On a morning in the early part of December (2015, of course) my friend Valerie and I boarded the ferry at Larskpur Landing headed into San Francisco. The plan: to explore the Ferry Building Marketplace, then walk up to the Palace for our afternoon tea reservation. I have already shared with you about our spectacular afternoon tea, but I still needed to show you what an amazing treasure trove of quality foods, drinks, cookware and tableware the Marketplace is. I finally finished editing one-hundred-seventy-six images the other day – don’t worry, you are only going to see less than one-hundred – so here I am. Just so you know, I have not tried everything at the Marketplace, it would take more than a couple of visits to get a taste from all the restaurants, cafes, food stands and shops in this place. But I did try some….
Since it was December, you will be reminded of the Holidays here and there, especially in the last part. Now, get yourself some snacks and maybe some tea or coffee and enjoy!
Above and below left: one of my favorite independent book stores: Book Passage. This is their San Francisco location, while their flagship store is in Corte Madera. You might want to get on their e-mail list if you are in the area, as Book Passage is always organizing interesting and fun events at both locations.
Next door is a Peet’s Coffee & Tea, though – oops! I forgot to photograph that one! Perfect pairing, though, certainly intended. You can pick up a book and a latte and enjoy both in the seating area in between.
Below right: honey, beeswax candles, and other wonderful products from the hive by Beekind. Beekind is based in Sonoma County and also has a beautiful shop in Sebastopol.
Above: the sleek and elegant Japanese deli and sushi bar Delica.
Below: view of the main concourse that runs through the length of the Ferry Building.
Here is the Cowgirl Creamery realm, with a lunch counter called Sidekick Cafe (above), and cheese shop (below). Cowgirl Creamery is one of the best artisanal cheese producers in California, possibly on the West Coast, and I might even say the United States. They are based near Point Reyes (west Marin County), and this shop in the Ferry Building is one of their retail locations. But you can find their wonderful cheeses in Whole Foods around the country, and also many other quality grocery stores. My absolute favorite is their brie-style cheese called Mt Tam (for Mount Tamalpais). It is one of the best cheeses I have ever, EVER, had – and that is saying something considering I am from Italy! Cowboy hats off to the cowgirls from Cowgirl Creamery!
Their retail shop does not just feature their own cheeses, but also a wide selection of quality, artisanal cheeses by other producers. If you love cheese, you have to stop here and let the friendly employees lead you into cheese temptation. And just so you know, this is where I found the best fresh mascarpone and ricotta cheeses this side of the Atlantic. They are both made in the U.S. by small cheese producers, and they are both so good it is hard to tell the difference from what I have had in Italy. Tiramisú is calling!
And if you need wonderful bread to go with your fabulous cheese, the excellent ACME Bread Company is right next door. Their breads and baked goods are truly excellent, so let them tempt you, too. This is a cash only establishment, by the way. ACME also has another retail location in Berkeley, but you can find their breads also in the Whole Foods around the Bay Area as well as other quality grocery stores.
Above and below: the California extra-virgin olive oil of McEvoy Ranch from Petaluma, and their 80 Acres body care line. I have recently purchased one of their lotions through another retailer (one of my favorite shops in Corte Madera called Columbine), and love it!
Above and below is Rancho Gordo, with their incredible selection of colorful heirloom beans, as well as a full array of hot sauces, tortillas, dried chilies and clay cookware. Yes, you did see some of their beans featured by another San Francisco treasure trove: The Epicurean Trader in Bernal Heights.
I most definitely did enjoy running my hands into the big tub of beans below. It is one of life’s little sensory pleasures.
I am not an oyster person, but if you are, here is your spot. Above: Hog Island Oyster Co. is the oyster bar and retail outlet for the Tomales Bay oyster farm by the same name.
I am also not a meat person, but below is the Golden Gate Meat Company; a place that will satisfy Valerie’s meat-and-potato-and-broccoli-master-of-the-bbq husband, my dear friend Jack.
Above and below is Heath Ceramics, a place I intend to explore in detail as soon as I have my own stable home base again. That is when purchasing more props for food photos will make more sense than keeping them wrapped in a tub in a storage unit while I travel. The nomadic life has its pleasures, for sure, but also some glitches.
Now we arrive at one of my favorite patisseries, both in looks and in taste: Miette, whose Larkspur Landing store I have richly and enthusiastically featured about a year ago. Their Marketplace location maintains the same style, though laid out differently, and offers the same richness and quality of products. We stopped by for a couple of macaroons on the fly, and, on my way home later that day, I let myself be tempted by one of those cute little picnic baskets you see on the shelves above left. I have it with me here in Napa and I plan to feature it soon in a picnic inspired post. The picnic will be real, of course!
