Local Adventure: Feasting on Asphalt

Photography by www.robinjolin.com

Seems like yesterday I was anticipating the first cherries of the summer and now here we are at the first day of Fall; perhaps I had a bout of amnesia, but this summer seemed to slip away faster than a melting popsicle.

I chalk it up to having been in a perpetual food coma with all the back-to-back summertime food celebrations. Truth be told, I ate my way through a lot, but top on my list was La Cocina’s San Francisco Street Food Festival. My do-gooder friend, Caleb, started La Cocina a few years back and it has blossomed into an awesome mash up of good causes and good food – with a large dose of community thrown in for good measure.

Robin snapped away that day to record our food adventures and I’m happy to share a few of her beauteous pics here:

Photography by www.robinjolin.com

First up, I visited Azalina. She is part of the La Cocina program and is in her incubator stage, which, sounds fancy but merely means she’s in the initial business development period. Azalina’s from Malaysia where most her family are career street food vendors. Though I had seen her at Off The Grid, I hadn’t tried it yet so it was a must eat for me. Azalina hopes that Californians will dig her food because, she pointed out, Malaysian food is an eclectic mash up food reminiscent of eclectic California cuisine. Just a few bites in, it was clear she’s on to something as I’m totally hooked on this peanut sauce salad she whipped up.

Photography by www.robinjolin.com

The Mission stalwart, Beretta, made a risky bet by serving up freshly fried vegetable fritto misto out of a stall but it paid off. Honestly, I’m not really into fried food because it’s so rarely made proper. Well, people should take a page from these guys because their veggie fritto misto was shatteringly crisp, and the vegetables cooked perfectly. As I walked around the fest with it in hand, people stopped me begging to know where they too could get their boatload of crisp, fried goodness.

Photography by www.robinjolin.com

Hapa Ramen is another place that slipped by me for a few months so I made sure to check it out. As if the big bowl of ramen weren’t inviting enough, the hot soup was the perfect antidote to the typical “coldest winter” weather we had going on. As with the fritto misto, people were so drawn to it that they were all but stealing the ramen from me as I walked by.

Photography by www.robinjolin.com

Anthony Strong and I have been crossing paths a lot lately from SFChefs to the 7×7 list and of course the street food festival. Though I was well on my way to full, Anthony insisted I try everything he and the Delfina crew were serving up that day including a meatball panino, a sweet-tart grape-ade, and these green beans “a la cinese” (aka spicy).

Photography by www.robinjolin.com

Anda Piroshki‘s first official day was at the launch of the street food festival and all the servers were outfitted in their kerchiefs and ready to go. Anna Telova started the business to make healthy piroshkis that are made with whole grains and are baked, not fried. A good piroshki is all about the dough and whole wheat doughs can be tough and heavy, but Anda’s piroshki were light, tasty, and I gotta admit it was great not having greasy fingers afterward.

Photography by www.robinjolin.com

I finished things off with a sweet and a treat. My fellow Cornell alum, Neil Gottleib, started Three Twins Ice Cream a few years back and I’ve always been loyal to the lemon cookie flavor, but he was also serving up a roasted peach ice cream that I had to try. It had deep caramelized peach notes while still maintaining a great ice cream texture, which can be hard seeing as juicy fruit can make ice creams way too icy. The roasted peach might be my new favorite flavor though I’m sure the fact he was serving up scoops with the flair of his 1850s antique spoons might have influenced things a bit.

Photography by www.robinjolin.com

Last stop was at the drinking “jail” as I like to call it seeing as it was caged off from the rest of the event. Well, this jail had great inmates with some of SF’s top bartenders pouring drinks. Sure, they were batch and not made to order, but they were still delicious and that mint julep kept me warm through even the foggiest of foggy SF days.

Photography by www.robinjolin.com

On my way out, I ran into my friends and stole a few bites of a beef heart skewer and an okonomiyaki from one of my favorite local restaurants, Namu. Surprising even myself, I had to call it quits as that was all I could handle for one day. But after a day of food exploration (aka intense grazing) I’ve got a running list of places I’ll be frequenting for my adventurous food fix — for now I’m going to pick some fall produce and go on a binge eating break.

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