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tanabutler

Ferry Plaza Market, San Francisco

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Here's a link to an article from today's SF Chonicle discussing many of the same issues in this thread. Also, lots of pictures for those of you who haven't been and want to see what the place looks like.

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From the Chronicle article:

Besides, [Alice Waters] finds it ironic that many consumers don't blink at paying for pills and medical bills, but flinch at paying more for food that might keep them healthy in the first place.

Yeah, what is it about that?

$25 for dinner for two, cooking at home, seems terribly expensive to me. And they missed a real bargain: a dozen Sweetwater oysters from Hog Island for $8.50. That's cheaper than I can get them here in Santa Cruz. Shucks!

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Well, we went again yesterday, for a double-barreled reason. One, to take my daughter and her friend to celebrate the conclusion of their sophomore year. Two, to meet friends. The friends took my advice once, and had a romantic evening staying at the Hotel Majestic, then went to the Ferry Plaza, where they ate every oyster in the building, presumably to fortify themselves for more romance. :shock:

Anyway, we arrived at about three o'clock. The girls, who were very hungry, went to Taylor's (Since 1949) for a hamburger and chicken sandwich. I got an order of the deep-fried calamari. It was tender but the breading wasn't crisp or brown enough.

Then I left them to finish their meal and wander, and went to Hog Island to meet the friends. They had just finished two dozen oysters and a bottle of wine, and we ordered two dozen more (yum to the Effingham oysters from British Columbia) and another bottle of the same. And at the insistence of our very good waiter, Ben, we shared a bowl of clam chowder that my friend, Nikki, proclaimed the best she's ever had. (I didn't agree: that honor is still claimed by River's End in Jenner.)

Still, it was made to order and simply choking with sweet clams. A very good bowl, indeed.

We wandered around some more and did some photo shoots. (Nikki is an amazing portrait photographer, and we had two teenaged beauties with us.) I came home with a loaf of oyster bread from Acme Bread Company; a sampler of Scharffen Berger chocolates; a slab of "happy underpants" (Red Hawk) cheese from Cowgirl Creamery; some handmade ravioli stuffed with prosciutto, and Italian gorgonzola from the Italian deli; and some very nice memories. Nikki bought a three-bottle set of zinfandel from Wine Merchant (whose logo I love), for her daddy for Father's Day. They graciously poured three glasses for us to taste/share. Good move resulting in a decent sale of amazing wine. Sorry, I wasn't taking notes, just enjoying the day.

Best of all, my daughter said, "I just love it here. I have to come to San Francisco more often."

Well, yeah.

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I have to go back to Ferry Plaza very soon. My "non foodie" husband is a bit hard to coax there although he really enjoyed the dungeness crab we had a few months ago at the place next to Hog Island Oyster.

It was a very, very beautiful setting, although incredibly crowded lunchtime on a Saturday. We really must get up earlier if we're driving up there.

Tana, my favorite clam chowder was the Manhattan chowder by Santa Cruz Slow Foods at the chowder cookoff on the boardwalk this past spring. So subtle and delicately seasoned. It was AMAZING. And no lines because everyone wanted their New England chowders. More for me. :wub:

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I too enjoyed my time at the Ferry Market and Ferry Farmer's Market. Cowgirl Creamery's Mt. Tam is now one of my favorite cheeses, for its combination of delicious creamy outside with a surprisingly stern, slightly crumbly inside. Wow. I also got a wheel of "happy underpants" cheese (rather crudely named p**** cheese on another board), so we'll see how that is. I also did the week's produce shopping. I was surprised at how hard it was to find vegetables. Most places had greens but not much else. I had to search for eggplants and green beans, and they were $5 a pound instead of $3 like at my usual farmer's market in Pleasanton. I guess I'd describe the whole thing as a candy store. If I were really wealthy, maybe I wouldn't mind the $6/lb. cherries, but when you factor in the crowds, prices, and the time it takes to get around the whole thing, I'll take the more modest Pleasanton market 95% of the time. Still, I can't deny the appeal of the atmosphere; it makes shopping feel special. And the Toad Hollow

Peaches were absolutely incredible, at a time when the peaches available to me are just starting to come into their own.

Walt


Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA

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oh yes, I agree about the prices. I also got the impression that it would be very time consuming to get all my produce with so many stands and finding what is where amongst the stalls.

So for me Ferry Plaza will be more for the Market Hall- treats like the gelato and chocolates and the occasional more exotic produce outside.

We subscribe to a CSA and get a weekly basket of produce nowadays so that fulfills about 80% of our vegetable needs in the summer anyways. It's a pleasure to look forward to what's going to be next week's basket.

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The navigation, especially with the market around the edge of the building, is a problem. Call it an embarrasment of riches. I asked three different vendors and at the Farmer's Market info desk if they knew were I could get Rancho Gordo beans, but I see upthread that I should have been in the Market Hall.

Which CSA do you use? I'm not sure I'm yet willing to give up my Saturday morning shopping excursions, but I might try the delivery thing if I could get 6-7 lbs. of veggies and 3-4 lbs. of fruit on my doorstep every week!

