Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Taste Marketplace in San Francisco

San Francisco is going crazy for the pop-up restaurants and shops, food trucks, and plain old neighborhood bake sales. There seems to be a trend of being the first to try something new, and oftentimes for new small businesses, the pop-up sale is their chance to test their products before opening up a full-fledged restaurant or store.

The New Taste Marketplace is at the center of this trend, putting on a monthly market made up of new hand-made products and small businesses hoping to develop a customer base. The monthly marketplace takes place at St. Gregory's Church in Potrero Hill, which is a bit out there but definitely worth the trek.

I checked out this month's marketplace, which took place yesterday from noon to 5 p.m. The marketplace also serves as a fund-raiser for The Food Pantry, so there's a suggested donation as admission.

Once inside, I was impressed by the layout of food vendors set among the colorful religious art of the church. It definitely creates a unique setting for a community marketplace.

Needless to say, there were a lot of food to try, more than I could squeeze in for my lunch. And some of them, while tempting, weren't necessarily great for my high cholesterol. For example, I had to pass on the above duck confit nachos from Michele Manfredi's SFQ, which really did look mouth-watering.

And these adorable chicken pot pies from Butter Love Bakeshop. I mean, come on, the shop has butter in its name. I had to be good. I was in the house of God.

But no problem, because there's something for everyone and I was able to find something good to eat that wasn't a major hit on my cholesterol. I started with this green curry dish ($7) from Nute's Cupcakes. That's right, Nute Chulasuwan is primarily a baker making creative Asian-inspired cupcakes, but she was also selling this curry on the side for fun. It was a nice, light Thai curry and in it were Thai eggplants, which was the first time for me trying them. They're shaped like tomatillos and looked a bit like figs when they were cut in half, so a new discovery for me.

Like I said, Nute's known for her cupcakes, and these were the mini cupcakes she was selling. They looked so pretty, and such interesting flavors. There was a chili-lime, pandan (a kind of leaf in Southeast Asia used to infuse dishes), caramel and chocolate bacon. Each sold for $1, and the pandan was an interesting herbal like cake, while the caramel was my favorite. But I have to say I was not a fan of the bacon, which was bits of bacon in the center of the chocolate cake. It just didn't seem right. (I wished I had tried the chili-lime, but I did order it and ended up with two pandan in my box. Oh well, next time.)

I also tried a bowl of this strawberry risotto with smoked pork shoulder ($4) from Mission Gastroclub. I liked the idea of the seasonal strawberry risotto, but I didn't really get a sweet strawberry flavor in the risotto, but the smoked pork shoulder had an intense (which I liked) smokey flavor.

OK, it seems like I wasn't helping my cholesterol with all the cakes I was eating, but they were all minis! Just like a mini lemon cupcake I got from this vendor, Pleasure My Sweet Tooth. They also had these interesting cake pops, but they're supposedly really sweet so I had to avoid them since I'm not into super sweets. I have to say they had the most pretty table.

Following the idea that everything's better with bacon, here's the popular bacon-wrapped mochi from Lindo Lo of Simply Mochi.

I didn't get the bacon mochi, but instead tried these two freshly made mochi. The one of the left was a strawberry cheesecake mochi, which I loved. It was like eating mochi ice cream. The one on the right was a Peanut Butter and Jam mochi. The peanut butter and jam filling was a bit chunky and the flavor didn't make me think of the popular childhood sandwich. Both mochi had a nice soft, chewy texture that was easy to eat.

The New Taste Marketplace had a nice community feel, like a church bake sale. And it wasn't a massive clusterjam like some other underground markets in the city. There were more vendors than my stomach could try, so I'm hoping to check out future marketplaces.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this informative (and fun!) article. I attended New Taste also, and came home with "take-away" items that will last me for days. Won't have to cook! Fresh-baked pot pie for supper tonight! I also bought treats to make up a care package & send to my son in NYC. He's a real foodie & will absolutely LOVE this stuff! The wierder/the spicier/the hotter, the better! -- Katherine

Hungry Dog said...

This is news to me! I need to start keeping up with all the interesting underground events happening here in the city. Looks like you had a ton of lovely and delicious things to choose from.

Carolyn Jung said...

What a fun gathering! I would totally be all over the little pot pies, too. ;)