Friday, August 26, 2011

San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market... a foodie haven!

The San Francisco Ferry Building
I admit to having a penchant for farmer's markets and I also admit to having good friends who giggle that I actually plan vacations around said markets.  The KCC Market on Oahu has always been my hands down favorite, and while the Hawaiian Market still remains in that honored #1 position the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market and Marketplace sure gave it a good run for its money.  (Oahu wins with tropics!)

The last day of our whirlwind San Francisco summer vacation had me setting the alarm at 6:30 AM making sure everyone was up, dressed and on the road by 7:30 so that we hopefully would avoid a few lines at the breakfast booths.  With two sleepy, hungry men grumbling all the way we found easy parking on the streets around the market along with an easy to reach parking garage on the corner of Clay and Davis made even better with market validation.  A few minutes walk had us at the market in no time... ahead of the major crowds.

Before leaving home I had spent some time on Tripadvisor and other websites jotting down a few of the "must visit" booths mentioned in reviews of the market.  The first one I recognized was the Blue Bottle Coffee Company to which my caffeine deprived husband made a beeline even before I pointed it out.  With recommendations from home as well as online I was eager to try the freshly roasted, organic, shade grown coffee and promptly made my order for a Cappuccino to go as my husband chose his simple and black.

Blue Bottle Coffee... Why didn't I buy some to bring home???
With each cup brewed freshly on the spot, the aroma of fresh coffee permeates the market.  A quick visit to the Blue Bottle Coffee website lent the following history and made me an immediate fan:

Best Cappuccino ever!
319 years later (after coffee was introduced to Vienna), in Oakland, California, a slightly disaffected freelance musician and coffee lunatic, weary of the grande eggnog latte and the double skim pumpkin-pie macchiato decides to open a roaster for people who are clamoring for the actual taste of freshly roasted coffee. Using a miniscule six-pound batch roaster, he makes an historic vow: “I will only sell coffee less than 48 hours out of the roaster to my customers, so they may enjoy coffee at its peak of flavor. I will only use the finest organic, and pesticide-free, shade-grown beans.” In honor of Kolshitsky’s heroics, he names his business The Blue Bottle Coffee Company, and begins another chapter in the history of superlative coffee. 

Blue Bottle most definitely lived up to its reviews and I've crossed all my fingers hoping to see them in San Diego.

Rose's Cafe
As my husband waited in the coffee line I took a few moments to peruse
the market and scope out the most appealing breakfast venues.  Closest to the coffee both was a booth with boxes of fresh veggies just waiting to be sauteed and a menu boasting of Egg Sandwiches with Applewood Smoked Bacon, Heirloom Tomato Scrambles with Stracchino Cheese and Prosciutto, and Pablo's Pancakes with Stone Fruit Compote and Orange Butter.  Thinking I'd found "the" spot I headed back to the coffee line to inform my husband and that is when our wonderful day took a turn for even better.

Standing in front of my husband was a petite woman signified as a local with her foggy August garb of full jacket, scarf and hat.  As I mentioned to him that I thought I had found "the" spot she turned around and said, "Well... Chatty Cathy here, and I just can't help piping in that yes, Roes's is the best place for breakfast in the market!  What you want is the Heirloom Tomato Scramble or the Scrambled Eggs with Arugula and Crispy Proscuitto.  I go there every week after I get my coffee".   With a recommendation like that, how could we go elsewhere? 

Rose Pistola, a restaurant on Columbus Avenue, has been "going to the market" since 2004 and from the rave reviews I read online as well as heard verbally from the many customers in line, it is "the" place to enjoy breakfast on Saturday Morning at the Market.  Turns out Chatty Cathy was right there in line, just as she said she would be after we picked up our own coffees.

Notice the Blue Bottle Coffee cup in the upper right!
Saying she wanted people to take happy memories from her city she kindly insisted on us moving in line in front of her and reminded us of her favorite menu selections.  Taking her recommendations to heart we ordered and watched as the workers quickly plated up heaping portions of eggs scrambled with heirloom tomatoes, toast and veggies.  Note:  Rumor has it that Rose's is immensely popular and lines get lengthy quickly, advice is to arrive early. 

