Birthday Weekend in San Francisco – Day 3

1 Jul

We started our last day in San Francisco with a brisk morning walk along the Embarcadero, starting from the grand San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

and working our way through Rincon Park to arrive at our destination, the Ferry Building.

The Ferry Building, in addition to being a transportation link in the Bay Area mass transit system, is home to over 30 food-oriented local vendors, ranging from full service restaurants, to casual cafes, to specialty bread and cheese makers, to meat markets, to pastry and ice cream shops, etc. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, the building also houses a bustling farmer’s market. In short, this place is a total foodie’s playground.

Even though we were at the Ferry Building on a Sunday when there’s no farmer’s market, there was plenty to see and taste to occupy at least a couple of hours of our time. We started the tour with a visit to Frog Hollow Farm, a storefront famous for their fruits, be it fresh or in the form of a pastry or chutney.

The fresh fruit looked enticing, but it was the pastry display case that really caught my eye.

It was difficult to narrow all that goodness down to one purchase, but I knew I had plenty more to taste through in this paradise, thus one singular juicy pear tart with a buttery, flakey shell was the winner this morning.

This little tart was a great tease, but I also bought a jar of organic fig conserve to bring home (which I later served with fresh chevre cheese and crackers at a party).

Walking just a few steps away, we arrived at Far West Fungi, a shop dedicated to the growing, distribution, and marketing of organic California mushrooms, where we saw some of the familiar:

and some of the exotic:

The inability to bring home fresh items becomes a harsh reality fast when faced with all these tempting foodie goodies. I settled for a jar of Honey Truffle Mustard instead.

Next up, a stop at Recchiuti Confections.

I somehow managed to resist the temptation of eating a dozen specialty chocolate candies right then and there and opted to take home a box of fleur de sel caramels instead.

I ate these within a week of arriving at home. Who can resist the bittersweet-salty-smokey savory combination of dark chocolate covered sea salt and caramel? Word on the street is that local chocolate paradise Doughmonkey makes an interesting version. I’ve got to go check that out.

Back at the Ferry Building it was time for more snacks, homemade potato chips at LuLu Petite to be exact.

These greaseless, perfect thickness (not too thick so that they’re hard to chew, not too thin so that they break before you even get them in your mouth) chips had an herbal aroma and just the right amount of salt. We sat outside on the benches along the backside of the Ferry Building to crunch away at these chips, feeding the pigeons with the crumbs at the bottom of the bag. And even though the air smelled a little funky, the view of the Bay was hard to beat. Looking back at the Ferry Building from the rear:

From LuLu Petite, I also purchased a jar of saffron garlic rouille that I’m not sure what to do with yet. Any suggestions?

A couple of storefronts down from LuLu Petite is Acme Bread Company, an artisan bread company whose products are all made from local organic flour.

One whiff of that good stuff and you’ll swear off the Atkins diet forever.

Enough of the snacking, time for some real food. We skipped the tempting display case at Miette

and went for appetizers at Hog Island Oyster Company where, you guessed it, we enjoyed some oysters.

Now, in all my previous encounters with oysters, I’ve learned that my digestive system doesn’t seem to tolerate them well. Nervous about the fact that I would be boarding a plane in a couple of hours, we started with just a small sampler of six, with five varieties of oysters ranging from local California stock to stuff from the Atlantic near New Brunswick. The varieties tasted subtly different, but I’m no oyster expert so I can’t tell you why or how. I do know that those are the freshest tasting oysters I’ve ever had (confirmed by the fact that I felt no digestive discomfort later), and the rice vinegar/jalapeno/cilantro/lime sauce that came with them proved addictive. I slurped down those oysters quickly and was ready for more, but knew I had to stop. There was plenty more to eat in the Ferry Building.

By the way, I had an especially hard time resisting the grilled cheese sandwich from Hog Island Oyster Company. Many tables around us were munching down on this ooziest grilled cheese I’ve ever seen. Hog Island’s version is filled with cheeses from local cheesemaker Cow Girl Creamery (who has its own storefront in the Ferry Building): Mezzo Secco, cave-aged Gruyere, and Fromage Blanc).

But onwards we march to our next and last stop of the all-too-brief Ferry Building tour, lunch at Mistral Rotisserie, where the smell of herb roasted chicken hits you before the sight of the display case becomes visible around the corner.

Lunch consisted of a juicy, flavorful to the bone half rotisserie chicken with sides of herbed polenta (a little bland, parmesan cream sauce had a viscous film like it had been sitting out a little too long) and roasted yams (a little dry). 

Overall, it was a wonderful lunch of little “tastings” from the Ferry Building Marketplace, and we only hit up about 1/4 of the places inside!  I could come back here and have something different for lunch for a month straight. 

Back at the hotel room, we had to re-arrange our suitcases half a dozen times so all of my foodie purchases would fit.  I wish I could’ve stayed longer, but even two months wouldn’t be enough time to explore all the little gems in the Bay Area.  Some foodies love the cut throat competition between New York City restaurants, some foodies love the glamour and flash of Las Vegas, but my favorite food destination in the US is, without a doubt, charming quirky San Francisco.  We will meet again.

Back to Day 2


3 Responses to “Birthday Weekend in San Francisco – Day 3”

  1. foodczar 07/02/2008 at 10:10 am #

    Donna, of all the delightful goodies you pictured, the most mouthwatering to me had to be those homemade potato chips. Yum! I don’t think there’s any better snack in the world. As Louis Jordan once sang “Crunch, crunch! Don’t want no lunch!! All I want are potato chips!!!”

  2. Margie 07/02/2008 at 5:52 pm #

    I read this today during my lunch hour and it made me hate my tacky Mexican fast food. That looks like soooo much fun and everything looks so good! But, Czar is right. Those potato chips… I had to make everyone in my office stop and look!

  3. Bill Addison 07/08/2008 at 8:05 am #

    You should have given into the temptation to try that grilled cheese sandwich at Hog Island, Donna. Literally, the best grilled cheese I’ve ever eaten — so good with a glass of bubbly after a round up oysters, and they serve homemade pickles on the side to temper the richness. I miss that thing weekly.

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