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Mar 28, 2008 10:23 AM

Help me Wow my Stepdad at the Ferry Building FM

Ever the hardcore hound, my stepdad is driving up to the Bay Area just to visit the Ferry Building and Farmers' Market before I leave for the East Coast. I want to really wow him. Please review my list and make sure I'm not forgetting anything. He'll be in town the weekend of April 5th.

Here are my criteria:

-My focus is on artisan goods rather than produce, mostly because he can get excellent produce at the Santa Monica farmers' market. However, if there is any incredible, rare produce available, I'd love to hear about it.
-He loves to cook.
-He doesn't eat red meat.
-He doesn't drink alcohol.
-Nothing should suffer immensely from sitting around overnight i.e. no bread.
-We'll be arriving at 8am, so no worries about items selling out.

Here's my current list:


Cap'n Mike's Holy Smoke - Smoked Salmon
Rancho Gordo - Heirloom Dried Beans
Andante Dairy - World's Best Goat Cheese
June Taylor - Jams and Preserves
Marin Sun Farms - Pastured Eggs
St Benoit - Yogurt
Happy Girl Kitchen - Pickled Veggies
Hodo Soy Beanery - Organic, fresh tofu
Flying Disc Ranch - Dates


Recchiuti Chocolates - Fleur de Sel caramels and truffles
Boullette's Larder - The Entire Shop
Far West Fungi - Exotic Mushrooms

I know I'm missing stuff. Please help me out.


Happy Quail or Tierra for dried chiles?
Marshall's Farm or Snyder for honey?

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  1. I am mad about the chile jams at Tierra Vegetables. Also, she sometimes has smoked red onions that are amazingly delicious (and a perfect flavor sub for bacon for folks who don't partake).

    Bread and maybe a pain chocolat from Della Fattoria.

    Does he drink coffee? If you get there at 8, the Blue Bottle line might not be too egregious.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Pistou

      Oh yes, gotta hit up Fattoria for bfast. They're always out of croissants by the time my lazy ass gets there.

      So, would you say Tierra over Happy Quail for chile products?

      He does not drink coffee.

      1. re: Morton the Mousse

        Happy Quail has imo very different dried chile products. Habanero and Aji and maybe savina(sp). Tierra has chipotle, ancho, esplette and others I can't remember. In the spring, Happy Quail sells yong ginger shoots which is a very unusual product.

        1. re: Morton the Mousse

          Yes, I agree with Wally--very different. Happy Quail focuses on fresh peppers, and Tierra on dried. I know that Happy Quail has started doing some dried products, but I haven't sampled them. I recall just about passing out when I heard the prices, and I thought I was price-innoculated from years of shopping at the FPFM!

          1. re: Pistou

            Tierra has fresh chiles in season (late summer). Also great onions and a few other things.

          2. re: Morton the Mousse

            I'm pretty sure that Happy Quail is not around this time of year -- I haven't seen them there recently.

            1. re: Fig Newton

              They show up about this time of year and supposedly were supposed to be there last week but weren't.

              1. re: wally

                For dried chilies go for Tierra. I bought Happy Qauil dried chilies when they first started making them and have tried them all and they really, really, really ... really underwhelmed me. Fatted Calf is selling them in Napa so maybe they like them for some reason that escapes me. It took me a long time to use them up. I like their fresh peppers though.

                Seriously tell your dad to get those dried onions from Tierra if they have them.

        2. Definitely Marshall's for honey, especially if you can find some of the pumpkin honey.

          The chocolate tipped almond or walnut english toffee from Alfieri Nuts, out front. We also like their onion/garlic seasoned almonds.

          Also out front, the really excellent dried fruit and chocolate dried fruit from (I think it's) Bella Viva.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Joan Kureczka

            Have you considered oysters or clam chowder at Hog Island..sublime!

            1. re: Joan Kureczka

              Yeah ... I agree with Marshall's and don't let your dad miss the pumpkin blossom ... tastes are available. I like to get a combo of dark like wild, wild west, medium (pumpkin blossom) and light orange blossom.

            2. I have to buy a couple fegatelli (it's like a dried pork sausage that you can eat like a Slim Jim - but waaaaaay better) from Fatted Calf (outside) every time I go. They are unbelievably good. I haven't tried their other stuff, but everyone raves about just about everything else they make, too.

              There's also a guy out back who makes amazing goat cheeses himself, but the name escapes me. And at Rancho Gordo, check out their red popcorn that pops the whitest white you'll ever see in popcorn.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Ozumo

                Thanks for 'splaining the fegatelli, Ozumo. I've read raves for it on other threads but didn't know what it was. On the list for our April visit...

                1. re: Ozumo

                  The stand with the amazing goat cheeses is Bodega & Yerba Santa Goat Cheese. Definately get a taste of the caramel sauce made with goat's milk called Natilla ... made by the owners father.

                2. The Apple Farm, if they're there that day.

                  An uncut loaf of Acme levain will hold up well after sitting around overnight, or if you toast it even for a few days.

                  Look for cardoons, green garlic, odd varieties of artichoke, and horseradish at Tairwa' / Knoll Farms.

                  I was just at the Wednesday Santa Monica farmers market last week, and to my eye both the selection and quality were a couple of steps down from the Ferry Plaza or Berkeley Saturday markets.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Acme olive bread holds up very well for a couple of days due to the moisture content from the olives. A couple of other cheese products that are big hits with visitors are flavored quark (lemon, garlic) from Spring Hill and San Joaquin Gold from Fiscalini.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Oh, and I forgot the cheese, and even better, the Natilla (goat milk caramel sauce similar to cajeta), at Bodega & Yerba Santa Goat Cheese.

                      As for the honey -- taste all of them and then decide, maybe even get an assortment (Marshall's has small jars, so you can buy a bunch of them).

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      This is sort of comparing apples and oranges. Southern California has a different growing climate, so I am always excited to see the tropicals, and other items that we don't get here. We don't have a comparable farm to Weiser (truly amazing root vegetables) and are a couple other farms there that we don't see here at all (I am thinking in particular of the herb farmer on the North leg of the market that sells really unusual herbs and passionfruit, etc). They get many more varieties of avocados. They have a newish walnut oil vendor who is producing a great walnut oil out of Central CA (La Nogalera).

                      I go to the SM market about 5-6 times a year and find it hard to compare it with the FPFM.

                    3. Alfieri Farm (out front) has some good lightly salted trail mix but they also make awesome chocolate covered toffe, dark or milk and made with either walnuts pecans or almonds. They are also very generous with samples.