April 22, 2006

Time for a field trip

It's Saturday morning.

For the first time in several months, the sun is shining.

We're making salad for tonight's supper club soiree.

I'm about to embark on a new culinary challenge.

And we live fifty BART-able miles from what Bon Appetit calls "the nexus of all things good to eat and drink."

Time for a road trip to the Ferry Building Marketplace and Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market.

The first time we ventured to the Ferry Building with visitors from the midwest a couple of years ago it was one of the last of many stops on a three day whirlwind foodie-tour of San Francisco and the east bay. We enjoyed it -- we were awed by a lot of it -- but because we'd breezed through Chinatown, North Beach, the Haight and Union Square and still had dinner reservations ahead of us in Walnut Creek, we probably didn't get as much out of our marketplace experience as we might have liked.

Over the years we've talked about returning, but when it came to deciding what to do with precious weekend time, it somehow never made the cut. Now here we were, headed toward on of San Francisco's shrines to all things food. This time opportunity wasn't passing us by; we were going prepared. I new I wanted to visit some of the delightful establishments I'd read about on other bay area food blogs. Prather Ranch. Cowgirl Creamery. The Fatted Calf. And after a year of weekly fruit-and-veggie boxes, we wanted to meet some of the team behind our CSA. Oh yeah, and we needed those salad ingredients.

We started wandering the booths in front of the Ferry Building. Fresh tomatoes from the central valley. Artichokes from Castroville. Strawberries from Davenport. Mushrooms from Moss Landing. So very much to choose from. Despite one of the strangest, wettest, winter-est early spring's in recent bay area history, there was produce out there. Lots of it. What won my heart and my tastebuds was the most wonderful sweet-creamy-tangy artisan yogurt I've ever experienced. We tasted everything they had to offer and walked away with two crocks of the star thistle honey flavor. oh. my. gawd. A-MAY-zing. And a bit of web surfing indicates I can procure their product on my side of the bay at Andronico's or Berkeley Bowl.

All this tasting got us hungry, and we wandered to the bay side of the building in search of lunch. We found it at the Prather Ranch stand -- Buffalo Tacos, Dry-Aged Organic Beef Hotdogs, Grass-Fed Lamb sausage served hot of the grill -- this IS your grandfather's fast food. Count me in.

Fueled for further shopping, we headed off in search of salad ingredients and anything else that captured our attention. We found fresh arugula and cherry tomatoes from Capay Organic and spent some time visiting with some of the friendly folks who run our CSA. Fresh-made-Wednesday goat cheese from Bodega and Yerba Santa Goat Cheese in Lakeport. Lavender and thyme from Eatwell Farm in Dixon. And a loaf of Kalamata Olive Bread for soaking up the salad dressing from Della Fattoria

We left satisfied with our bounty and confident that we won't wait another two years to make a pilgrimage across the bay -- the Ferry Building will be a regular weekend stop for us in our quest to eat healthy, wholesome and local this summer.