King Corn

Extraordinary tortillas made from heirloom corn

We're all for limited release, but when it comes to fresh corn tortillas, we believe in market saturation.

Especially when the specimens in question are the fragrant, pliant, fresh tortillas born out of a collaboration between Napa's Rancho Gordo and La Palma Mexicatessen in the Mission.

The tortillas are made with heirloom corn that Rancho Gordo imports directly from small farms in Hidalgo and Oaxaca (and one in nearby Stockton). At La Palma, the dried corn is first soaked in calcium hydroxide, then hulled, then ground into fresh masa, a traditional, time-consuming process known as nixtamal. La Palma then presses the masa into tortillas.

Though the tortillas debuted in the fall of 2010, it was in frustratingly small batches and at only one place: Acquiring some required a weekly pilgrimage to Rancho Gordo's stand at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

But since the start of the New Year, the tortillas–which have a popcorn-like aroma when heated, and are as good slathered with jam as they are swaddling chile verde–are finally more available.

Getting your hands–and your mouth–on some has never been easier.

Heirloom corn tortillas are available at Rancho Gordo's stand at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market as well as the Napa store, 1924 Yajome St., Napa, 707-259-1232 or ranchogordo.com. They are also available at Fatted Calf, 320 Fell St., 415-400-5614 or fattedcalf.com; and Bi-Rite Market, 3639 18th St. (at Guerrero St.), 415-241-9760 or biritemarket.com.