iso rabins

Recipes

Eat your weeds! Nasturtium Pesto Recipe

People love to eat flowers. It’s a fact. I was talking to a vendor at a farmers market one time, and he told me that the $4 salad mixes he sold could sell for $8 if he put in a couple edible flowers. Nothing fancy, just nasturtiums or wild radish, things he found around the farm. There is something about eating something so beautiful that draws people in. Consuming beauty, rather than just observing it…maybe too deep, but maybe true. Anyway, no need to pay $8 for this recipe, just find a patch of nasturtiums.  The best part about this nasturtium pesto is that you actually use the leaves for the recipe, so you can save the flowers for garnish. Pick leaves that are small and deep green, these have the most intense flavor.

 

1 cup fresh nasturtium leaves, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

A lot of people know that nasturtium flowers are edible; a surprise is that the leaves are too. They are amazingly plentiful, and make a great pesto with a mild nasturtium bite.  We made this with fresh gnocchi and wild radish flowers or our last meal, big hit:

1. Pulse the nasturtium leaves in a food processor with an ice cube until well blended (the ice cube helps keep the intense green color. This also works with basil pesto).

2. Add pine nuts and blend. Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

3. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, with the food processor running. Stop periodically to scrape the sides.  Check for flavor every once in a while. Decide for yourself the consistency you want.   Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

That's it! Really delicious on Gnocchi or any fresh pasta. Enjoy!

 

forageSF

My adventures with Beekeeping 101

Took a beekeeping class yesterday with The Institute For Urban Homesteading. We want to get bees for the roof at Forage Kitchen, and although I hadn’t planned on taking care of them myself, I wanted to learn a little something about how they work.

Really interesting class! Learned a ton (which was easy considering I knew nothing). I was really struck by a few things. One is just the insane organization of the honey bee colony. At the risk of getting a bit airy, it really does seem magical the way they work. The second they’re born they know everything they need to do (the female worker bees first task is to turn around and clean her own hatching cell, HOW DOES SHE KNOW?!. Alternately the lazy male bees first task is to get fed…).

One bee on its own, while not stupid, doesn’t know how the whole functions functions, but they are born knowing exactly what their purpose is, really fascinating.  A queen bee doesn’t rule, but is just a larger bee fed differently. To make a queen the larvae is simply fed royal jelly for its entire incubation period, and put in a larger cell to grow. That’s the only difference, and somehow by being fed differently it knows that the second it’s born its supposed to kill all competing queens, fly out to mate, then lay thousands of eggs for the rest of her life.

It really does bring to mind the idea of the colony as a superorganism; something I’ve become really interested in lately, and that we discussed in the class. A bee is more like a cell in the body than an individual. A white blood cell doesn’t have a brain, and is never taught what to do, it just does it. It is created with all the information it will ever need, and immediately goes to task.  A thought doesn’t live in a neuron, but billions of neurons together create the experience of being human. The part creates the whole, without the need for individual agency. This is one of those things that if we didn’t see it happening in nature, we would say it was impossible.  Amazing.

The other thing I was really struck by was how little tending bees can live with. This was an alternative hive class, so instead of the standard hive (when you think of a commercial beehive, you’re thinking of a standard hive), we looked at several alternatives. The one that I was most enamored with is the Top Bar Hive. At it’s most basic; it’s a box with a series of 1.25 inch removable slats on top, with a .5 inch vertical piece of wood in each slat. Rather than needing to give the bees a frame to build their combs, they naturally create them on each vertical slat. Some for brood (where the babies are born), which are brown, and some for honey storage.

I originally went to the class really just to have a better understanding of what we were getting into at Forage Kitchen, but now I want my own! If anyone has any tips on where to find some healthy bees send ‘em my way!

thoughts

What makes a "Chef"?

  Im speaking at The Commonwealth Club tonight on a panel called "Climbing the SF Foodchain" with Craig Stoll from Delfina, Anthony Mynt from Mission Chinese, and Richie Nakano from Hapa Ramen. I think it'll be an interesting talk. Something we've been focusing on in the lead up, and what I think will be a really good topic, is difference between the "Old school" and "New school" food scene. There is a definite, mostly unspoken (sometimes screamed from the rooftops),tension between the two.

Traditional chefs go to culinary school, work the line in restaurants for years , go to France to apprentice. Years of repetition, studying the science and technique of food.  The new school just started doing it. Decided that having a food cart would be fun, had a good recipe and the balls to stand outside and brave the cops and possible crushing failure, and got out on the street.

Both schools have their positives and negatives, but with these two schools working side by side in the city, the definition of what a "Chef" is becomes blurry. The old school put in the time, the new school has the saavy to create something new and unique. I put myself firmly in the new school. I can cook, don't get me wrong, but I havn't worked on the line for years (and honestly I never will, it's not how my mind works). I trade in ideas as much as flavors, and create what I think almost as installation art pieces as much as dinners. Moments in time that people share, that may never reappear.

A Chef has always been someone who has worked their way up from the bottom, has unsurpassed technical skill. Is that what it means to be a Chef? Or is a Chef a person can create an culinary experience for people? A menu and a scene that creates a unique experience, like an underground dinner. These experiences have as much to do with the ideas and the company as they do with the food, but if we're honest, so does any meal. It's cliche, but a simple meal  cooked with friends can be a better experience than the most button up 3 star restaurant. The most delicious food in the world, served in an empty restaurant, is not successful food. So what is the most important part of a restaurant experience? It's hard to say.

We can't deny that the ideas around the food we eat inform our enjoyment as much as the flavors. Words like "local" "organic", "foraged", or "artisan", do make food taste better.  We'll pay more for it because we believe it's not only the right thing to do, but we feel it supports the kind of people we want to be - honest and hardworking, people with integrity working within a system that seems totally bereft of any honesty.

Honestly I get uncomfortable when someone calls me a chef. I create menus, create dinners, make money from selling food, truly enjoy the experience of creating dishes, finding the perfect balance not only in a dish, but throughout a full menu,  but I'm not sure I'm a "Chef". Like anyone should who is trying to create something larger than themselves, I have my weak spots, and I work with people that fill in the holes of my abilities. I have a vision, and I find the people who help me make it happen. That doesn't mean that they are the "Chef" either. The menu us my vision, the dinner is my creation, so giving them that title wouldn't be fair either. Is it the technical skills or the ideas that are important? I don't like the idea of not giving credit where it's due, but its a confusing balance. I've settled on "co-chef", which could also be "chef de cuisine", but I feel like that title has a subordinate connotation. It's still not a clear distinction, and in the fast paced military style of a kitchen, a lack of a clear leader can cause problems.

So what makes a Chef? At the end of this ramble, Im still not sure. What I know is that I am going to sit on a panel tomorrow with three people who have worked in restaurant kitchens more than I have. I've taken a different path, but I feel like I havn't done so bad myself. Perhaps fists will fly, blood pressure will rise, and we'll get into some of the real meat of what this all means. Don't miss it.

