San Francisco's La Cocina is an entrepreneurial experiment offering low-income food startups commercial space to develop and cultivate their culinary talents into creating viable products. Creators say this incubator kitchen idea concept comes from the myriad of food vendors in the city's Mission District where people had the know-how but not the wherewithal to make the leap from cottage industry to commercial manufacturer.
La Cocina has a convenient stand in San Francisco's Ferry Building where they sell many of the products they help produce and we brought several back to CH HQ to sample.
Biting into a Clairesquares Flapjack feels like a classy granola bar. Rich in butter and caramel, this oat bar was light and flaky though satisfyingly rich in butter. Dipped in Belgian milk chocolate reaffirmed this is no health bar but a consummate dessert.
Powdered-sugar mustaches were an easy way to identify those who enjoyed the Alfajores from Sabores del Sur ("flavors from the south"). The mastermind is Chilean catering chef Guisell Osorio whose website features many testimonials. These delicate shortbread cookies sandwich a not-too-overpowering dulce de leche caramel filling, and the lot is sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Another favorite was Neococoa's spherical lime zest truffles, a simple mixture of ganache, cocoa and lime zest have a deep citrus flavor that act as a counterweight to the rich cocoa powder. The toasted almond butter truffles are also balanced between sweet and savory thanks to a light coat of sea salt.
It's great to know there are organizations like La Cocina that help talented and hardworking chefs overcome the high barriers to entry that exist in the food industry—from the expense of commercial kitchen space to the local, state and federal sanitary laws and regulations that must be followed to make, package and distribute edible artwork. You can support La Cocina and their producers by purchasing from the La Cocina online store, from vendor sites, or from their stand in San Francisco's Ferry Building.