Fancy an ice cream? Stop by Humphry Slocombe, San Francisco’s trendsetting ice cream hotspot, for one of their interesting flavors. I did not on that day, but certainly intend to, and soon, as I have been craving ice cream these past couple of weeks.
Seriously good espresso drinks & drip coffee can be had at Blue Bottle Coffee, and if the line is too long by the front counter, swing around the corner and you will find another window, smaller, but also with a shorter line. That is what we did!
Above and below: small batch, artisan chocolate by Dandelion Chocolate. Oh-so-good! Dandelion Chocolate has a bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the Mission District of San Francisco.
If you ice cream craving is not yet satisfied, you can stop by Gott’s Roadside for some soft serve ice cream! Unless you want one of their burgers first, in which case you have to step outside and walk around to the front of the Ferry Building for that. Alas, not pictured, I missed that one!
Out The Door is the more casual element of the famous Slanted Door Vietnamese restaurant by renowned Chef Charles Phan. The Slanted Door occupies a larger, light-filled space behind Out The Door and with entrance just around the corner. I love Vietnamese food, and the Slanted Door is a restaurant I definitely intend to try, and soon.
Across from Out The Door is their shopping kiosk where you can find specialty snacks, salads, as well as teas, sauces, cookbooks, pottery and some cooking utensils (images below).
Il Cane Rosso is an Italian-inspired rotisserie/sandwich casual cafe that offers breakfast, lunch and early dinner every day. During the main meal hours, the line here gets pretty long. As some of you may have figured out, Il Cane Rosso means The Red Dog.
Farm Fresh to You brings in organic seasonal produce from Capay Organic farm, harvested fresh from the farm in the Capay Valley and shipped directly to the Ferry Building. They complete the produce selection by purchasing also from other organic farmers in the area. Besides fresh produce, Farm Fresh to You also offers an extensive gourmet grocery selection.
Above: G.L. Alfieri kiosk with their amazing selection of nuts and dried fruits.
Below: the Boccalone Salumeria, which, as clearly stated, sells tasty salted pig parts. That translates to a selection of cured meats (salumi) handcrafted in small batches in Oakland using sustainably raised, heritage-breed pork and the highest quality spices and salts. At Boccalone you don’t just get to buy freshly sliced salumi to take home, but also enjoy hot and cold sandwiches on the spot.
For your Ferry Travel (tickets) and Bay Area touring needs, there is Bay Crossings ticket and local travel stand.
The Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant is your one-stop shop where you can taste, buy and learn about wine. They carry smaller production wines from around the world, as well as high quality wines from larger producers, with an emphasis on California wines, of course. Here is where I was able to find my precious bottle of Grappa di Moscato by Nonino, one of the best small-batch grappa producers in Italy.
At El Porteño (above and below left) you can find hand made traditional Argentinian Empanadas, which I still have to try as, by the time I reached their stand, I was full.
Across from them is the first-ever retail kiosk by the famous La Cocina, where all the amazing packaged products from their Farmers’ Market’s stand are available for purchase. See their mission statement below right, and their kiosk in the image further down.
The Gardener (above and below) is a treasure chest within the treasure trove. Owned and created by former garden designer and photographer Alta Tingle, The Gardener is a place where you will find uniquely-crated items for the home and garden that are both beautiful and useful.
Stonehouse California Olive Oil sells its signature, certified extra virgin olive oils in both bottles and in bulk. If you bring back one of their previously-purchased empty bottles for a refill, you save $2. This is something that they encourage in order to reduce environmental waste. Kudos to that, for sure, as well as to their excellent olive oil.
Above and below: the Imperial Tea Court, which is an elegant, traditional Chinese teahouse where you can sip and purchase some of the world’s finest hand-picked Chinese tea.
Another treasure chest within the treasure trove is Village Market, where you will find not only an incredible selection of quality specialty foods and convenience items, but they are also beautifully styled and displayed, despite the fact that every nook and cranny of space is full. Take a peek, doesn’t it look beautiful?
Recchiuti Confections (above and below) is a must-stop for me each time I pass through the Ferry Building – not that that has been as often as I would like. In this Parisian-inspired shop you can find hand-made chocolates and confections that are truly sublime. My favorites are the deliciously tender, chocolate-covered Candied Orange Peels (image below), and their S’mores Bites (further down), which tempt me every time. Next visit, I promise to try some of their other offerings, too, which I am sure will be just as wonderful. I made you want chocolates now, haven’t I?
