Food Fun on the Bay
The San Francisco Ferry Building is one incredible place. It hosts an indoor marketplace all week, with a produce-plus outdoor market every Saturday. It usually attracts tons of people but on this rainy, Super Bowl morning, there were no lines. We stopped there in order to assemble a house-warming gift for a local friend. Fun!
Inside the expansive halls are several restaurants including the well-known Asian fusion Slanted Door and an outpost of Tamales Bay’s famous Hog Island Oyster Company. There are small kiosks of Bay Area classics like Heath Ceramics of Sausalito (pottery and more), The Gardener of Berkeley (kitchen and outdoor accessories), Book Passages of Corte Madera (independent bookstore), and glassybaby (candles)(!) of Seattle/Berkeley. Also included are many purveyors of mushrooms, olive oil, empanadas, ice cream, cupcakes, gluten-free baked goods, and honey, and on it goes. All this, plus the adjacent wharf remains a valuable hub for ferries criss-crossing the Bay to various locations.
I began my gift purchases at Acme Bread (acmebread.com), where I selected a small round of sour dough bread and a whole seed roll. Acme Bread, using only 100% organic flour, started in Berkeley in 1983 and continues to follow their original mission–“We strive to make the best bread that we possibly can.” As far as I’m concerned, they succeed. The Acme bag became my gift bag for the rest of the purchases. My next stop? Nearby Cowgirl Creamery for cheese to accompany the bread.
I’ve always liked Cowgirl Creamery cheeses, all of which are made with organic milk. I bought a round of what many consider to be their signature cheese– Mt. Tam, named after Marin County’s Mount Tamalpais. It is a “triple cream encased in a snowy-white bloomy rind.” I also sampled and bought a small wedge of their newest cheese– Hop Along– a semi-firm cheese “washed with organic cider and aged 45 days, similar to cheeses made centuries ago by Trappist Monks.” Both were excellent. The website, cowgirlcreamery.com, provides a very fun story of the founders and how “it all” began, as well as a Library of Cheese section with lots of details about each of their cheeses, and a description of their cookbook, Cowgirl Creamery Cooks.
My next stop was the Blue Bottle Coffee bar and store, said to be named after the first coffee house in Central Europe, where I purchased two small bags of coffee beans–one blend called Giant Steps and another called Hayes Street Espresso. According to their website (bluebottlecoffee.com) their “coffees are sourced with an eye toward freshness, deliciousness and sustainability.”
And finally–ta-da!–chocolate. Dandelion Chocolate (dandelionchocolate.com), made in the Mission District of San Francisco, creates small-batch “bean-to-bar chocolates.” I’ve often bought their bars as Christmas gifts and I’ve always appreciated the tasting opportunities the shop offers and their packaging paper which I’ve used for collages–now this is the important stuff! I bought the 70% Hacienda Azul, Costa Rica chocolate, described as having a “strong chocolatey base with notes of caramel, toffee, and a little bit of graham cracker.” Don’t you love it!
So…in just a few minutes, my gift bag was full: Bay Area goodies for a Bay Area friend from Bay Area aficionados. This is the kind of adventure that does my foodie heart good.