local food


Adventures with a 3 gallon sauerkraut crock





Oh sauerkraut, you most delicious of sandwich additions. I put you on my breakfast sandwich, drop you in my rice, place you delicately in a heap next to my steak. You bring me such joy with your salty crunch, and as a bonus, you're good for me (at least I think you are.) I read a piece a couple months back in Gastronomica about sauerkraut. It went through all the claims that people make about its health benefits, refuting them one by one on the basis that they didn't have scientific backing. But then I heard a story the other day on how probiotics are being discovered to reduce anxiety. My conclusion is that if something has been believed for thousands of years to be good for you, it probably is, plus it's delicious, so why not eat it? Therefore, I’ve embarked on a new adventure. I recently bought a 3 gallon stoneware crock, something I've been wanting for a while, but couldn't get over the sticker shock of spending $250 on a vessel used specifically to ferment cabbage. Luckily, I found a solution. For $35 you can order one from ACE online, and then pick it up at a local store. Feels like I’m pitching you here, but I would be remiss to not tell you about the wonders of this deal.



For my first batch, I wanted to go simple. Just salt, cabbage, and caraway. It's astounding how many recipes there are online, not to mention in one of my favorite books, Wild Fermentation, on how to do this. I’d made it before in small batches, but there is something about filling up a 3 gallon container that makes you want to do some recipe research. I watched a video on youtube put out by the Ag. Council of a nice woman in Alaska, (seeming very 1950's) which gave exact instructions (2.5Tbsp of salt per 5 lbs of cabbage). Then I watched a video of Sandor Katz, the author of Wild Fermentation, who has a more democratic approach (just put salt in until it tastes right).

I settled on 3 Tbsp per 5 lbs of cabbage. Something like 20 lbs of cabbage went into this batch, and the only place in my house to deal with that kind of volume is the sink. After a good scrub, in went the cabbage. First sliced and cored. After all the cabbage was sink-side, in went the salt and caraway seeds. As I said before, exactly 3 Tbsp per 5 lbs. For the caraway I just eyed it, probably about the same ratio though.



Once seasoned, mix. Get all the salt evenly distributed around the cabbage, and then wait 15 minutes. Some folks recommend bashing the cabbage rather than letting it sit, and this is what I've always done in the past As soon as it was cut and salted, I would cram it into jars, awkwardly using a wooden spoon to push it in. It's a hassle. Using this new method, you just leave it for a bit, go drink some coffee, and voila! It's reduced by more than half! You should never use a metal container as your fermenting vessel, but I don't think the 15 minutes in the sink hurts it at all.

Now is the pack, which is made much easier this way. Pack the sauerkraut into your crock (I like to use my hands), and push it down until the liquid (which is naturally being released from the cabbage), is released. The juice (which, when fermented, is the best hangover cure I've found) should be at least an inch above the veggies. Place a plate on top to weigh it down, and wait and wait. The waiting is the hardest part.  As this is a bit of an experiment, I've been taking some out periodically to see how its progressing. Check back here in a few weeks for the finale. Now go buy a crock! It's better than paying $9/jar at rainbow.



I've been taking out samples during the fermentation process, in the guise of experimentation, but really just because I'm too impatient to wait to eat some:



After 8 days the kraut is good, starting to get a fermented flavor, but a little on the mushy side.



On day 12, it's started to firm up a bit, with a good "krauty" flavor.

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:



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.

wild kitchen

June Wild Kitchen pics

Here are some pics from our last Wild Kitchen dinner. If you’re interested in coming to the next one, sign up in the “subscribe” box at foragesf.com, and we’ll send you an email when its coming up. Thanks to everyone who came to the dinners this past Thursday and Friday. It was our first attempt at doing two in a row, and it turned out to be a lot of fun.

photos by Robin Jolin: robinjolin.com



Should the SF Underground Market be bigger?

market line

market line

The first and most obvious answer to this question is yes.  If one throws an event that draws more people than your space can fit, you move up. Bigger is of course better, and in all things, we want to be as big as we can get. Right? I'm not so sure.

It’s a question I get a lot. People tell me that we need a bigger space, and the running joke seems to be that we should move it to the Cow Palace. Its definitely something we think about not the Cow Palace – when I see the hour and half wait to get in, get angry emails from customers  (actually just got my first one a couple days ago), and patiently explain to vendors for the 20th time that in fact we can’t let anyone else in at the moment, lest we all die fiery deaths as martyrs for the local food movement (translation: we've reached fire code capacity).