And here I am, writing this blog post with just healthy snacks to nibble on. Sigh!
Those of you who are gluten-intolerant need not despair, as Mariposa Baking Company is an artisan-crafted, gluten-free bakery that will satisfy your cravings. It is amazing how far the gluten-free baking art has come in just a few years. Less than ten years ago, the only gluten-free bakery items you could find looked and tasted dismal to say the least. Now they are just as good as and indiscernible from the best ones traditionally made with wheat.
If you are craving a taste of the Islands, the San Francisco Fish Company will make you feel right at home with their fish and seafood offerings. Honestly, though, with all the posters, menus and various signs up on the walls, I thought they were called Aloha Friday, especially since their refrigerator by the entrance was filled with items like sushi, sashimi and various types of poke. I admit I did not ask, but they may have had a Hawai’i style Aloha Friday event happening that day.
Here we come to one of my favorite foods: mushrooms. Being Italian, my favorites are Porcini, of course, but I generally love all mushrooms. Far West Fungi has quite a selection, both fresh and dried, cultivated and wild, as well as fresh seasonal truffles and unusual forest products. It is quite a unique shop, one that begs exploring in depth, and that will certainly see me on a regular basis.
On this day, their fresh porcini ran at $39 per pound, but a few months before that I had seen some small and super fresh ones at $60 per pound. Yikes! Still, I was very tempted.
Prather Ranch Meat Company is, as they say, a different breed of meat shop. Those of you who are like my friend Jack might like to know that their goal is to offer high quality, sustainable, humanely raised meats with a nose-to-tail approach. If you would like a taste, you can step around the corner to their American Eatery for a burger, some meatballs, a meatloaf sandwich, or pulled pork and other meat specialties.
Boulettes Larder (above) is a cafe that serves breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch. It is definitely a place I wish to go back for as they looked and sounded very tempting, just like those lovely cookies and treats displayed at the front entrance.
Right across is Frog Hollow Farm (image below), which offers a variety of fresh-from-their-farm organic seasonal fruits, including their nationally famous peaches. Here you can also enjoy a selection of savory and fruit filled pastries and galettes that are baked on site, as well as breakfast and lunch items and beverages. On my go-and-try list! And I am going back for those peaches next summer!
Above left: luscious pomegranates from Frog Hollow Farm. Above right: a sneak peek into the kitchen of BouliBar, which you can see also below. BouliBar is Roulettes Larder’s new bar and dining room featuring a wood-burning hearth. Very tempting!
Aren’t these claypots by Bram just gorgeous? I have never cooked with claypots but these certainly make me want to. Have you ever cooked in claypots?
Right next to Bram are two small but interesting stands. One is Urban Remedy, offering healthy and whole foods in various forms, such and salads and juices. The other also offers a healthy variation on a popular treat: organic & vegan donuts by Pepples. I just found out that this donut kiosk is now near Blue Bottle Coffee at the other end of the Marketplace. Just letting all of you vegan readers know, so you can stop by and give in to temptation.
Benedetta (above and below) is a Farm-Sourced Skin Care company based in Sonoma County. Their ingredients come from biodynamic and organic certified farms, many of which are local. Their products are hand-made in small batches for quality and freshness, and contain no toxic fillers, chemical preservatives, or synthetic ingredients. At this time, the one at the Ferry Building Marketplace is their only retail location, but you can purchase their products directly from their website.
Last, but certainly not least, we now enter the magical realm of Sur La Table, one of those stores where I can lose myself for hours. Being December, it was all dressed up in red and filled with Christmas/Holiday related products and specialty foods. Being on a time schedule, and my purpose of the day being photographs, I was a really good girl and did not shop. This time. Good thing there is a Sur La Table in Corte Madera, too. Let’s just say I know most of the sales people there by name.
When you walk out of the Ferry Building you will find more food there. Even on days when the Farmers’ Market is not happening, there are clearly popular food kiosks from which to choose. And if you are interested, the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market happens on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, and Saturdays between 8:00 am and 2:00 pm. Lots of good produce and food vendors at the market, too. Be sure to check out the Farmer’s Wife for your lunch break on Thursdays and Saturdays!
Though I forgot to take a photo, I also need to mention that, on the Embarcadero end of the Ferry Building, you will find MarketBar Restaurant. MarketBar offers seasonal Mediterranean cuisine using mostly products sourced from the Marketplace and the weekly farmers’ market. It is open for lunch and dinner daily, and also for brunch on weekends.
So, are you hungry yet?
I hope you have enjoyed this tour of the Ferry Building Marketplace. Pretty foodie-wonderful, isn’t it?!