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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category


Local links: Donut art, Argonne Fair, FUF tree planting, OB bonfires & more

Jay Mercado. Photo by Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle

Happy hump day, Richmond District! Here are some local links for ya:

  • Neighborhood artist Jay Mercado, known for his donut paintings, was featured in the Chronicle this week. Still life painter raises doughnuts to level of art
  • The Argonne School Spring Fair is this Saturday from There will be food trucks (El Toyanese, Sunrise Deli, America’s Best Roasting Company), carnival games, rock climbing, live animals, entertainment, crafts, shopping, a raffle and much more. This year 17th Ave will be blocked to through traffic so all food and entertainment can be enjoyed outdoors just outside the school’s gates. The fair will be on the school’s premises at 17th Avenue and Cabrillo. Admission is free.
  • Want a tree planted in front of your home or building? Friends of the Urban Forest have planned a Richmond District tree planting for June. “We usually subsidize about 75% of the costs and handle most of the logistics. You only need to co-pay $135 and we’ll plant a tree with you in the sidewalk in front of your home AND come back for 3-years of follow-up care.” The deadline to apply for a tree is April 29.
  • Planning Association for the Richmond (PAR) recently posted an update on the National Park Service policy on fires at Ocean Beach. “For the upcoming spring/summer season fires will be allowed at Ocean Beach while we continue to work out the details of the future program.” Visit the PAR website for further details on changes that are being considered. Another public meeting will be scheduled in the late summer.
  • The Richmond District Library (351 9th Ave) will host “Women and Money – Pennies to Plans” on April 23rd from 6pm-7pm. “This workshop covers topics that all women deal with, such as budgeting, credit, and insurance, as well as specific life stages that many women face, such as having children, divorcing, and becoming a widow. This program is provided in conjunction with Consumer Credit Counseling Service of San Francisco.”
  • Last week, a jury convicted Eduardo Chaparro-Esquivel, who ran over Albert Bartal in November 2011. Chaparro-Esquivel pursued Bartal and ran him down in the Shell 9th Avenue gas station parking lot after a fight at the Jack in the Box on 11th Avenue and Geary. The jury convicted Chaparro-Esquivel of torture, mayhem, and assault with a deadly weapon with an enhancement for great bodily injury, according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. He will be sentenced on May 6. Bartal has never regained consciousness and lives in an acute care facility in the East Bay.
  • Mind your driving and speed when you’re traveling on Fulton. Speed limits were reduced and the Chronicle recently asked “Is this San Francisco’s worst speed trap?”. “In one 10-hour period, SFPD handed out 100 tickets. All but two were for speeding.”
  • Lou’s Sandwiches (5017 Geary near 14th Avenue), which some might consider the Ike’s of the Richmond District, recently got some notice from The Examiner. “The common threads that run through all of Lou’s offerings are the Lou’s sauce, basically aioli with “natural herbs,” and an olive oil-based jalapeño spread that adds just enough heat to make things interesting. A wall-sized menu board implored patrons to mix the two, whatever the sandwich.”
12:40 pm | Posted under Art, Crime, Events, Food, Green, Ocean Beach, Schools | 1 comment

Arsicault Bakery opens on Arguello, offering French pastries with a heritage

Many neighbors were sad to see Blissful Bites close its doors last year. But a new tenant has opened in the space, and they’ve brought delicious, French pastries to the neighborhood.

Arsicault Bakery (397 Arguello) is owned by Armando Lacayo, a first-time merchant with a passion for French baking. Lacayo comes from a legacy of baking – his great grandparents owned Arsicault Boulangerie in Corbeil-Essonnes, France in the early 1900’s.

Inside the bakery are two artifacts from his great-grandparents’ business – an old photograph from 1907 and a delivery cart from the shop.

Arsicault specializes in French pastries. We sampled the chocolate croissant which was excellent. Lacayo also gave us a taste of the raspberry paille (translates as “straw”), which are two light, crunchy pastries with raspberry jam in the center.

The bakery’s specialty is the almond croissant, featuring almond cream made from Madagascar vanilla seed (no extract) and a touch of Meyer’s rum.

“It’s a croissant you can listen to,” Lacayo said as he picked up a croissant with tongs and demonstrated the crackling sound from the flaky crust.

Arsicault Bakery is open Wednesday through Monday from 7am until 3pm (closed Tuesdays); they may extend their hours in the coming weeks. The bakery also serves coffee and has ample indoor seating, as well as two outdoor tables.

