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Alemany Farmer's Market Report

I've been going to the Alemany market almost every Saturday morning for the last six months as part of a (possibly crazy) project to make lots of jam in my little studio apartment.

Today I took some pictures of non-jam fruits, and thought I'd share them as well as some tips on how to approach the market.

This market is pretty small, so I take a full lap to check out what's available and compare prices, and then I walk around a second time to buy. Today I found Armenian and lemon cucumbers, and spied the first Asian pears I've seen at Alemany this year.

Asian greens are a strong point, and there were some lovely chili peppers today. At the recommendation of a very convincing little girl, I also picked up some wonderful dinner rolls at the bread/pastry stand that always has a line.

Flowers are abundant and cheap. I love the stand that sells dates, especially the type with a sign that promises a caramel-like flavor.

For fruit, some organic is available, but most stands are not. This week I bought pluots, blackberries, blueberries, and white nectarines: only the stone fruit was organic. I like the stone fruit stand near All Star--nice people, good fruit, fair prices.

Attached are pictures of the alfajores (both a close up, and in the case at the coffee stand), the egg stand that sells balut, and a pork and tomatillo tamale from All Star.

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  1. If you haven't tried those alfajores from Sabores del Sur yet, you must! They are among the best cookies of any kind, anywhere.

    1. As one who has gone to Alemany on and off for almost forty years, I am wondering how you can consider it "pretty small".

      8 Replies
      1. re: wally

        I wondered about that too. I appreciate the great report, but I consider the Alemany Farmer's Market to be pretty large. For small, see something like the Noe Valley Farmer's Market on 24th.

        I'm glad pane mentioned the date stand. We often buy the Abada (black date) variety--I really haven't seen them anywhere else, at least not by that varietal name.

        1. re: Atomica

          The date stand has the best grapefruits too. I squeeze juice from them all the time. The dates are ridiculously cheap - $2-3 a pound.

          1. re: Windy

            I think that must be the same date stand that's at the Wednesday Civic Center market....they also had the best grapefruits, especially over the winter.

        2. re: wally

          Walkable would have been a better word choice. At Alemany, I can easily do two laps to select and then purchase produce, with a good idea of availability and cost. Ferry Building, which was the other market I considered when starting my project, was so abundant (and spread out, with stalls in front and back), that it's difficult (for me, at least) to have the sense of scope I have at Alemany.

          1. re: pane

            I never get through a whole lap at Ferry Plaza without running out of cash first. At Alemany, it's the opposite problem: I can hardly carry everything.

            1. re: Windy

              Indeed, I often find myself making two trips to the car for precisely this reason....(another advantage over FP: even if I could afford to buy that much, it is a long trek to the parking from the stalls, not to mention that parking is not free....)

            2. re: pane

              Alemany is laid out very well and the permanent stalls definitely promote order and flow. I really appreciate that...but then it was designed to purpose. FP gets to be a zoo and the crowds can be overwhelming.

              1. re: pane

                The focus is quite different at the FP compared to the Alemany market. I frequent both places, for different reasons. I know quite a few people who do the same.

            3. i've been getting cling peaches there the last few weeks that have been fabulous. they actually taste like peach.
              also, the ferrari farms people and their $1/lb selection of organic plums, pluots, peaches, nectarines, etc. is unbeatable, and it's all been terribly sweet lately.
              the okra has been good recently.
              and cherry tomatoes for 80cents a pound is great.
              there's a stand that sells huge bunches of swiss chard (red and green) for $1 a piece.
              and there's a guy who sets up shop over by the asian fish market and the people who sells chickens who sells new all clad cookware. i haven't bought anything yet, but he's had some good pots/pans at good prices. no doubt it's hot, but it is cheap.
              alemany totally rocks. i could go on and on. it's such an amazing market.
              it's a farmers market for the people!!!!

              1. Made it over to the Alemany Farmer's Market for the first time today and we were impressed. I got some chilaquiles for breakfast and was quite happy about it and then we wandered around and collected quite the array of vegetables and cheese and fruit. Its definitely a great place for inexpensive but good quality produce. I didn't check out many of the other offerings closely, but I'll look more closely next week when we go back.

                1. I'm a big fan of the Alemany Farmer's market, only wishing that it were more transit accessible. The history of the market is quite interesting, as told on the official website. It dates back to 1943, as a sort of "Victory Garden" for the City, and has been at its current location since 1947.


                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Gary Soup

                    Yes, getting there and parking was a nightmare, I think we'll get up very early next week and hope to avoid some of that. Its a bit too far to walk from the Glen Park area. Thanks for the link, interesting reading.

                    1. re: ccbweb

                      I was there yesterday by 8:15 and it was already quite zoo-y. Parking is a nightmare only because people refuse to proceed to the back parking lot and insist on holding up a huge line of cars while they park along the fence. I was happy to get more of Guisell's (sp?) empanadas, Rieger (sp?) peaches, and organic grapes.

