Food Businesses: Brooklyn by the Bay?

Aprons for every occasion
Aprons for every occasion

So, all you small-time gastronomic artisans of Brooklyn, you ricotta-makers and knife-forgers, you picklers and bean-to-bar chocolatiers, sure looks like the New York Times thinks you're all that. Brooklyn's New Culinary Movement, proclaimed the paper, making much of the borough's growing reputation as an incubator for small food-related businesses, the quirkier and/or old-timey, whimsical, or pork-related the better.

For anyone who's spent time around a Williamsburg table (drinking, of course, a Six-Point Ale or Brooklyn Brewery lager) with the food geeks of Brooklyn, the level of solemnly bearded, dudely obsessiveness detailed in the article certainly rings true. As I recall, Brooklyn foodies, just like their skinny-jeaned music-scene counterparts, could take themselves awfully seriously. (But, damn, you could sure get some good pizza. I still kept a magnet from Zante's on my Cobble Hill fridge during my 3-year Brooklyn sojourn, however, and babbled to everyone I met about the pungent wonder of their cilantro-spiked Indian pizza. Just one of the many tip-offs that told me maybe I really loved San Francisco the most.)

But that article did get me to wondering: Where are the Bay Area's foodie micro-makers? Surely we're as food-obsessed as any of our Eastern counterparts. Do we incubate businesses the same way? Or do we all just cook for ourselves and then head out to yoga, aging our ginger-wasabi sauerkraut out on the back steps without feeling the need to slap on a snappy label and sell it to our neighbors? Do we abide by the Chez Panisse perfect-peach theory that our local produce/meat/eggs/dairy is so good that nothing, save a little glossing of olive oil or sea salt, need be done to it? Or it is that our local all-stars--Fatted Calf charcuterie, Acme bread, Straus & St. Benoit yogurts, Blue Bottle coffee, Fra Mani salumi--are already so amazing that there's no point in re-inventing those particular wheels?

After all, It's pretty sassy to start another jam company when someone as single-minded and high-achieving as June Taylor is already here, although that hasn't stopped Blue Chair Fruit or CMB Sweets. Of course, there's good stuff coming out of the incubator program at La Cocina, to say nothing of the hard-working, stockpot-lugging tamale ladies of the Mission. The newly opened Omnivore Books in Noe Valley is fast becoming a go-to for both local and national cookbook authors and culinary book collectors.

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Still, I know there must be others out there, making pickles or jam, perfecting a cookie or salting down headcheese. Who are you? And what's your story? How does the Bay Area stack up as a place for creating the tiny, day-to-day business of deliciousness?

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Homemade jams and pickles from the pantry
Homemade jams and pickles from the pantry

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