Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Some days go better than others

This past SF Underground Market at Public Works on Saturday was worth writing about.

We were happily surprised to get a last-minute invite from Iso Rabin.  They've been trying to rotate new and more established vendors and mo foods has sold at several Underground Markets since last July, so we understood that other small food makers deserved to get a chance.  When one of them couldn't make it, we got lucky.  This also meant that we had to scramble a bit to get product ready and get help.  Jae has been furiously finishing up her combined MBA/MPH, and suffering from a badly torn patellar tendon, so her mo foods activities have been heavy on strategy and light on labor.  She still managed to make a fresh batch of delicious Nasturtium Pesto--what a trooper!

Our generous friend Yea agreed on short notice to help out at the market for a few hours, and Food Artisan Geoff made up a big batch of Hand-Squeezed Sparkling Lemonade.  The Nasturtium leaves were picked in the rain, which was damp but poetic.  We jarred a bunch of Preserved Meyer Lemons, grabbed some Spicy Pickled Oranges from the shelf, and tossed a few bottles of secret mo'shine into the bin too.

Prep day-of was a bit scrambled and frantic but we made it to Public Works just before the customers started arriving.  Getting to market late means that you don't get great placement.  Public Works is huge, with two floors and lots of nooks and crannies so more vendors can fit, but some of them end up in dark corners, like us.  We're not complaining, just recognizing that placement can make a difference for sales.  Baia Pasta was next to us on Saturday and they didn't sell nearly as much of their amazing pasta as they had at the 3/12 New Taste Marketplace.  On the bright side for us, Dario and Renato are good company regardless of the lighting.

The well-intentioned Forage SF volunteers helped me unload my borrowed car and get my supplies into the space.  Sadly, the lemonade didn't make it.  Our entire 5 gallon tub got spilled by accident.  It was big loss, both financially and for the effort that went into it, from picking the lemons, juicing them all by hand, mixing just the right amount of sparkling water and simple sugar, hauling the heavy jug up and down stairs.  I was pretty upset and just stood there for a minute trying to keep myself composed.  The volunteer felt terrible about it, and Iso was kind enough later to waive our vendor fee.

As we were setting up, there was a New York Times photographer snapping photos of our jam neighbor Urban Preserves.  I encouraged him to come back and get us too when we were ready.  Unfortunately, our table never looked that great.  The Nasturtium leaves I brought were wilted all day (a metaphor for my own state), the balloons floated sadly at half-mast (I had bought them the night before and forgot to keep them in a bag to reduce the amount of helium that leaked overnight), and the lemonade accident meant we didn't have our bright orange tub on the table drawing attention and adding color.  Half-way through the day someone pointed out that something under the table was leaking--it was the 2 bags of ice we had brought for the lemonade.  I tried to find someone else who could use it, failed, and ended up dumping it in the bathroom sink, which had no hot water to speed up melting.

Despite our struggles all day, we did manage to sell out of Nasturtium Pesto and Preserved Meyer Lemons.  My friend Yea was such a help cutting up and offering samples to customers, and she generally cheered me up.  We had some wonderful interactions with customers (a couple from South San Francisco who bought one of everything, including the mo'shine).  Our great fan Chromatic showed up totally jazzed about replenishing his pantry with our Preserved Meyer Lemons.  He even posed for the traditional Twitter photo-op.  And we connected with some of the new vendors (780 Sweets' caramels are delicious!) and potential food-makers (follow your hearts, pickle boys!).

A Chronicle reporter came by, very excited about telling the SF Underground story that she had been trying to pitch to her superiors for a year.  We told her about attending the first market in a house in the Mission, where the honey vendors were selling out of the bathtub, and Shakirah Simley knocked everyone's socks off with her Slow Jams.  By 3:00 pm my throat was pretty sore from doing so much talking.

So all in all, the day was hard, but still worth it.  I wanted to share this recounting of it all with our followers and with other artisanal food vendors in the spirit of encouragement despite frustrations and challenges.  We were reminded of lessons we already knew (get to market early!) but recognized that some days, things don't go the way you want them to.  And that's just part of life.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Market Sat 3/26!

We're a last minute addition to the SF Underground Market--woohoo!!

Come get some deliciousness 11-3 at Public Works, 161 Erie St. off Mission.

We'll have Spicy Pickled Oranges (big jars, Nick!), Preserved Meyer Lemons, Nasturtium Pesto, Hand-Squeezed Meyer Lemonade and some mo'shine (only if you ask for it).

See you there!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Some updates for our excellent fans:  New Taste Marketplace last Saturday was a pleasure, as usual.  Working with Elianna and all the volunteers at St. Gregory's made the day run smoothly and with the spirit of generosity flowing through all our interactions.  We really love vending there each month and being active and contributing members of our community, and hope you come out to support the event if you haven't already.

We will not be selling at the SF Underground Market this month after all, but encourage you to check out the Public Works space and support all our fellow food makers while you fill your bellies with deliciousness.

Lastly, we have tons of Spicy Pickled Oranges on our shelves, thanks to BJ and her beautiful orange tree.  Let us know if you'd like to get your hands on one of the regular 8 oz jars, or if you're a true aficionado (like Nick!) and want to stock up on the 32 oz big ones, which are a great value.

See you all soon!