Long Lines & Slow Street Food

Is it really worth the wait?

Is it really worth the wait?

Lines, lines, and more lines. Saturday afternoon in San Francisco and we were just trying to get a little street food, just like everyone else. It was about 2:00 in the afternoon when we decided to get our asses out the door and head to the Mission. A Slow Food/Street Food Festival was taking place on Folsom Street in the Mission, and we were hungry. We drove through the Castro into the Mission via 18th Street when we saw the first of several major lines – at Bi-Rite ice cream. The line was around the corner of Dolores and it wasn’t even a hot summer day! In fact, it was a chilly 65 throughout the city. Who wants ice cream when it’s cold outside? Who else? San Franciscans.

When we finally arrived in the Mission and neared Folsom, we drove around for what seemed like half an hour and we were just about to give up when we found parking. It was a miracle we found the spot and we saw it as a sign that we were meant to join everyone else for some grub.

When we got to the Street Food Festival the place was packed. There were more people in that two-block stretch of a little street festival than I’ve seen at any other street festival in the city. So, when I say the place was packed, it was packed like a tin of sardines (a cliché, yes, but seems appropriate). We wanted to participate and enjoy the afternoon with a little food and beer, but it just was not possible. We couldn’t tell where the lines started for the food vendors, thought it looked like they ran all the way up onto people’s doorsteps. Even the beer garden seemed to be one big mass of people with no way to get up to the front where some invisible vendor was pouring. We ended up returning our beer tickets for a refund and leaving.

Was the festival successful? Yes, too successful. The idea was great and the food, what I could see, looked amazing. The location was all wrong, or it just wasn’t big enough, or a combination of the two. San Francisco is full of foodies. We like to cook, eat, drink, share the food we make, and write about it. Expecting that two city blocks can hold the most die-hard foodies in the city, and Bay Area, is just not planning correctly. I suggest that the Street Food Festival be held at Civic Center next year. It’s large enough to hold everyone and easy to get to on public transportation.

Good Cheap Tacos

Good Cheap Tacos

In our quest to find Street food we walked around the Mission talking about our next bite. Whiz Burger was an option, but that’s not even street food or slow food for that matter and we’re trying to avoid hamburger of unknown origin. Then we thought about El Tonayense, the taco truck outside of Best Buy and Office Max. That was street food and slow food, just what we were looking for. We ordered three tacos each, carnitas, pollo asado and carne asada (pork, chicken, and beef), and a bottle of water. All that plus tip came to $14. Bargain street food that tasted so good! The tacos are $1.75 each and while the carnitas was dry and tough, the other two tacos really hit the spot, especially with added pickled jalapeños.

After our tacos we tried to find the crème brulee guy, with no luck. We later found out he was one of the vendors at the Street Food Fair, but we were not going back. Then we thought of stopping at Bi-Rite for some ice cream, after all it was after 5:00 pm and surely the line there would have slowed down, since the fog was blowing and the temperature was dropping. Not even close. It was actually longer at 5:00 than it was at 2:30 when we first drove by. Our quest for ice cream reminded me that we had a half pint of cream at home and two very ripe peaches. We could make our own ice cream. And with that thought we went home to prepare the ice cream.

Peaches on the stove

Peaches on the stove

We weren’t hungry, but as everyone who cooks knows even the simplest recipes can take time. So, it was  into the kitchen for us. I prepared the custard for freezing while Steve prepared the fruit. The recipe is from Epicurious with a slight adjustment. Instead of two cups heavy cream we used one-cup cream and one cup of whole milk. Not for dietary purposes but because that’s what we had in our fridge. If we had two cups of cream we would have happily used both and enjoyed every fat gram.

Tomato, Mozzeralla, Bacon, and Purple Basil

Tomato, Mozzeralla, Bacon, and Purple Basil

Since we had a late lunch, and we were going to be eating delicious peach ice cream for desert, dinner was going to be light, or slightly light. BTM (Bacon, Tomato, Mozzarella) salad with farro. I just discovered farro at Rainbow in the bulk section. There was one of those recipe pads next to the display and I thought why not try it? The recipe was simple and we had everything at home. I added bacon to the recipe since bacon and tomato go together so well. To accompany the salad I threw together Baba Ghanouj from an eggplant we received from our vegetable box, served it with Ak-Mak crackers and some sliced cucumbers.

While Saturday’s excursion was not what we planned, we made do with what we had. We wanted some good street food and while the rest of the city was standing in lines waiting patiently, or not, we found the street food at a taco truck and some slow food in our own kitchen. Let’s hope next year we can join the rest of the foodies for a beer and tacos. After all, it’s fine to eat at home but every once in a while you just want to get out and be with the masses. We just need the masses to be a little less massive.

Food for thought.

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