Tonight at 6:30, Commonwealth Club, SF

To see:  Here

To hear: Here

 

thoughts

On management (and the beginnings of a business)

Those of you that subscribe to this blog probably don't do it to hear management tips, but as a business owner its probably the thing I struggle with the most. How to manage people. How to get a group of people, each with their own mind and own personality, to help you create a very personal vision.  When I started my business, I thought the hardest thing would be getting people interested in what I thought was interesting, and yes, get them to buy what I was selling (gotta pay the rent). That was hard. I remember the first time forageSF went public. I had come up with the idea for the CSF (wild food CSA) about 2 weeks earlier, had been spending time deciding how much the boxes were going to cost, what would be in them, where I would forage, and how to get the word out. It was the last day of  Slow Food Nation, and it occurred to me that this was a perfect opportunity to introduce my idea to the masses. Up until this point, forageSF was just an idea in my head. I'd talked to my friends about it, but hadn't really put it out into the world. It's a scary thing, putting yourself out there with an idea thats different. So I rush printed some cards with the logo I'd created, what the boxes were, some info about my philosophy of splitting profit with foragers, rode my bike down to city hall, and staked out a spot with good traffic. That was the first moment. I got some good response. People seemed interested. I got some comments asking if I was collecting from dumspters. Some comments about the ecological impact of what I was doing, but overall, people seemed into it. But I digress.

At that point I didn't give a second thought to managing people, how to navigate the rocky shoals of personality styles. People respond differently to different things. Some people need to be coaxed into getting stuff done, some people appreciate a more direct approach. Some people need to be micromanaged (something that is not in my DNA), some people can take an idea and run with it.

When I think of my ideal company, I think of a group of people, all spending time doing what they love, in pursuit of a common mission.  Collaborating on ideas, lifting each other up with suggestions, and able to work on projects without too much input from me. This is deceptively hard to achieve.  When you are an entrepreneur, you imagine everyone thinks like you. That everyone has a singular vision to create what you want to create, and thinks like you think. The challenge is trying to see your work through the eyes of your employees. What inspires them about the job? What seems like drudgery? Whats going on in their lives outside of work that might be effecting them? Sometimes I feel like a psychologist, trying to peer into their brains to figure out what makes them tick. It's a constant challenge.

Luckily I think Im getting better at it. Or at least Im more aware of the mistakes I've made in the past, and try my best not to make them again. A couple of the lessons I've learned so far are:

Don't yell. Especially in food, high pressure situations are constantly in front of you, and the impulse to tear into someone in public is high, but it doesn't solve the problem, and all you'll get is a disgruntled worker. What I try to do (mostly successfully), is to try to solve the problem directly in front of me, and then make a note to talk about it later. Tensions run high at events, and its always better to sleep on it rather than explode. At the same time, you can't let things slide too much, so even though its uncomfortable, I try my best to bring it up within a couple days. This also gives you time to come up with a solution to keep it from happening again. When I do have a discussion with the person, I try to let them come to the solution on their own rather than giving it to them, I find that works much better.

If someone isn't doing something right, it's probably your fault. This is a philosophy I really try to live by. If you have a skilled, intelligent, inspired person working for you (and there is no reason ever to hire anyone else), they truly do want to do a good job. They also have the capacity to do a good job. So if they aren't, most likely its because they havnt been given the tools to do something the way you want it done. I think business is a lot like making movies. A director has an image in his head of what the movie will be, and he can't create that image alone, so its his job to employ an army of people to help him craft that image.

Its the same when you're starting any business that is crafted around a vision. The people working with you didn't come up with the vision, and they can't see into your head. All they can do is listen to what you tell them, and try their best to help you pull your idea out into the world.  You need to set up the environment that helps them do this.

With some people thats checking in daily on progress. With some people thats leaving them to it, and making sure they know you're there for support if they need it. It's a constant flow, of figuring out what kind of support people need to accomplish tasks. Of course, sometimes you run into people that aren't a good fit, and although its hard, its also your responsibility to deal with that situation rather than let it fester.

I've rambled for long enough. People who know me know that these are issues I struggle with constantly. I really do believe thats its the hardest part of getting a business from a solo enterprise into a larger company. The reality is that you can't do it all alone (at least I can't), so learning these skills is essential.  I havnt found the answers yet, but in the pursuit of trying to help people get to where I'm at without quite so much pain, I thought Id lay out the conclusions I've come to.  There is something that smacks of manipulation in what I've written here as I read it over, but it's really more about helping people to do the best job they can do at what they love in an environment they feel comfortable in. That's all we can really ask for.

Do you run a business? If so, what have you found that works with your employees? Please let me know, I'm always looking to get better at this. Iso

An Incubator Kitchen

Kickstart-it

   Raising Some Funds for Forage Kitchen

I'm getting really excited about our kickstarter campaign for Forage Kitchen. I think it'll be a great way to not only raise some funds to get the project rolling, but also a way to get the word out on the project. I'm trying to leave nothing to chance, I hate the idea of working so hard on getting a video done, raising some cash, and then losing it because we haven't made the full amount (the way kickstarter works is that you set a goal, and if you don't reach that goal, you don't get any of the donations you've accrued).

This project seems like it will be a popular one, but in the interest of being prepared, this is my plan of action:

1. Make a great video - We've been working for a while on making a great script for the video. One that explains what the project is, why we're doing it, who it will help (both locally and nationally), specifically what we will use the money for (very important this is included), and what I've done in the past as far as community oriented organizing.

I see this project as not only an SF creation, but something that can be used as a model for other cities that have similar needs. I think the spread of The Underground Market has shown that there is a real national movement of people producing food on a small scale, and the bottleneck is a space where they can come together to work on their businesses. We also got a great illustrator to draw some pictures of what the kitchen will be, and we're going to incorporate them into the video.

2. Make a plan - I met up with a guy named Dan Whaley who has recently raised $100K on kickstarter with a project called Hypothesis, to get some advice on the process. It was incredibly illuminating to talk to him. Before we spoke I thought we would make a video, send it out to the email list, and hope for the best. What he taught me is that you really need a coordinated plan. Who you're going to send it out to, and at what time. Most videos experience an initial burst of funding in the first few days, then level off. What he suggested is that you plan for that, and create a 3 section approach. 1. Initial blast to people who will support the project -contacts both personal and professional 2. Contact media to write stories as the project is starting to level out, for a new burst of interest mid-way through 3. A final push in the last couple days of the project, for that final support

I've begun to make a list of people/organizations that I know/think would be interested in supporting the project, and Im excited by how broad they are. Im going to reach out to a pretty diverse list of media, some that I've worked with in the past, some that I'll be cold calling, food orgs, chefs around the country, leaders of other underground markets locally and worldwide. This is really something people can get behind, and its cool to be working on a project that I can feel 100% in saying is being created for all the right reasons.

I've been talking a lot about this project recently, but this will be the first national exposure it will get. Its exciting, and actually pretty terrifying, but calming to think that we've got a lot of support behind something that will be great when its created.

Have you kickstarted? What's your experience? Tips? Things to avoid? Can you suggest organizations/individuals that you know/think would be into giving the project exposure?

