08 May 2013

A Thing I Do on Vacation

Ferry Building Market

Ferry Building Market

So when I’m out of town, alone, I’ll hook up with other Farmers Markets.

It’s so not cheating, it’s exploring.

The first farmers market I ever went to in my life was the ring-around-the-state-capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin. I was spoiled from my first market trip: A growers market that sets up in the snow and miserable midwestern springs; a midwestern market with more than corn, soy and cheese.

Since then I always make an effort to visit all growers markets, both domestic and foreign when I’m away from home. I’ve become a little obsessive to the point of nagging friends to take pictures when they travel and pester them with questions when they are dumb/kind enough to oblige me.

DSC_0265Most of the time, I think, “Nice market, keep working on it.” I know, I’m rude.  NYC’s Green Markets are pretty cool, rising from the subway to an oasis of produce, but have you ever tried to tell a New Yorker what they have isn’t the best? PSU is like nothing else, visiting other markets reminds me of how good we have it.

There have been markets of note in my travels: The Davis (CA) Farmers Market is pretty awesome in the same way King and Shemanski rock; small footprint, yet everything one wants. The abundance found in Santa Monica’s market is undeniable.  I love the market in Oaxaca, while not a growers market, it’s still awesome plus fried crickets (chapulines) and a menudo stand that will counteract any unwise tequila related decisions made the night before.

Also giving credit where credit is due, the Ferry Market Building’s Saturday Market is one of the better markets I’ve ever shopped at. This is of course due a DSC_0287climate that can grow everything from citrus to kale. And in an area where land is prohibitively expensive, small growers have developed, environmentally-friendly techniques that produce high yields. Direct sales opportunities, like the one afforded by the Ferry Building community, helps keep farming a viable career and life for people who have neither the capital nor the inclination to become a megacrop producer.

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The Ferry Building itself is a temple to the foodist cult. Well, cult is a loaded term, besides I like to think of it as a family, my family. Here is a link to the history of the building, today the building is home to food and food practitioners (I’ll use the word cult, but artisan gives me pause.)  The picture of cheese was taken because the overwhelming scent of cheese caused me to stop in my tracks. Since we enjoy/employ refrigeration to such an extent, the only other place I’ve ever experienced this enticing of a smell was a beautiful 400 foot cheese shop in Dublin, which does have electricity and refrigeration, they just don’t use it on cheese.

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I love kale! I’m generally inclined towards fresh, local, seasonal ideal advocated by the Ferry Building’s east bay kindred spirit, Alice Waters. But I also love almonds, olives, citrus and other non-cascadia crops.

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Also, if Oregon’s autumns linger, our springs are fickle creatures indeed, sauntering in on its own pace. California’s monotony of non-stop summer develops DSC_0262crops to market about six to eight weeks before we get them up here. Cherries and tomatoes are ready now. Cherries my favorite fruit ever, unless there is a perfectly ripe peach in front of me, so I’ll admit this hurt a little; plus pomegranate juice, come on California your killing me. Tomatoes aren’t quite the touchstone of summer days that cherries are, well that and occasionally raw tomatoes cause me to break out in hives, so I wasn’t as spectacularly overwhelmed with emotion, but I know people can get weepy about tomatoes, so here.
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DSC_0282Even with my love of all things local, I have it pretty bad for Vietnamese food. Really all Asian foods, and it rotates, Pho displayed Thai curries, which caused me to forsake Indian curries. Dim Sum day is exciting. Kimchi is a recent addition to my diet – Thanks Chois – but the Ferry Building Market represented all my favorite foods and reflected the diversity of the bay area.

Including, one of the rarest of all populations, this despite what Chef Boyardee tells you;

a Franco-American. This is exceptional yogurt: Saint Benoît. Winner of best in category and best in show.

Just like our market, prepared foods are there to feed hungry masses. This isn’t a great picture, because of the combination of tiny lens and big line, but this is the Roti truck. This tricked out van that has about 10 rotisseries but what makes this contraption more awesome than the food it serves, Chickens and porchetta, both awesome . Plus the whole contraption is on wheels! Imagine getting married on a sunny vineyard and having this truck roll in to serve your guests. Ah, the dream of California.

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