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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.

                      1. Donna at Acahindha Cheese is really lovely to visit with. And her aged goat cheese is easily keepable out of the fridge. She's always willing to let you try her items, and chat. The cheese varies from week to week (and I have been tasting it for years) dependent on what wheels she pulls. Last time I was there (two weeks ago), the Broncha was standout.

                        1. He might enjoy a snack of blini or scrambled eggs and caviar. Then, there are the chocolate-dipped crisp pear slices at Recchiuitti. . . And, if the La Cocina booth is there, those marvelous alfajores and other cookies. And Lulu Petite has one of the best brownies anywhere, as well as delicious potato chips.

                          1. I know you said no produce but Marin Roots (I think that is the name) has really tiny baby bok choi, small root vegetables and a lot of greens sold in small size that I pulled as weeds as a child, chickweed, dandelions, etc. It might be entertaining.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: wally

                              So stealing this list for our April visit -- best rundown I've come across yet on the mustn't misses in FBFM yet for the unfortunate visitors who can't carry away all the great perishables -- thank your step pa for me, Morton!

                            2. I would lobby for Acme bread. I bought the onion slab and ate it off and on for the next 36 hours, in the city, on the plane, and then back to New York. Even the second day after 48 hours, I could resuscitate it to pretty damn good by popping it in the toaster oven for a short period. I'm not sure there's a bakery in L.A. that has comparable breadth of quality.

                              1. morton, we'll be there tomorrow too, on our way to napa. we stopped by today and bought:

                                far west funghi: truffle dijon mustard(we can't have a grilled hamburger at home w/o this now!), truffle flour (ian says this is much better than the one they first had.) and they have a really nice new tea mix which he gave me- rooibos(sp.) plus cocoa nibs and medicinal mushroom mix (i think). and dried candy cap mushrooms.

                                recchiuti: cardamom nougat and sesame (in addition to your caramels).

                                lulu's potato chips, and saffron aioli

                                sur la table- that incredible traveling paring knife(incredibly sharp and light) w/ heavy plastic sheath, made by kuhn ricoh. it's new for me this trip. i know it will become my go-to small knife at home too, so if he loves to cook, i think he'd really love it.....

                                the acme walnut levain has held up for the last 10 days!!!. we only eat it toasted.

                                hope you have a great time together. where will you be living/ CH posting on the east coast?

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                  I'll be in Philly, posting on occasion, but the schedule and budget of a b-school student doesn't allow for much chowhounding.

                                  1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                    Hey, you can borrow against your future earnings once you get that Wharton MBA....

                                    But please report back on the Cheesesteak Egg Rolls there.


                                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                      hey morton, aren't you going to tell us about the ferry/st-dad experience?
                                      did he like the tofu stand out front? i thought there were terrific products there. might even convince me to be a vegetarian if i lived here.

                                      check my CH member page-old posts, for a number of phila posts- not all expensive as that's not how we go. you will like the food scene there i believe. and you are going to need some self-love food delights with all the hard work and stress you'll be putting yourself through.(been there; done that).

                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                        OP said his visitor was heading into town on April 5, which is this weekend, although I certainly second your eagerness to hear how it all goes. I'm also sad to gather that Morton will no longer be in SF. Is this permanent? If so I will certainly miss his entertaining and thoughtful posts.

                                  2. I'm a big fan of The Apple Farm's balsamic apple vinegar which Fatted Calf in Napa is selling now.

                                    My favorite olive oil vendor remains Sciabica. I'm not a fan of flavored olive oils, but the little sampler selection from Sciabica with about seven tiny bottles is so good. Other than that go for the olive oils that are outside their usual selection ... usually in dark green bottles.

                                    June Taylor which is on your schedule did nice things with apricots this year. Also her flavored syrups are great.

                                    Like everyone I'm taking liberties with the no veggie policy. If he as a cooler, go to White Crane farm and order 'the mix'. Unless you know about it there's no mention at the stand. I learned about it when someone asked for it one day and he got it out of the cooler. It is a salad mix of just herbs but it looks like salad mix only more flavorful.

                                    And it is the season ... I swear no one grows asparugas as good as Zuckerman's.

                                    1. haha, so grayelf reminded me that it's not til this wkend w your st dad. so:
                                      we loved, and bought to take to boston, the Lemon Quark at the french woman's cheese stand- facing Boulette's Larder. great for spreading on morning toast- yay protein.

                                      let's send your stdad home with substantive stuff, not just sweets and jellies, that he can make dinners with...!!!!
                                      do visit that tofu woman i mentioned, w/ all the tastes,in front of ferry bldg. by the rancho gordo people. now that was a worthwhile tasting experience. i loved the croquettes amongst others....

                                      spkg of which, the Rancho Gordopeople. woman is v knowledgeable and helpful with cooking hints. we got, on her rec, the scarlet runner beans, red lima beans, cranberry beans and.......memory lapse.

                                      lastly, the tamale company way out back. we're taking home to boston the buttnut squash tamales and pork tamales, and the really cool thick tortillas where the masa is mixed with - bl beans and cheese, or cheese and jalapenos, etc etc. much better than plain sopes i think.... p.s. they sell this product line at your whole foods out here, but not in boston..yet....

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                        The stuffed tortillas and tamales are from Primavera. I believe the Ferry Plaza market is the only place they sell their pork tamales.