2013 San Francisco Street Food Festival

Yesterday, I spent the late morning/early afternoon in the Mission, enjoying the mild weather and eating my way through the crowds at the San Francisco Street Food Festival. Five years running, this gathering of 80+ food vendors is put on by La Cocina, a not-for-profit incubator kitchen that offers affordable commercial kitchen space, industry assistance, and market opportunities to small food businesses.

I am a huge fan of the street food scene, and the times I’ve been to Portland I’ve really enjoyed supporting it. I can’t believe that this has been going on for five years a stone’s throw from me and I only learned of it a couple days before the festival. Street eats, BART-friendly, and I get to help folks make a living on their own terms? Sign me up!

The Mission, San Francisco

The Mission, early Saturday afternoon, while sipping on a creamy soy cappuccino. Beautiful.

Because I live in the ‘burbs and parking in the city makes me see red on a good day, my husband and I took public transit into the Mission. We arrived about 30 minutes after the festival started. At this time, the foot traffic was still relatively thin on the street, and it was still fairly easy to get around. The crowd started to grow rather fast, but I was a woman equipped with a list of vegan-friendly foods to try and a good pair of elbows. (I’m kidding about the elbows. I didn’t need to use them! For the most part, the crowd was pretty mellow.) We spent around two hours walking around and visiting different stands until we couldn’t eat another bite.

Vegan eats from SF Street Food Festival

Clockwise from top left: Lusty Lovers taco, Hella Vegan Eats; spicy green kitfo injera rolls, Eji’s Ethiopian; marinated eggplant rice ball wraps, Onigilly; soy cappuccino, Ritual Coffee Roasters; moo shu vegetable taco, Kung Fu Tacos; falafel sandwich, Liba Falafel

My first stop was at Onigilly for a couple rice wraps. These were delicious, and I don’t even like eggplant all that much. I liked THIS eggplant though. It had so much flavor, and you just can’t go wrong with rice and seaweed. I bit into one of them before I remembered to take a photo. Don’t judge me.

Next up was a sandwich from the Liba Falafel truck, served with the falafel piping hot, tucked into a wholemeal pita, and dressed with a fresh herby sauce and tahini. I added the dill/cardamom pickles and pickled red onions from the toppings bar. I also added a swish of the harissa and it gave me that warm and special feeling in my eyeballs (heat lovers, you know what I’m talking about).

While I was waiting on my sandwich, my husband was at the Kung Fu Tacos truck one spot over, and asked about the moo shu veggie taco while he was ordering for himself. As it was vegan, he bought me one. I loved this, and that’s not surprising because I like moo shu vegetables, and I love nearly anything put into a corn tortilla. Some wives like jewelry. Bring me tacos instead.

My next stop was the Hella Vegan Eats booth. The offerings there were a Doughnut Beet Burger and a Lusty Lovers Taco. I was tempted by the doughnut burger, but I like tacos. I mean, I really like tacos. So I asked about it. The person behind the counter started telling me about what was in it, and once she got to the corn flakes, I’m pretty sure I had the What?! Mind. Blown. face going on. Vegan chicken, macaroni and cheese, and chipotle corn flakes, topped with chopped scallions. And I thought I had put everything into a corn tortilla. It was delicious. I tip my hat, Hella Vegan Eats.

My last food stop was at the Eji’s Ethiopian booth. All vegan eats? I’m sure I can find room in my belly somewhere. I ordered the spicy green kitfo injera wrap, which was a whole piece of the bold-flavored 100% teff injera that I so rarely get anymore, topped with a thinly-spread layer of sauteed chopped greens, and then rolled and cut into pieces. It was dressed with what I’m guessing was mitmita paste, because it felt more fiery than berbere, but that’s all to the good. Very tasty!

Alas, I could not bear to eat anything else, but I did stop by the Ritual Coffee Roasters trailer to see if they were steaming soy, and they were indeed. I finished my festival day by sipping a rich soy cappuccino in the afternoon sun before we headed back home. All in all, I had a lovely and delicious day in the Mission and I can’t wait to go again next year.


Lentil and Wild Rice Soup

Lentil and Wild Rice SoupIt’s been a bit breezy here where I live lately, and that kind of weather always puts me in the mood for a big bowl of soup. I also have a pantry full of staples that’s been getting a little out of control. This soup put a good dent in my lentil, dry spice and seed stash, and it was tasty to boot. I served this with some homemade whole wheat biscuits and an arugula salad tossed with toasted hazelnuts and a fig balsamic vinaigrette.

Active prep: 10 minutes
Cooking time: under an hour
Attention needed: Occasional

1 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced (include the leaves if you like them)
1 large white or yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced  (2 tsp if using crushed)
4 c vegetable broth + 4 cups water (or 8 cups water + 2 bouillon cubes), warmed
1 1/2 c brown or green lentils, sorted and rinsed
1/2 c wild rice, rinsed
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (or half a 14 oz can of chopped tomatoes; about 1 cup)
1 tsp dried marjoram (or 1 tbsp leaves if using fresh)
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 fat sprig/2 small sprigs of fresh thyme, tossed in with stem)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and black pepper to taste
Juice from one half of a lemon
1 tbsp olive oil for finishing (optional)

Note: this batch of soup fits perfectly at all stages of cooking in my 4 quart soup pot, which is 8 inches in diameter and 7 inches tall)

Rinse and sort lentils and wild rice and set aside.

Sauté carrots, celery, and onion in olive oil over mediumheat for 5 to 7 minutes until the onions and celery are translucent and beginning to get very lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add the minced garlic and stir for an additional minute.

Add the 8 cups of warmed water/stock, stirring enough to loosen any tasty bits on the bottom of the pot. Add lentils, wild rice, tomatoes, marjoram (if dried), thyme, bay leaves, nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and cover with the lid slightly ajar. Let the soup cook gently for 45 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender and the the wild rice has popped open.

If you’re using fresh marjoram, add it to the soup about 30 minutes into the cooking time.

You may need to add more liquid as the cook progresses, depending on the type of lentils you use, the rate of evaporation, and how thin you like your soup. I usually end up adding 2 additional cups of liquid. If you like your soups closer to the consistency of a side dish of lentils, 8 cups may be plenty. You may even prefer 7. 6 cups is about the minimum, in my opinion.

When the soup is finished cooking, add salt and black pepper to taste and the lemon juice. Remove the bay leaves (and fresh thyme sprigs if using), and finish the soup by stirring in an additional tablespoon of olive oil if you wish. Let the soup rest with the lid on for a few minutes, then serve.

Legume-based soups seem to drink up broth during fridge storage, so you’ll probably need to reheat any leftovers with a little additional water.