We’ve done our best to make the market accessible to as many people as possible.  We started this past December in a small Victorian in the Mission (seven vendors and 150 customers), and moved to a warehouse on Capp St. (30 vendors and 700 customers)— both still not big enough.  When we approached SomArts I thought that was it. There was no way we could overfill that space. This of course hasn’t proven true.

The space we have now, SomArts, is in the range of 5000  feet. That's 35ft wide, and 144 feet long. It's a large space by any measure.

We pay several thousand dollars to rent SomArts for a night and by SF standards, that's very cheap. The next space up in size is about $10,000. That’s before shelling out for a cleaning staff, security, insurance, alcohol license, the band, equipment, and all the other less obvious costs that go into creating an event for 2,000 people.  I don't say this to complain, but to set the stage for a fact: If we got a bigger space, we would be forced to raise the vendor fees. As it is, the vendor fees don't cover the cost of the space, which is why you paid $2 to get in this month. In May, we lost money on the market because the event was free. We don't need to make a killing, but a market that loses money every month will not be around very long.

"But wait,” you say, "a bigger space would mean more people, more people equals more money, so no need to charge the vendors more.” Not necessarily. A larger space would definitely let more people enter at the same time, but the number of people coming in would not be guaranteed to go up by the amount we would need to make it worth the costs.

The current vendor fee is $50, a very low bar for entry into a commercial sales space like ours, but for some of our vendors it’s a stretch to pay that cost. Our vendors are making products that they are passionate about, but are also very expensive to produce. The profit margins are already slim, and it wouldn’t feel right to charge the $100-$300 per stall that a larger space would require.

I like the size it is. The market feels more like a big party, rather than a vast trade show. I like that we can fit upwards of 40 vendors inside and still have room for a couple hundred people, while at the same time being able to see the whole space in one sweep.

I like SomArts. We have a good deal of freedom at SomArts and the people who work there. They are very supportive of our ideas, and seem to genuinely want to make things work for us. No one working on the market has much professional event organizing experience; there are a million random things to think about when planning a market, so getting some help along the way is key. A larger commercial space probably would not offer that kind of support.

I like the idea that in creating a market for the SF food community to come to together, we are at the same time supporting a venerable SF non-profit event and art space. A space that hosts the kind of events that make SF what it is. They go out of their way to court and support burgeoning orgs (like ours) that would otherwise not be able to afford such a professional space, and for that they deserve our support. Every person that walks through their door helps them to get funding from grants as well as the city, so 2,000 people coming through each month at our market gives them some real leverage.

People do have to wait. I don't feel good about it (although most people I talk to seem pretty happy with the whole experience, meeting fellow food obsessives in line is always fun). It’s great that people come out to show so much support, and ideally we wouldn't make them wait so long to show that support.  Note: If you want to miss the lines, come during the day next month, there will be tons of room.

Next months SF Underground Market will again be at SomArts on July 24th(this time on a weekend!).  Although there is often a wait at night (hint: for a more relaxed time, come during the day).  I want to say that I really do appreciate that people wait as long as they do. That kind of support shows the vendors that there is a market for what they make, and encourages them to keep getting better at what they do.  I do believe that bigger is not always better, and there is a really intimate vibe now that I feel like we may lose if we expand. This doesn't mean it will always be there, but for the time being we're staying put.  Let me know what you think. You think we should move? Did you see anything at the last market that needs changing? Thanks for reading, and thanks for coming, see you all next month!



photo by Robin Jolin: robinjolin.com


Alternative currency and the local food economy

I met yesterday with a man named Tim from a place called the Hub, an org that I might be getting involved in. They basically create a space where like minded-folks, entrepeneurs that are working toward social and environmental goals can get a workspace and collaborate. Pretty cool stuff.

Somewhere in our discussion the idea of alternative currency came up. Tim had just been working in England to establish the Brixton pound, a local alternative currency. Apparently they had 40000 pounds in circulation when he left to work for the hub.

Apparently there are alternative currency movements happening all over the world, some in our own city (there is something called "Bernal Bucks" that is gaining traction in that neighborhood). It's such an interesting idea. We all talk a lot about supporting small business, and keeping dollars local, but if you create a currency that is totally local, you can see the real effect of your purchases, with the growth of your local economy.