Thanks Iso

wild kitchen

A Basque Feast: Recap and photos

The Basque feasts were a great success. We sold out both nights, with around 160 people each night, seated at long communal tables. This was my first foray into serving a family style meal, and I think it went really well. Something I've always liked about The Wild Kitchen is how much people interact with eachother. A lot of the dishes we serve have ingredients they've never had before, so there is almost always a pleasant din of "Is that the miners lettuce?"...."I've never had local uni before"....."I had no idea you could make ice cream with acorn flour".  New friends are always made. We also had the special treat of having hand painted menus by Juniper Harrower. She paints with local wine and ink made from ink cap mushrooms she forages. Pretty amazing stuff. The same thing happened with these past meals. Trays of asparagus with guanciale were passed in exchange for salt code rice with piperade, and a similar din ensued. Thanks to everyone that came out, we'll definitely be doing it again.

[gallery]

photos by Andria Lo

SF Underground Market

Underground Market Shutdown : An Update

I started the Underground Market in 2009 as a reaction to the high bar of entry that has been created to start a food business, something that I experienced personally. Starting in a house in the Mission with seven vendors and 150 eaters, the market has grown to feed over 50,000 people and help over 400 vendors get their start.

As many of you have heard, the health department came to the last Underground Market on July 11th and served us a cease and desist letter, stating they no longer considered the market a private event.

The market was able to function to this point because it was considered a private event (hence the market sign-ups). We organized it in this way following a suggestion by the health department. Everyone who walks through the door is a member who knows they are eating un-certified food , so technically the health department doesn't have to be involved.

They have decided (apparently with pressure from the state level), that the market is no longer a private event, and can therefore not continue as it has. We have requested a meeting with the city attorney for a definition of what a private/public event is exactly, so we can determine where the line is, and continue running the market.

This was not an unexpected event. We’ve known that it was only a matter of time until someone became upset about the popularity of the event. Because we’ve been expecting it doesn’t mean that we accept it.

Over the last year and a half The Underground Market has grown into a supportive community of makers and eaters. We see that in the 30-50 new vendors that apply every month, bringing samples of foods they clearly poured their hearts into, and the thousands of people who walk through the door each month to eat that food.

Our goal is to keep this momentum going. We would like to see the market continue to exist much as it has because we feel that it provides a necessary venue for people starting new food businesses. We’re interested in providing a space for entrepreneurs who for a myriad of reasons are not able to abide by the regulations put in place. The regulations, upfront costs, red tape, and lack of clarity in procedures all too often stop amazing food from ever being eaten.

The market is used in different ways by different people. Some are home cooks that have always wanted to sell, but for various reasons have not been able. Cocotutti is a prime example. She sold her first chocolates at the market over a year ago, and has since won national awards, moved into a commercial kitchen, and is approaching markets to stock her goods. KitchenSidecar worked at a bio consulting job, with a food blog on the side, before she found the market. Now she cooks full-time, caters, holds her own dinners, and collaborates on a Vietnamese pop-up restaurant called Rice Paper Scissors with another vendor, Little Knock. Nosh This was working as an architect before he was laid off and turned to the world of candy. Following his recent appearances in the New York Times, his wholesale accounts have exploded, he has moved into a commercial kitchen, and is working to make “Bacon Crack” a household name.

These are a few examples of people whose business, and some would say lives, have been changed because of their exposure at the market. People who have been able to earn money for themselves instead of populating the unemployment rolls. People who are contributing to the local economy while at the same time expanding the local food community.

We want the Underground Market to be a space for food entrepreneurs to get started on a small scale. And we want to continue to offer them more resources to move forward. We have seen the need for some time to have a space where vendors can produce their wares commercially. A space where we can hold classes on food safety/business, have commercial kitchen space for vendor use, retail space for them to sell, and café space with rotating chefs for them to cook. This space will be a hub, a place where people can come together around the wealth of food being produced in our city. We are starting work on looking for a space/getting details together on the project, and will send more information out soon.

On a personal note, I want to say that I really appreciate all the support people have shown. From emails from friends to tweets from strangers, you have all shown that you think the market is an important event and that you want it to continue.

This shutdown is an opportunity to find a workable model that can help not only The Underground Market in SF, but similar markets all over the country. The precedent we set here will ripple across the country. It will effect not only San Francisco vendors, but vendors nationwide. From cottage food laws to street food, we’ve seen an explosion of opportunity for small entrepreneur food businesses pop up over the last several years. We will continue to move forward toward our goal of keeping the market open, and our struggle can be an opportunity to find yet another way to help this movement grow.

Thank you,

Iso Rabins founder, forageSF

------- How to be involved --------

Contact your local city supervisor or: - Call or email the Mission District supervisor, David Campos

David.Campos@sfgov.org (415) 554-5144

There are also more tangible ways to get involved, especially if you have legal expertise, so please email us if you’d like to get help out:

1. Keep the Underground Market - Legal and political organizing expertise, email markets@foragesf.com 2. forageSF incubator project - Investors, designers, contractors, lawyers email iso@foragesf.com

We want to hear what you think, so if you have any other ideas, questions, or suggestions, please email iso@foragesf.com. To stay up to date on what’s happening, follow our blog at foragesf.com/blog.

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Recipes, Edible Plants

The Wonderful Wonderful Ramp

pickled ramps

pickled ramps

Ramps are special. We have wild onions in California, but they don’t come close to the taste, texture, and versatility of ramps (don't get me wrong, we have wild mushrooms that East Coasters would kill for). Since all the wild ingredients I use for The Wild Kitchen are local, the closest I ever get to using ramps is the wild onion.  Our wild onion is essentially a scallion, which is how I treat it.  Good chopped up and sautéed, with nice white flowers that I use for garnish. A ramp is a whole other animal.

The roots have a biting onion flavor, and bulblike crunch that begs to be pickled. The greens, which can be grilled, broiled, sautéed or seared, have just the right amount of the bulbs onion aroma, but a great texture that really rounds out a plate. They are a perennial (grow back each year), and the plant that gave Chicago its name. Chicagou was the word for ramp in the local dialect, and an abundant plant in the area when the city was being settled.

I’m back for a week visiting my mom in Plainfield, and wanted to take advantage of the best foraging season on the East Coast.  The prime focus for me was ramps. The woods are amazing in Vermont. The smell of the trees, moss, gurgle of creeks, shade of the maples.  All with the bonus of an abundance of plant and animal life on the forest floor.  I love California, but you just don’t get the same experience in our woods.

toothwort leaves

toothwort leaves

I grew up in Vermont, but my foraging career really started with wild mushrooms on the west coast, so I enlisted the help of a local expert to help me find my prize.  Annie is a local gardner/naturalist/friend of the family, who was nice enough to show me one of her prime spots. Not that they’re hard to find in VT. Ramps (or wild leeks as they’re called here) are everywhere. It would have taken me days to pick even half of what I saw.  Along the way she introduced me to some edibles I’d never heard of.

One was toothwort. It's a 3-leaves low growing plant. It has thin dull green leaves with serrated edges. The roots (and leaves to some extent) have an uncanny horseradish flavor. It’s pretty amazing actually. If I do a dinner in Vermont, this is definitely going to be included on the menu. Maybe a toothwort wasabi with local freshwater trout sashimi….Another thing that Annie introduced me to was the edibility of violet flowers. They don’t grow in abundance, so I would feel uncomfortable collecting them for a Wild Kitchen dinner, but they were great to try. They taste like wintergreen. Pretty cool. Another plant that grows here in abundance is wild ginger. We have this in CA, but I don’t see it much where I forage. There was a bunch on our walk, so I grabbed some of that too.

