The to-do list of the prep chefs at Local Mission Market is a long one. Literally: stand in front of the swath of butcher paper listing the day's output, and you'll see a list of items that extends from eye-level to somewhere near your knees. And each station--bread, meat and fish, pasta, preserving--has its own equally long list, to make all the elements that come together to stock this newly opened market that prides itself on making almost everything in-house from locally sourced ingredients.
Opened on Tuesday November 5 by Yaron Milgrom and executive chef Jake Des Voignes, the market joins the business partners' two Local restaurants nearby, Local Mission Eatery and Local's Corner. As a retail business open daily from 9am to 9pm, it's already employing more than 30 people, including chef de cuisine Leslie Gratiano, sous chefs Nick Noren and T.J. Richards, and head baker Sandy Guevara.
The stripped-down, rectangular space is still being filled, and not all the layout makes sense. Ready-to-eat and prepared foods, like salads and soups, are tucked away in a refrigerated case in a side alcove next to the coffee and tea, too easy for the casual shopper to miss. But the store is still brand-new and just being its learning curve of what the neighborhood wants; presumably, over the next few weeks, if no one can find the soup, the soup will move.
This is a market for both chefs and eaters. Everything is either a single ingredient--glass bottles of Straus milk, boxes of Red Hill eggs, a small but inviting display of Northern and Central California cheeses, plus persimmons and chanterelles in the produce boxes and dozens of whole grains, beans, nuts, and dried fruits giving Rainbow a run of its money in sleek, wood-trimmed bulk bins--or a creation of something more sumptuous and ready-to-eat from the busy mezzanine kitchen above. Creme fraiche, mascarpone, yogurt, and goat's milk ricotta are all made in-house.
Dozens of pickles, jams, marmalades, and preserves line the shop's wooden shelves; near the meat counter are jars of house-made ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, Italian-style peach mostarda, even three kinds of hot sauce. The style is straightforward with a twist: tarragon in the apricot jam, rosemary in the plum preserves and pear butter, lemon verbena in the strawberry jam. The key is the commercial combi oven, a self-contained steam-injection unit that can process close to 200 jars at a time, thanks to adjustable temperature and humidity levels.
And it's a good thing there's plenty of cheese, butter, and jam in the house, because word is already out about baker Sandy Guevera's delicious bread. For all San Francisco's frenzy for all things gluten-free, it seems that plenty of us still can't pass up a fantastic fresh loaf when it's coming out the oven right down the block. An alum of Acme Bread, Arizmendi, A16, Mayfield Bakery in Palo Alto, and the San Francisco Baking Institute, Guevara is excited about the "amazing, heirloom grains and flours" that the kitchen is sourcing from Front Porch Farm near the Russian River and Full Belly Farm in the Capay Valley, which she blends with a live starter culture to make country-style pan loaves as well as crusty boules and batards. What keeps it fun and interesting for Guevara is getting to shop for the kitchen and "mix and match" out of what's coming in daily to the store. She also feels seeing the same ingredients in the store that she's using in the kitchen will help demystify the process, and encourage shoppers to try baking their own similar breads at home. And while the bulk of her breads are slow-risen with her own sourdough-style starter, she's also making baguettes with fresh yeast, which means faster proofing, rising, and baking, in order to keep up with the demand.
In the kitchen, as in the shop itself, the emphasis is on zero waste. Squeezed lemon halves leftover from lemonade-making are dehydrated and added to citrus salt or herb-tea blends; tomato skins are dried and pulverized into tomato powder for tomato salt and seasoning mixtures. Bones from animal butchery go into stock, then get roasted for use as dog bones. Having two other food businesses also helps Milgrom and his team buy in greater bulk and have a place to use produce and other perishable items before they can go to waste. And while no one would confuse this place with Foods 4 Less, or any of the many lower-priced neighborhood markets along 24th and Mission Streets, Milgrom hopes to pass along good prices on abundant items whenever possible. The chanterelle crop is fantastic this year, for example, and so fresh chanterelles are $10/lb here, rather than the $20+ found at other similar shops. The heavy wildfire season of 2013 should have a small upside of encouraging great morel mushroom supplies next year; Milgrom hopes his customers will be able to "eat morels like they're button mushrooms" come spring. In the bulk bins, there are TCHO chocolate buttons for baking, at $5/lb, less expensive, by several dollars a pound than the raisins next to them, and worthwhile stocking up on for holiday baking.
The shop's dedication to staying local is most obvious in the fish case. Late fall, before crab season opens, is a slow time for the Pacific coast fishery. What the shop can source sustainably right now:
black cod, rock cod, whole or filleted, oysters, octopus, trout, and fat slabs of sturgeon, plus rosy-orange chunks of salmon, hot-smoked back when it was still available from local waters.
In the meat case, chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and rabbit, with plans for turkey closer to Thanksgiving. A lone pig trotter hangs by a string in the cold room behind the case--somewhat of a Local signature, since a similar foot has pride of place in the glass-walled walk-in at Local Mission Eatery, too. It's a visceral reminder that the shop and restaurants pride themselves on doing their butchery and using the whole animal, treating the ears and feet with as much respect as the higher-dollar chops and roasts.