Here's exactly how it went down. I started noticing this guy hanging around Dolores Park, the 24th Street BART station and the varying outdoor hangouts in the Mission. He's a distinctive looking guy -- tall and lanky, usually wears a cool beret-ish looking hat that is clearly European. But what caught my eye, is that this guy walks around with pans of muffins. Beautiful, just-baked pans of muffins. I dubbed him The Muffin Man, although his real business name is Amuse Bouche (something that "excites the taste buds"). For a long time, I assumed he was selling "magic" muffins, as so many park vendors seem to be doing these days. That's just part of the culture here.
But then I thought, if this guy is selling these muffins each morning at the top of the BART (train) station, surely they can't be "magic". Otherwise, hundreds of corporate hipsters would be high every single morning on their way to work. Something else is going on here. So without further a-do, I decided to investigate the Muffin Man for myself.
Turns out The Muffin Man is a soft-spoken French guy named Murat. And he loves baking. Loves. He gets up every morning at 5am to bake the day's muffins and places himself strategically around the city to catch people on their commute in/out of work. His goal is to make a little cash and to brighten people's lives by providing a delicious treat to start or end the day. Turns out there are other indy-owned cart vendors and they're all pals. Each week, they will stage spontaneous gatherings, usually on Thursday nights in the Mission at a location disclosed on their Twitter pages. In one fell swoop, you can catch Amuse Bouche, the Creme Brulee Cart (yes!) and the Kurry Kart.
If you're lucky enough to catch Murat in the morning, you can count on getting a delicious, made-with-love mini muffin and a hot cup of chai for just $1. Upgrade to a full-size muffin or tarte for $2 more. Your little morning surprise will come nestled in part of an egg carton, whose egg-slots are just big enough to hold a mini muffin and tiny cup of tea. If starting your day with a Nutella banana muffin isn't enticing enough, you'll have the added pleasure of a lovely chat with Murat and get to savor his French accent for awhile before you hustle off to work, life and the doldrums of store-bought snackfood.
Follow my Muffin Man on Twitter: twitter @amusebouchesf
Or check out his Yelp page