My immediate thought was to create/use a local currency at the SF Underground Market. How great would it be if we only accepted SF Bucks (or perhaps some more catchy currency name), and the vendors would be able to spend that money to buy ingredients from local farmers to make the products that then would be sold at the next market. And it wouldn't need to be just the market, or farmers that took it, but also local restaurants, cafes, maybe giving a percentage discount if you used it... I have to admit that this idea has its fair share of inherent problems.  We would need a much larger pool to really create a currency that could be used. Get more businesses involved etc.  But it would be really amazing to take this idea of local community support to the next level/keep more money local/give more incentive for chefs/producers to buy locally....ideas?  Anyone want to take this on? I'll help.


More posts....first on the market

So Ive decided to post more on this a here internet web machine. These wont be polished, I wont go back and add the ' in wont for example. But more quick snippits of whats going on in the forageSF world. 1. So. The 4th Underground Market is done. It was a great time, even though I have felt better (not feeling so great that day). It was the first time Ive used a legitimate events space for anything Ive ever done. Its always been warehouses of friends, peoples backyards etc..but with people waiting so long to get into the march market, I figured I owed it to all of you to pony up some cash for a bigger space. It was MUCH bigger, although people still ended up waiting.

There are all these little things that come along with using a real space that I would have never imagined (maybe if Id actually read the policies beforehand I would have figured it out, but reading policies is not my strong suit). For example, $300 charge for trash sorting! $300! I agree that trash should be sorted, but I guess I though people would do it themselves.

Overall it was a great time in a great space. We had 70 (70!) vendors this time, which may have been a few too many for the space, but I think everyone had a good time. I think its great that so many people are interested in showing up for these kinds of events. Supporting the local/alternative economy, rather than throwing their money into the wind (read: corporations), never to be seen again, they choose instead to give it to their neighbors, and in doing so, get to help them succeed. Good times.


and the third market is done!

The SF Underground Market has turned 3 (in months, not years).  It began with me and 7 other vendors selling wild mushrooms, jams, pies and corned beef sandwiches in a mission neighborhood home.  The first market had about 200 people attending. By the third, amazingly, it has grown into a warehouse sized behemoth of 47 vendors selling everything from salami to ginger beer to pickled grapes to wild boar, with over 1,200 people lining up outside to get in.

At this market I made salt and sugar cured pork belly buns. People really seemed to like them, which was nice to see, although I need to figure out how to make them faster (some people waited for 20 minutes for a bun). That’s what’s cool about the market; there is this great public that shows up willing to wait a bit longer for something. Almost all the vendors at this market sold out of what they brought; the hot vendors seemed to be the most popular.

The SF Underground Market is a pretty straightforward idea. It was created as venue for all those of us who make stuff. Maybe its jam, maybe its pulled pork sandwiches, maybe its. It’s a space for those of us without the resources to jump through the increasing maze of regulatory hoops that have been imposed on food producers in this great city.  I've given a lot on thought to why so many people come to these markets. Not that I'm complaining, any organizer loves to see people lining up for their event, but people throw food events all the time without this kind of draw.

I think people love the idea of coming out to support people like them.  People who love to make food, have been making it for years, but have never, for whatever reason, been able to make that leap to selling it.  The vendors at my market don't have business licenses or commercial kitchens.  Many of them are 9-5'ers who have had an interest in starting a small business for years, but need a jumpstart to get it going.  Anyone can be a vendor at the SF Underground Market, all you need is a skill and focus.

If you want to be a vendor at the next market, go to http://foragesf.com/market/vendors/faq/



We've been getting some good press on the Underground Farmers Market. People seemed to have had a really good time, and I'm excited to do the next one.  unfortunately, much of the press has focused on the health departments visit, something that I did mention in my blog, but that I wish people wouldn't talk about quite so much.  It's interesting to see the demographic that comments under the different stories. Some sites are all positive, some are all negative. There doesn't seem to be a mix. CHOW readers seem unanimously opposed to the idea, fearing food borne illness and the like.  Whereas Mission local readers are all totally behind us, and itching for the next market. Very interesting. I do see where the detractors comments are coming from.  We have been tought all our lives that the only way to know if something is safe is to ask the government. Is this toy safe, this seat belt, this apple, these jeans?  Should I eat more meat? More veggies? More pasta? We don't know the answer to these questions anymore.  We expect the government to answer for us, and then get pissed when their answer turns out to be wrong. With E coli outbreaks rampant, and a  toothless USDA, I would rather put my trust in the guy who sells corned beef down the street, someone who lives in my community and answers to his customers, than some opaque regulatory body in some far off office in des Moines.  This is what the local food movement is about.  Trusting the people around you. Getting to the point where we don't have to ask someone else what to eat and where to eat it, because we know. We know the people around us, and we trust them, and we trust their food.  That's the kind of world I want to live in.

