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SF Underground Market And Free Art Show Wine

Since I was in SF, I decided to check out the SF Underground Farmers Market. But more on that later. First, on my way there, I stopped at Electric Works for an art opening. They were giving out some excellent white wine by Bear Flag. They’re a CA winery out of Modesto, and they only do blended wines. The artwork on the bottles is also adorable and heck, the wine rocks. Now I want to buy some!

The reason I stopped in was to check out Toasty Melts, one of the bazillion cart food vendors in the bay area. What is a toasty melt? I’m not sure if it’s a regional name, but as you can see, it’s grilled cheese. I guess toasty melt sounds a bit more exotic than grilled cheese. The Toasty Melt version is made with vienna bread. I got the 3 cheese one and it was delicious! It was warm, the cheese was all gooey and melted, and I just loved it. It’s a good size too as the bread pieces are quite large, and they cut it in half before they put it in the cute little paper for you.
Ok, back to the SF Underground Farmers Market… What is it? It’s a monthly event where various people sell food that is being produced in backyards and home kitchens in the Bay Area. It is held in a different location each month and features all types of random vendors. There is also live music, and sometimes workshops, and is held at night. When I got here, I had no idea there would be a line. A long line. Imagine going to amusement parks when you were a child. Yeah, those kinds of lines. I had no idea. Ugh. Held at the SOMArts Cultural Center, the wait was really ridiculous. I mean, this really is no way to spend an evening, standing outside in the San Francisco cold. But I couldn’t give up. At a certain point, some of the vendors came outside and started hawking to us starving and cold ding dongs outside.

Eventually, I made it inside, after what it seemed like forever. Seriously, it was a long time. I don’t want to say exactly how long because I don’t want to detract others from checking it out in the future. Basically, it was a big open room with tons of little tables set up for the vendors. And they were selling food. There were plenty of sweets, including chocolates, cupcakes, more cupcakes, and macarons. It makes sense, as apparently, macarons are the new cupcakes!

Probably after the sweets, the next most prevalent type of vendors were those with jams and preserves of all kinds. Most of the vendors have some samples you can taste.

Of course there were breads. These homemade focaccias looked awesome. And in addition to macarons, there were even macaroons!

One of the coolest vendors was for someone making her own spicy spices. There were tons of different chili powders and lots of spices for indian food.

Being in SF, asian food was well represented. We had some musubi. There was even someone selling organic kimchi. I mean seriously, kimchi samples? It was crazy. I was compelled to actually buy one thing… a pork belly sausage with peanut sauce, slopped on top of rice noodles and papaya salad. Oh yes, it was as delicious as it sounds and looks! Although annoyed by the wait, it was quite an interesting experience. If you’re in SF during the next one, stop by. Entrance is free. Just show up early to avoid the wait. The wait was extremely unpleasant, especially when you get stuck standing in front of two vapid girls who work at google that just seemed to be the most annoying people in the entire freakin frackin world.

Twin Peaks Pie Contest

Sometimes, there are strange little events around town. Like this past first friday, I went to a Twin Peaks themed art show and pie contest in Kensington. I’ve never watched Twin Peaks, so I don’t really know much, but apparently, Agent Dale really liked cherry pie. I have nothing against pie, and first fridays can be quite amusing, so off I went.

The contest was simple. Taste each of the 11 pies and vote for your favorite. There were three apples and then the rest were a smattering of random flavors, including pecan, lemon, and sweet potato cheesecake. There was no cherry pie to be had, which was a bit odd. I had to taste them in order, and this probably wasn’t planned, but they all seemed to get sweeter as the numbers got higher. It got harder and harder to taste them! Which one won? I have no idea! But I actually voted for the sweet potato cheesecake. It was my favorite!

They also had random donuts and other sweet treats around different booths.

And later on, they brought out some moon pies and some freakishly technicolored peeps.

We went to a few other galleries too to check out what else was going on. Sometimes they had food. And sometimes, like this one, it was a very nice offering. I’m not quite sure what the bottle of sriracha was for though. The dip?

Sometimes, they were philly themed so you could have soft pretzels. And they even had some nice carafes of wine.

But sometimes, it was just boxed wine.

My First Dinner In An Italian Castle – L’Altro Tempo

By the time dinner rolled around my first night in Italy, boy, was I starving. My last proper meal was the dinner on the plane, and after that, it was my sad breakfast of juice and fruit, and a few crackers and snacks throughout the rest of my work day. I was so hungry I had a headache. Ok, maybe it was the lack of sleep, but in any case, I was tired, pained, and needing real sustenance. So we went to a castle. You know, like you do in Europe. Just hop down to the neighborhood castle for some grub.

This is a family run restaurant housed within an eighteenth century castle. It’s pretty damn cool eating in a castle, I must say. They serve regional cuisine, a la carte, and they have a pretty extensive wine list. There’s bottles everywhere. It’s rather impressive and insane.

There’s also old furniture in there, tons of it nineteeth-century. They also use this drawer set to hold bread. Open up a drawer, pull out a loaf, and cut. I need me a magical set of bread drawers at home.

To get to the dining areas, you have to meander through corridors and hallways in this said castle, where they just have tons of stuff everywhere. Furniture, stacks of stuff, wine, food, whatever. It’s truly rustic.

Luckily, they have english menus, or else I would have been screwed. It’s a small menu, with starters, firsts, seconds, sides, and desserts. It’s more of a risotto and meat heavy menu, not pastas. Breadsticks and breads from the drawers! No butter with your bread here!

L and I shared one of the antipasti – the trout. It was some pieces of marinated trout, along with some rocket, a couple slices of tomato and some balsamic syrup. As L said, it was lovely (she’s Scottish)! And I also enjoyed the presentation, as I didn’t expect it to be so pretty!

This was the wine that we ended up picking, after many indecisions and help from the server. A 2005 chianti, I totally loved it! It also helped me sleep. The ratatouille was delicious. I let me taste some of his. It was really oily though! They definitely don’t skimp on the oil here.

He got one of the steaks that are cooked on a hot stone. C also got the steak as well. She got hers butterflied. She made us try some of the steak too, and damn, it was extremely tender and had an excellent flavor, even without anything on it. She also got simply prepared potatoes.

L and I both got risottos, which is a regional specialty. L’s risotto had some sausage in it and was made with a wine. You can see how different it looks from mine.

I got a saffron risotto with chicken livers. Ok, when I ordered this, in my head, I was thinking chicken gizzards and not chicken livers. But I know what liver is, and that I don’t like it. But for whatever reason (I blame it on lack of sleep), I was thinking this would be like gizzards. Well, no, it was definitely chicken livers, in all their extremely strong livery glory. I wasn’t digging it. It’s funny because it actually looks like mushrooms. But mushrooms they definitely are not!┬áBut that’s ok, because I just ate around the livers, and the arborio was strong and delicious and not mushy at all. They know how to make their risotto here.

This was a good meal and a nice way to ease me into this week-long italian gorge fest. Even with the app and the risotto, sans livers, I was still really stuffed. The prices here are also extremely reasonable! The risottos were about 11 euros or so? That’s so cheap! And especially for european, that’s pretty much a steal. Prego!

L’Altro Tempo
Piazza Generale Perrucchetti, 3,
20062 Cassano d’Adda MI, Italy
0363 65095

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