Walt


Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA

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Walt, I use Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills. I drive to the farm but they also have a Palo Alto pickup spot.

As of 2 weeks ago they still had a few shares left (we're only 3 weeks into the ~ 6 month season).


Edited by kellycolorado (log)

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Most places had greens but not much else. I had to search for eggplants and green beans, and they were $5 a pound instead of $3 like at my usual farmer's market in Pleasanton. I guess I'd describe the whole thing as a candy store. If I were really wealthy, maybe I wouldn't mind the $6/lb. cherries, but when you factor in the crowds, prices, and the time it takes to get around the whole thing, I'll take the more modest Pleasanton market 95% of the time. Still, I can't deny the appeal of the atmosphere; it makes shopping feel special. And the Toad Hollow

Peaches were absolutely incredible, at a time when the peaches available to me are just starting to come into their own.

I am a farmer at this farmers market, and I hope that folks continue to NOT confuse the inside shops (which include a couple of farms) with the outside farmers. There are many vegetable sellers in the back on Saturday, and several of us actually have reasonable prices. When you look at the bunch of herbs for $1-, and see it's double the size of supermarket herbs, etc, you are getting a deal, as you are at other local farmers markets. Eggplants are not in season until at least July, not because we're higher than thou folks telling when to eat or not eat something, but because it doesn't get hot enough soon enough, period. There are a couple of greenhouse folks and a farmer or two from WAY down south in the state, they have earlier hot weather crops, and get away with charging lots more because there's less competition.

-cg

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I am a farmer at this farmers market, and I hope that folks continue to NOT confuse the inside shops (which include a couple of farms) with the outside farmers. There are many vegetable sellers in the back on Saturday, and several of us actually have reasonable prices. When you look at the bunch of herbs for $1-, and see it's double the size of supermarket herbs, etc, you are getting a deal, as you are at other local farmers markets.

Hi cg,

I agree with you. I go every Saturday (and visit your stall pretty much every week too), and found the prices to be reasonable. I much rather pay a little bit more to support folks like your farm with sustainable agriculture and fair living wages to your workers than save a few bucks buying cherries from god knows where from Safeway.

And I have a question for you. I'd like to support your fund to help your worker, Don Rogelio, who had been injured and is unable to work but I'm not going to make it to the feast saturday. I'm also never together enough to even drop anything in the mail (I do all my bill pay online, and have Netflix CDs from 4 months ago that haven't been dropped in the mailbox!! :wacko: )

So, my question is, can I drop a check at your stand at the market tomorrow? I hope so, let me know.

cheers,

Pim


chez pim

not an arbiter of taste

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Chardgirl, you have inspired me to browse more of the stalls outside next time I'm at Ferry Plaza. Those herbs do sound very reasonable.

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According to the scuttlebut on that other food board, our beloved Rancho Gordo will be having a booth there in the near future. The poster evoked the experience of eating chicken from Roti Roti on one of his corn tortillas. Now that's what I would call eating!

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At the risk of being labeled a pariah, or infidel, or blasphemer, I can't stand the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market.

Yes, they have absolutely gorgeous produce. I have no beef with the farmers.

Yes, the location is stunning.

But I refuse to pay $3/lb for peaches, $6/lb for cherries when I can spend $20 at the Alemany farmer's market and get a week's worth of fruit and veg for my husband and me AND a great tamale if I'm hungry.

I find the yuppified, upscale clientele at the Ferry Plaza, with the $500 strollers and kids running every which way, the distant parking (if you can find a street spot, or else pay $3), and the prices all too much to deal with on a Saturday morning.

Yes, Alemany is frequently foggy.

Yes, the parking lot is a logistical nightmare (who planned that, anyway)

Yes, I have to fight for my spot in front of a stall with little Asian ladies half my height.

But I can go there uncoifed, looking like a slob, and not feel like I am somehow competing with Mr. & Mrs. Pacific Heights.

So sue me. You can serve me at the Alemany market Saturday morning. :raz:


"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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Well, for me the Ferry Plaza market is a godsend, since I don't own a car. To get to the Alemany market on public transportation is nearly impossible. I would have to walk 7 blocks to the 16th St BART station, take BART all the way out to Glen Park(!), then take the 44 Muni bus all the way back around to Silver & San Bruno, THEN walk 5 more blocks under all the freeways. At least a 45-minute trip, probably more like an hour. Then I'd have to reverse all that carrying my purchases.

I can take any Muni streetcar (practically at my front door) to the FPFM and be there in 15 minutes or less.

I agree I could do without the double-wide strollers and the entitled attitude of the PacHeights/Marin County beautiful people, but if I get there at 8:00 I am out by 9:15, while most of them are still applying their makeup and picking out their matching sweatersets. Plus, with a little bit of searching, I am able to find reasonable prices on most things.

But I don't regard you as a pariah, infidel, or blasphemer. If I could shop Alemany, I would!

Cheers,

Squeat

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Mr Soup wrote:

According to the scuttlebut on that other food board, our beloved Rancho Gordo will be having a booth there in the near future. The poster evoked the experience of eating chicken from Roti Roti on one of his corn tortillas. Now that's what I would call eating!

