We are thrilled to be contributing over at Eat Boutitque. We will be covering all things seasonal and local while we trapse throughout the Bay Area Farmer’s Markets looking for the “perfect” one or what we consider to be the perfect one (check out what we had to say about Noe Valley). If you have not been digging through Eat Boutique, you must rush right over there. Maggie (the fabu woman behind the site) as well as a handful of intriguing writers are talking writing all about all things foodie, particularly the homemade and homegrown food movement. As well you can live through Maggie right now as she lives our dream of temporarily living in Paris!
While I make coffee in the morning I like to open our kitchen door to let in the warmth of the sun or the coolness of the winter rain, today I could smell the remaining footprints of the last of the winter rains mixed with the early morning scent of springtime jasmine. After two days of icy cold rains we were blessed with warm weather and slivers of sunshine. I was excited. I grabbed a quick cup of coffee, kissed Lenny good-bye and headed out with camera and notepad in hand, to explore the Alemany Farmer’s Market.
The Alemany Farmer’s Market is not terribly far from our house so there really is no excuse why I have never gone. As I turned the corner and could see a glimpse of the market, I started to get very excited. There was a sea of colored tops and vendor stalls, which was a very pleasant surprise as my last market adventure was near rained out. When I found parking immediately, I knew this day was meant to be.
As soon as I started walking from my car, the foggy morning air was filled with the aroma of fresh brewed coffee with a hint of spicy food and the distant sounds of steel drums. I was immediately taken back to a far away land, I was no longer in the middle of San Francisco. I was completely ready to jump in and join the excitement that was buzzing. One of the first things I like do do when I arrive at the market is to take a walk through, to see who is there, what is available and the best prices. The first thought that came to mind was that the Alemany Farmer’s Market was the “working mans” market. There was no fluff, no tourists, and the prices were right. Come to find out it was the first farmer’s market in California, started in 1943 and it has been dubbed as the “people’s market”, which is exactly how I felt. One can come here not only with the purpose of doing their market shopping but also for good food and lively entertainment.
The market supports small family farmers and it is about 50% certified organic. There is an assortment of fresh produce for every ethic background you may be interested in from Asian ingredients such as chinese chives, bok choy and daikon all the way to Latin influenced produce, from sugarcane to guavas. Even though there were new and exciting things to buy, it was evident that we are still in the final dark days of winter as there was a lot of root vegetables, citrus and few remaining seasonal apples and hard squashes; but, there was a small glimmer of spring as I did find some early season green garlic, strawberries and springtime tulips.
I found a small organic farmer, Tomatero Farms, who I fell in love with. They had an abundance of everything I wanted: broccoli, beets, wild argula, winter greens, kale and sweet sweet carrots. The staff at the Tomatero stand are young, upbeat and very personable. She promised that the hints of spring would be budding at the market in only a few short weeks. I am so excited to be cooking with their produce this week and am equally excited to learn that they dry farm their tomatoes. Can summer come soon enough!
In addition to the produce vendors there is an assortment of food vendors – I love street food and this is a great place to get some amazing food. Not only were there fresh shucked oysters but there was amazing tamales (yes, this is what I grubbed on), wood-fired pizzas and Malaysian crepes.
Entertainment was around every corner; I listened to a steel drum player who took me back to the days when I use to travel to the Caribbean, I watched the old woman who was entertaining small children with her dancing cat while she played the “saw” and finally was taken back to a movie I loved, The Visitor, when I heard drums being beaten over at Princess Aisha’s stand (in addition to the drums she also sells amazing shea products and baskets).
Alemany Farmer’s Market should not be thought of as only a farmer’s market but also as a meeting place. There truly is something for everyone. Seasonal eye-candy can be found here.