Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Welcome Home

Feels like it’s been a busy fall. I was gone for most of November, in New York and Australia. Before that? October was a busy month too. Weekends in Cazadero and Davis took me out of San Francisco. All of this time out of San Francisco was fine with me. I loved my time in each of these locations, and always enjoy exploring new places.

But after a little while, I start missing things at home. Among the things about SF I miss most? The Farmer’s Market. My Saturday routine. It's a good time for me to go and see what fruits and vegetables are in season, and also a fun way for me to learn about new ingredients. It seems like no matter how often I go, or how many cookbooks and magazines I read, there is always something new to be discovered at the market!

My sister and I like to go together, and we have our own little routine. I’ve written about the Farmer’s Market lots of times before, here’s a good recap from one of my fall trips to the market from earlier this year.

The first thing we do is stand in line for a cup of Blue Bottle Coffee. The weather this December Saturday was nice—chilly and brisk, but the sun was out. As we walked up to the market, we noticed that it wasn’t nearly as crowded as it usually is. It was kind of nice. The line at Blue Bottle was actually SHORT. We were thrilled. (And given the coldness in the air, we steered away from our standard New Orleans style coffee for a latte this time.)

My pretty coffee

Once we have coffee in hand. Michelle and I always go and pick up some type of breakfast sandwich to share. Sometimes it's a Prather Ranch breakfast sandwich, other times it's a Boccalone one. On this day, we decided to go for a Boccalone breakfast sandwich. Yum yum.

While we were at Boccalone, I got my water bottle refilled too. That's another must-do at the market. I always come with my water bottle in hand, and get my fill of delicious and refreshing sparkling water.

On this particular day, as we were walking towards Boccalone, I looked across the way and saw a familiar face. I stopped in my tracks and let out a gasp under my breathe. “Oh my god.” Michelle looked at me, looked in the direction I was looking at, and said, “What? What’s wrong? What do you see?”

It was Alice Waters. In the flesh.

She was signing books, and my loyal readers and friends will know, I have an obsession about getting books autographed. (Ok, I have a lot of obsessions, this is just one.) It was pretty neat to meet her (not my first time!), and to get a book signed. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a line, and not even a crowd of people around her.

After this pleasant surprise, we had to move on. Other things we love? We typically like to see which chef is doing the demo in the CUESA Kitchen. This Saturday? Staffan Terje from Perbacco restaurant was doing the demo. Perbacco is one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco, and it was nice to see Staffan doing the demo. (Another familiar face! Gosh I love this place!)

We saw a lot of familiar chef faces, and stopped by some of my favorite farm stalls as well. I picked up some winter Clementines (yum!), and even a guava (that I wasn’t planning on buying, but because of the strong delicious smell, I couldn’t resist!)

We smelled some great fresh lavender. I had to refrain from buying about a billion of the little sachets—it made me think of one of my favorite people in the world, Miss Chloe Grace. My dear friend adores lavender, and I thought about buying a whole bunch and mailing them to her in New York.

I also made a stop at the tofu stand that I love. Hodo Soy Beanery is probably one of my favorite stalls (a favorite of Daniel Patterson’s too I believe, as we’ve seen him picking up items from this stall frequently.) My favorite item there? The tofu jerky. The fried tofu is marinated in Chinese five spices and I love eating them just plain. They are so delicious and I wish I could buy them every time (but at $7 a pop for a small container, it’s something that’s a splurge for me.)

One of these days, I’m not going to eat them all plain, I’m going to cook with them. I think slicing them up and tossing them into a stir fry or using them in a chow mein type of dish would be really good too. Sigh. Maybe I’ll have to buy two packages, one to eat plain, and one to cook with.

We drooled over the pardon peppers from Happy Quail Farms (and even chatted about the wonders of the pardon with a nice man who also happened to be admiring them.) We eyed some specialty salts. We almost stopped at the salmon stall to get a ‘sample’ of the yummy salmon jerky we love so much. But too crowded. And sadly, I think we’ve tasted more samples than we’ve actually purchased, so again, we had to refrain.

We ducked into Recchiuti so Michelle could purchase some Christmas presents. While this isn’t normally a stop on our stroll, it was a treat. We looked at all of the beautifully wrapped boxes and gift sets. And the “Holiday Motif” boxed chocolates with the beautiful holiday images were so amazingly beautiful. Michelle drooled over the Obsession Box while I nibbled on the yummy chocolate covered apple slice. We didn’t leave with only presents for others. We bought two house made marshmallows and enjoyed them in the corner of the market along with the creamy hot chocolate sample they gave us. Perfect ‘dessert’ to our Farmer’s Market outing.

The familiarity of the market, knowing where the stalls are, knowing I will always see familiar faces and friends, my delicious coffee, seeing what’s in makes for a nice say to kick off my weekend. I don't need to spend a lot of time there. Even in just a few short hours, I always leave with a smile on my face. And every single time I go to the market, I’m reminded of why it’s my happy place and why I'm so lucky to be living here in San Francisco!


  1. All I have to say is that you lied in part of your post...not gonna reveal which part! hahahaha! But now I'm thinking about that Obsession Box at Recchiuti...mmmmm.

  2. Jamie, So jealous you met Alice Water, so very cool. Great blog kiddo and hopefully we'll see each other soon.