Honey sized for airline travelers
Grabbing our plates we made our way to the seating area and once again, Chatty Cathy invited us to join her.  What a treat we were in for!!  As we got acquainted, I was excited to learn that not only was Cathy a long time resident of San Francisco, but she actually remembered when a certain restaurant in Tiburon from years past was named the Windjammer.  My dad had owned a portion of that restaurant when I was young and I have fond memories of being spoiled by his waiters.  Her comment of "I arrested someone right at that restaurant" had us raising our eyebrowns in question and she proceeded to fill us in that she was a recently retired homicide detective for the City of San Francisco.

For the next 20 minutes we enjoyed tales of her adventures during her SFPD tenure, and she kindly gave my son advice on living life in a safe manner that will most likely stick with him forever.  Cathy was a true gem, and she most certainly did as she had hoped in giving us a lasting, wonderful memory of San Francisco.


With more of Cathy's recommendations for the market in hand, we headed to the center of the market in search of Olive Oil, cheese and of course, bread.  Stall after stall was filled with offerings from the exotic Lion Mane Mushrooms to the plain bunch of carrots to raw and vegan prepared offerings... all quickly having me wish I was closer to my home kitchen.

A purchase of Sciabica's Olive Oils had one of those "one for her, one for me" moments as I picked up a sampler for my mom as well as one for myself.  Flavors of Meyer Lemon, Jalapeño, Basil and Garlic had me planning menus in my head as we chatted with the owner and chose our bottles.

In the main part of the Ferry Building a foodie meca of cheeses, bread, pastries and chocolates awaits as you make your way past the permanent vendors.  Home to the famed Slanted Door, the Market Plaza also houses Cowgirl Creamery's Artisan Cheese Shop where I found a most wonderful Humbolt Fog Cherve.  With 8 hours of driving time in front of us keeping the cheese fresh was a concern, but the vendor promptly told me not to worry as he packaged up two bags of ice for my cooler and assured me we would be fine.

Yes... it was that good!!

Just next door, the Acme Bread Co. was wafting aromas of freshly baked bread into the aisles and drawing customers from all corners of the Plaza.  I was lucky enough to be right behind a man in a chef uniform with his helper and I simply ordered what he did, a little French Bread, an Italian Loaf and of course, a crusty Sour Dough to bring home to mom.

Acme Bread Co. - I followed the chef and simply got what he got!
As my husband informed me time was ticking by and that the roads to San Diego were not getting any shorter I bid goodbye to the market, only stopping at two more stalls on our way out to pick up honey (local from Marin where my mom grew up) and a couple of scones and cupcakes to keep our energy up on the long drive home.  Arms loaded with packages we made our way back to the car, headed across the Bay Bridge and out of the city.


Cable Cars, Fog, Fisherman's Wharf, Billy Elliot at the Orpheum, the Exploratorium and Palace of Fine Arts, China Town, Lombard Street, Ghirardelli, shopping in Union Square, Alcatraz, the Farmer's Market and Chatty Cathy.  I think you know where I've left my heart...

Breakfast with a view... and also an audience!

30 comments:

  1. This is one of my favorite places in San Francisco! I swear I always want to eat everything in sight! I LOVE the bread from Acme Bread Co. :) YUM!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm also a great fan of blue bottle coffee. I also can't resist to buy a lot of cheese when ever I walk by cowgirl creamery.:-) I hope you enjoyed visiting sf so much that you come back soon.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love Acme bread and that Farmers Market. ACtually on my way to the bay today!! No SF though, just Napa and San Jose...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just visited the farmers market for the first time on my last trip to SF. It was amazing!!! Like 100 times the size of our farmers' market in Kailua. I tried the Blue Bottle too and it was good. Miette was also adorable, but my favorite was the blueberries that came in a paper bag that we munched on during the flight home!

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Ferry Market is incredible - I'll have to make a point of not missing a trip there like the last time I was in SF! Meeting people like Chatty Cathy makes a wonderful trip even more memorable!

    ReplyDelete
  6. When I was in SF we didn't make it to the Ferry Market. If we ever make it back there, we have to add it to the list of "must see" attractions.