Stop in and welcome them to the neighborhood!

Sarah B.

Arsicault staff. L to R: Lisa, employee #1, owner Armando Lacayo, Lacayo’s nephew Raphi

The delivery cart from the original Arsicault Bakery in France

A photo of Lacayo’s great-grandparents outside the original Arsicault Boulangerie in France, circa 1907

5:10 am | Posted under Business, Food | 14 comments

Gourmet popcorn gets its start in the Richmond District; now a national brand

Jean Arnold, owner and founder of 479° Popcorn, at the company’s Richmond District heaquarters

Jean Arnold has always loved to cook. She grew up in Korea, and came to the US at the age of 11. She later pursued a culinary degree at the Cordon-Bleu in London. But rather than cooking up rich entrees and desserts, Arnold turned her culinary passion to an everyday snack food – popcorn.

Growing up, she shared popcorn with her family. Her mom always insisted on organic popcorn made in a sturdy stove-top popper that she’d hand crank until the kernels were ready.

In 2003, Arnold moved to the Richmond District and took over the kitchen in her home’s in-law unit to start experimenting with high quality, flavored popcorns. She sourced organic, heirloom corn from a family farm in Sacramento and began creating popcorn that was delicious enough to be given as gifts.

In the fall of 2008, she launched 479 Degrees online and a few orders came in from friends and family. The company’s numeric name comes form the optimal temperature at which to make popcorn.

“And then Christmas rolled around and we started seeing names on the orders we didn’t recognize,” Arnold said. “It was really exciting.”

The following February, Arnold heard from a food writer at the New York Times who was fascinated with the trend of gourmet popcorn. That led to notice from Oprah herself, who named 479 Degrees on her “O List” that spring.

Arnold was still making popcorn out of her basement kitchen with a couple of employees, but within the first year, the company had already reached revenues of $1 million. She had just become a first-time Mom as well.

Even though 479 Degrees has since moved out of the Richmond District basement where it all started, the company’s headquarters, which employs 7 people, are still in the neighborhood on Geary Boulevard.

The company currently sells 11 flavors year-round including a basic Sea Salt, a cheesy Asiago, Parmesan + Cheddar, and a more unusual Toasted Sesame + Seaweed which is a nod to Arnold’s Asian heritage.

They also offer two specialty flavors during the holidays – Dark Chocolate + Bing Cherries and Pumpkin Pecan Praline.

“If I had my way we’d have 30 flavors,” Arnold told us during an interview at the company’s “annex” conference room a.k.a Coffee Break cafe. She says Sea Salt Caramel and the Asiago cheese flavors are the best sellers.

479’s manufacturing moved to Colorado about two years ago but Arnold still uses her own kitchen to experiment with new flavors. And the company has not strayed from its original, small batch process and organic, non-GMO ingredients.

“The seaweed and toasted sesame flavor took 45 iterations before it was ready,” Arnold said. She says that since the beginning, the White Cheddar + Black Truffle has been her favorite.

479’s revenues today are $10 million annually, thanks to shelf space in some of the nation’s leading food retailers including Whole Foods, Kroger and Target. Here in San Francisco, you’ll find 479 Degrees popcorn at Andronico’s, Mollie Stones, Birite, Whole Foods and the new Target Express in the Financial District. You can also buy it on their website.

Arnold is now a mom of two children, ages 4 and 6, who can’t help but notice Mom’s success. While on a Virgin Airlines flight, her son noticed bags of 479 popcorn on the food cart as it wheeled past him in the aisle.

Besides being close to home, Arnold says she likes having her headquarters in the Richmond District because “it’s a foodie area and I love to eat”. Some of her favorite spots include Y&Y Vietnamese, Daigo Sushi, Chapeau!, Heartbaker for brunch, Pizzetta, Kappou Gomi for Japanese, and Aziza for cocktails.

So what’s next for Arnold and her flavored popcorn empire?

“We’ll keep making great popcorn and hopefully become a household name. We’d much rather see people reach for popcorn than chips. It’s an inherently healthier snack.”

Sarah B.

The secret to 479’s success? Some offerings outside Arnold’s office.