Sorry- I wasn't be coy about this. I never saw the entry. yes, it is true! I will be starting at the ferry building on Saturday, August 21, as long as I get all my paperwork together in time.

Gary, I hope you're my first customer!

The Roli Roti guys are great. In Marin, Prather Ranch is between us and when it was cold this Spring, we'd grill Prather's bacon on the Roti truck and then stuff the slices into fresh tortillas that had cooked in some of the chicken drippings. It was scary and good!

jgarner53 wrotes:

I find the yuppified, upscale clientele at the Ferry Plaza, with the $500 strollers and kids running every which way, the distant parking (if you can find a street spot, or else pay $3), and the prices all too much to deal with on a Saturday morning.

I haven't been in so long that I have to assume you are right but almost al of my old pals in the city follow Squeat's beat and go first thing in the morning. But more power to you if it isn't your cup of tea. Aren't we lucky we have so many options?

Re Alemany- go and enjoy the cheap prices. We've discussed this before and I almost (but not quite) hate to bring it up again. There are farmers at Alemany and there are people with large trucks that pick up produce from a distributor at Alemany. The Yuppie scene at the FB may seem be hard for you to swallow and the experience at Alemany may be cheaper and seem more "real", but if your goal is supporting local, California or even American ag- you very well may not be doing it.

But I can go there uncoifed, looking like a slob, and not feel like I am somehow competing with Mr. & Mrs. Pacific Heights.

I suggest a scarf, sunglasses and lipstick. Now you can go anywhere!


Edited by rancho_gordo (log)

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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Gary, I hope you're my first customer!

Hmph.

<scratches Rancho Gordo off Kwaanzaa list>

:raz:


Edited by tanabutler (log)

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There are farmers at Alemany and there are people with large trucks that pick up produce from a distributor at Alemany.

Good point. I wasn't aware of that. I do know that many of the vendors I've spoken to seem to have first-hand knowledge of their produce, as in what's coming in or going out, when we might see more of this or that, etc. I will make an attempt to hit the stalls at Alemany that are actually staffed by the farmers.

IMHO, one of the benefits of patronizing a farmer's market is giving money directly to the farmer, and not some middle-man, third party distributor.

Squeat, given that you don't have a car and would spend ages in a Muni-induced hell to get to Alemany, I give you full blessing to attend the FP farmer's market. :biggrin: I, on the other hand, do have a car and live closer to Alemany than I do to the FP.


"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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Perhaps this deserves its own thread, but how would a distributor be permitted at a farmer's market? Shouldn't that be against the law? How can I tell whether a market or a vendor at a market is truly a farmer or an employee of the farmer?

Walt


Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA

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I am a farmer at the FP Farmers Market, and in the past our farm did between 10-20 markets year round, we now do only one per week. Some farmers markets are 'cleaner' than others, but most farmers markets do have at least SOME real farms that attend, even if the farmer him or herself doesn't staff the stall. Your best bet in any farmers market is to talk with the people taking the money.

The Ferry P. Farmers market is large and its staff actually watch the paperwork and visit the farms. In the past when a farm was 'exposed' as not growing their own stuff they were removed from the market, that's why we chose to stay with that as our only market when we downsized our farmers market sales. Berkeley also has a good reputation. There are several new markets around the city and I know very little about them, so my not mentioning them only means I don't know, but they might well have plenty of 'real' farms, if not all booths being real farms.

I as both a consumer (I do much of my shopping on Saturday at the market) and as a farmer hate the extra high prices, and I beg customers often to not pay prices they aren't comfortable with. $4.00/pound for tomatoes of any kind is plain silliness in my opinion. There is at least one farmer who attends himself in the front who has heirlooms, many varieties for $2.00/pound, and our own farm has heirlooms for $1.90 and also tomato flats $15/15#, we're in the back. Yes, deals can be had at even that market.

RE: Alameny: it's an historic market, it's been going on for many decades, if I were living in the City on a strict strict budget I would also shop there, as paying farmers a fair price for their food is a luxury. I believe that everyone eats and there's room for all manner of sales. But yes, Alemany is known for being quite corrupt as a farmers market, but if you think of it as a retail space not unlike a supermarket it's not so bad....

Rancho Gordo: I look forward to meeting you on a coming up Saturday, I hope the market does well for you.

-cg

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Folks, "chardgirl" is none other than the very wonderful Julia Wiley, wife of Andrew Griffin: they own and run Mariquita Farm. If you love farmers markets, and if you love farms, their newsletter (in her tagline) is something to which I've been subscribing for years. They hosted the first-ever Outstanding in the Field farm dinner, and many many community events. They are a CSA and Andy's on the Board at Ferry Plaza. I don't know a more trustworthy or well-respected couple in the farming world.

We'd love to have them in Santa Cruz, but there are waiting lists which are ridiculously long (and getting longer, apparently at the top :shock: ).

I'm determined to get up there early enough to miss the snoots and just enjoy the market. Farmers markets are therapy for me.

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