Old Oakland Farmers Market Redux – wilder & more organic ... tri-tip from Los Banos?
If redux can mean three years since my last visit. The market has changed very little ... thank heavens.
Chowhound posts written in 2001 accurately describe the market today. Even an old KRON 1997 article accurately describes this timeless, reliable, workhorse of a market.
A handful of faces have changed, but not that many. A list of Friday’s vendors and links to reports are waaaay at the end.
Extra credit for the grocery, meat and fish markets that line the street ...true one-stop shopping. Here’s an update on the fish and meat shops at the Housewives Market.
A new addition is Marita’s Bakery of San Leandro, famous for red velvet cake.
The EXCELLENT Red River Smokehouse from Princton is here.
Has anyone tried the tri-tip sandwich from Yamaguchi? They are from Los Banos ... tri-tip country. They also sell Southern desserts like strawberry shortcake, cobblers and banana pudding. The only other market they attend is the Tuesday market in Monterey.
The move towards organic and natural food was surprising. Wild salmon was available at Sincere Seafood. Hudson Valley and Rocky chickens are sold at Jack’s. Yerena Farms is an organic farmer from Watsonville selling strawberries. They also sell at Ferry Plaza on Saturdays.
There were a few more organic vendors like Happy Boy who had lovely melons ... Sicilian melons that looked like Ogen ... piel de sapo that looked like Santa Claus melons.
Hamada Farms was mainly selling grapes for $2 lb – Maroo black seedless, Thompson, Flame, Muscat, Concord & Ribier
I think this was the name of the stand and not a warning ... Cat on Guard ... “World’s finest dates” ... very popular. The free samples of their date candy didn’t hurt. However, the people at table next to mine were chowing on dates and making little, happy cooing noises with each bite of date. Next time I’ll elbow my way through the crowds and try them.
Inflation hadn’t hit Stackhouse Brothers Orchards which still had some fruit available for $1 lb. Rodriquez of Watsonville who sold berries for decades at Ferry Plaza before that market got too full of itself, was also selling tomatoes.
Of course, there were they many no-name, mostly Asian vendors. The other egg guy who sells quail, salted duck, chicken balut, duck balut and chicken eggs.
Summer was transitioning out. Peppers were plentiful. There were some colorful tiny bird chills. Lots of eggplant – marble-sized white, all sizes of purple and golf-ball sized green Thai. This is bitter melon season. There was exotic gold cauliflower and black string beans.
The prettiest were the frosty jade-colored bowling-ball sized melons that looked like they were actually carved from jade.
A new vendor was the Afghan stand selling Bolani, a soft flat bread that was very good. He had some dips that weren’t so African, like sun-dried tomato ... good sample.
Never realized Great Harvest which sells the spelt bread was a national chain started in Connecticut. That doesn’t seem right.
Chef Theo’s was selling natural spices and teas. He sells 100 percent organic chamomile tea from Egypt.
The Filipino food vendor might be the same as the one at Temescal’s Sunday market.
The DiBrova Sausage stand at the center of the market next to the music was the most popular. There were a few plastic tables in this area to enjoy food from the various vendors. Dibrova sausages were $3.25- $4.50 and include mustard, catsup, relish, onions cheese sauerkraut hot sauce. Today’s selection included: chicken & spinach, smoked chicken apple, garlic chicken, hot pepper chicken, spicy Cajun chicken, all beef hotdog, Polish, bratwurst, spicy Andouille, Spicy Italian and jalapeno hot link .
Limited time didn’t allow checking out how some of the other local vendors, like G.B. Ratto. Tamalaria La Michoacan on 704 Jefferson St was still selling tamales for $10 a dozen.
Totally forgot to stop by La Borinquena Mex-icatessen to pick up the ground green chili powder they sell ... and great tortillas.
I nominate Old Oakland for the best farmers market music. Ok, I don’t get to this market often, but it has always had above decent music on each visit. An older blues guitarist poured his soul out ...
Got yourself another man and you done split the scene
Oooh – ooh I still love you baby
Please don’t start no stuff
I don’t want to get rough
But I want to know
Maybe the written words don’t look like much but, man, this guy could bring it home ... forget that woman ... I’ll go home with you.. I got the groceries baby, let me cook you a meal ... da, da, da, da ... but I digress.
Maybe living in this side of the bay will allow me to get to this market more often than every three years.
On Fridays visit (* same vendors from three years ago)
* Crepe and Brioche
* Great Harvest breads
Great Valley Eggs
No-name Asian guy with chicken balut, duck balut, salted duck, quail & chicken eggs
Red River Smokehouse (Princeton
Chef Theo’s Spices & Tea
About 20 unnamed, usually Asian, produce stands
Cat on Guard
* Happy Boy,
* Mora Farms
* Stackhouse Brothers Orchards
* All Star Tamales
* DiBrova Sausage
* Roli Roti
Not there anymore ... or out this week ... or I walked right by them and didn’t notice (I don’t think so) :
Adam’s pickles, olive oils and canned garlic cloves
Bakery in a Barn
Big Paw olive oils and vinegars
Dewey Farms pistachios, almonds and walnuts.
Nina’s Russian foods
Old Oakland Farmers Market Site:
I like the tamales and the Roli Roti as well. Tamales are really very good - no skimpy fillings, and they come with choice of several salsas.
You were lucky with the music at the OOFM. There used to be only one of those Ecuadorian/Peruvian groups which are nice but not that interesting. Last two times there's been a woman guitarist/singer who's also been at the Grand Lake. Also pretty blah.
I love the music you sometimes get at the Berkeley Saturday Market next to the old fellow who's been around for years selling potatoes, mushrooms and eggs (He was or still is - haven't been in a couple of years at the Sunday Jack London Market). Wears a cowboy hat. I used to know his name. Anyway, there's usually a couple of bluesy, rhythm and blues singers/guitarists there. Others sometimes join in harmony. Wonderful.
re: Melanie Wong
Would I compound that if I said, close enough ... or that I've had some nice tri-tip in nearby San Louis Obispo.
It's like that a take of that old New Yorker cover ... this Bay Area person's view of Southern California ... " There's Santa Cruz, Monterey, Salinas, Big Sur ... the whole region called San Louis Obispo, Los Angeles, San Diego ... Fresno/ Bakersfield to the East ... therefore ... Los Banos ... tri-tip country ... so maybe better than anything in Northern California.
Anyone tried them?
I always thought it was a soul food like place. I've been wanting to try the tri-tip as well but a large portion of red meat a lunch is something I leave for the weekends. I guess I'll have to rationalize that Friday is the weekend.
Re: Yamaguchi's, I'm guessing that's referring to the strawberries? (for the strawberry short cake) There's many, many Japanese American strawberry farmers in SoCal, Ventura and the Watsonville/ Salinas area.