                      1. re: Atomica

                        yes, I agree both that going early(unless you go really, really early)won't help but that parking really isn't that bad, I have yet to be able to get a spot in the lot no matter when I go.The problem is, as Atomica says, the configuration of the lot. Once in the lot,no problem, but getting in can be a problem. At least the parking is free...

                      2. re: ccbweb

                        RE: Parking - Here's a secret tip:

                        Go beyond the main lot entrance on Putnam up the hill and turn right down Tompkins. You can usually find street parking back t here after 8:00 AM, and it's really close to the stalls. If no spots are left, you can enter the back parking lot from there without waiting in the long line of "fence parkers." Parking on Tomkins also poises you for a fast exit (turn right up Putnam & go down 2 blocks to Cortland avenue).

                      3. re: Gary Soup

                        FWIW the market's 5-10 minutes from Glen Park BART via the #23 bus.

                      4. AAARGH! I can't believe no one's mentioned the sopes/tacos next to the tamales stand! i keep reading about empanadas and alfaflores, but you must try the black bean sopes, people! homemade tortillas, refried black beans, cotija, lettuce, sour cream. onions. where else can you eat breakfast for $2.50 AND get to hear If You Knew Suzie played on the saw along side a purple-pastie-wearing, tap-dancing cat.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: western

                          There have been many reports on El Huarache Loco in the past. I never get anything from them because I'm wrangling a toddler and bags and lines are too long, and every time I have managed to order something, they say they don't have it that day. That means I have to look over the menu again, and I can't do it considering the situation and the fact that I'm easily overwhelmed. Reports are favorable, however.

                          1. re: Atomica

                            The only way to handle that line, if there are two of you and a toddler, is to send one of the adults and the toddler across the market to an empty stall to climb around until the other of you can bring over the food. I haven't run into them being out of things, but I have to admit I have a hard time getting beyond the huarache de chorizo y papas and the taco d.f. Heart attacks on a plate, both of them, and so delicious.

                            1. re: bernalgirl

                              Sometimes 1 + toddler. The rub is that SO doesn't like Mexican food very much and doesn't love eating AT the market.

                        2. Previous Alamany Farmers Market reports:

                          Alemany Farmers' Market
                          100 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94110

                          1. I had a very good eating day at Alemany today.

                            I'm not sure if it's the same alfajores stand, but I had a FANTASTIC one today. It was from a small coffee stand and the woman said she and the owner teach at a cooking school in the Mission-- La Cocina. I've tried alfajores many places including Buenos Aires and this was the freshest. Yummy.

                            I also really enjoyed an empanada at a stand there--- Empi. I think they're a company from Petaluma. I tried the special - Cuban Pork. They top it with a chimchurri sauce. Very good. Lots of filling with shredded pork; served nicely hot. My boyfriend tried a spinach ricotta one-- he liked it as well. 2 for $5


                            We tried chilaquiles with eggs at the stand there. Nice heat. Also enjoyed it, but we like Primavera's more. It was just different.

                            I ran across that bakery at the end that had a line--- a company from Santa Rosa. I'm curious about their fresh breadsticks, but you have to order them in advance. If anyone can comment on them, I'd appreciate it!

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: rln

                              Yes, that is the alfajores stand everyone is talking about. You really need to try their beef empanada next time! I went at about 9:30 and the beef empanadas were still warm.

                              I tried the Mexican breakfast stand as well. Huarache with eggs and mole. Very nice. Had to eat most of it at home an hour later, but it was still good.

                              Could not find the good peaches--I wonder if they're gone for the season.

                              1. re: Atomica

                                All the stone fruit I tried this past Saturday was past peak.

                              2. re: rln

                                The bakery at the end is Panorama. Are they from Santa Rosa? They have really good bagels. I've had mixed luck with their breads, preferring the asiago pepper bread from John, the African-American man who also makes sweet potato tarts and molasses cookies.

                                Those tiny alfajores are incredible.

                                I have peaches that friends brought me last week, but not from the farmer's market. They must have come from further north.

                                1. re: Windy

                                  Panorama is a commercial bakery based in Potrero. Aside from the farmers markets, they only produce for restaurants in the Bay Area. They are owned by the Real Restaurants group, the same group that runs Bix, Fog City, Buckeye Roadhouse, etc. so you'll see their products in those restaurnts, as well as many more that aren't part of the group.
                                  Funny aside: Their drip coffee IMHO is the best in the market.

                                  1. re: foodiegrl

                                    Interesting, thanks. Are they the same people who had a retail store on Guerrero at 16th for a while (next to Elixir)? Where do you get their coffee?