There's been some recent press on the over harvesting of ramps on the east coast, given their sudden spike in popularity.  As far as I can tell it’s more theoretical than realistic. People see them in stores, so immediately assume they are being decimated. From people I’ve talked to up here, it hasn’t become a problem. I always live by the motto of never taking more than a third of whatever plant I’m harvesting, that way I can be sure it will be there when I return next year.

field of ramps

field of ramps

I dug ramps for about 15 minutes and had almost more than I could carry, so I headed home. I washed them and cut off the bulbs, and for the next 3 days I ate the greens at every meal. Tossed in garlic and olive oil and wrapped in tin foil on the grill, sautéed with salt and garlic with my eggs in the morning, and cut small and used raw to spice up potato salad.   Even then I had a ton left.  Since there was no way I could eat them all before I left (and because I wanted to bring some back west), I decided to pickle the bulbs. Most of the pickles I do are what are known as quick pickles. Basically hot brine that is poured a vegetable, and used within a week or so. I wanted to try something different with these, so I decided to do a proper can.

If you’re reading this blog, I imagine you have some experience canning, or at least understand the fundamental ideas behind it. If not, also cool, we’ve all got to start somewhere.  The basic idea of canning is to submerge a veggie (or meat) into a hygienic environment (often vinegar), then boil the jar to create a vacuum that will push out any excess air. This creates an anaerobic environment where bacteria cannot grow, so preserves food longer. These pickles will last at least a month, or until you’ve eaten them all (which will probably be sooner):

You’ll need:

Food:

2C white vinegar

4C water

1C white sugar

2T mustard seed (“T” =Tablespoon and “t”=teaspoon)

1T fennel seed

2T black peppercorns

4 piece wild ginger root

2T kosher salt

4 piece toothwort root (both optional of course, but if you don’t use them add a small piece of fresh horseradish)

2 lb fresh ramps

Equipment:

4 - 12 OZ canning jars

Water bath canner (if you have it. If not a pot large enough to fit the jars will suffice)

Tongs

1 medium pot

Baking pan or Pyrex casserole

clean ramps

clean ramps

  1. First you want to get your liquids boiling, while they heat up you’ll have time to clean your ramps. Fill your pot with all your picking ingredients (minus the ramps). Bring them to a boil, then turn off heat. Fill your water bath canner up 3/4 with water, and boil. If you are using a pot, fill with water (leaving room for the area the jars will displace). Preheat your oven to 350F

  2. Sterilize your jars: An easy way to sterilize jars is wash them with soap and water, then bake them on sheet pan in the oven at 200F until you’re ready to use them. Got that tip from Slow Jams. http://www.chow.com/food-news/59073/the-easiest-way-to-sterilize-jars/

  3. While those are heating up, clean your ramps. First give the ramps a good wash, peeling off any discolored skin on the root, and snapping the root (not the bulb) off. Then cut off the bulb just above where the green of the leaf begins. Save the leaves. I personally think they’re just as delicious as the bulbs. You can sauté them up for a side dish, or put them on sandwiches. Really delicious.

  4. Now you want to fill your jars. I try to stand the ramps up, with the bulbs all facing down, but that’s really just an aesthetic choice. Just make sure there’s an inch clear below the rim of the jar. Pour over your nearly boiling pickling liquid, adding a root of ginger and toothwort, as well as a spoon of spices, to each jar. Screw on the lid.

  5. Now for the can. If you’re using a regular pot, you’ll want to make sure the jars stand up straight, but that they don’t touch the metal bottom. There are fancy grills they sell for this, or you can do what I do, and put a dishtowel in the water to line the bottom of the pot. Just make sure it’s as flat as you can make it. Place the jars in the water, turn down to a simmer, and “cook” for 15 minutes. Make sure the water covers the jar (this is how you force out the air), add hot water from the tap if it needs it.

  6. Take jars out with tongs, allow to cool, and you’re done! A lot of words for what is actually a pretty simple process. Clean veggies, put in jars, cover with vinegar, and force out air. As they cool you should hear a popping sound of the lid suctioning down. You might not hear the sound, but check to see that the lid is pressed in, that’s how you know the can worked.

If you make this recipe, give me a comment and let me know how it went. I haven’t tried it with the toothwort yet, and I’m definitely excited to see if the wasabi/horseradish flavor comes through. Also, if you've ever pickled the greens, let me know how that went. That's what I'll try next. Ramps!

Iso

dirty ramps

dirty ramps

SF Underground Market

and it was good.

Our very special Easter/Passover Underground Market is over (to be honest it had nothing to do with either of those holidays, but glad people could take a break from feasting to come by). It was quite a success.  We had over 40 vendors, 3200 eaters (a new record), a food truck (a first), and a line down the block.  We were much more careful about capacity this time, stopping entrance at 580 (after which we only let people in when others left), and it made for a much more manageable vibe. We also set up seating outside, so people had a place to sit down and eat. I've felt bad ever since we started having the market at Public Works about the over 21 policy (this is necessary because of the kind of license Public Works has), so we set up an area outside where kids could hang out and eat without actually going into the space. We had about 10 people take advantage of it, which isn't a lot, but a start.  We lowered the number of vendors inside this time around, so people would have more space to walk, and that also improved the overall feel I thought. Overall I (in my humble opinion), thought it was a really great market.

I had a great time, and I hope you did too. I've been looking at some other spaces, and recently sent an email to the armory folks (on 14th/mission, owned by kink.com). Apparently they have a huge space, and maybe they would let us give tours....Thanks to everyone who came out and ate, thanks to all the vendors that made delicious food, it was a good night. Here are a couple pics from the market, in case you didn't get to come. If you are interested in being a vendor at next months market, look here for info on the next sample day. If you're not on our list yet, and want to get a note about the next market, please sign up to be a member here. See you next month!

Iso

wild kitchen

Valentines dinners and 3000 gnocchi

Just woke up for the second day of our 3 day Valentine’s day dinner marathon. Total this weekend we are going to feed 440 people! By far the most I’ve ever fed.  Friday night went really well.  Had a bit of a hiccup in the beginning (forgot the wine glasses, so had to drive down to Daly city with ten minutes until the dinner started, pay $50 for someone to open the rental warehouse, then somehow fit 6 crates of glasses into a Corolla that already had 600 oysters…), but it worked! The rest of the night went very smooth. This was the first time we had ever done 2 seatings, so there was a bit more pressure to get the food out fast, while still not making it a rushed meal. The favorite of the night was the wild boar ragu, people were basically licking the bowls.

Off to prep now, mostly a big day of opening oysters and rolling gnocchi (more than 3000 over the whole weekend). Maybe I’ll see you tonight.

Iso

wild kitchen

Foraging Mussels

I love collecting mussels. These pics are from a couple weeks ago when me and my girlfriend went down south. Was a lot of fun, mix of work and play.  We actually got approached by a fish and game officer, so I was happy that I bought us both fishing licenses. Its worth it if you are going to collect mussels, because the fines are pretty intense. The limit for mussels is 10 lbs a person, and you’re only allowed to use your hands to pry them off (so no knives allowed!) Go at low or minus tide. Have fun! Things to bring:

Gloves

Bucket

Fishing license

I just heard an interesting story, that mussel fisherman down south used to save the threads from the mussel "beards" and make gloves out of them. Pretty cool, and makes sense, they are some strong threads.