    Kim,I am tagging you for the 7 Links, please visit my blog, and check it out. I would love to see a line up of your amazing recipes!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks so much for posting about your trip! I am heading out to SF in a few weeks and was having a hard time with finding places to go with Google search.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Beautiful photos! I just LOVE the Ferry Building!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am speechless..every picture look so beautiful and tell a great story even without words..just wonderful Kim!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I LOVE LOVE that Humboldt Fog Cheese.... It always sells out at our local Whole Foods. Delicious! Yum!

    P.S. I have those one for her one for me moments too...

    ReplyDelete
  11. We live just 2 hours south of San Francisco. I'm heading to SFO for the November Foodbuzz Blogger Festival and then in January for a romantic getaway with my husband. I love the Ferry Building. It's always nice to get more tips from fellow foodies.
    PS: I love the Chancellor Boutique Hotel!

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's 10 p.m. and I'm ready for bed, yet somehow really want a cappuccino right now! I'm going to go out to (not blue bottle) tomorrow and get one. Love the seagulls waiting for their breakfast too.

    And yay about broadcasting! It's about time they were reunited!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh, I miss the Ferry Building. If you get a chance to visit again, I recommend breakfast at Il Cane Rosso. The food is lovely and you can enjoy a cup of Blue Bottle without waiting in that long line.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Kim...you're giving me flashbacks to our SF/Napa vacation in 2009! We ate our breakfast with that SAME view of the Bay Bridge!! We spent and entire morning at the Ferry Bldg. Marketplace and made some wonderful foodie memories too! I'm now a Cowgirl Creamery convert and can buy a few flavors at my local Central Market. Had some of the BEST strawberries ever from one of the outside vendors. And Miette bakery? Heavenly macarons!! I want to go back so badly...maybe next year!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. We always try to visit the FM whenever we travel (however big or small). This looks amazing and I think a trip to SF just for the farmers market is in our future!!!! What a great trip you had!

    ReplyDelete
  16. That place is beautiful! And that bread... my goodness... I wish I could have a bite!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great reporting on one of my favorite places, just had dinner there at The Slanted Door last night;-)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I've never been to San Fransico, but I would LOVE to go there one day and check out all that it has to offer, especially the farmer's market! :D

    ReplyDelete
  19. I used to live in SF and I loved going to the farmers market at the Ferry Building. Also, humboldt fog is my fave! They sell it at Whole Foods if you are in need of more. It's the best on cranberry hazelnut Raincoast Crisps, to die for!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh gawsh.. so much food! I love visiting markets when I go on vacation too, but somehow, the rest of my family doesn't agree with me. Everything looks so good.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I LOVE, LOVe, LOVE S.F.! The ferry building is amazing. I am a tad bit jealous of course, its have bee about 5 years since I been there. Glad to read your post as it is bringing back so many flavorful memories!

    ReplyDelete
  22. AWESOME! Check out that cheese! I'd have spend 4 hours there alone :) Well done making sure you had a chance to visit that incredible market while you were in San Fran :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Can you see the greenish cast of my skin through your computer screen? SO fun! And I'm with Patty...I want to eat at the Slanted Door (without my picky family!!!).

    ReplyDelete
  24. That's amazing. Those cheese are awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  25. What a fantastic visit to the market. You might be my soul sister...I LOVE finding farmer's markets when I go on vacation, and Trip Advisor is a travellers best friend.
    It looks like you all had a wonderful time, thanks so much for sharing it with us.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I was just at the Ferry Building last week for a seminar. I got on the Ferry at Larkspur and sailed on in. It's nice to be chauffeured once in a while. :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm so jealous you got to go here. With everything else we were doing while we were in SF and Monterey, we just didn't have time! I am going out for another trip in a month or so and will definitely need to hit up the Ferry Building. MMmm.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I love Humbolt Fog Cherve! I just bought about 1/2 lb and seriously ate the entire thing in about 30 minutes! San Fran is beautiful and your pictures are lovely! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  29. i love the ferry market building!! frog hollow fruits are always so wonderful, too!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Really Thanks a Lot for the exciting blog posting! i Got Reall Good Information While Reading it, you are a brilliant writer. on CheapFlight from AllahabadI actually added your blog to my favorites and will look forward for more updates. Great Job, Keep it up.. :)Allahabad air tickets Booking

    ReplyDelete

Your comments make our hearts sing!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...