California, Eat, Gary Fong, San Francisco, Shop — May 16, 2012 at 9:52 am



Clockwise from left: Ferry Building Marketplace, Cowgirl Creamery, Blue Bottle Coffee, Gott’s Roadside and Acme Bread Company

SAN FRANCISCO – Looking for a wicked triple cream or a super crusty sour batard? How about a special brew made from freshly roasted (within the last 48 hours), pesticide-free, shade-grown coffee beans?  If this is the sort of stuff that makes your mouth water or if you just enjoy good food, then check out San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace (FBM), a food-gasmic emporium, where some of the leading players in the organic/sustainable/farm-to-fork industry can be found hawking their latest food sensations.

Produce from Capay Organic Farms

Similar in concept to NYC’s Chelsea Market, but with a wider range of vendors and an emphasis on Northern California–based producers, FBM offers an extensive range of all-things organic: from an array of prepared foods (a brief sampling includes Salumi panini, Oaxacan tamales, Japanese bento boxes, Vietnamese style street food, and artisanal cheeses); to a host of sustainably farmed products, including Hog Island oysters from nearby Tomales Bay and Farm Fresh to You produce from the Capay Organic Farm in Capay Valley.  There’s even a branch of the de rigueur cooking supplies shop, Sur la Table, and a spiffy wine bar/retailer, called Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, where you can not only taste and buy wine (emphasis is on Cali wines) but also learn about it as well (they offer tasting classes).

Cowgirl Creamery Artisan Cheese

Some of the more popular vendors at FBM – at least according to the crowds and queues – include Cowgirl Creamery, which is from the Point Reyes area and makes amazing artisanal cheeses including that wicked triple cream (their stuff’s on par with NYC’s Murray’s in the West Village), Acme Bread, which churns out wonderful baguettes and loaves (the sour batard and olive loaf are favorites), Blue Bottle Coffee for it’s all-natural blends, MarketBar, which does an extensive small plates menu during cocktail hour and has a great outdoor patio dining area, and Gott’s Roadside, for it’s re-imagined organic diner food, which apparently includes their renowned Niman Ranch-sourced burgers.

Acme Bread Company

Beyond all the fabulous foods at FBM, expect to find vendors (at least from my experience) who are not only friendly (don’t be afraid to ask for a sample) but also very open to answering your questions, perhaps sympathetic to the notion that most people, including myself, are probably organic novices.  There’s also an expanded outdoor farmer’s market section on certain days (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) when the availability of fresh, sustainably grown produce shifts into high gear.  And given FBM’s location along The Embarcadero, you’ll find some lovely views of San Francisco’s majestic bay.  The one possible downside to FBM might be the prices, which can be on the high end.  But then again, since when is eating well suppose to be cheap?

Where is it?  FBM is housed in San Francisco’s original ferry situated at the east end of Market Street on the edge of the financial district and recognizable by its clock tower and brightly lit, Port of San Francisco sign.

What’s the little thing that makes FBM worthwhile?  The range and flavors of the food; snacking on an Acme sourdough baguette (it’s SF after all) and one of Cowgirl’s triple creams (preferably their Mt Tam cheese) while taking in the views of San Francisco bay.

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Author:  Gary Fong

Photos: Gary Fong

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