I ask you, fellow foodies, what better place is there for a food lover to spend their time and money than one of the most interesting and robust farmers markets in the country? I’ve never been to a nicer, better appointed one than the famous San Francisco Farmers Market. It truly is an amazing place.
On our recent visit to San Francisco, my friend Beth and I spent an entire morning going from tent to tent; shop to shop, sampling, marveling and worshiping the greatness of locally produced foods. Honestly, I could have spent the entire day in that farmers market and been completely content.
The first thing I sampled was locally produced cheese. There were at least 10 booths that had cheeses of all kinds. I purchased a small piece of blue cheese that was beautifully marbled with cobalt blue niblets. It was pungent, creamy and slightly salty and I had a vision of how nicely it would taste sitting on a slice of crisp apple. The next tent over had jars of locally made preserves, fig, plum, cherry, all completely delicious. There were at least a dozen tents that featured locally produced jams, preserves, compotes and marmalades.
As Beth and I wove our way through the rows of magnificent produce and prepared food items, I began to feel a little less overwhelmed. It didn’t take long before I was right at home, questioning the purveyors about their methods and schmoozing with the locals. I was in my element and all was right with the world. At a pickle booth, while munching on a sample of crunchy bread and butter pickles, I met a young man who spent his college years in New Hampshire. While tasting locally produced honey, I struck up a conversation with the person who made it and she explained her process. These folks are passionate about their work and their products. There’s a lot of pride at the San Francisco Farmers Market.
While Beth was waiting in line for a falafel sandwich, I stopped to admire a huge variety of smoked fish at Cap’n Mike’s Holy Smoke. This booth had row after row of plastic sealed packages of smoked trout, tuna, salmon and more, each variety smoked with a different kind of wood. As I bought a package of hickory smoked salmon, the purveyor described the flavors that the different kinds of wood imparted. I got a little lesson in fish smoking that day.
When we came across the tent for Eatwell Farm, Beth told me that she and Lisa have CSA shares with this particular farm. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Individuals and families can purchase shares with a local farm and each week, they receive whatever bounty the farm produces. It’s like a weekly grab bag of locally grown goodies. Eatwell Farm’s booth had an amazing selection of locally made salt, all with different flavors. I tasted several flavors, like chili salt and smoked salt. I bought a small jar of dried lemon salt and small bag of dried lavender from Eatwell Farm.
After perusing the tents outside of the Ferry Building, we stepped inside to check out the shops. Beth headed to Cowgirl Creamery cheese shop for a hunk of Humboldt fog and I made a beeline for Boccalone Salumeria, a shop specializing in cured pork products. I picked up a small orange fennel salami and while standing at the counter, spotted a rack of paper cones filled with thinly sliced ham, salami and mortadella. For $3.00, I bought one and popped a slice of salami into my mouth. It melted on my tongue, the salty, chewy goodness filling my mouth with exquisite joy. Back at the cheese shop, I shared my cone of cured meat with Beth as we waited to taste some cheese.
After Beth purchased her cheese, we decided to pick up some porchetta sandwiches from the Roli Roti catering truck just outside. As lunchtime approached, and our partners Lisa and Jason began calling us to see when they could come pick us up. After spending their morning driving around San Francisco seeing the sights, they were hungry and ready to head home and relax. The line at Roli Roti was getting long, but the aroma of rotisserie cooked pork was mesmerizing and we were undeterred. It took us about half an hour to get to the front, but it was well worth the wait.
This catering truck sported two rows of spits, each about six feet high, one filled with pork and the other filled with chicken, slowing rotating and roasting to a golden brown. The bottom of each row was filled with pans of largely diced potatoes, cooking in the fat that dripped from the pork and chicken. The gentleman who was clearly in charge took our order and began slicing a piece of porchetta for our sandwiches. His name was Thomas and I asked him if I could take his picture. At first, he was a little bashful, but Thomas warmed up to me right away and gave me a sample of the skin from this savory piece of porchetta he was slicing. It was crispy and rich and I wanted to jump over the counter and kiss this man for gracing me with this little treasure.
We bought two porchetta sandwiches and an order of roasted potatoes and as we waited for Lisa and Jason to collect us, I savored the satisfaction of having spent the morning in the presence of such dedicated and committed producers of extraordinary food products. If you have the chance to visit San Francisco, do not miss Farmers Market. And tell Thomas at Roli Roti that I sent you.