big fans of the market and can be found shopping at several vendor stalls almost every week. Last week they filled their cart with a variety of seasonal produce: kale and watermelon radishes from Tomatero Farm, apples from Hale Apple Farm, and quince from Arata Farm.

Right now as the seasons are changing there are a rush of changes at the patisserie, with new items in the works. Chef William told us his favorite season is always the next one with all the excitement of new seasonal ingredients becoming available.

What will Craftsman and Wolves be crafting with the produce from the market? Here’s a rundown:

Apples from Hale Apple Farm will be the market fruit paired with ‘damn fine’ granola and strauss yogurt. They are also for this exquisite apple & coconut tart with vanilla on a rye palet.

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Photo by Craftsman and Wolves

Kale from Tomatero Farm is for the savory kale salad with white butter beans, parmesan cheese, and croutons. The watermelon radishes will be dehydrated into pretty pink petal-like chips to top this new root vegetable croissant laminated with harissa butter.

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Photo by Craftsman and Wolves

Quince from Arata Farm is for a new cake being developed. The quince will be cooked sous vide for four hours and then paired with brown butter, pomegranate, and blonde caramel. Sounds amazing! Here’s a sneak peak of the prepared fruit – check back at Craftsman and Wolves for when this new seasonal cake will be available.

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Photo by Craftsman and Wolves

Craftsman and Wolves is located at 746 Valencia Street (between 18th and 19th Streets) in San Francisco’s Mission District. Open Monday-Thursday 7am-7pm, Saturday 8am-8pm, and Sunday 8am-7pm. Stop by and check it out and you might taste some Mission Community Market produce on their menu!

Note: MCM offers a reserved parking space for local restaurants and chefs picking up large orders at the market (at the end of Bartlett near 21st Street).

A Fruit of a Different Color

Posted on by EmilyN in Arata Farm, Twin Girls Farm, Vendors, Winters Tree Fruit | Leave a comment

Last week we spotted some unique pomegranates at the Winter’s Fruit Tree stand. That’s right–the folks that bring you delicious varieties of nuts every week also have some delicious fruit to share!

While most of us are used to seeing the “Wonderful” variety of pomegranates (deep red in color, delicious and available from Twin Girls Farm and Arata Farm at MCM), Phil Carter of Winter’s tells us that these light-colored poms are coming off 60-year-old trees on his property–trees so old that he isn’t quite sure what variety they are. He says that these fruit (sometimes called “white pomegranates”) are a variety that most likely originated in the Middle East, as it’s much more common to see lighter pomegranates there.

The seeds are light pink in color–somewhat reminiscent of cotton candy–and the flavor is sweeter and more mild than their Wonderful counterparts, without any tartness at all.

This delicious pomegranate didn’t last very long at this taste tester’s house…and we’ll definitely be going back for more next week. And so should you!