The San Francisco Ferry Building is a terminal for ferries that travel across the San Francisco Bay. On top of the building is a 245-foot tall clock tower which is said to be one of the largest wind-up, mechanical dial clocks in the world. When we arrived the skies were still grey as it rained in the wee hours of the morning. We leisurely walked along the promenade and soaked in the bay bridge views. It was heartening to see that people were already walking into the market oblivious to the rains
Our first stop was at Blue Bottle Coffee – which over the course of our trip to the US became one of our favorites. We focused on stores indoors while the skies cleared outside. The scent of freshly baked sourdough loaves filled the air as we walked on to stalls like Far West Fungi, which had one of the largest displays of every kind of mushroom and knowledgeable friendly staff that took the trouble to explain each variety to every onlooker. A trait that was common to almost every supplier.
Located within the historic Ferry Building which is at the foot of Market Street, little shops celebrate food and small businesses – you’ll find everything from artisan cheeses, olive oils,fresh bakes and more! The indoor area of the vast complex houses many a restaurant too – we came back for freshly shucked oysters, but that deserves a special mention in another post.
We did however pick up handmade butter milk biscuits from the Biscuit Bender right at the entrance and it kept our latte company ever so nicely. Their DOUBLE BACON MAPLE BISCUIT (Yup, you read that right) is not to be missed. I even brought back a bottle of Bacon Bourbon Jam all the way to UAE for friends.
The smell of crisp crackling rotisserie chicken at the packed Roli Roti stand managed to distract us from the obvious path at the market. And rightfully so.There were easily more than 15 people waiting in queue before us well before 10 am. We had to try their Roli special – quarter-chicken and delicious rotisserie drippings laden potatoes for $5-6, messy fingers complimentary.
The skin on the chicken is deliciously crisp while the meat manages to retain all of its juices, seasoned simply with salt & herbs to perfection. The potatoes with their skin on are something else, really! So subtle, yet easily such a memorable meal. Luckily for us the skies cleared and the rain subsided quick and what felt like within minutes, there was this electric hustle bustle in the market and everyone was selling and shopping in full swing.
For the girl from the desert, the produce was a sight to behold. Farmer’s had driven down with their choicest carrots and lush leafy greens. I found myself wishing so much that we had a kitchen to cook with the fresh veggies at the market. Rows of heirloom tomatoes and radishes lined stalls and we soaked in as much of the colors as we could. Luckily a lot of the farmers were generous and would hand out samples to try ( I didn’t say no to a single one of them).
One of the most striking things for me ( as it will be for you when you visit) is the sense of community – there’s a camaraderie between producers, they don’t just share selling spaces – they share laughs.There’s ample conversations between the shopper and the seller – some more enterprising ones even going as far as recommending recipes to highlight the produce. Even by-standers like us taking a peek into this every day life of a San Francisco citizen can’t help appreciate the spirit of the environment.
The market is special – for both the quality and diversity of the products on offer, renowned throughout the country as one of the top farmers markets to visit. It is truly a fitting representation of both the local as well as diverse cultures of San Francisco making it one of those must-see-for-yourself experiences in your to-do list when in the city.
We walked away with plenty – bags with berries to snack on, local olive oils and dried mushrooms, satiated tummies from all the snacking from one spot to the next and above all, a greater appreciation for nature’s seasonal bounty, something we sorely miss in the desert.
Location: Ferry Building Marketplace, One Ferry Building, San Francisco, California