In its fourth year, the San Francisco Street Food Festival has become an incredibly popular event. From 20th to 26th Streets, the most beautiful part of Folsom Street is shut down to cars to make room for around 100 food vendors, and 80,000 guests. Trash is a given. But thanks to the efforts of the event team La Cocina and their collaboration with Zero Waste experts at SF Environment, Recology , discarded material that would go to landfill is now diverted to compost and recycling channels. It’s great to see waste diversion front and center at local events, and great to see people participating in keeping this city clean and green. After all, almost nothing has to go to landfill, we have a viable alternative. Waste nothing.
at the 2012 San Francisco Street Food Fair on Folsom
Congratulations to them for striving to make this a zero waste event!
MUS•e•YUM could not have been more pleased to attend the opening-night celebration of the new exhibition, Do Not Destroy: Trees, Art, and Jewish Thought at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) of San Francisco. The CJM always puts on extraordinary exhibitions (remember Gertrude Stein and Maurice Sendak of 2011?) and Do Not Destroy, which runs now through 28 May, is no exception. A blend of art and environmentalism, religion and whimsy, the exhibition is a celebration of the role trees play in our world, in our spirituality and specifically, in our imagination as evidenced in art. Moreover, experiencing Do Not Destroy challenges us to realize our own responsibility, both individual and collective, to protect the environment. Witnessing the beauty and fragility of the world around us makes us human, and protecting what we see makes us divinely hopeful.
Only some of the memorable pieces of art include:
- A round circle of sand on the floor at the beginning of the exhibition, planted with hundreds of small metal plants. Walk the circle a full 360 degrees for the full impact of the piece, and be sure to view it from floor level, too. You’ll be glad you did.
- A short film about students in Laos. Watch to the end as art students sketch a river from the decks of small boats, and leap into the water to swim to shore when they see a tree of special significance.
- Watch a video rendition of the Tony Bennet song, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon (’round the Old Oak Tree)” – the pairing with the multimedia piece to the right is hysterical!
- Write a prayer on a small piece of paper and leave it inside a piece of wood, the collection of prayers already inside is profound and moving.
While photography is not permitted inside the exhibition, here are some memories from the opening night party that kicks it it off.
I invite you to go to the exhibition at the Museum, or explore it online, for more information and a first-hand view of the amazing art you’ll find there.
It’s been nearly four years since my first trip to Mission Pie, a wonderful oasis for homespun dessert and savoury pies located in the Mission District of San Francisco. I was new to the food community then, and eager to learn more about it. I wanted to learn more about the provenance of the wonderful ingredients being used in the meals that I was enjoying. My eyes were being opened to the wealth that is the abundance of the Bay Area’s local produce.
I’d started taking photos, too, with my new digital camera and many of those pictures were of my food. I began to post photos of memorable meals on Flickr and Yelp, together with reviews of my experiences both good and bad. I wanted to document my excitement for what I was discovering and for what I was learning, all at the same time. And, I wanted to connect with others who shared my passion. And my passion was fed.
It’s funny now to think that something as quintessentially homespun as a warm-from-the-oven pie could be a novel new player on the bakery scene but then, it was. At a time when bakeries were vying for the top cupcake, a bakery devoted to the humble pie seemed novel and maybe even bold. No one was doing pie then. I sought out Mission Pie soon after it opened and on that visit, after tasting that perfectly cooked crust and the luminous brightness of the fruit inside, even then remarked to my friend that pie ‘just might be’ the new cupcake. Was I right? Maybe not quite on the grander scale but for me, it sure is! And I wanted to learn more. . .
What I also learned on this first visit made me love this business even more. Mission Pie is the retail outlet for a bigger picture and a bigger story. All the ingredients which comprise every one of those gorgeous pies comes from a ranch, the Pie Ranch, located outside the city on the San Mateo Coast. Bees make the honey, fruit falls from the trees, wheat is milled to flour, and the spirit, hard work and love of farmers and volunteers all come together there so that you and I may enjoy the fruits of their labor here, and I was- and am- blown away and moved by that concept.
