Gay baker joins pop-up craze
by Matthew S. Bajko
For years Irvin Lin has wowed family and friends with his scrumptious sweets he cooks in his San Francisco kitchen. His knack for whipping up the culinary creations pack he and his partner's apartment during yearly dessert parties.
This month the public had a rare chance to sample his sweet inspirations as the gay baker teamed up with two other cooks to open a pop-up bakery in the Lower Haight. Lin sold his baked goods under the moniker Eat the Love, which is the same name of his food blog.
He was joined by Nosh This, famous for its "bacon crack," comprised of bacon, butter toffee, almonds and chocolate, and Jilli Ice Cream and Soda , which churns out raw milk ice cream. Riffing on the speakeasies during Prohibition, they dubbed their underground venue a "sweeteasy."
Fearful of running afoul of the city's health inspectors, who frown upon such unlicensed operations, the trio kept the location for the October 2 surreptitious sale a closely held secret. To find out the address, attendees had to sign up for an email notification at the website http://sfstreetsweets.com/.
The Street Sweets event attracted roughly 150 people despite the competition that day from the Castro Street Fair and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Another one is being planned for sometime next month, said Lin.
"It went really well. We sold out of a lot of stuff," said Lin, who describes his neighborhood near the corner of 18th and Dolores streets as "the Gastro." "Tentatively, we will be doing it again near Thanksgiving. But the date hasn't been set in stone."
In early 2010 Lin took a reprieve from being a full-time graphic designer to focus more attention on his cooking and foodie interests. He launched his blog at http://www.eatthelove.com to share with readers his recipes, displayed in photos usually taken by his partner, A.J. Bates.
His twice-weekly posts soon caught attention within culinary circles. In January Saveur.com dubbed his blog one of its "Sites We Love" because Lin's "beautiful sweets look as good as they taste."
He has also written about food for publications such as US Masterchef magazine and SF Weekly . Lin also hosts the DIY Dessert events at 18 Reasons, the nonprofit affiliated with Bi-Rite Market on 18th Street. The next event will be a holiday cookie swap Thursday, December 1. (For more info visit http://www.18reasons.org/.)
Making money off his cooking skills isn't his focus yet, as freelance graphic design gigs continue to be how Lin makes his money. He recently helped design the logo for Spot Bagel, a local gay-owned bagel company whose products are sold at Bi-Rite and served at both Dolores Park and Duboce Park cafes.
His own desserts are currently not for sale in any local cafes or coffeehouses, though he isn't opposed to the idea.
"That has never been my goal. But if that were to happen that would be awesome," said Lin.
Having his own sweet shop isn't a priority, either, he said. But with the success of the pop-up bakery, Lin is thinking of selling his pies.
"I don't think I want to do brick and mortar but never say never," he said. "Right now no one is carrying my desserts. I am thinking of doing special orders if people want pies for Thanksgiving."
The Sun rises again
The Midnight Sun, a video bar in the heart of the city's Castro District, is set for a makeover as new owners have bought the 40-year-old gay hangout.
Longtime owner Thomas Ward now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and sold the bar at 4067 18th Street to the same ownership group behind the Castro's Q Bar and the Edge. The sale to RTJ Rising Sun Inc., which is comprised of Timothy Eicher , Robert Giljum, John Bellemore, and Jeffrey Eubanks, was finalized September 12.
The bar has called its current address home since 1981 and went through a facade upgrade a few years ago that saw the removal of its outdoor television screen. Now its interior will be given a refresh and the outside TV will likely be brought back.
"It will be mostly cosmetic. Mainly, we want it to feel lighter inside so it is not a movie theater or cave," explained Bellemore during the October 6 meeting of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro. "It feels a little cold without the TV screen outside anymore."
The plans call for improving the audio and visual equipment, updating the interior and bathrooms and some exterior changes. The makeover will not jettison the video motif to become a dance club, said Bellemore.
"It is the premiere video bar in the Castro, that isn't going to change," he said. "It is such a beloved space."