So for the next one, Im thinking of getting backyard city farmers together, so they can sell some of the great produce thats growing right here in the city! Also, I want to have workshops, pickling, soap making, and more music! All still free to see!


"A successful night", or "how the health department showed up at the market, but were very nice"

So the first of many (hopefully) underground farmers markets is over. It was a total success. People showed up, but not so many that the cops came. Vendors brought enough that there was something for the late comers, but just enough so they sold out. The music was amazing (although I didn't get to hear as much as I would have liked, tethered to my vendor table). It was a really cool mix of folks; hipsters, seniors, toddlers, old school hippies, young urban farmer types.

The vendors who showed up were.... Slow Jams-Really great Jam, and Shakirah sold out! - Forage SF - Will Schrom: homemade sarsaparilla - Captain Blankenship: soaps and salves - Garden Fare: edible garden gift boxes - The Golden Crust: pies ($15-20/pie or $3/slice) and chai - The Girl From Empanada (aka. Chile Lindo): empanadas - Lauren & Jon Bowne (aka. Pearl's Kitchen): homemade Jewish deli fare, they had a pasta and cheese casserole - Five Flavors Herbs: wild foraged tinctures - Honey vendor

I think its great that people will come out to support their local producers. The vendors at this market are all pros, they know their stuff, how to make it good, and how to make it safe. The only reason they aren't legit is money. It was great to see them get an opportunity to get their stuff out there, make some cash, and get some exposure.

So....the health department did show up. Was a pretty nerve wracking couple minutes. I've never actually dealt with the health department before, and I must say that I've always had the feeling out them that I do about most government organization, dread. They're scary, showing up with their notebooks, checking boxes, with the power to command an army of police to shut you down....but I must say that the health department was very nice. I was amazed. We had a 10 minute chat about how I might do the market again in the future, and ways to make it more legit. I was totally amazed, and pleased with the interaction. I know what you're thinking, I'm just writing that to suck up, so they won't bust me, but it's true. In the end I wish they hadn't come at all, but if they had to come (because tipped them off!), then I have to say they came correct ("correct" is what the kids are saying these days).

Apparently they showed up because SOMEONE FROM A LEGIT FARMERS MARKET RATTED US OUT!!!! You hear that!? Can you believe it? I can't. What happened to community? Supporting our local food producers? I guess only if they have $100/hr to spend on commercial kitchen space do they deserve to share their products. I'd like to know who did it. I'd like to have a conversation with them. If they had concerns about the market, they should have come to me. We could have discussed ways to make it better, they could have helped rather than sicking the hounds on us. Bastards.

But on a lighter note, everything worked out. I had a really good time, hundreds of people came, we had some drinks, ate some food, met some great people, listened to some music, and made some cash. Doesn't get much better.

If you missed this one, and are interested in finding out when/where we're doing it again, sign up for our email list.

Check out our facebook page for more pics from the market


The Market Is Happening!!

It's all very exciting.  The underground farmers market has found a home, and is happening this thursday. Check out the deets below. Don't mind the formatting, can't be helped.

The Underground Farmers Market Has A Home! We've got some vendors, booked some music, and even got some homebrew lined up! It's happening this Thursday, December 17th, at 2755 Bryant Street There is going to be a lot of great stuff: jams, pies, edible garden boxes, wild mushrooms, acorn flour, homemade sarsaparilla, Jewish deli fare and homemade empanadas.


The underground farmers market is a venue where you can taste and purchase the food that is being made in the kitchens of our fair city. Call us voyeuristic, but this is a chance to peek into others' kitchens and share in their bounty. Pies, jams, sarsaparilla to feast on - all by "suggested donation."

To sell at a farmers market, you need to produce your wares in a commercial kitchen. This is an impossible expense for many of us, so the underground farmers market is about helping to get some exposure for all of our fellow producers without the cash for a commercial kitchen.