Founded in 2002, The Pie Ranch is a working farm, not only producing food but producing change. Their mission (Mission Pie) is to feed and nourish the body, the mind, the consciousness and the broader community by educating people as to where their food comes from and how it gets to one’s table. The Ranch welcomes students from inner city schools and introduces them to the country, all the while teaching farming and an appreciation for where food comes from. They mentor adults who want to learn to farm sustainably.
So they’re doing far more than growing food or even making pies…they’re making a difference. You can see this passion in the eyes of every single person in this video and I invite you to check it out:
via Teach Pie. on Vimeo.
The Pie Ranch apprenticeship program gives apprentices the skills needed to become the next generation of successful farmers.
Pie Ranch is an education farm whose mission it is to inspire and connect people to know the source of their food, and to work together to bring greater health to the food system from seed to table.
Thanks to Nancy, Jered, Amy and all the apprentices and interns!
2901 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
Underground dining with the Wild Kitchen, a set on Flickr.
Part of the fun is the clandestine nature of it all. Sign up for a meal, get the location ‘day of’ in an email. Show up at a non descript location, staged for a one night only meal for 60 people.
Seated at one long communal table, you’ll have eight courses, each with a locally and sustainably foraged key ingredient. Founder Iso Rabins describes the adventure behind gathering each one. You’ll have a deeper understanding of how we’re all connected to, and with, our surroundings, and you’ll meet some fellow foodies, too!
Here’s a great list of San Francisco restaurants to experience. We can vouch for Commonwealth, and we’re eager to try more on the list! Click here :
Anxiously awaiting the arrival of what could be the best ice cream store in the City… Smitten. Check out the story linked above for the details about this venture, which will entail ice cream made-to-order with one of four liquid nitrogen ice cream machines. Smitten is part of a greater project called the Hayes Valley Proxy, a network of shipping containers that will form a food court of sorts in this very cool SF neighborhood.
From Delfina Pizza to a Suppenkuche beer garden, this is going to be an excellent foodie destination!
Andy Goldsworthy’s art is candy for the eyes and food for the soul. His work makes real the magic that I like to think lives just under the surface of the earth, almost like there’s been a tear in the veneer of “the Normal” and a little magic has erupted from it, from the invisible to the visible.
So, when I read via Matte Gray’s journals the tantalizing first-hand report of a new Goldsworthy art piece under construction here in San Francisco, I had to jump on the scooter and get over to the Presidio to check the site out for myself, with the tantalizing possibility of meeting Goldsworthy himself in the back of my mind. (Gray did, after all.) That didn’t happen, but I did meet the Bird Lady, which was fantastic! And I found two solid bakeries along the way. Yum.
The ride took me very close to a Russian bakery that I’ve been wanting to try for a while, so I took a slight detour to check it out. The name is Cinderella and it’s located at 436 Balboa St (between 5th Ave & 6th Ave). The space is small and wide, with sweet pastries generally on the left and savory on the right. Standouts include gorgeous danishes, hamentashen and other fruit-topped pastries but the distinguishing feature of this place appears to be the savory, especially the extensive variety of piroshki, hand pies sort of like British pasties. I bought a potato piroshki for later that night.
Then, to my surprise, near the intersection of 7th and California, I saw a bakery with a familiar name, similar to that of my scooter. The place was Kaju and I stopped in to check it out. While the interior is rather nondescript, (uninviting in fact) the owner was friendly and a glance at the food suggested an interesting mix of standard coffee and cookies, scones and the like as well as some uniquely Asian offerings. As a sample, I picked up a triangle of sushi-styled rice stuffed with avocado called onigiri. Wrapped, it was the size of a sandwich and an interesting alternative to the same, easy to throw into my backpack. I also got a house-baked organic chocolate chip cookie. The onigiri has the same mouth feel as the sticky rice used for sushi and was tasty and filling, great fuel for the rest of the afternoon. The cookie was the prize, one of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve had all year. Nicely chunky, medium sized, crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle. There was a ’roundness’ to the flavor that I loved, but which couldn’t quite identify, that made every bite irresistible. . . could there be a secret ingredient in there?
