SF Markets/Smaller Wineries near Healdsburg
I'll be spending a little less than a week in the Bay Area/Sonoma in August and had some questions. 1) The only full day I'll have in SF is a Sunday, my friends have suggested going to the Ferry Building Marketplace even if the Farmer's Market isn't there that day. There is, however, the "Heart of the City Market" I read about in the nytimes which is open on Sundays (downtown civic area). With my other plans I will probably only have time to go to one, should I hit up the Ferry Building because it's worth seeing even without the farmer's market or should I head to the heart of the city market? I'm from NYC so it's not like elegant food shops or farmer's markets are a novelty for me. I want to go where it'll be quite special. 2) I'll then be heading to a friend's house in Healdsburg for the rest of my time. I'd like to take 2-3 wine tours at mid-sized or smaller, more intimate wineries in Sonoma. No offense to Mondavi at all, but I just don't feel like going to a factory-sized version of a winery. Any suggestions for great wineries?
I enjoyed Gary Farrell and Chalk Hill, but there are so many to choose from. If you are in the mood for a picnic, Arista has a beautiful, quiet Japanese garden with a few tables.
Both markets are great. However, the Civic Center market is a local's market: there are no frills, just a lot of cheap produce and fruit. This is the kind of market where you'll see grumpy matrons elbow to elbow battling it out for the biggest head of cabbage or least smooshed basket of strawberries. What with all the sights and smells of the city in full force here, I usually go, grab, and get out. Having said that, it's a wonderful resource.
The Ferry Building, even without the farmers' market, is a wonderful place to stroll. There are still plenty of food shops open inside: olive oils, chocolates, mushrooms, cheese, bread, meats, fish, spices, wine, just to name a few. You'll see some produce, but not as much. When you're done browsing, you'll have your pick of over a dozen places to eat, and the option to dine with a sweeping view of the bay.
I would put it this way: if you are looking for a bargain and actually going to buy produce, go to the Civic Center. If you want to have a relaxing day browsing locally made food products and taking in the view, go to the Ferry Building.
And while you are in Healsburg, make time to go to Costeaux Bakery and get a cinnamon croissant. Lightly spiced and just a little sweet, I really liked that it was an alternative to the plain without having huge chunks of sugary fillings like a typical almond or chocolate croissant.
Hm, the site isn't letting me edit my comment so I'll add it here.
If you're looking to actually buy produce, maybe to cook at your friend's home, the Civic Center will give you more variety and better pricing. If you want to spend a nice day browsing interesting local products and then have lunch or dinner in a nice setting and perhaps with a view, then you must go to the Ferry Building. I take all my visitors there, whether or not the farmers market is open. Also remember the two are just a few subway stops from each other, or a short surface bus ride.
And while in Healsburg, get a cinnamon croissant at Costeaux Bakery. It's lightly spiced and minimally sweet, a nice alternative from a plain croissant or a really sugary chocolate or almond one.