SF Underground Market

February 5th Underground Market Vendors

The market is at SomArts, at 934 Brannan St, in SF. Starts at 11am, ends at 11:00pm. DAY VENDORS:

Sasonao latin Cuisine  --  Tony Ulloa  --  Nicaraguan cuisine Fresh Bite Bakery  --  Cindy Tsai Schultz/Terry Betts  --  http://www.freshbitebaking.com/ --  baked goods Todd Masonis  --  bean-to-bar chocolate mo foods  --  Caterina Rindi/Jae Brim  --   www.mo-foods.com --  foraged/gleaned pickles & preserves Epicurean Solutions  --  Moira Tocatium  --  Veggie Deli Salads Starter Bakery  --  Brian M. Wood  --  www.starterbakery.com --  bakery Three Bowls  --  Indu Kline  --  Ambrosia - food of the gods James Saltzman's Smoked Bacon  --  James Saltzman  --  smoked bacon & brownies Rokas/Kelli Armonas  --  honey & mushrooms Beet Freaks  --  Sharon Salmon  --  pickles Earth Alchemy Chocolate  --  Susan Marjanovic  --  earthalchemychocolate.squarespace.com/ --  raw herbal chocolate Bread Project  --  Diedre Linburn  --  chocolate chip cookies The Chai Cart  --  Paawin  --  hot chai & chai packets Canvas Underground  --  Peter Jackson   www.canvasunderground.com --  meats & gumbo Raja Sen  --  dal and balsamic vinaigrette Quackery  --  Scott/Ramona  --  kombucha Ben Sawicki  --  flavored kale chips & veggie curry Josey Baker  --  bread Dehesa  --  Edward Lekwart  --  artisan sausages Tamales By Rudy  --  Rudy Santiago  --  burrito-sized tamales German Bread  --  Katrin Staugaard/Daniela Busse  --  traditional German bread & foraged plum jams Le Chaudron Magique  --  Isabelle Sin  --  seasonal jams Kirsten Roehler  --  seasoned goat cheese, seasoned salts & pickled lemons Yaella Frankel  --  chutneys, relishes & salsas Telegraph Hill Coffee Roasters  --  David Oliver  --   www.telegraphcoffeesf.com --  coffee

NIGHT VENDORS:

Flosa Creamery  --  Jordan Grosser  --  bacon-wrapped mochi CoCoTutti  --  Elyce Zahn  --  http://cocotutti.com/ --  caramels, chocolates Jilli  --  Will Schrom and Jacky Hayward--  www.jilli-icecream.com --  sarsaparilla and raw ice cream! Whole Beast Supper Club  --  Kevin Bunnell  --  pig products Lan Kulapaditharom  --  Tawainese: beef/chicken slider & shrimp wonton Lelajay's Ridiculously Good Gluten-FREE  --  Lila Akhzar  --  gluten-free brownie bites Aaron's Almost Better Than Sex Cake  --  Aaron Keller  --  chocolate oreo-toffee cake & beer dogs Sidesaddle Kitchen  --  Laura Miller  --  www.facebook.com/SidesaddleKitchen --  raw vegan pies Mama’s African Kitchen   --  Dupe Bello  --  traditional African curry dishes JazzyB's Recipez  --  Jasmine Ball  --  mac n’ cheese-veggie & w/pork belly A Humble Plate  --  Rathsamee Ly  --  Laotian Food Saucy Dumplings  --  Michael Lee  --  pork & vegetarian dumplings Hella Vegan Eats  --  Sylvester Chitica/James Raushenberg  --  www.hellaveganeats.com --  Vegan deliciousness Luscious Liquids  --  Kathy DeWitt/Tracee Raptis  --  elixirs and such Sajen Foods  --  Morisinah Katimin  --  Gado-gado & satay burger w/peanut sauce (Indonesian street food) Laksa Pho King  --  Stephen Backer  --  Vietnamese Pho & Malaysian Curry Laksa The Occasional Macaron Shop  --  Katie/George Wang  --  www.facebook.com/macaronshop --  macarons Angry Man Eats  --  Paul Midgen  --  chicken & waffles Tamale Nation  --  Alison Greenwood/Maria  --  tamales & empanadas Eric Eberman  --  veggie empanadas Bake It Banana  -- Courtney Dougherty  --  banana desserts

OUTDOOR NIGHT VENDORS: Kitchen Sidecar  --  Katie Kwan  --  www.kitchensidecar.com --  banh mi burger Pizza Hacker  --  Jeff Krupman  --  pizza The Grilled Cheese Guy  --  Michael Davidson  --  grilled cheese Sataysfied  --  Feldo Nartapura  --  www.sataysfied.com --  Indonesian satays Boffo Cart  --  Rhasaan Fernandez/Crystal Williams  -- hot sandwiches & paninis Panguita  --  Andre Joffroy  -- beer battered fish tacos & beef tostadas

SF Underground Market

Night Market

The Underground Market

The Underground Market

A couple weeks ago, we had our real first Underground Market collaboration with Public Works.  It went really well.  Dare I say it was one of the best markets yet?  Almost all the vendors sold out and over 2,700 people came throughout the day.  The Public Works space is really great: two floors with enough nooks and crannies that you’re always discovering new food creations around every corner. On top of that, there were two full bars, which is of course never a bad thing.  We had 60 vendors with everything from bacon wrapped mochi to brick oven pizza to jerk chicken to Vietnamese crab noodles to kombucha. Throughout the day portion of the market, about 500 people came through, which was a good amount for the space. We had a pretty broad range of vendors, from chicken and waffles to kombucha, and everyone who came through seemed to have a good time. The space is such that less people fill it out, although the capacity is still pretty high.  I left at 4 to get some last minute prep done (I made ramen with char siu for the market).

bacon wrapped mochi

bacon wrapped mochi

Although I also organize the market, I almost always cook something.  The reason I started the market in the first place was so I could have a booth, and I’m always more happy cooking than just standing around. When I came back just before six, there was already a line wrapped down the block, and around the corner.   It was great to see. It felt like the second market we did. The first market we ever threw attracted 150 people, and the second one had over 800. I never imagined it would be that popular.  It was so exciting to walk out and see that many people at an event I was organizing. This felt the same way; it had that same sense of excitement. The line was there for most of the night, although it was moving pretty fast, and the market didn’t really die out until around 1am.

Pizza

Pizza

Music has always been something we’ve wanted to include in the market.  From the first time, with 15 people sitting in a circle around an acoustic guitar player, I’ve always imagined that music was one of the things that set our market apart from a regular farmers market.  Unfortunately, a lot of the time it’s been an afterthought, something we have, but is not given the attention it needs to really be a focus. Public Works handled that this time. Although it wasn’t exactly the kind of music I listen to, I thought that it gave a nice vibe to the day.  It really went off just like we talked about, with chill, background music during the day that gave way to hard electronic from 12-2. We also had a smattering of acts, from a violin player to an accordion, that were playing throughout the market. It gave a nice vibe, something akin to a Parisian street fair.