But I was losing the afternoon light by now so I didn’t linger. I started scooting around the edges of the Presidio and first, had to stop at the older Goldsworthy there, the Spire. Seeing it is a spiritual experience for me, a temple among the trees.
I’d found enough information about Wood Line to know that I was fairly close, but I had to travel from the Arguelo Gate (site of the Spire) to the Presidio Gate. I could have walked, it’s about half a mile, but I was losing the light fast by now. Back to the scooter! But not before checking out a beautiful, natural grove of majestic (magical) trees right across the street from the Arguelo Gate.
From here, I followed a winding road to the Presidio Gate and found the Wood Line immediately. Or rather, the sign for it. The installation wasn’t apparent until I got off the scooter and went over to the sign and, from that vantage point, saw a gap in the forest dead ahead along a single sight line.
Felled timber creates a lovely, snaking curve on the forest floor, with the trees reaching upward on both sides like the support columns of a gothic cathedral. It’s a spiritual place. It’s ephemeral, too. The forest will reclaim the wood through natural decay in about 25 years or so. . .
And I almost forgot, while I was enjoying the Wood Line, a woman offered to take my picture in front of it on my scooter. We started to chat and I soon realized the woman was more fairy than person. Her questions were punctuated by her quick looks up to the treetops, and the occasional bird call. She explained she’s a birder, and visits and follows the birds of the Presidio daily. Or, they visit and follow her. She talks to them. They talk to her. And as fast as she appeared she vanished; she heard the tweet of a bird and with that, had to go. She danced-skipped-floated away, down the dirt path into the forest, and was gone! The light was nearly gone, too, so with that, I mounted Kaiju and . . . vanished.
exciting news over at Matte Gray; a new Andy Goldsworthy project being installed now, in the Presidio
We love the artist Andy Goldsworthy here at MUS•e•YUM so when the intrepid Matte Gray posted news of a new Goldsworthy installation in the Presidio, Wood Line, we were more than thrilled! ((LINK HERE: note, once at matte gray, scroll down the page to journal entry 18 November 2010.)) Just as Matte did when he learned of the building of Goldsworthy’s previous Presidio installation the Spire, the intrepid reporter has once again made the trek to the Presidio in order to scout the site via Segway, camera in tow.
The last time Goldsworthy was working in the Presidio Matte actually met the artist on site, and the account of the experience is well worth a read on his blog (see story here, scroll down to 17 October 2008) More great updates and photos are sure to follow as Gray documents the final phase of construction of the new piece, so keep checking back. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to read down the page a little bit further to the 31 December post for some great information about buying chocolate. . . you really oughta.
Great art inspires. . .
Last year my great friend Deena took me to a favorite spot of hers, a grove in the Presidio National Park where the forest opens to a beautiful panorama of San Francisco, right in front of you. It’s a spiritual spot, and a meditative one. It was easy to see why she brought me here. When it was decided that a monument to should be installed here, only one artist could do a place like this justice, celebrating but not changing it: Andy Goldsworthy.
So, in 2008, he built SPIRE. The amazing thing about this monumental sculpture, made of timber lashed together 90 feet high, is how effortlessly it has become part of the scene. It blends right in. This is a hallmark of Goldsworthy’s work, he incorporates natural materials from the site in which he’s working and from them he creates beautiful, fanciful and ephemeral art. Here, he took trees that would be felled (for the safety of the environment) and then used only that timber to make the sculpture. Part of the art is not only the finished state, but also the manner in which it is, in turn, reclaimed again by Nature. And will the sculpture last a minute? Two? Months? Years? That part is left to Nature, too.
Goldsworthy strives, “to make connections between what we call nature and what we call man-made.”