The owners did acquire an entertainment license in order to book drag shows, comedy acts, and other live talent with an eye toward hosting more community events and fundraisers for local nonprofits. And they are looking to sponsor local athletic teams.
"We plan to do more promotion of what is going on there," said Bellemore. "We want to bring the video bar appeal to a younger generation. We feel that market exists and can come back to the Midnight Sun."
Monthly events will promote women vintners
Tonight (Thursday, October 13), a new monthly wine tasting promoting female vintners launches in the Castro. The events are a collaboration between the Castro Village Wine Co. and Skrewcap.com, a wine blog started by lesbian wine aficionado Pamela S. Busch .
Busch, who sold her CAV Wine Bar and Kitchen she opened next door to Zuni on Market Street, is working with the 19th Street wine shop to highlight wines created by women. The inaugural tasting tonight will feature Deborah Schlatzlein , the winemaker and proprietor of Bink Wines, and Andrea Lederle , the national sales manager from Handley Cellars.
The events will take place the second Thursday of each month. Admission to the tasting costs $20.
It will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the wine shop, located at 4121 19th Street.
For more information contact Busch at (415) 385-1935 or at mailto:Pamela@skrewcap.com.
Roaster brews up Gay Coffee
A Massachusetts lesbian coffee roaster is selling fair-trade, organic beans under the name Gay Coffee and is donating 1 percent of the proceeds to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Melissa Krueger, who lives in the town of Williamsburg outside the state capitol of Springfield, publicly debuted her artisanal hand-roasted coffee at the Castro Street Fair this month. Her five blends include Good Morning Mary, described as a mixing of medium and darker roasted beans with a caramel sweetness, and Stone Butch Breakfast Blend, a lighter roast of beans from the highlands of Guatemala.
There is also the Red Hanky Roast, the company's "strongest, heartiest brew." An online description states "this roast celebrates the power of sensuality and sexuality to change our lives and the world."
The company's Second Date blend balances the lemon and berry flavors of dry processed Ethiopian beans with Sumatran beans.
The top sellers at the fair were the red hanky and stone butch blends, said Krueger, who came to town at the suggestion of her wife, Mary Gorski, to launch the brand.
"I know it is hard to be believe two humble lesbians from western Mass made Red Hanky Roast but we did," she said. "I think a large part of this brand is to have fun and really sort of own some stereotypes and some tropes and have fun with it. People were walking by and smiling and they got it."
The company is little more than a week old and is in talks to sell their java in local retail stores. It has yet to ink any deals, and for now, all sales are done via the Internet.
All five blends cost $13.99 and can be ordered online at http://www.gaycoffeecompany.com/.
"We are talking to a couple people locally. We also hope to be in New York," said Krueger. "Wherever people want to drink gay coffee we will show up."
Grand opening benefits AIDS agency
The grand opening party for the relocation of Castro clothing store Citizen netted $1,567 for Project Inform, a local nonprofit that advocates around HIV policy and serves as a clearinghouse for information about AIDS, HIV, and hepatitis C.
The September 1 event celebrated the men's clothiers move earlier this summer into the storefront at 489 Castro Street. Owner Petyr Kane presented the check to the agency at this month's MUMC meeting.
He also presented the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy with a check for $840. The money is derived for a portion of the sales of a T-shirt bearing the image of the late gay supervisor after whom the public school is named.
LGBT business gala nears
The Golden Gate Business Association 's annual gala takes place this year Thursday, November 10 at the Hotel Kabuki. The celebration for the nation's oldest LGBT chamber of commerce features performances by singer Veronica Klaus and comedian Marga Gomez .
The event will begin at 8 p.m. and the hotel is located at 1625 Post Street in San Francisco's Japantown.
Tickets cost $45 per person and can be bought online at http://www.ggba.com or by calling 415-362-4422.
Columnist Raymond Flournoy will return next month. Have a tip for the monthly Business Briefs column? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.