Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Ferry Building Marketplace and Farmer's Market

The Ferry Building Marketplace is an epicurean paradise filled with restaurants owned by highly esteemed chefs, patisseries, bakeries, specialty food shops, and florists. On Saturdays and Tuesdays, there is a Farmer’s Market that lines the walkway in front of the plaza. Here you will find vendors from all around San Francisco, with fresh produce, specialty items, and prepared foods from famous restaurants. The words “organic,” “vegetarian,” and “raw” are no stranger here, yet it isn’t unusual to find specialty meat and hamburger vendors as well. My sister and I sampled our way down the isles before actually purchasing anything. After seeing what there was to offer, we stocked up on dried fruits and cooking sauces.

I was delighted at the sight of all the fresh produce, but sad that all I could do was take pictures. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to carry the fresh items around with me all day, and because I was leaving the next day, I wouldn’t have had time to enjoy it.

We also ordered food from a vendor called “Alive.” Alive is a restaurant in San Francisco that serves 100% raw and vegan foods. My boyfriend had given me a raw foods “cook” book for my birthday, and I was trilled to try it at the farmer’s market.

We ordered a dish that included ribbons of pumpkin and butternut squash that resembled noodles. This was topped with a sunflower seed pate and shiitake mushrooms ($6). My sister found it surprisingly delicious and I too was pleasantly satisfied!

I also tried the raspberry chrysanthemum spritzer ($3) which had bits of flowers and fruit floating in it, It tasted as I expected, tart and “flower-y.”

Inside the Marketplace my eyes widened and I felt like a 6-year old in a candy store. From one end to the other, I saw so many things that excited me!

Specialty cheese shops where you can sample cheese, a mushroom shop, Michael Ricchuitee’s (James Beard Foundation Award Winner) chocolate shop (with HEAVENLY chocolates!), wine stores, florists, and a plethora of excuisite restaurants (Boulettes Larder, Slanted Door, Taylors Automatic Refresher, Delica rf1).

We stopped at a specialty shop called I Perferiti di Boriana that imported all of its items from Tuscany. There was a mini dispay case at the front of the store and they were filled with Bomboloni, delicately fried puffs of dough filled with your choice of fillings (nutella, raspberry, custard, chocolate). My sister ordered an Nutella one while I snapped photographs. The guy behind the counter asked, “You guys are only getting one?” I replied by letting him know that we were going to share it and he said, “oh, you never share these” and before we left, he said, “see you soon” hinting that we would be back for more. These sugar-coated doughnut dumplings were delicious! In the words of my sister, they were like “heaven in my mouth!” Soft pillows of dough topped with the crunchy bits of sugar crystals filled with ooey-gooey chocolate hazelnut! It would have been the perfect compliment to a hot cup of tea!

It was tough to decide where to eat lunch, but we decided on Delica rf1, a Japanese delicatessen, because when my sister and I stepped foot into the deli, the aroma that filled the air was reminiscent of our childhood memories of eating Japanese food. Unlike the delicatessens that you find in Hawaii, this one used a combination of Japanese and European cooking techniques while utilizing local and organic ingredients.

The display cases were filled with salads, main dishes, fried items, and bentos. We decided to get two bentos (the regular and the vegetarian, $9.50 each) so that we could try an assortment of dishes.

The regular bento consisted of a chicken dumpling (made with ground chicken, organic tofu, water chestnuts, and shiitake mushrooms topped off with a sweet chili sauce), a Fried Shrimp Cake (white shrimp made into a dumpling and deep fried), Wasabi Garlic Potato Salad (Garlic potato salad with wasabi mayonnaise, edamame, snap peas, and romaine hearts), a barley salad (barley, cheese, and chopped vegetables), and a Spicy Burdock and Lotus Root Salad (a spicy mix of braised burdock, lotus roots, and konnyaku with thin slices of white onion, celery, carrots, and mizuna).

The vegetarian bento consisted of the Wasabi Garlic Potato Salad, the Spicy Burdock, and Lotus Root Salad, Organic Tofu Steak with Miso Sauce (Pan-fried organic tofu topped with a dark miso sauce made with bamboo shoots, minced shallots, and pine nuts), Wakame Namasu (Wakame and Cucumbers in vinegar), and Zuckerman Farm’s Asparagus Salad (green bean, asparagus, and organic carrots with a sesame dressing). We also tried the Salmon and Sesame Genmai Rice Ball, which was cured and roasted wild salmon and sesame seeds mixed with steamed brown rice. Everything was delicious and we ate every bite of our lunch! I thoroughly enjoyed this unique Japanese experience and it is worth visiting again!!

The Ferry Building Marketplace was by far my most favorite part of the trip! For any food-lover visiting San Francisco, this place is a must! Even if you can't make it on a day when there's a Farmer's Market, the Marketplace is worth visiting!

The Ferry Building Marketplace and Farmer's Market
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111

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