There is another Goldsworthy I want to tell you about, much more subtle than Spire. It’s the crack in the foundation of the de Young museum, Faultline, 2005. For this commission he created a zigzag crack in the hardscape outside the museum. The crack is a ‘path’ from the roadside to the entrance of the museum, but also serves as a subtle reminder of the seismic activity latent in the ground underneath, a characteristic of this place in the world. Unless your eyes are directed to it you might not see it but when it’s pointed out, the impact hits you immediately. Check out this great article about that piece, here.
I’ve since become a fan of his. I was so inspired after having seen Spire I created a mini-version in my backyard garden. For mine I reclaimed dead bamboo shoots from my friend’s garden, and the Hancock Spire was born!
Not willing to stop here, I wanted to try another one. I had my opportunity when my neighbor knocked down their retaining wall and threw away the cobblestones. Thus, I gained ‘site-native’ materials for another project, and I built a zigzag ‘Faultline’ of my own by setting the stones directly into the ground, and emanating from my Spire!
My exploration of the public art in Hayes Valley, Ecstasy in Patricia’s Green, (link to post here) reminds me of the monumental and inspiring Spire. While the scale of both projects certainly inspires awe, simply by virtue of their height which forces the eye skyward, they also are partnered in my mind because of the artistic process behind them. While they differ in the sourcing of the materials, Ecstasy made from man-made objects while Spire is made from felled trees, both make from found materials sing. These monuments speak to how repurposing an everday object, even a discarded one, can imbue the art with an added significance and intrinsic beauty.
Bernal Heights is a such a cool neighborhood. Slightly squished between the Mission, Potrero Hill and Alemaney Blvd, Bernal is a sweet spot that’s a little less traveled, and a little less known. It is sort of a frontier outpost of the City, and a lot laid-back. A week before my birthday, I thought I’d treat myself to a trip here. My itinerary included most of my favorite things: scooter exploring, a nature walk, a bakery (ok, two), succulents and a farmer’s market. Here are some of the sights:
I discovered this IMMENSE six ton, 30-foot figurative sculpture while taking a scooter ride from Civic Center through Hayes Valley back to the Castro. Created by Dan Das Mann and Karen Cusolito, her name is “Ecstasy”. . .
“Her name expresses a sudden change of attitude and belief in hope; a moment of being overcome by passionate optimism” -www.blackrockarts.org
Assembled from discarded pieces of scrap metal, this sculpture has a kind of “recycled” life that transcends the composition of her body.
The statement is powerful. I am always moved when someone makes something new from something old, discarded. It’s what I’ve been trying to do in my own garden, too. All it takes is to allow a change in perspective and context. Imagination. And with that, something gains a new life.
As inspiring as it is, the sculpture is just a temporary resident of the park. ‘Ecstasy’ is on loan from the Black Rock Arts Foundation through December 31, 2010.
Patricia’s Green, the park that serves as the home for Ecstasy, is relatively new. Not far from the Hayes Valley Farm, this stretch of Octavia, too, was renovated by the city in 2005 with the goal of beautification, and fostering pedestrian traffic and community-building. Thus Patricia’s Green was born. The Green includes not only benches and food carts, flower beds and playgrounds but, early on, the community decided it should be a venue for significant public art, as well. Residents and business work together via the neighborhood Hayes Valley Arts Coalition to curate the art that will serve as a beating ‘heart’ for the neighborhood.
Thank goodness everyone involved saw the street and overpass that used to cut through this neighborhood and envisioned something. . .else. A farm. A park. Art. Not unlike the Hayes Valley Farm mere blocks away, Patricia’s Green, and the arts program that serves it, provide another good example of how neglected public space can be repurposed by transforming what was “broken” (and “deadening”) into something that is its opposite: one that is beautiful, that is functional (and function-ing) and one that brings people together. I love that. San Franciscans are good at doing it!
Find out more by following this link:
a charming, wonderful video celebrating a bakery in my neighborhood, Tartine. It’s a love letter to bread!
