Saturday, September 25, 2010


Last Saturday we awoke to a clear, crisp morning and hopped the trolley bus (which is different, and less expensive, than a trolley car) to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Our tight schedule didn't lend itself to a meal at any of San Francisco's legendary restaurants, but this magnificent market was definitely a culinary high point of the trip for me.
The variety and abundance were mesmerizing. There were so many things I simply had to buy, and try, because I'd never had the opportunity to come across them before, like these pawpaws.

My aunts joined in my glee, making some purchases of their own, and shoving greenbacks at me in anticipation of the meals I would prepare the rest of the week at Marilyn's house (or attempting to to equalize who paid for what). They really didn't need to do that. I'm not one to spend many vacation dollars on souvenirs, but I was definitely ready to spend here. When I found this heirloom tomato stand, I couldn't resist picking up one (or more) of each.
In addition to the arts and crafts area across the street, which we ran out of time to see, there were meats, and fish, and cheeses, and so much more I didn't photograph, getting swept up in the moment. Although I did snap these lovely flowers, which made me think of my visits to Pike Place market in Seattle when visiting my sister, who always bought fresh flowers.
We had gotten an early start that morning and planned on eating breakfast from some of the many vendors cooking at the market.
But after surveying a number of the options, my foodie heart could not resist . . . porchetta for breakfast. To be more specific, porchetta with onion marmalade, crispy pork skin, and herb-y greens on a San Francisco sourdough baguette!
When I saw a food truck tricked out in full rotisserie regalia and smelled the aromas wafting from it, I was smitten. I would love to have tried some of those potatoes bathing in the juices of the roasting pork, chicken, and sausage at the bottom of the contraption, but didn't want to fill up too early in the day.
There were long lines for some of the food trucks at Ferry Plaza. (Cincinnatians, just sharing a little perspective about our local food truck scene - if the food is good, it's worth waiting for. Just plan accordingly.) This line moved pretty quickly, and was convinced I'd the right personal choice as I got closer to my porchetta sandwich. (Hmm, where can I find an "I Heart Crispy Pork Skin" T-shirt like the one this staffer was wearing?)
We were lucky to get a seat, near a trio of street performers singing their youngster hearts out, then moved on to check out more of the market. We never did see it all. And by the time we went inside and discovered all the great vendors who operate on a more permanent basis there, including Cow Girl Creamery and an awesome-looking salumeria, the crowds had thickened and sadly we had to catch our trolley bus back to check out of the hotel and retrieve our car by noon.

But we had a terrific afternoon, taking in the Calder to Warhol exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. After we'd been through most of it, I was surprised to realize they don't seem to prohibit photographing most places inside the museum, so snapped this pic of the huge Calder mobile from the second floor looking down into the lobby, along with a few shots of SFMoMa's lovely rooftop sculpture garden.
After touring SFMoMA, we went across the street to Yerba Buena Gardens, a multi-faceted public facility that had that afternoon hosted a salsa-dancing event we heard from a balcony at SFMoMa. Too bad it was over by the time we emerged from the museum. I'd love to check out more of what Yerba Buena Gardens has to offer next time I'm in SF, and it was a great vantage point from which to see the facade of the SFMoMA (sorry I'm venturing into extracurricular territory for a food blog, but these are things you think about when you're an architect's kid).

Our Saturday that had dawned cool and crisp had warmed up significantly. Before we embarked on our three-hour drive to Marilyn's house, we were ready for some air-conditioning, a place to sit, and food! Setting the grazing trend that would continue through the week, we opted for the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company. No Chez Panisse, of course, but its Spanish tapas, home brews, and proximity half a block away were a much-appreciated respite before we headed up to the Sierra foothills. It took a little bit of explaining to convince my aunts to go with the three dishes we ordered (and the restaurant has now changed its online menu, so I may not be getting this quite right). But we started with a cheese plate accompanied by the house currant-rye bread, dots of concentrated green olives, and a fabulous preserved lemon rind.
Next up, a crisp flatbread with serrano ham, manchego, and figs.
And finally, prawns with garlic in pinot gris.
We SO lucked out on the weather in SF for our brief time there. An indelibly blue sky over the cityscape is etched in my memory after this visit. But as we crossed over the Bay Bridge leaving the city and looked across at the Golden Gate bridge, we could also see the fog SF is noted for. Only the very tips of the GGB were visible atop an amazing cloud of fog in the distance. My dear aunt Marilyn kept trying to find a place to pull off so I could take a photo, but in the traffic, we urged her on and talked her out of it. That's a sight that will remain in my memory for years to come, photographic evidence or not.

I'll be back with more food, photos, and maybe even some recipes from the rest of my California trip. Oh, yes, wine was also involved. Thanks to Marilyn and Jeanette and the rest of the family for a great vacation, and to my readers for your patience as I get these posts up.



LaDivaCucina said...

Looks like a divine day in SF, eggy! The day looked gorgeous, glad it warmed up for you. What's a crisp day again? It's hot here at 7 am, wish it would be cool in the mornings!

