Marina Snetkova used to wake up at 5 a.m. for her Wall Street job as a day trader for a hedge fund; now she rises at the same time to hop in her truck to start baking.
After losing her job in 2008, Snetkova, who is originally from Latvia, started traveling west with dreams to open a wine bar with desserts and use her skills learned at pastry school. She wound up in San Francisco and, two weeks ago, unveiled a refurbished ice cream truck dubbed Cookie Time.
These cookies are large and especially dangerous because they are not too sweet and have nailed the crispy-chewy balance. Local and organic ingredients are used: Community Grains whole grain flour, Petaluma Farms milk and eggs, Guittard chocolate. Snetkova avoids using white sugar, and subs organic olive oil for butter. When a customer orders, say, a chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, coffee cake, or molasses cookie (yesterday's specials), they will be informed how long ago it was baked (likely, it is still warm) and offered a few in order to pick the one that "has your name on it."
Snetkova also bakes muffins, and says she's already got regulars who are divided along cookie and muffin lines in their repeat orders. Yesterday's selections of hazelnut and cherry walnut muffins were sophisticated and hardly sweet, with squared off brown tops that popped off in satisfying pieces. Snetkova serves drip coffee from local fair trade company Bicycle and tea from Five Mountains, an SF-based company founded by former monks. She is insistent on being as minimally wasteful as possible and composts everything.
She's gotten rare city permission to actually bake her goods in a convection oven on the truck, and she's struck a deal with neighboring Haystack Pizza to serve as her commissary. The team there has already welcomed her with open arms and trades. "We barter, because I always crave salt," she says.
One neighbor not too thrilled with the newcomer is Martha & Bros Coffee Company across the street, who has tried to block Cookie Time from selling during the Noe Valley Farmers Market. Snetkova hopes the relationship won't always be tense and that the businesses can co-exist in a mutually beneficial way.
Snetkova would like to eventually expand and travel to different locations around the city. "I would really like to be in the Marina, which happens to be my name!"
For now, find the Christmas-light strewn Cookie Time in the private parking lot at 3859 24th St. (at Sanchez). Hours are from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. each weekday but Tuesday (and extending to 11 p.m. on Fridays), 3-11 p.m. on Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays.