Thursday, September 23, 2010

Farmers Market Happy Hour for SF Cocktail Week

On Wednesday night, I got drunk. But in a good way. It was the Farmers Market Happy Hour that's one of the many events this week as the city celebrates Cocktail Week. This event, which I went to two years ago, is put on by CUESA and takes place at the San Francisco Ferry Building arcade.

Bartenders from some of the city's hottest lounges mixed up specialty drinks using farm fresh fruits from the season, and a few restaurants served up appetizers so people wouldn't get totally drunk. But this year there seemed to be fewer food booths, which explains how I got drunk so quickly.

It seemed a lot of the bartenders were using citrus and stone fruit, like plouts. But some people cheated where they only used fruit-flavored syrup or infused alcohol as their drink, so they weren't exactly farm-fresh.

But really, I was more interested in the food. Like I said, there seemed to be fewer restaurants serving up dishes, but they were serving up some fantastic-tasting food and a lot of it. One of the first booths I hit up was serving up this shrimp Louie and avocado toast, made by Chef Carlo Espinas of Comstock Saloon. The combination is classic, and it was a nice serving on each perfectly thin toasted slice.

Another classic combination was still a winner in taste. And that's this Black Mission fig tart with goat cheese from the Plant Cafe.

This is the Pimento cheese spread on toast with country farm ham thinly sliced like prosciutto from Chef Scott Youkilis of the new Hogs and Rocks. Again, nothing surprising but all the taste profiles were just on the mark and filling.

For the $40 admission ticket, you get to eat all the small bites and tasting cups from the bartenders. But you also get two full-sized cocktails. The first one I tried was the "September Breeze," which had a long list of ingredients and required several different layers to build it into this perfect drink. The bartender started off with angostura bitters, then added bing cherry extract, martini rosato, and 42 Below honey vodka from Australia. Then there were honey, fresh lemon and soda water and a spritz of verbena water. Very complex and very well balanced.

The second full drink was called "Papa Ghiradelli," and it was good but nothing spectacular compared to the September Breeze. So that's probably why I didn't take notes on the ingredients, but it may also be that by now I was totally wasted.

It was interesting watching the bartenders mix up their drinks, which had some interesting names like The Remedy, Little Horner's Luck, and Square Peg, Round Hole.

Oh, one more food shot. This was actually the night's best and my favorite, IMHO. It's a skewer with grilled Shishito pepper, feta cheese with a slice of coppa, and watermelon. This was dreamed up by Chef Jake Kwan-Rosenbush from 15 Romolo. He was frying up the shishito peppers at the stand and it was my first time trying this "in" pepper and I totally love it. Everything on this stick was amazing and a perfect representation of summer.

As for my favorite drink, I have to give it to this guy, Joel Teitelbaum of Zero Zero.

He created something called a "Her Royal Vintage" and this isn't a shot of it above. That's just a photo of the glass holding the tiny grapes that were thrown into the drink. The drink is made with brandy, Campari and spiced apples and Concord grape syrup with a bit of balsamic vinegar. Everything tasted fantastic and was well balanced. (Some drinks I had at other places were too strong or too weak, but this was just the right amount of alcohol and sweetness from the fruit.) I would give Joel a blue ribbon if I had one.

So it was a fun night of munching and drinking, and watching the bartenders at work. One thing I did learn is not to drunk tweet, which always can be too much information.

San Francisco Cocktail Week is wrapping up, but there's still some events you can get to. So pull up a stool and raise a glass to the season's best.


SaRi said...

thats a lot of drink! but woww...the food looks tantalising! =)

julieako said...

I thought your tweeting was cute...and am still waiting to hear what you did about the bus problem! (See how discrete I can be?)

Hungry Dog said...

Wow, that looks like so much fun! Great photos as always...

Anonymous said...

Ben, are u going to Rockridge Out & About? Anything I shouldn't miss? Will Wood Tavern be serving food there?

Single Guy Ben said...

Julie, the bus left after I tweeted and I live just 10 minutes away so it was all good. ;-)

Anonymous, I'm hoping to catch some of Rockridge Out & About this Sunday in the morning. In the past, I've noticed the booths don't go all the way down to Wood Tavern so I wouldn't count on a booth from them. But if I see them I'll tweet about it!

julieako said...

Glad it worked out for you!

Carolyn Jung said...

I like the sound of "Her Royal Vintage.'' So interesting with the balsamic vinegar. Plus, who can resist anything with spiced apples? ;)