                                    1. re: Windy

                                      Sorry, I never saw the store on Guerrero. The business address has them on Florida St.
                                      The coffee is only served at their tent in the air pots and it's the best darn dollar you can spend on coffee. They also serve at the flea market on Sundays.

                                      1. re: foodiegrl

                                        Do they have a full stand (i.e., bagels) at the Sunday flea market too?

                                        1. re: Windy

                                          I definitely recall getting full loaves, danish, cinnamon twists & coffee. I never got bagels before (DH is an NYC bagel-snob), but it would follow that they have them there. They bring those same two big clear Cambro containers they have on Saturdays.

                              3. I saw in a previous post that there were duck eggs sold at the Berkeley Farmer's Market -- are there duck eggs for sale at the Alemany market?

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: hibiscuits

                                  Yes, Haney's Egg Ranch sells preserved and fresh Duck eggs. They even have quail eggs most of the time.

                                  1. re: foodiegrl

                                    Their regular eggs are good too, and very inexpensive.

                                    1. re: Windy

                                      Agreed - and they are weeks fresher than what you can get at the supermarket. It's the only place we go for eggs now!

                                      1. re: foodiegrl

                                        I've been away for 4 weeks or so from the Bay. Any recent reports or finds at Alemany ? Cheers !

                                        1. re: osho

                                          Citrus is getting good. This weekend I bought pomelo, calamansi, and variegated lemons--you can get especially interesting stuff at the DeSantis booth.

                                          I've seen uncured olives and some lovely nuts, especially walnuts.

                                          1. re: pane

                                            Thanks for the tip on DeSantis, and the nuts. Looking forward to this Saturday morning. Any word on vegetables ?

                                2. Has anyone done an Alemany report lately? I was there today for the first time in months, also the first time since they moved the prepared foods to the back in the parking lot. For a moment I was panicked when I couldn't find lemon quark.

                                  This is my favorite mixed up time of year at the market: avocados and pomegranites and bags of oranges and early girl tomatoes.

                                  A few highlights:
                                  Japanese cucumbers for $1.50 a pound from a charming woman on the east side
                                  Panorama has bialys!
                                  Chestnuts for $4 a pound
                                  Arugula for 50 cents a bunch

                                  A woman was selling jackfruit and baby bananas, which she claimed were grown in Southern California. (I found this curious.) The market was still packed with produce and people at 12:30; maybe people were sleeping in because of the weather.

                                  Any good finds?

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: Windy

                                    The very same lady you mention - sometimes has excellent guavas, for those interested.

                                    Some finds from yesterday's trip:

                                    Crunchy Asian Pears and Bosch Pears at $1.50/lb
                                    Heirloom tomatoes at $1.00 /lb from the stand in the far corner (near the main entrance)
                                    Figs at $ 2.00 a basket from the stand right next to the one above.
                                    Brusell Sprouts at $1.00/lb

                                    1. re: Windy

                                      Fresh jackfruit? I know this is probably a dumb question--- but want to be sure? What a find... must check it out.

                                      1. re: rln

                                        Yes, an enormous fresh one, perhaps 15-20 pounds for $4.50/lb. She was cutting wedges of it.

                                        Does anyone know of jackfruit or bananas being grown in California?

                                        Her avocados were delicious.

                                      2. re: Windy

                                        For years I have been buying eggs from the ladies in the adjacent lot outside the actual market. They are gone! Anyone know where else they sell, or remember the name on the side of the truck? These were the folks who sold live chickens, quail, rabbits etc... I miss the eggs!

                                        1. re: sarafinadh

                                          I had wondered about that too last week-- but thought I came too late and they were gone. Am curious to know why they're gone... health issue thing, was my guess...

                                          1. re: rln

                                            The fresh chicken & egg vendors as well as the fresh whole fish on ice vendors have been gone for about 2 months as part of the ever more stringent bylaws that are more enforced by Alemany management than the health inspectors. There is a woman in charge now, I guess it's been a year, and she is making alot of longtime vendors unhappy with her policies. For example, she allows Comcast to have a sales booth there, but has made it impossible for the buskers to set up a spot.

                                            1. re: saffrongold

                                              Thank you. I hate seeing Comcast there. I see no relevance to the Market.

                                              1. re: rln

                                                Yeah...I noticed them for the first time last Saturday and did a double take. What the HECK are they doing there? Chair massages, even basket weavers I can see. But cable monopolies with notoriously atrocious service standards? WTF?

                                                1. re: Absonot

                                                  Could be Comcast is paying higher fees that help the city keep the farmers' fees at $45 a week.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    Fine. But don't get rid of the useful vendors like the chickens and eggs.

                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                      From the description above, the chicken and egg truck was outside the market. Sounds more like a permitting issue.

                                                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                      Comcast used 2 seconds of footage from Alemany in an advertisement and because of that get to set up their kiosk for free.