I am careful with what food events I attend in San Francisco. A few months ago at a pop-up food event downtown I overheard a guy say that he was the Steve Jobs of salsa. What does that even mean? Do child laborers in China make your salsa? Are you a jerk to your employees? All the guys were in plaid, everyone looked like they were in their 20s, and most of the vendors weren’t even around to talk about their products. Maybe it was trendy, but I was bored.
Anyway, I went to two evening pop-up markets recently that felt different. They reminded me of why I like going to markets and food events: to try new things, to share an experience, and to gather with all kinds of folks who can be brought together for a fundamental and common desire: to eat good food.
Bayview Community Pop-Up Market
This is a weekly food event with vendors selling affordable foods of all different styles: afro-carribean food, bread loaves, almond butter and candied nuts, soul food, honey, wine, southern style sweets made in the Bayview, and jams made in the Castro. I was pleasantly surprised to find so many generations enjoying the event too: I sat with a table of elderly ladies, I chatted with a professor at SF State, and several toddlers stumbled over my feet. In the back of the room, illuminated by the stage lights were eight self portraits done by teenagers through a mural project at the A Philip Randolph Institute. I spotted a few of the teens sitting proudly in front of their portraits, legs dangling over the stage.
Here are a few of the vendors:
Angelique and John, the mother and son team of Comfort Foods National are much friendlier than their corporate-sounding business name implies. On Thursday they prepared a sweet potato waffle and fried chicken sandwich and a light yam salad on a bed of greens. The waffle was legit (sometimes I feel like a good piece of fried chicken weighs down the waffle in a chicken and waffle sandwich, but not this one) and had a little spice to it. The plate looked so pretty with all those orange and green tones that at least five people who passed me by asked me about it. Check them out for your next event in need of catering.
Yvonne of Yvonne’s Southern Sweets is the kind of person you want to hug every time you see her. I’ve met her several times, and I know she doesn’t usually remember me, but she still gives me a huge smile. Her pastry shop in the Bayview serves up southern sweets like pralines and pecan pie. I liked the beignets.
This incubator kitchen in downtown Oakland just successfully funded a take-out window on Kickstarter. The snack bar, to be shared among small food businesses operating out of the kitchen, will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night snacks. A takeaway window serving late night snacks in the area where I am most frequently drunk? I can’t wait.
The space is very small, but they usually manage to squeeze in at least seven different food vendors, and a little wine and beer bar. There are some tables outside to sit, but otherwise you just kinda stand around feeling like you’re in the way. Still, I will gladly get in the way for some of this:
The husband and wife team from Mini Trini Bistro cater Trinidadian food (think caribean meets indian). They served their dal and dumpling soup with beef shank— hearty, to say the least! The habanero salsa added a fiery kick.
Sugar Knife, another family team was live torching s’mores with flavors like Town Biz (cookies and cream with Baily’s irish cream marshmallow with dark chocolate on honey grams) and Hella Nutella (bourbon vanilla bean and frangello marshmallow with nutella on honey grams). They obviously had me with the name Hella Nutella.
Also in the house was Keena’s Kitchen with a tasty gumbo, and Javi’s Empanadas, who puts the empanadas I used to eat living in Chile to absolute shame. He is also much more handsome than the old lady I used to buy my empanadas from, so he’s really winning!
Got the travel bug?
Follow Kitchener on Facebook for upcoming events.
Bayview Community Pop-Up Market will be starting at a new location Thursdays at the YMCA, 1601 Lane St at Revere. 5-8 pm. Looks like the one on March 6th has been postponed so follow on Facebook for updates.