Public Works is definitely somewhere we’ll be again. The guys who work there made it super easy to pull off a great market, and the space is great.  We’re actually thinking about having it outside when the weather gets better, which should be a lot of fun. We would close off the street, with a beer garden, music, and lots of vendors outside.

That’s all for now. Overall I think it went great.  A good first collaboration, and definitely not the last (I’m meeting with Kelly from Indiemart this week).   The great thing about this kind of collaboration is the way it takes us out of our heads. Gets some fresh ideas, and exposes us to other audiences. It’s good to see so many people come out to support this kind of event.

Every vendor at the market is someone who is trying to make their passion their profession, and a market like this shows that it’s definitely possible.  For those of you who came late and didn’t find too much food left, very sorry. Amazingly, almost every vendor sold out by 10pm. We actually went out to the market and bought ingredients for egg sandwiches at 11, just so there would be something left. It was amazing how much people bought.  Thanks to everyone that came out, both sellers and buyers, you’re the reason it all works.  For more pics from the market, check out our facebook page

The next market is Saturday Feb 5th at SomArts, 934 Brannan, SF from 11am-11pm

Thanks

Iso Rabins

photos by Andria Lo

Recipes, wild kitchen

Fish Soup and Climbing Cezanne's Mountain

My girlfriend Valerie and I just got back from a month long trip to Europe – a land of delicious cheese and keyboards that make typing an inconceivable chore (I mean really, who would design a keyboard where you have to hit alt, command, shift, and 4 to get an @ symbol?).  But, despite their lack of tech design genius (or perhaps in spite of it), I had a great time.

  • Climbed Sainte-Victoire, the 3,000 ft. mountain that inspired Cezanne for three hours hours one foggy night. White glistening rocks, 500 ft. drop-offs, and heavy packs illuminated by head lamps.  At one point we tied ourselves together with a scarf just in case one of us was to fall.  It was worth it to camp in a church at the top of the mountain;  to drink, play music, and cook raclette in the fireplace.
  • Rented the most French apartment I’ve ever seen, complete with a tiny kitchen and the full works of Edith Piaf.
  • Ran from tear gas in Lyon as French students fought with the riot police.  It exposed us to the French peoples’ distaste for work (the retirement age was recently pushed from 60 to 62, spurring riots that shut down highways, gas stations, airports, and trains).
  • Slept in the 2 ft.wide-wide hallway of an overnight train to Alba, Italy, waking up alternately by gesticulating Genovese and grandmothers that seemed to have packed for the apocalypse.
  • Bought our first true European truffle, and tried it on everything from mac and cheese to pizza to omelettes to pasta with béchamel (which I liked so much that I made it at the last Underground Market).
  • Stood under the Eiffel Tower as it began to flash, and realized how much it seems like a spaceship from that angle.
  • Harvested olives in Tuscany until I caught the flu, and walked leisurely like old people through the streets of Tarquenia, stopping at each shop to admire the full legs of procuitto.  It was amazing to see them hand slice that stuff, pure artists).

The one thing I didn’t do was update my blog, but I did write (on real paper no less) and will try to post some of it here very soon. For now, I’m happy to be back and getting into the swing of things again.

The first order of duty was to organize two Wild Kitchen dinners, each featuring nine of my favorites dishes from Europe, with a forageSF twist.  One of my favorite courses of the night was soup de poisson avec aioli maison de nori sauvage.  This dish was inspired by a meal we had in Cassis (a small town in the south of France, from which the crème de’ gets its name).  It was exactly what I’d been looking for since I got to Europe:  a good meal, perfectly cooked, served simply.

Soupe de poisson is essentially a very flavorful fish stock, served with crostini, spicy aioli, and cheese.  The secret is to get an intense rich flavor of seafood and spice.  Rather than being “fishy,” it was more of round and full profile.  I first imagined was just a reduction of fish stock, with the flavor concentrated by long cooking, but as we worked we discovered it needed more to get it just right.

First we experimented with a simple fish stock, which is nothing more than halibut bones, garlic, carrot, onion, celery, and bay leaf.  After cooking for an hour we reduced the liquid by more than half.  This gave us a good flavor, but it wasn’t what I was looking for.  It tasted like fish, but didn’t have that same richness.  We finally found it by adding reduced chicken stock, brandy, oyster liquor and crab “goodies.” If you don’t have those, the stock will still be good, but the fullness they add to the flavor is worth the extra work.

To top it off I made an aioli of wild nori and Sriracha.  Nori is a seaweed I collect locally; its similar to the seaweed used to wrap sushi and our local variety grows abundantly up and down the coast.  We put the aioli on crostini, added a side of mozzarella cheese, and that was it.  A really simple course that was the most popular dish of the night.

Wild Nori Aioli

If you’ve ever made aioli before, it’s the same process, but with addition of chopped nori and Sriracha towards the end. The nori really gives a great layer to the flavor and eating seaweed always makes me feel good. I used nori that I collected during the mid summer when it’s at its peak, and preserved it by cleaning and drying it out. You should try your hand at it too, nori is a great thing to have around to put in soups, and in this case, aioli.

-2 egg yolks

-1 qt. blend oil (a blend of olive and canola) or canola oil

(Pure olive oil has too strong of a taste for aioli.)

-Sriracha hot sauce

-2 cups dried nori (preferably foraged yourself, because its so fun, but don’t feel bad about buying pre-made sheets)

-1/2 clove garlic

-2 tsp. Dijon mustard

-4 tbsp. lemon juice

-Salt/pepper to taste

  1. Pulse eggs, minced garlic, and lemon juice in food processor.
  2. Add the oil, a drop at a time until you have an emulsion, and then add the rest of your oil in a slow but steady stream. You know you’re done when your aioli ceases to be liquid eggs, and thickens to become lovely silky mayo.
  3. Add  nori, and Sriracha, and pulse to incorporate.  Aioli is really a matter of personal taste, so if you feel it’s too thick, add a drop or two of water, not sharp enough, add some more lemon, and of course salt and pepper to taste…feel free to experiment.

Simple Fish Soup

This is essentially a really rich fish stock, and goes amazingly well with the spicy aioli. And it's a fun dish to serve and eat: first, you bring out three bowls containing the crostini, aioli, and cheese as well as the pot of the fish stock. Spread aioli on top of three crostini and sprinkle some cheese on top. Lay these pieces in a bowl and ladle fish stock over it until it slightly covers the bread, then eat by spooning the soaked bread in your mouth. Bon appétit!

-5 lb. halibut bones (or other non-oily white fish such as haddock, hake, or sole). Have your fish guy cut them into pieces about the size of your hand.