4:15 am | Posted under Business, Food | 7 comments

Local links: Wildflower walks, best regional Chinese, new fish in Mt. Lake & more

Photo courtesy of Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

Happy Thursday to all! Here are some local links to distract you as the weekend approaches…

  • Wildflower walks at Lands End kick off this Saturday. From 11am-12:30pm enjoy a free guided tour with the Parks Conservancy along the trails and share the folklore, medicinal uses, and biology of the native wildflowers. All ages welcome; registration is required due to limited space. Dates: April 4, 18, 25, May 9, 16, June 6, 13, 20, 27
  • The Outside Lands Music Festival ramped up recently with the announcement of the lineup and schedule. Tickets are selling fast so if you’re planning to go to catch bands like Mumford & Sons, Elton John, The Black Keys, Sam Smith and more – don’t delay! August 7-9
  • The Richmond District Neighborhood Center has opened up registration for their summer camps, which includes Summer Solstice Camp for Elementary Students, where campers will be hitting the trail to adventure around the Richmond District neighborhood, as well as hands-on activities, crafts and games. RDNC Summer Camp is also available for 6-11 year olds, and features an art-based camp, a performing arts camp, and an urban farmer camp.
  • Mountain Lake received some new residents recently, when biologists and volunteers introduced more than 150 three-spined stickleback fish after a multi-year rehabilitation of the lake water and bed. Get the full scoop on SFGate. Soon to come – chorus frogs, Western pond turtles, thousands more California floaters, and rough-skinned newts. In other lake news, the new aquatic amnesty box on the south shore is being used according to Planning Association for the Richmond. “Recently, two red-eared slider turtles (one of the most popular pet turtles) deposited in the box were taken to Sonoma County Reptile Rescue.”
  • Several Richmond District restaurants were named among San Francisco Magazine’s 15 Best Regional Chinese Restaurants, including Hakka (4401 Cabrillo; house specialties include salt-baked chicken, clams stir-fried with basil, and lush slices of braised pork belly served over preserved mustard greens), Shanghai House (3641 Balboa St.; a good place for xiao long bao and salty soy milk, a savory-spicy soup spiked with chili oil, pickled vegetables, fried Chinese doughnuts, and tiny dried shrimp), Spices II (Szechuan, 291 6th Ave.; good bet for authentic versions of classics such as chili oil–spiked “water-boiled fish” and ma po tofu), and Grand Hot Pot Lounge (Szechuan, 3565 Geary Blvd.; for the communal tongue-scorching of a ma la hot pot meal).
  • Grocer Fresh & Easy announced they will be closing their store at Silver and Somerset in the Portola neighborhood as of April 3. Still no word on the Richmond District location at 32nd Avenue and Clement, which will be the sole Fresh & Easy in the city. [Socketsite]
11:09 am | Posted under Events, Food, Lands End, Parks | 2 comments

Food news: Shimo, Blissful close; Nourish Cafe, The Flame, Dragon Beaux open

Loosen (or tighten) your belts Richmond District folks, because there’s lots of restaurant changes happening in the neighborhood of late:

Reader Adriana reports that sushi favorite Shimo (2339 Clement) has closed their doors. A note on the front entry said they are closing due to [personal] health issues and thanked customers for their long time support and loyalty. “Sushi life in the richmond will never be the same!” Adriana said.

Blissful Bites Bakery (397 Arguello) also closed. We have not heard why, but we know many people will be sad about that.

On the opening front, three new spots threw open their doors recently:

Nourish Cafe (189 6th Avenue), a plant-based eatery featuring salads, sandwiches, juices, smoothies and baked goods opened its doors last week. This is one of our personal projects so thank you to all the neighbors that came out to support us in our first week!

The Flame (Hot Pot) opened on the corner of Clement and 19th Avenue. They’re putting a personal spin on the hot pot concept. “Instead of sharing with other people like traditional hotpot, you get your mini pot served on a box with a live flame,” writes one Yelper.

What was formerly, albeit briefly, De Place at 5700 Geary is no longer empty. Dragon Beaux, a new spot from the owners of Koi Palace, opened just last week. They serve morning dim sum and evening hot pot and shabu-shabu according to EaterSF.

Bon appetit!

Sarah B.

Photo by Adriana G.

