You've heard the advice: shop the perimeter of the grocery store to avoid heavily processed food—to buy more real food. But what if a grocery store didn't have any factory-made crackers or cookies with tons of unfamiliar ingredients? What if there wasn't an aisle of Gatorade and packaged microwave popcorn, and there wasn't a stack of canned soup or boxed mac and powdered cheese? What if a store was just perimeter: local produce, humanely raised meat, and foods made from scratch in the kitchen?
It's an experiment come to life in Local Mission Market, my new neighborhood grocery store, recently opened by Yaron Milgrom and Jake Des Voignes, the team behind Local Mission Eatery and Local's Corner in San Francisco's Mission neighborhood.
While dedicated to selling ingredients that almost exclusively come from within a 90-mile radius (the exceptions are coffee, tea, spices, and chocolate that are brought into the Bay Area by local businesses), the store isn't just for those prepared to cook dried heirloom beans from scratch. In addition to selling yogurt, bacon, pasta, barbecue sauce, and sauerkraut made in-house, the market's sizable kitchen is focused on making items that will make getting dinner on the table easier. That includes shortcuts like sofrito, garlic confit, caramelized onions, salad dressings, and a whole range of stocks and broths, including duck stock and fish fumet, as well as prepared soups and hot items for every meal. Cassoulet to go? I'll be taking them up on that one.
I stopped by to check the place out and ended up buying a basket full of goodies—mostly prepared foods that work well for a picnic or cocktail party (or a no-fuss—but totally gourmet—picnicky dinner.) These five items are my favorites so far.
Trout Salad ($18.50/lb)
Made with rosy hot-smoked McFarland Springs Trout, this fish salad is just mildly smoky, not at all fishy, and mostly just bright and super fresh tasting. I started out eating it on crackers, but ended up just gobbling spoonfuls until it was gone. Chef Jake Des Voignes told me that family fishing expeditions when he was growing up started with a smoked fish sandwich filled with a smoked salmon salad that was a bit like this mixture—sure beats canned tuna. My future dinner plans involve dumping a whole container of this stuff onto a salad of little gem lettuce.
Smoked Miyagi Oysters ($15/lb)
These obsession-worthy oysters were smoked in the shell for a more delicate smoky flavor, leaving them sweet and briny and tender, not smoked into rubbery oblivion. This is a great item to round out your party-snack plate; serve these on crackers, perhaps with a drizzle of vinegar. (I bet they'd also be awesome mixed into scrambled eggs.) The market was also selling $10 jars of trout caviar, which might be nice in the mix.
Persimmon Jam ($7)
I love persimmons, but rarely have the patience to cook with them. This jam, though, I'll be going through speedily. It's a bit like a persimmon apple butter, cooked with brown sugar, lemon, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It's spicy and rich, and especially awesome layered on toast with Local Mission's buttery housemade ricotta. It would be good stirred into oatmeal, too.
Fennel Pasta ($6)
They're making both fresh and dried pasta—these green creste de galle in the refrigerator caught my eye and only take two minutes to cook. They're made with an egg-based semolina and 00 flour dough, and flavored with fennel for a subtle earthy note. Serve 'em with crumbled sausage or fresh herbs and vegetables.
Chicken Liver Paté ($15/lb)
The butcher area is full of little treasures: I was pumped to see guanciale hanging, and the sausages look killer. I wasn't wild about the mild country paté I tried, but the the chicken liver paté is dreamily smooth and delicious, a silky-rich topping for the crisp-crusted baguettes or the bakery's other loaves. It's made with Marin Sun Farms chicken livers, shallots, garlic, and thyme, plus a touch of brown sugar, then deglazed with red wine and mounted with cream and butter. It's luxurious stuff, perfect for purchasing in small portions and adding to a cheese and olive plate.