Market Ambassador: Stephanie Rosenbaum

November 20, 2013

We are very excited about our newest customer service initiative: the CUESA Market Ambassador program. The Market Ambassador is like a roving concierge, available to answer your questions about where sellers are located, what’s in the market, parking, programs, culinary tips, and more!

On Saturday, November 23, our Market Ambassador is local food writer, author, and cook Stephanie Rosenbaum. Her books include World of Doughnuts, Kids in the Kitchen, Honey from Flower to Table, and The Astrology Cookbook. She has studied organic farming at UCSC and holds a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. She does frequent cooking demonstrations and has taught food writing at Media Alliance in San Francisco and the Continuing Education program at Stanford University. She has been the lead restaurant critic for the San Francisco Bay Guardian as well as for San Francisco Magazine and is a regular contributor to Bay Area Bites. Last year, she worked as an assistant chef at the Headlands Center for the Arts and as a production cook at the Marin Sun Farms Cafe in Point Reyes Station. Recently, she was also a judge in CUESA’s Harvest Festival Pie Contest. In other words, she knows her food!

Stephanie will be at the Info Booth and in the market from 9:30 to 11:30 am to answer your farmers market questions. Meet Stephanie.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?

Stephanie: I have been a curious eater and cook my whole life. When I was about eight, I ran “Steph’s Cafe,” taking Sunday morning breakfast orders from my sisters and parents, cooking and serving and presenting my dad with the bill! My mom and grandmothers were great cooks and teachers, and my dad loved finding new restaurants and food shops. My mom always let me make my own little pie in a Pyrex cup when she was baking a pie for the family—I was always so proud to have my own pie to eat! Now that I know how messy kids can be in the kitchen, I’m even more appreciative of my parents’ patience and generosity in sharing their skills. It paid off—I’ve been a professional food writer, cookbook author, cook, and teacher for the past 20 years.

CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t cooking?
Stephanie: Write about food and cooking! I also lead gourmet tours through Edible Excursions, including the Ferry Building, Oakland’s Temescal District, and Mission and 24th Streets. Lots of great tastes and personal info from merchants and vendors—it’s a fun option if you’ve got family or friends coming for the holidays, and want them to get a fun insider’s view of the city.

CUESA: What is your favorite part about shopping at the farmers market?
Stephanie: The lively atmosphere, running into lots of chefs, friends, and local food people I know, and chatting with favorite vendors. I’ve been coming to this market since it began in the early 1990s, when I was just starting out as a restaurant critic and food writer. It was, and is, a great resource to learn about the week by week seasonality of what can grow around here. I saw and tasted so many things here before I ever saw them on restaurant menus.

CUESA: Do you have an insider market tip or a favorite produce item at the market right now?
Stephanie: The Warren pears from Frog Hollow Farm. I used to work for Frog Hollow, writing their CSA newsletter and managing the cafe. I became somewhat of an expert on this relatively obscure Southern variety and can tell you the they are some of the juiciest, smoothest, most slurpy-delicious pears you’ll ever try. If you’re a pie baker, Massa Organics now has great lard to go along with their wonderful brown rice and almonds. And, of course, June Taylor Company’s fruitcake. It is sublime, with nary a horrible green cherry in sight, and absolutely worth the price. Don’t give it away! Keep for yourself and treat yourself to a pot of tea and a lovely, moist, fruit-and brandy-rich slice whenever you need a holiday lift. But best tip is to get to the market early—as early as you can, but definitely before 11 am, preferably before 10 am. And get a RoliRoti porchetta sandwich or an open-faced lox sandwich from Cap’n Mike’s as soon as you arrive to beat the lines.

CUESA: If you could be any Thanksgiving dish, which would you be (and why)?
Stephanie: Pie! My mom’s chilled cranberry-tangerine pie with an almond crust. Or chestnut stuffing. It’s not Thanksgiving if you don’t spend the morning wrecking your nails peeling chestnuts while listening to Arlo Guthrie singing Alice’s Restaurant.