I love this video! Tartine is a bakery just down the street, on 18th and Guerrero in the Mission District, and it’s a good one, too. The love and reverence the owner has for bread comes through so clearly and it certainly translates into the product, as well. After seeing the video, you just might find yourself inspired to try baking at home, too!
The date 10-10-10 inspired community action events all over the country and, here in San Francisco, there was an amazing work/party at Hayes Valley Farm. Accessible from Laguna and Oak Streets, this urban farm must be seen to be believed. Hilly and park-like, meandering paths wind through groves of trees and vegetable garden space alike, and it is all tended by volunteers from the community and beyond. It is beautiful!
The Farm occupies an area the size of a city block, or two. The plot had been vacant and unused since 2003. Before that, it was the site of a decrepid freeway overpass, one that was severely damaged and put out of commission after the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989. In 2010 the city finally approved the land as a public greenspace and a farm was born, over a thousand volunteers having turned out to create this working-teaching garden. Read the full history here:
Today, the community organized a full day of volunteer work, free classes and workshops and live music and food. Here are some of my photos of the event:
From the Hayes Valley Farm website:
A community-run farm.
Hayes Valley Farm’s mission is to serve as a community and agricultural hub empowering San Francisco residents to connect with one another, grow their own food, and learn about sustainable ecological systems. Learn more about our vision and process.
As any current San Francisco gardener can attest, a garden becomes a magnet and a catalyst for community health just by being visible. As neighbors see eachother enjoying the bounty of a kitchen garden, perhaps pausing in the morning to enjoy the sweet flesh of a sun ripened strawberry, it often leads to sharing garden knowledge and garden surplus. Connections are made and bonds are established simply by seeing food production so close to the kitchen. A catalyst, because every gardener discovers the dilemma of too many zucchini or so much arugula they could feed the neighborhood. Surplus happens in a garden. Community bonds frequently follow a surplus as extra veggies and fruits are shared with neighbors. The garden caring and neighborly sharing leads to a diverse diet promoting improved eating habits and stronger community bonds.
READ MORE HERE.
Skeletons among us, it must be October! The predominantly Latino Mission District is gearing up for the Day of the Dead, as evidenced by the ‘munecas’ in the store windows. . .
Micropatisseries in S.F.: Our guide to the city’s best pastry shops – Page 1 – Dining – San Francisco – SF Weekly
The link above provides a wonderful roundup list of the amazing bakeries of San Francisco.
Check out reviews here on MUS-e-YUM for
And keep watching this space; I plan to eat my way through the entire list;-)
Kudos to Sandbox for their victory in this triumphant battle! (I am not surprised one bit.)
I also love their scones and sticky buns!
This place is special and worth a visit, maybe combined with a stop at the Alemany Farmer’s market (Saturday morning/afternoon), or Succulence, the shop by, and for, succulent plant lovers. . . ?
Mobile street food vendors have become something of a phenomenon here in San Francisco and beyond. From whoopie pies (gobs) to paella, from Korean tacos to Indian burritos, local entrepreneurs have focused their business on a specialty dish or two and have taken their food to the streets, via bikes, carts, backpacks or trucks. While most rely on social networking to broadcast the time and place one can find them (facebook, twitter and their own websites), the organization “Off the Grid” has emerged to not only bring a bunch of the vendors to a single location but also to provide a venue for live music and fun for a ‘foodie’ crowd (oh, and they sell booze).
It’s a weekly street food festival and it’s a blast!
The particular mix of vendors changes from event to event. As of this post you can find festivals weekly at the following times/locations. Check out the Off the Grid website for details.
