Saturday, August 18, 2012

The 2012 San Francisco Night Market

On Saturday, the streets of the Mission District will play host to the 2012 San Francisco Street Food Festival, but to kick things off La Cocina hosted the first ever San Francisco Night Market on Friday evening at the site of the Alemany Farmers' Market. It was a chance for the many of the festival vendors to showcase their interpretations of street food in an environment that was more intimate and less crowded than the festival itself.

Liz couldn't make it to the Night Market, so my good friend Colin and I decided that a night of local chefs (and a few visiting ones) cooking wonderful food right in front of us was just the ticket for a Friday night.

Since both Colin and I work in the Financial District, we hopped aboard BART and made our way to Mission Pie, where a shuttle took us the rest of the way to the market.

Where to go to first? Dancing? Merchandise? Mexico City? Like anyone trying to keep the chill wind of San Francisco at bay, we headed straight for the bar. Rye on the Road was there, mixing drinks and getting the market off to the right kind of start.

Here's my hot toddy, which did a good job of warming me up.

My favorite kind of ten pins!

Azalina's served spicy Laksa soup, which is the national dish of Malaysia. This one is prepared with a deep fried veal brain meatball and a sous vide egg. It's not for the faint of heart, but it was a good example of the variety of food cultures that La Cocina assembles.

Scott's BBQ is a visiting vendor from Hemingway, South Carolina, close to Myrtle Beach. Rodney Scott and crew delighted us with a 24-hour whole hog pulled pork, made all the more amazing by the cracklins that were mixed in. The tenderness of the pork, combined with the crunch of the cracklins made this dish a real hit.

Estrellita's Snacks prepares Panes con Pollo, a Salvadoran sandwich.

The Pozole Authentico Morelense from Los Cilantros was very satisfying, and it was bursting with flavor. Owner Dilsa Lugo comes from Cuernavaca, Mexico, and she is dedicated to cooking local organic Mexican cuisine. We met up with The Single Gay Men's Weeknight Food Group, who too were digging into the pozole. 

La Cocina Executive Director Caleb Zigas next to the El Sur empanada truck

One of the most elaborate dishes at the Night Market was certainly the Boss Hogg from the Bone and Gristle Boys. That's Ryan Farr from 4505 Meats and three-time Cochon 555 winner Matt Jennings. This outrageous sandwich consists of a cornmeal-crusted deep fried pork cutlet, slow roasted chili-rubbed pork, smoked pickles, red onion, Vermont cheddar, chicharrones, market greens, and jalapeno ranch, all served in the middle of a butter-toasted English muffin. Aside from the bar, this stand consistently had the longest lines. I think they have a hit on their hands!

Don Bugito served Wahaka Mezcal Marinated Rabbit. Sabores del Sur made Anticuchos.

This pairing of lamb dishes came courtesy of The Whole Beast. The one on the left is a Lamb Meatball with cucumber fennel yogurt, which was super moist and had just the right kick of sourness to offset the gamey lamb. The dish on the right is a Lamb Mulligatawny with Rancho Gordo chickpeas. The coconut milk was a great compliment to the tender lamb. Chef John Fink uses his experience at Le Cordon Bleu, Aqua, Postrio, Ondine, and Silks to put together whole animal cuisine that takes into account not just how the food is prepared but also how the ingredients are raised and cared for.

Jardiniere's take on a burger is a wagyu beef slider using pickles from Jarred. The Yucatecan Panuchos with Cochinita Pibil or Chicken are from Chaac Mool.

Birria goat stew next to a Lamb Taco, both from El Huarache Loco

Now that's my kind of merchandise! See you all at the Street Food Festival!

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