Thursday, December 1, 2011

Back to New Taste Marketplace - November 2011

My toddler described our afternoon on Saturday, November 19 the best, as we had just finished enjoying a melange of treats at the New Taste Marketplace. "I love New Taste Market!!" he shouted, running through the doors and down the stairs of St. Gregory's Church, a huge smile plastered on his still frozen custard-dotted face. My husband and I both quickly agreed, having just sampled some great food and chatted with some interesting people, all while helping out the Food Pantry.

The New Taste Marketplace is a monthly event benefiting the San Francisco Food Bank, comprised of local food artisans who receive the opportunity to introduce their wares to the public. It was conceived and founded by its director, Eliana Friedman, who has a long history of involvement with SF's hunger cause. Each month, St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church opens its doors to the community of food entrepreneurs who offer the public their unique and delicious creations. While admission is free, visitors are strongly encouraged to make a donation at the door.

Due to our recent travel schedule we have actually missed the last two events, so I was really looking forward to Saturday's market. We arrived soon after it opened at noon, ready to grab some lunch and hopefully try something new. As soon as I entered my eyes were drawn to the large table of empanadas offered by Nucha Empanadas. These Argentine empanadas are hand-made in San Francisco, and are stuffed with yummy fillings that range from Spanish Chicken, to Pumpkin Pie to Mushroom. Though all of the descriptions sounded great, I chose the Beef and my son chose the Pepperoni and Cheese. The Beef Empanada was amazing, filled with ground beef, green olives, onions, raisins, sugar and spices. I love dishes that combine both salty and sweet together, so this was a big hit for me. The pastry was also flaky and buttery, and though Nucha heated the empanadas up in the microwave here, I think they would be amazing if time permitted an oven or toaster oven. My son adored the Pepperoni and Cheese Empanada, and with the exception of one bite by me just to taste, he ate the whole thing and told me it was yummy.

Next up was a favorite of mine, a plate of lumpia from Ooh La La Lumpia. I swear that each time I try them they get better and better! The hand-rolled Filipino treats are filled with the traditional pork, but Elisa Garibay also offers more internationally-inspired sensations like the Fiesta Lumpia. The Latin-inspired Fiesta Lumpia was filled with spiced beef, roasted poblanos and black beans and served with a cilantro creme dip. No, it's not your usual lumpia flavor, but boy did it work! Since we were sharing I only got one lumpia each of both flavors, but I liked them so much that once I was done I did contemplate another order. The Fiesta was certainly my favorite, but the Piggy, made with organic vegetables and pork and served with a sesame sauce was also pretty terrific.

Meanwhile, Brian meandered around the church trying to decide on lunch, finally settling on a chicken and pumpkin Thai curry from Nute's Cupcakes. Served over rice, it was rich, creamy, and extremely flavorful. I only managed to sneak in one spoonful, and the other thing it had in abundance was spice! Wow, that was hot!

Ever since I had spotted Tutmak Coffee's Friday night tweet advertising Ethiopian Yirga Cheffe, I had the aroma of fresh coffee on my brain. Not only do the husband and wife team of Matt and T.L. Lipner roast some amazing coffee, they are both so interesting and wonderful to talk to. While hubby and child were outside at the playground getting up close and personal with a grasshopper, I sipped my coffee and traded stories with the Tutmak owners for well over 20 minutes! Tutmak sells both coffee by the cup (pour-over method), as well as in a one-pound, whole bean bag. In general I love Ethipian coffees, and this was no exception - bold, strong and robust. 

I am convinced that the food of the year has to be bacon, and I have seen it in everything from caramel to candy to jam. And whatever the item is, I have to try it! Bacon really does make everything taste better. My baconlicious treat today came from the SinFull Chef, who brought two different types of bacon brittle with her: spicy and regular. It only took one small sample before I handed her $3.00 and walked away with my sugary goodie. It was fresh and crunchy, and the smokiness of the bacon really stood out. I should have bought more than one bag as this would have been a great Thanksgiving day favor.

And no visit to New Taste would be complete without a stop at Frozen Kuhsterd for a cold dessert treat. Owner and creator Jason Angeles offered both a special cheesecake sundae, served over crumbled graham crackers and topped with either Guittard chocolate or organic strawberries, as well as scoops of Avocado frozen custard. My son, who is going through a "green" food phase happily ate his entire dish of Avocado, and then danced around on a sugar-high. Jason made a special birthday sundae for me (thanks, Jason!) and I chose the melted chocolate. Everything was delicious, but I was especially fond of the custard-graham cracker combo. Crunchy and creamy is the way to go! Rumor has it that Angeles is looking into launching a custard truck in the future so he can take his tasty dessert to even more locations.

There will be one more Marketplace before the Christmas holidays, so mark December 10th on your calendars to stop by and pick up some treats to give as gifts. 

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