Sorry New York, Paris, New Orleans and all other metropolises that would lay claim to that title, but when it comes to food, San Francisco has to be the most blessed place on earth. By the way, when I say “San Francisco” I mean the entire Bay Area; that includes our culinary muse (and home of the original Gourmet Ghetto) Berkeley, as well as Sonoma and Napa Valleys. Can there be any other place on earth that’s home to so many great Chefs, amazing restaurants, diverse cultural influences, and magnificent array of local ingredients.
On a sunny Saturday, in the middle of the day, in the middle of summer, in the middle of the City, I stumbled upon a Farmers Market I didn’t even know existed. My wife and I were taking a walk to a neighborhood called “Noe Valley,” for some picnic supplies. This ‘hood is known for it’s great shopping; a long stretch of small, funky shops selling all things edible and otherwise.
About halfway through our expedition I saw a modest collection of tents and booths set up in a small parking lot. As we entered the lot, I realized we were standing in a Farmers Market full of the most colorful and delicious looking fruits and vegetables I had seen all summer.
Now, I’ve been to the large downtown Farmers Markets in San Francisco hundreds of times and, always to my disappointment, have never remembered to bring my camera. So, that I happen to be carrying my camera on this particular walk, and would accidentally find this unknown-to-me market, seemed very ironic. Am I using “ironic” correctly here? I hate when people use ironic in the wrong context. Did I just do that? Someone will let me know I’m sure.
Anyway, the light was perfect, the tables were piled high, and I snapped away (in between sampling copious amounts of perfectly ripe stone fruit), getting what I think were some pretty good pictures you see throughout this post.
The peaches were perfect. The speckled red and black plums from Santa Rosa were amazing in both color and taste. The flowering basil screamed at me to make pesto. The seedless Thompson grapes, warmed by the sun called me over for a few samples as the vendor looked on wondering if I was going buy any. Next time, I promise. A serpent’s nest of heirloom cucumbers sat next to a basket of Roma tomatoes so bright they were practically glowing. I made a mental note to buy some Feta. And, no Farmer’s Market would be complete without the obligatory toy box of mixed sweet peppers.
The only photo here that wasn’t part of the market is the “just a scrumptious as it looks” fig bread. This was from the Noe Valley Bakery a few blocks away. I’ve been buying this fig bread for over a decade, always serving it with a ripe Cambazola cheese and fresh strawberries. And with that last shot, I put away the camera, and we headed toward our picnic in Dolores Park. Thank you San Francisco. After all these years you still manage to surprise and seduce me in the most unexpected and wonderful ways.