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By 7:01 AM , ,

Originally uploaded by looseid

Angela had a friend who was holding a booth at the Underground Farmer's Market. She asked me to come along. I said sure.

And from out of the blue, a very tentative Friday night date also asked me to go to the very same event; that sealed the deal, at least for the evening.

We paid two bucks admission to enter SomArts where the event was staged. On top of admission, we had to get in line to enter the main hall and then pay for each booth's food, with little guarantee of it being any good. We even signed a waiver to play this potluck Russian roulette.

On the flip side, it was a nice balmy evening, a phrase I've uttered only a handful of times in San Francisco. There were hipsters galore, and overpriced homemade twinkies, dumplings, grilled meat, jerkies, pizzas. And we headed for the longest line of all, the Raclette booth, which was Angela's friend's post.

Raclette is a cow's milk cheese from the almighty dairy nation of Switzerland. It's also the name of the very dish that features it. At the booth, they had two halves of a wheel of this cheese suspended under an open blue flame, which basically is a broiler. The flame cooks the top of the cheese and creates a crusty skin on the surface, and then a bubbling caldron of stinky cheese goodness underneath. At the appropriate time, the cook slides the half wheel close to the prepared bowl of cooked potatoes and cornichons and tilts it as she scrapes the hot layer of cheese with a chef's knife like a waterfall. It's basically a reverse fondue, but better, because of the crusty top layer.

Ang managed to snarf a tamale as the line moved past neighboring booths at a snail's pace. I drank. We waited over 30 minutes. We were ravenous when we made it to the front of the line. In the end, it was absolutely tasty and I'd have to say that it was worth the wait and the 6 dollar sticker price. They successfully built up the anticipation through sight and smell, and hands down was the most popular and talked about stall. Everybody ogled the bowls that walked by and the smell of the slightly charred cheese beckoned them to line up - that is, if you're into melted cheese.
The rest of the market, post-fromage, became a bit tedious. I have no patience for lines and crowds these days. I felt bad for my date that showed up at peak hour, when the line to get in had wrapped around the block. He was unusually good spirited about the whole thing, though. It turns out that when he wasn't working in advertising he moonlighted with his own food cart for fun; so he had a personal interest in checking out the scene.

Anyway, all was good because the city blessed us with warm weather that night.

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