These are veterans, people who've been making their products for years, but only able to share them with friends. We thought we'd give them a venue to share with the whole SF food community.

So come join us this Thursday to support our local producers, get some last minute Christmas gifts and have some drinks to boot.

"What's that?" you ask. "I've heard of underground dinners, but an underground farmers market?"

That's right. A market, and a live show, all rolled into one. Think a farmers market, but at night, with music and drinks, and fresh roasted chestnuts.

Vendors forageSF: Acorn flour, fresh wild mushrooms, wild fennel seeds, huckleberry jam, wild Blackberry jam, and CSF gift certificates HeartBaker: Makes some amazing baked goods Slow Jams: Great homemade jam Will Schrom: Homemade sarsparilla (maybe the best soda you've ever tasted) Captain Blankenship: Soaps and salves Kelsey: Gingerbread houses Garden Fare: Edible garden gift boxes The Golden Crust: Pies, pies, pies The Girl From Empanada:  Homemade empanadas Lauren & Jon Bowne: Homemade Jewish deli fare (think corned beef, not gefilte fish) Five Flavors Herbs: Wild foraged tinctures

What: Underground Farmers Market

When: Thursday December 17th, 5-11pm

Where: 2755 Bryant St, SF

Cost: Free!!

5-8pm Drinks, Roasted Chestnuts, Shopping

8:30-9:30 Floating Felt 10-11 More drinks and shopping


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collecting ideas

I forage for a living. Collect. Glean. Hunt.  Rather than growing, I look out into the world to see what nature has to offer.  Instead of deciding what a plot of land will provide, I let the plants decide.  Choosing where and when they flower.  Wild mushrooms, acorns, blackberries, seaweed. All these and more are my stock and trade, the stuff of my life.  The changing seasons, from spring, with its abundance of greens, to summer, with seaweeds and Seabeans, to fall, with acorns and huckleberries, and finally winter, with the rains come an endless abundance of wild mushrooms.  Chanterelle, matsutake, hedgehog, wild radish, black oak, Salicornia pacifica, mychorizzal, minus tides .  Foraging has changed the way I look at the world. Let me explain. A year ago I started a business/community, forageSF. I started it with the idea to bring wild local edibles to an urban population.  Creating fulfilling jobs for my neighbors, while exposing a whole new populace to the amazing wealth of wild foods growing just outside their doors.  Foraging changes the way you see the world.  With a little knowledge, a non-descript blanket of green is transformed.  It bursts forth, and becomes miners lettuce, chickweed, and wild radish flowers, all delicious salad additions.  From the trail-side "toadstools" burst chanterelles, matsutake, and morel mushrooms, some of the most sought after foods on the planet.  The winter rains cease to be a thing to lament, but instead something to yearn for,with dreams of your secret mushroom spots in full bloom.

Food  has become very important lately. From Slow Food to Weston Price, people are beginning to view food as more than simple sustenance.  People call it a movement.  The food movement.  A movement based around consumption . Not consumption in the sense that we've come to know the word, as the end result of our collective inhalation of the worlds resources. This is a consumption based on a keen awareness of what we’re eating, where it comes from, what it means, how it connects us to the past, and how it nourishes us both physically and culturally.  The life of the pig from birth to death is something that we have come to care about.  Wild boar is sought after, because we feel that animal had a full and healthy life.  This is revolutionary.  We've spent the last 50 years giving little thought to what went into our bodies. Ignoring thousands of years of accumulated human knowledge, we chose microwaves, frozen dinners, and twinkies.  Freeze dried, pre-packed “nutrition”, has replaced common sense. Our ancestors didn’t need to read a nutrition label to know something was good for them.  That knowledge was passed down through millennia of trial and error.  Generations of humans who had eaten and thrived off foods that nourish. The culture of our species is tied to its food, and for too long we have ignored that culture in favor of convenience.  In one generation we have forgotten the lessons of hundreds of past generations. Those who hunted, fished, canned, grew, foraged, and thrived.  Foraging is not a new phenomenon.  It is the oldest example of food. When we forage, we connect ourselves with a lineage that dates back to our first ancestors, and a cultural tradition that is in serious danger of being forgotten.