-1 lb. carrot

-1 lb. celery

-2 lb. onion

-1/2 lb. fennel

-1/2 cup soy sauce

-1 1/2 cups white wine

-1/2 cup brandy

-2 gal chicken stock

-1 bay leaf

-Salt and pepper to taste

- 3 tbsp crab "goodies" (brains and organs from inside a cooked crab)

-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Add fish bones to a oiled stockpot over medium high, cook about 15 minutes until caramelized.
  2. Add rough chopped veggies, brandy, wine, chicken stock, bay leaf, and soy and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn down to a simmer as soon as it boils and cook on low heat for 4 hours.
  4. You’ll know its done when you taste the rich flavors of the stocks coming together. Strain everything through a cheesecloth lined strainer.
  5. Return the soup to the pot and cook it over medium-high heat until it has reduced by half, about an hour.
  6. Serve with sides of crostini, aioli, and mozzarella cheese. You can’t miss with these flavors.

So the trip was great! We ate good food, met good people, and had some adventures, but it's nice to be back.

Iso

Recipes by Iso Rabins and Jordan Grosser

photos by Valerie Luu

SF Underground Market

San Jose Market, or How the health department showed up (again)

This past Friday we had our first Underground Market in San Jose. At 5:10, 10 minutes after the market was scheduled to open, I was standing in a circle with a San Jose police sergeant, health inspector, and the fire marshal.  The three people I would least like to be talking to before a market of un-certified foods.

We had made the trek down to the South Bay for the 01SF biennial festival in San Jose, a festival that celebrates art whose tagline is "Build your own world.” From what I saw between meetings with the health folks, it was actually a pretty cool festival. However, it felt like a bad idea from the beginning. Usually we have our market in an enclosed space, or in an out of the way parking lot.  We organize the market as a private club, which is not open to the public, so has been able to avoid government scrutiny, but I’ve always felt that they really don’t want to see it in the open. To have the market in the middle of a city funded festival that the health, police, and fire departments were sure to attend, seemed a bit fool hardy (as my grandmother would say). We have worked it out with the SF health department, but had no idea what the San Jose folks would think. To make sure it was legit, I asked the Zero One folks to probe the health department about the market weeks in advance, to see how they would feel about an event like ours. I was told that they were amenable, if not necessarily comfortable.

Back to the parking lot. It was us, the health, fire, and police departments, and the Zero One organizers standing in a circle. The health and fire inspectors detailing why we were going to get shut down, the Zero One organizers suddenly explaining to us that they had contacted the health department, and they had been told that a market like ours would definitely be shut down! They had known all along, and instead of letting us know, they had forgot to mention that little point. I have not been that mad in a long time.  Suddenly they were acting like we had just shown up, without any partnership with them, to put on the market.

I was sure the market was over.  The conclusion of our talk was a laundry list of the laws we had violated, and an explanation that the next step would be for the inspectors to go around and shut down the vendors one by one. They explained to me that all 29 vendors would have to 1. Go home, wasting all the food they had made 2. Those that had produced their food commercially (about 3 amongst the lot) could buy them for an intensely inflated fee.  The idea of this market is to give a chance to people who are just starting out. To lower the bar of entry in a way. This would have killed the chances of many of the vendors there if it had been shut down.

As we started to accept this as our horrible fate, the health inspector made a phone call and the other person at the end of the line said it would be okay to let the market carry on. With one phone call, the issue quickly went away, as if there was no threat to the market to begin with. We had to give assurance that the market was only one day, and that everyone who entered got a wristband, but that was about it. The health and inspectors still inspected vendors, but it was more a friendly attempt to do the best they could with what they had, and no one had to leave.  The inspector went booth by booth, outlining ways vendors could hew closer to health department regulations, which we try to do as much as possible.

I don't know who this faceless person on the other side of the phone was. One of our vendors suspects that San Jose city lawyers recommended they leave it open less they open themselves up to a lawsuit. A cop who was standing near by told us he thought the whole thing was a publicity stunt to amp up Zero One. I heard a rumor that a channel 5 reporter was taking the angle that the cultural commission had pushed our market as an event that they knew would get shut down, as a way to make the city look bad, although I never saw the story.  To be honest I’m not sure what happened. Maybe San Jose didn’t to shut down an event they allow in SF. Maybe somebody knew somebody, maybe we’ll never know. (if you do know for some reason, please pass it along)

In the end it worked out. The market happened. It started three hours late, but about 1,200 people came. What's so amazing to me about this experience is the clear line it drew of the way bureaucracy works.  Everything the health inspector told us before that phone call was legit. She detailed the law, and why and where we had broken it.  Then she called someone, and the law changed. Which is great. I think the law should change – if an adult chooses of their own free will to eat food that was made in someone else’s home they should be able to.  As it stands now, the government doesn't agree. That night, someone decided that they did.  Every time we succeed putting this market on we set more of a precedent.  A precedent that states that food made at home is just as safe as food made in a commercial kitchen.  That stainless steel and walk in freezers don’t make food safe, but rather the care of person producing it.

Recipes

Eat Real And Purslane

eat real

eat real

As a chef, it’s hard to cooking something you don’t like eating.  It sucks in fact.  You want to be excited about what you’re serving, and when you just can’t quite wrap your lips around a certain ingredient, it’s hard to love your dish. You always have to taste your dish, and you don’t like the taste of a certain ingredient, it’s difficult to do. That said, people do it every day. There are legions of vegetarians working on meat-heavy menus, broccoli haters that need to add that dreaded vegetable to their dishes.  Despite our own culinary biases, we still need to make it work because we know (at least intellectually) that people have different tastes.

Kitchen Purslane

Kitchen Purslane

For me, that ingredient is purslane. Purslane, known to botanists as Portulaca oleracea, is a native of the old world that has become naturalized in the U.S. Many consider it a weed (like most wild foods), but it is very high in Vitamin C and Omega 3’s (probably what gives it it’s slimy taste).

Although I haven’t seen it in SF, this wild edible is abundant up in Northern California. It looks beautiful in salads – I’ve seen it prepared picked and thrown into salads, as well as sautéed, and people seem to really like it. However, I just can’t get myself to like it. I want to like it. To me, it tastes like okra, which is another plant I’ve never loved. It’s the slime that gets me.  Not to put off your stomach (because, believe it or not, this post will include a recipe), it feels like someone spit in my mouth.  People say it’s because I haven’t had it cooked correctly, which might be true, but as of now, I’m not a fan.  Sure, you can fry it, but that seems like a cop out (although I did do that in one of the dishes I prepared for the Eat Real Festival last weekend).

Held at Jack London Square at the end of August, the Eat Real Festival is a three-day food fest that features chefs, farmers, artisans and street food and really great presentations on everything from sourdough bread baking to animal butchering. If you haven’t gone, you should.  It’s a lot of fun, and they really seem to have gotten it down this year. This was my second time at Eat Real –a year ago I sold sea beans I had foraged up north (or more correctly, gave away samples, people didn’t really know what they were). It was really great for me, my first time really getting forageSF out into the public, which gave me an amazing amount of exposure.

This time around I was doing something a little different.  It was a program called The Urban Farmstand. The idea was to partner a chef with a farm, the chef would use the farms make a dish or two, and the farm would sell the produce. Cool idea, needs a bit of tweaking if they’re going to do it next year, but overall a good thing.  I like the way it shows people what can be done with the raw ingredients that are being sold right next-door.  I think the signage they had was confusing. Although we were all independent vendors, the signs made it seem like we were associated with eat real.  I had several people come up to me and ask if we were doing a cooking demo.   Overall good though, and as someone who organized events myself, I was impressed, especially by the workshops and demos, which were in large part organized by my very own girlfriend, one ms. Valerie Luu.  I partnered with Heirloom Organics, who can be found at the Ferry Building Market as well as other farmers markets.  “WAIT,” you say, “Aren’t you a forager, you shouldn’t be getting anything from a farm?!”