Thursday Nights: Upper Haight
Stanyan and Waller Streets, San Francisco 4-8.30pm
Friday Lunch: Civic Center
In Front of City Hall, 11am-2.30pm
Friday Nights: Fort Mason Center, 5pm-9pm
San Francisco Unveils Solar Powered Stadium for America’s Cup | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World
Here’s a link to some gorgeous designs (from the venerable Skidmore, Owings and Merrill) for a proposed ampitheater, projecting out into San Francisco Bay from piers near the Bay Bridge. This ambitious project, which incorporates green features harnessing solar energy and harvesting rainwater, will be completed in preparation for the 34th America’s Cup, for which San Francisco will be the host city (2013 or 2014). And, it’s gorgeous!
I don’t make it to Chinatown often, so I was looking forward to an afternoon exploring the neighborhood, taking photos and of course, eating. I know there are MANY bakeries there and my mission was to find the best of the bunch, so I did a little research before my trip and focused my plan; that’s how I discovered Golden Gate Bakery.
Obviating any doubt, the long line outside the bakery confirmed I was in the right place! The queue seemed (to me) to be full of people from the neighborhood, like students on their way home from school, and moms stocking up for their families, leaving with those big, fun, pink boxes tied up with string. (I LOVE those pink boxes tied up with string!)
The line moves quickly, and people watching was fun! One store owner came out of her store, located next to the bakery, breaking the line which now blocked the door to her business. In either in a moment of deviant playfulness, or the opposite, (it was hard to tell which) she placed a small package wrapped in tissue on the pavement and proceeded to light it with a flaming piece of newsprint.
She then ran.
This cleared the line fast because everyone new what would happen in a few seconds. After spitting and smoking, the package exploded and everyone laughed. It was Chinese New Year, after all. (This would never happen in Noe Valley.)
Once you get in the bakery things move fast so be prepared. The counter is small and people are shouting their orders, so the mood can get a little frenetic. I was glad I knew what I wanted, the egg custard tart, and pointed to a few other interesting things, too. The tart was served warm, right out of the oven, and was not too eggy, not too sweet, with a lovely mouth feel. I later wished I’d bought two! Total comfort food.
I also got an assortment of other cakes from the window. I couldn’t tell you what they’re called, unfortunately, but my mix included some barely sweet steamed buns and cookies redolent of coconut. I also got a very fresh, light bun filled with vanilla cream, almost like a doughnut but not quite as sweet and cakey…more brioche/bready.
On the whole, the prices seemed very reasonable, a good value for the quality of the product. And it couldn’t NOT be fresh, everything seemed to be coming straight out of the oven and going directly into the hands of the people in line!
The trip to the neighborhood alone makes for a fun excursion in the City! Check out the tea house, too, right across the street which sure looks exotic. . .
1029 Grant Ave
(between Jackson St & Pacific Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94133
HOURS: Mon-Sun 8 am – 8 pm
On a day like today I can’t think of a better place in the world to live than the Castro. Our evening plans having been cancelled, L. and I made an impromptu plan- a picnic! We took a short walk down the hill and bought sandwiches at Ike’s Place on 16th at Sanchez Street. Ike’s is one of the best sandwich companies in the country (it’s the “Dirty Sauce”) and I’m so glad he’s got the press exposure to back it up, not only because the food is so excellent but also because the owner, Ike Shehadah, happens to be such a great guy. Check out his story on Food Network.
Sandwiches in hand, we continued walking right to Dolores Park, which is two blocks down the street from our place. Even at 6pm there was a party atmosphere there, some ravers having set up a sound system pumping out house music to dancers and hoola hoopers alike, with lots of folks just lying in the grass enjoying the sight of the fog rolling in just above the panoramic view of the San Francisco skyline, the clouds just barely obscuring the tip of the TransAmerica building.
When we finished our sandwiches we decided to make one last stop. At the corner of Dolores Park happens to be one of the best ice cream parlors in the country, Bi-Rite Creamery. There’s always a line but it is so worth it. Tonight, I went for a scoop of brown butter pecan atop a scoop of cookies and creme.
The walk home afforded the spectacle of the fog blowing in over Twin Peaks and spilling into the Castro, backlit by the sun. Whisps of white curled around Sutro Tower and vanished into the blue above. Unbelievable how beautiful that is.