What it means to think about food

I recently heard an interview of an author who's written a book called "where locavores get it wrong...".  His basic thesis is that for someone who is concerned with the carbon footprint of their food, local is often not the right choice. It often is of course, but sometimes it makes more sense to import snap peas from Uganda than it does to walk down to the farmers market.  I guess this is true. I imagine the man did his research, as he was being interviewed on a show I trust, so I'm going to  take it as a given that he's not lying. So that begs the question...why eat local?  If we can get snap peas year round from disparate corners of the globe, always snappy and fresh (or at least fresh-ish), and at the same time reduce our carbon footprint, why all this talk of eating local? The answer that I've come to (full disclosure, Michael Pollan was also on the show, and he had a similar idea to the one I'm about to espouse, but I swear I thought it before he said it on the show) is that local food is about more than food. Wild food is about more than food.  People love wild foods, they're clearly delicious, often more nutritious (and I believe if the author had done his research on foraged foods he would have found they are much more carbon efficient, but put that aside for a second), but I'm not sure that's the main reason people love them. To me wild food is almost more about the connection to the place I live. I've lived in San Francisco for two years now (just had my anniversary), and I feel more a part of this place that almost anywhere else on earth.  I've explored more of the Bay than I have in VT, and I grew up there. I meet people every day that are interested in what I'm doing, and want to be involved. I know that a week after the first rains I'm going to mushroom forage, I know who I'm going with, I know what I will (or should) find. I'm honestly looking forward to going up to Mendecino next week to collect acorns, and making plans for the best way to get to the wild onions before the landscapers get them next spring. I feel a part of this place, and that has all sprung from my interest in the foods of this place.  I throw dinners that have become some of the most memorable meals of my life. I know chefs all over the city, and always know if I have a question about the food business I can ask Ian at Far West Fungi.  The people I call friends are the people who are actively working towards changing the way America eats. Creative people who, through their creativity, inspire people to see the world in a different way.

Local food is about much more it's carbon footprint. That's important of course, but what the local food movement is really about goes beyond the eating. It goes to a connection with the place you live, and the people that make that place important. When you buy a mushroom from a forager (or a farmer), you support that person, their community, expand your own community, and get to know the place you call home just a little bit better.


Seabeans four ways

sea beans 4 ways In lead up to the Eat Real festival next weekend, where forageSF will be selling in the marketplace (come visit!), I'm doing some recipe experimentation. We're going to be there on Saturday and Sunday, near the Embarcadero st entrance to the marketplace (not sure if that's a good location, never been to Jack London Square).  We are also going to be there on friday for the foraging/canning exchange, where I will give a seabean cooking demo, as well as have wild food experts on hand to answer all your urban edible questions.

Eat Real is letting eat vendor sell one product, and since sea beans hold a special place in my heart (and since I'm going foraging next week for them) I figured I'd go with that. I'm going to be selling both fresh and packaged, and I'm trying to decide what the perfect recipe is.  Today I did...Seabeans with garlic, seabeans with garlic and lemon juice, seabeans with garlic, ginger and sesame, seabeans with garlic, ginger, sesame, onions and porcini.

I settled on the porcini.  It's great how the mushroom and onion flavors mingle with the saltiness of the sea beans, and it also makes it more of a dish, adding the veggies and fungi. Here's what I did....

Since it's the off season for local mushrooms, I used dried porcini.  I actually prefer porcini dried in some instances, the dehydration really concentrated the flavor.

1 oz dried porcini

2 shallots - sliced

2 cups sea beans


olive oil

2 cloves garlic - minced

1 inch plug ginger - minced

First, soak porcini for 15-20 minutes in cold water, then slice thin.Heat a mixture of butter and 1 tbsp butter over medium heat, then add onions, cook until onions start to caramelize, then add garlic and porcini, stirring often to make sure garlic doesn't burn. A line cook trick is to throw a small splash of water into the pan if you see the garlic starting to brown.  Now you add the sea beans, stir to incorporate, and then turn heat to low, cover, cook 8 minutes. take off cover, turn heat up to cook off any liquid. serve. easy and delicious, good as a side.  Sauteing seabeans is a great way to eat them, because it takes away some of that intense saltiness, and lets the other flavors creep in.

If you want to see how I do it, come check it out, friday at 6 pm at jack london square...check the Eat Real site for exact address.


