I can list about 200 reasons why I live in San Francisco, but one that comes to mind as of late is the organization I recently discovered -- 18 Reasons. 18 Reasons, which is based out of its small art/community space in the Mission, is associated with my absolute favorite independent grocery store in the city -- BiRite. I'll get more into the magic of BiRite a bit later...
18 Reasons mission is "to promote a dialogue between our neighborhood and people who create food and art; to provide a space where ideas are exchanged and relationships are forged and to encourage people to communicate this shared passion with each other."
Basically, this group gets folks together once a week to share food, wine and art. Let me tell you what - I'm. Down. With. That.
Last night's event was a wine tasting from French wineries in the Loire Valley in France (can you tell I'm still on a French kick?). The wineries that were showcased were incredibly small and had been family-run and operated for generations. These wines were graceful, elegant and full of life. Unlike their mass-market peers, these wine makers are in it for the wine, not for the wealth and fame. They're the winemakers who fly in from France and show up to a hipster event in San Francisco with dirt under their nails. You could taste their sincerity in every sip. And what inspired me even more was how packed the place got within the first 30 minutes. There must have been 100 people crammed into a 400 square foot room, all notably excited, talkative and thrilled to be there. I was both amazed and relieved to see that people my age care about this stuff.
During the event, I bumped into a bunch of the nice folks I see every day at BiRite and had an amazing "this-is-my-community-and-I-am-a-part-of-it" feeling. It takes awhile to cultivate that feeling, but I think daily and weekly rituals help.
I love BiRite because, like 18 Reasons, its focus on food goes back to the hand-made, organic and artisan food that we have deviated from here in the U.S. Their slogan is "building community through food" and they sell everything from my favorite Italian olive oil (Cappezzana Estate, if you ever want to splurge) to hand-made cheese curds from Wisconsin. Since I've been back from France, I've been trying to keep the French mentality of buying fresh food (especially produce) daily and turning a trip to the market into a social, fun and relaxing event that I look forward to. I'm lucky because BiRite's warm staff and amazing community events make this easy.
And if I have anything to do with it, 18 Reasons is going to need to get a bigger space. Like the strawberry bushes along Highway 1 that are yielding the first fruit of summer, they're going to grow and grow and grow.