4:30 am | Posted under Business, Food | 25 comments

Local Links: Mescolanza / Luna Rossa shuffle, Oscars at Balboa, Fulton speeds reduced

Photo by Eugene Kim

Happy Friday, Richmond District! Here are some local links to ease you into the weekend…

  • Mescolanza recently closed which saddened some fans, but a new, nearly identical concept called Luna Rossa opened in its place. It’s no accident – the owners of Luna Rossa were the original owners of Mescolanza back in the day and sold the lease, and the restaurant’s name, to an employee. But now they’re back, and after displacing their tenant, Mescolanza, have opened Luna Rossa. Reader Boots says the same Mescolanza server is even working there, and the menu is nearly identical. Boots also said word on the street is that the Mescolanza chef is planning to reopen near 2nd and Geary in the future.
  • And the Oscar goes to…The Balboa! They’ll be hosting an Oscar viewing party on Sunday starting at 4pm. Host Reed Kirk-Rahlmann will be on hand with his irreverent Awards Party mudslinging which begins at 7pm as the ceremony commences. Tickets are available online or at the Balboa box office (it usually sells out so get ’em quick).
  • Mind your accelerator when you’re driving on Fulton as the speed limits were recently reduced. Reader Steve informs that new speed signs have been posted: “30mph westbound from Stanyan to 36th (down from 35), 25 from 36th to 38th (in front of the Senior Center), then 35 from 38th to the beach; eastbound it’s 35 from the beach to 38th, 25 from 38th to 36th, back up to 35 again from 36th to 25th, then 30 from 25th to Stanyan.”
  • The Jiu Jitsu Academy (710 La Playa) is offering a free self-defense class for women on Monday, February 23rd. To register, email Info@csjiujitsu.com.
  • Pretty alert! Check out the video below for some stunning night views over San Francisco in super super hi definition.

4:15 am | Posted under Business, Events, Food, Traffic | 10 comments

Local Links: Sand art Sunday, CSA boxes, restaurant shuffles & more

Here are some local links to get you through your Wednesday…

  • Want to catch sand art in action? Head out to Ocean Beach on Sunday at 12noon to see Andres Amador at work. He usually wraps up the piece in about 2 hours.
  • Foggy Notion is now a pickup spot for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes from Say Hay Farms’, a 20-acre farm in Yolo County, California that raises certified-organic vegetables, melons, and eggs. Subscriptions start at just 4-weeks and as little as $16/week and can be picked up on Wednesdays from Foggy Notion (256 6th Avenue) between 3 – 6pm. More info
  • Parking alert: The metered lot on 8th Avenue between Clement and Geary will be closed for repaving from February 16 until March 14th.
  • The Chronicle recently highlighted some historic, long-running brands from San Francisco and we had a couple on the list. Its-It ice cream sandwiches started at Playland in 1928, and Boudin Bakery is still using the mother yeast from created by Isadore Boudin in 1849. The yeast was saved in the 1906 quake and the bakery moved from downtown to its current 10th Avenue location.
  • The start of the year restaurant shuffles continue… Reader Sarah tells us that Japanese restaurant Kaminari at 7th and Balboa is closing. And Francisco reports that the former Ju-Ku location at 19th Avenue and Clement is being taken over by a restaurant called The Flame (Hot Pot), with an opening date of March 1.
9:10 am | Posted under Art, Business, Events, Food, History, Ocean Beach | 8 comments

Payton forced to hang up his apron after episode 2 of Kids Baking Championship

Payton (R) faces elimiation in episode 2

Well no one ever said baking was easy. Factor in television cameras in your face and tight timelines, and the pressure gets really intense. Oh and did we mention this is happening to a 10-year old?

Richmond District resident Payton Pelaez just barely avoided elimination in the first episode of Food Network’s Kids Baking Championship.

But on last night’s second episode, his luck ran out.

The contestants were told they would be making “dessert imposters”, e.g. desserts that look like other foods like sushi, pizza, garlic bread etc. Payton drew pizza as his dish which made him happy since he had experience with dessert pizzas before.

He topped a snickerdoodle “crust” with marshmallows, gummy bears, peanut butter cups and fondant which went over well with the judges.

But a mid-challenge twist threw him for a loop when he had to make an additional side-dish: garlic-bread. It came out looking like egg rolls, which landed him in the bottom two. At the end of the episode, he was voted off the competition.

While Payton may not be continuing on Kids Baking Championship, we know someone with his passion for baking won’t be hanging up his apron anytime soon. You can keep up with him through his Chez Pay website, and even order up some of his creations for yourself.

Sarah B.

Payton shows his dessert pizza to the judges, Duff Goldman and Valerie Bertinelli

Payton (L) narrowly misses elimination in episode 1

11:52 am | Posted under Community, Food | 4 comments