Forage Radish Seed Pods and Make a Salad

Wild radishes grow more or less everywhere in the Bay Area

Wild radishes grow more or less everywhere in the Bay Area


My most recent discovery: Wild Radish seed pods

As if the delicious leaves and flowers the wild radish provides weren't enough, here they come with seedpods. I like to forage radish seed pods and saute them up to garnish a salad, but they can also be steamed.

Wild Radish is English for Raphanus raphanistrum. It is a winter annual with leaves covered in short stiff hairs.  It grows more or less everywhere in the Bay Area. When you look out into a field covered with small white or yellow flowers, its probably wild radish. We often find them on our Wild Food Walks

Wild Mustard (Brassica kaber) grows in the same area, and can be distinguished by its yellow flowers.  The problem is that wild radish and mustard like to interbreed (hybridize if you will), to such an extent, that you rarely see either pure white or pure yellow flowers. Generally they're white with yellow or purple interior tint.  I personally don't think it really matters.  I've noticed that plants that seem more mustard than radish have leaves that are more tender, and a bit spicier.  The seedpods seem more or less the same.


Once you find a good patch of pods, its easy to collect a couple pounds in 20 minutes.  The technique I've settled on is to grab the stem close to the base, and slide my hand up, pulling off pods into my hands as I go. 

It's incredibly satisfying to hear the pop pop pop as they slide off the stem. 

I like to saute them and use them on a salad slightly warm or chilled. They are always good. Unfortunately, it's August and the season for these has pretty much passed (although I was up at Mt. Tam leading a plant walk on Sunday, and saw a couple), so store this knowledge away for next year.


Here is a recipe, with bacon, for these delicious little treasures.

Serves 4

1/2 lb (4-5 hand fulls) of seed pods

1/2 lb bacon (Get it from bi-rite or some other reputable source. We're lucky to have a great local meat economy in the bay, its a shame not to use it. Know your meat!)

4-6 heads little gem greens (Marin Roots has the best, but not cheap)

8 Nasturtium flowers

2.5 oz Stilton Blue Cheese (about 3 Tbsp)

6 Tbsp cider vinegar

2 Tbsp heavy cream

1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sugar


Add vinegar and cream, then whisk together with some salt and pepper. Whisk in the sugar until it dissolves, and then whisk in half of the cheese. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Add seasoning to taste

Seed Pods

Cut the bacon into 1 inch chunks, and cook over medium heat until it releases some of its fat.  Throw in Seed pods, and saute until tender (about 4 minutes), add salt and pepper to taste.

Wash and dry the Little Gems

Cut off the end, and, using your hands, toss in mixing bowl with 2 Tbsp dressing and 1/4 C seed pods.  Arrange on plate, with 2 nasturtium flowers. Crumble remaining cheese on top.

That’s it!

  • Unfortunately I don’t have any good pictures of this salad, but if you make it, be sure to send me a photo, I'll put it on my site.
  • Here are more photos to help you spot Wild Radishes.


forageSF and the Eat Real Fest

ForageSF is teaming up with the Eat Real festival to organize a series of guided forages, a wild food dinner with Radio Afrika to benefit La Cucina, as well as a foraging identification/canning exchange in Jack London square. There will be two sets of walks, one sometime in early August that will end in a dinner focused on wild foraged food.  Walk around the city learning what plants are edible, then get to eat a delicious meal made with those very same plants. The second set will be on Friday August 28th.  We’ll all go out, forage around for a couple hours, then meet in Jack London square to identify/exchange/can what we found.  I’ll also be giving a talk on forageSF, and wild food in general.  Should be a good time.  This is all still in planning, but check out http://eatrealfest.com/ in a couple weeks for more info.



ForageSF had its first public appearance on jan 6. At YBCA I was a panelist for the Slow Food/OPEN restaurant event.  It was a cool experience.  Getting to sit around a table made out of compost with 11 other people who do things that I find incredibly interesting. Met some good people, saw some people I already knew.  The structure of the event was that a table of 12 panelists sat around the aforementioned compost table.   People from the SFbay food community, Slow Food, Forage Oakland, Chez Panisse, etc.  The table was made of compost (really cool idea, people came up through the meal and put compost into seed planters that were given out with the meal), and the concept was that people from the public (who were all sitting at tables around the perimeter of the room), would come up and talk to us if they had questions about what we did.  I personally think people were a bit confused by the format. What OPEN was trying to do was reorganize the traditional panel (microphones, discussion topics), into a more organic situation.  People coming together to talk about food in a common environment of interest. I thought it was great.