Well, that’s where purslane comes in.

chioggia_beets

chioggia_beets

There are several wild veggies that grow on farmland, without any help from the farmer (and often in spite of their ideas for the land), and purslane is one of them. It moved in a couple years ago at Heirloom, and now they have hundreds of pounds each year.  With this, I talked to Grant from Heirloom and decided that purlsane was going to be wild ingredient. I also used Heirloom Organics blue potatoes, salad greens, broccoli, red, gold, and chioggia beets, and baby corn (which is just corn picked when its small).

I made two dishes: one was a salad with spring greens, a duck gelee vinaigrette (gelee is what you have left over after making duck confit, a good way to think about it is as essence of duck), It’s a gelatin that has this great savory, salty flavor that’s amazing in dressings, or even on its own, pickled, as well as raw shaved, golden, red and chioggia beets, and the afore mentioned cheat, fried purslane.  This was a nice dish (if I do say so myself). The raw beets paired really nicely with the tart pickles, and the duck pulled it all together.  The sad fact is that people don’t really want to eat salads at street food events though, so we didn’t sell too much.

The second dish I did was duck confit and duck fat fried blue potatoes, with sautéed purslane, broccoli, and baby corn. People seemed to respond well to this. My idea was to cover up the sliminess of the purslane as much as possible with the savory duck, starchy potatoes, and finally, the crisp baby corn (which I blanched quickly to give it some tenderness).

So overall a good weekend. Too much prep for too little sales, but I learned a few things, which are:

  1. simple is best at street food events

  2. you can't really go wrong with duck confit

  3. duck gelee is a wonder ingredient on par with anchovies for adding flavor

Here’s the recipe for the duck dish I did, hope you like it. The hardest part is making the duck confit, but you’ll be well rewarded:

You’ll need:

-1 lb blue potatoes

-1 cup duck confit, picked from the bone (here’s a good easy recipe for duck confit. Takes some time, but its worth it. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Duck-Confit-102313)

-1 lb broccoli rabe

-1/2 lb purslane (you can find this at the farmers market)

-3 ears baby corn (heirloom is the only place I’ve ever seen this fresh, they’re at the ferry building farmers market)

heirloom-tomatoes

heirloom-tomatoes

-1 sprig thyme

-1/2 lb heirloom tomatoes

  1. Get two pots of boiling water going, well salted (like the sea), as well as two bowls filled with ice water (also salted)

  2. Scrub the potatoes, prepare the broccoli, and shuck the corn

  3. When the water boils, throw your potatoes in one until nearly cooked through (about 10 minutes for the small ones), and throw your corn into the other.

  4. Mince garlic and thyme, dice tomatoes

  5. After about 3 minutes, remove corn with a slotted spoon and place in ice bath. Repeat for broccoli, cooking until just under done, 4 minutes or so.

  6. When potatoes are done, put them in the second bowl of ice water

  7. Quarter potatoes, dry other ingredients

  8. Heat large sauté pan to medium high with reserved duck fat from confit

  9. Fry potatoes until they start to brown, add garlic and thyme, add purslane, cook 4 minutes, add broccoli, cook 3 minutes, adding oil as needed. (If it looks like your garlic is about to burn, you can throw in a small squirt of water to cool down the pan). Salt and pepper to taste. That’s about it. Plate then garnish with tomatoes and corn on the side, feeds four or so.

wild kitchen

Pics from our last dinner

Hey all This last week we did three wild kitchen dinners in a row. Was fun, and really exhausting.  I love cooking, and being able to do it on that scale was a good time.  We're going to be doing at least 3 more this month, look out for the menu in about a week. We're also going to be offering ten $40 tickets per meal  (in addition to the the 55 $80 tickets).    I like the idea of the dinners being more accessible, but I couldn't pay the rent, and get the quality of food I serve, if they were all that price.  If you can afford the $80 ticket, please leave the lower priced seats for those who can't.  I will be announcing the sale of these lower cost tickets on twitter a few days before the general tickets go on sale, so if you're not already, follow us (that phrase has always stuck me as strange, but what else is there...twitter us....join us....). Anyway, onto the pics! These were taken by one ms. Andria Lo, I really like her style.  If you want to check out the next dinner, please sign up for our email list in the "subscribe" box at foragesf.com

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SF Underground Market

A great night.

East Bay Underground Market

The East Bay Underground Market was a bit of an experiment. Would it work in the East Bay? Would it work outside? What did we have to do differently? Would the fire marshall show up because it was outside? Would people show up?  No way to know really.

The Paella Tent

I have to say that I had the most fun this market. It was really nice to be outside, both for the weather, and for the fact that it gave the market a much more open feel (I suppose thats a pretty obvious observation).  I really like SomArts, but it can get a bit clausterphobic. We had about 2000 people through the course of the night, but it never got too full that we had to stop letting people in.

I met a mushroom forager from Shasta (Kevin), who, like most mushroom foragers, was a bit crazy in all the best ways.  He came down to the city with a backpack full of morels, which I promptly bought (and which you'll taste in this upcoming Wild Kitchen dinner), with a promise that I could visit his farm sometime in the future.

Pizza Lovers

I found out that one of my vendors is actually a lawyer who specializes in...I believe she said it's called high risk legal strategy, and since I happen to run my life in a particularity high risk legal way, she's definitely a good person to know. Hopefully we're going to be working together to help some of the vendors jump through some hoops towards legitimacy, a hard process indeed.

We got Beat Beat Whisper to come back, this great Oakland based sibling duo that played at the first two SF Underground Markets. I love their music, makes me happy every time I hear it (I'm actually listening to it as I write). They're going to be playing at Eat Real (another great Oakland festival you should check out), at the end of the month, they are really not to be missed.

Ayla and Davyd Nereo of Beatbeat WhisperWe learned a lot at this market. About the OPD, generators (who knew renting a generator for one day could cost $3000?), porto-potty placment, spider boxes (I'll leave it up to you to imagine, although the reality is less cool than your imagination I can assure you ((hint: it has less to do with spiders, and more to do with power)).  We had some great help from one ms. Consuelo Jacobs, who I met a couple months ago, and for some reason dedicates fully too much of her time to helping make the market amazing, which is very much appreciated. We had some great vendors this time. We put out the call a couple months ago for East Bay Vendors, and got a pretty good response. Out of the 130 or so that signed up online, about 35 showed up for sample day (this is about par for the course, which Im always surprised by, but its a good way to see who is serious), of which we accepted 30.  Overall we had 55 vendors, so about half East Bay, not bad for a first attempt....enough business talk, onto the food!

Really great stuff, of which my words won't do justice, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Thanks to everyone that came, vendor and customer alike, it was a really great night.

mmm butter! A Humble Plate - Savory Lao cuisine Rogue Pizza? No, the Pizza Hacker Sasonao Nicarguan Cooking Sweet Life Cakes

Photos by Jon Wollenhaupt