The fig pizza looks delicious! Yes, sometimes one needs a civilized place to sit and eat after walking around for hours. The market looked amazing, so colorful. But what the heck is that green thing on the table after the mangoes?

The porchetta truck looks awesome, great photos, Eggy! YUM!

Aunty Belle said...


Youse cruel Eggy--jes' so cruel to tease us'uns like this!

What wuz that thing under the paw paws, on the blue an' white linen?

An can I git a fig and manchego flatbread by Fed Ex? Wow, did that look good!

What a fabulous trip.

I'se jealous. I admitit.

WaterDog said...

Despite my recent ocean vacation I am jealous too! Maybe we both need more vacation so we can spend a week in SanFram

Jen said...

I can't wait to hear more--especially about the WINE!

Velva said...

The Ferry Market rocks my world. If I lived in San Francisco, I would not have a dime to my name because I would be going nuts at the Ferry Market. Love the photos. Thanks for sharing them with us. This was a gentle reminder of what a food nut I really am- :-)

Your time in SF was amazing.

Jenny said...

S.F. is one of my favorite cities and I took my Nephew there last summer for a 3-day weekend.Nice pictures and the SFMOMA isn't bad at all. Because I had a 15 year old with me, all we ate was pizza. :-) Eggy, when you're ready to visit Seattle... you let me know!!! We have wonderful food.

Big Shamu said...

I agree with Aunty, this is just cruel.

LaDivaCucina said...

Cruel? Indeed. Especially cuz i JUST NOTICED the potatoes roasting under the porchetta dripping fat!!!!

Buzz Kill said...

Yeah, I did see the potatoes and that rotisserie food truck was awesome. The fig flatbread is something I've never seen before but know I would like.

When you went accross the 2 section Bay Bridge, the islands that the bridges meet on are Yerba Buena (Natural Island) and Treasure Island (Man Made for the 1939 exposition). I spent a lot of time on Treasure Island when it was a Naval Training Facility. I don't know what it is now (since the Navy left over a decade ago) but if you venture off the bridge (and the on/off ramps are the most treacherous hairpin turns I've ever seen) the road leading into Treasure Island offers some of the best vantage points for viewing SF city. And the smell of Eucalyptus on the island is intoxicating. Very nice pictures.

Sharon Rudd said...

Thanks, all!

Auntie, Shamy, and Diva, no intent to be cruel, just wanted to share :) After all, I love it when my blogger friends share their adventures, and I finally got to have one of my own!

Diva, Auntie, Buzz (and Velva, who just posted a great looking sandwich with similar ingredients), the fig and mango flatbread was indeed delish, and something attainable to make at home in some version, methinks. One of the things I really liked about the version we had was how crispy that flatbread underpinning was.

Velva, I think it would be dangerous - but lots of fun - to share a farmers market shopping trip like that with you! We might not have enough money left over to get wherever we needed to go to cook what we bought :)

Boxer, thanks for stopping by! I will indeed let you know whenever I'm able to get to Seattle. It's not the "when I'm ready," it's the "when I'm able." Seattle is one of my favorite cities, and it does indeed have fine food - plus Archie McPhee's!

Waterdog, we definitely need to vacation together - beach, SF, Seattle . . . or somewhere for my birthday . . .

Jen, more about the wine coming up, I promise. One of the amazing things about the foothills area where I was staying is that everyone - wineries, cheese shops, apple cider makers, olive oil shops - offered free tastings. More to come.

Diva and Buzz, yes, those potatoes from the rotisserie truck looked awesome too. Kicking myself for not getting some while I could. Kept thinking I might try one of the bazzillion other tempting treats at Ferry Plaza, and lost my opportunity. Darn.

Diva and Auntie, the mystery green thing posted below the pawpaw photo is still a mystery to me. I was hoping one of my smarter foodie friends could clue me in. It looks kind of like a vegetable lizard, doesn't it?

Buzz, our sunset cruise the first night got us up pretty close to Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands. My aunt was thinking of trying to venture off the bridge so we could see some of Treasure Island (and I could potentially get a photo of the eery fog that obscured all but the top of Golden Gate Bridge). But bridge traffic was too daunting even to get to an exit ramp. I do, however, recall the smell of eucalyptus from the boat.

Dani said...

I wanna go on a vacay with you! FUN! FUN!

Shaheen said...

You've captured the fantastic vibrant colours of the fruit and veg at the FM market. Wonderful. It was a feast for my eyes. Thank you Eggy. By the way, do you know what the 4th photograph is, I am not familiar with the veg?

PS Looking forward to seeing your Seattle photos when you get to adventure that way of course.

Chef Dennis Littley said...

wow....those images are much incredible produce....I seen so few heirloom tomatoes this summer, it just makes me sick.....we do have some great stuff, but that market puts ours to shame......
thanks so much for sharing this wonderful adventure with us!

Lazaro Cooks said...

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. In my opinion, there is no better day than a day in the sun at a open-air market. Amazing shots of some lovely produce.

I love crispy pork skin? Who doesn't? Love that very funny.

Thank you for joining in on the conversation yesterday. And for your continued support.