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Feb 6, 2009 04:25 AM

Take-home foodie souvenirs

Hi all,

Will be visiting SF starting on 02/15 and have plenty of reservations already set aside (Danko 15th, Boulevard 16th, TFL 17th, Ritz Dining Room 18th) but now I'm looking for some unique San Francisco items to bring back to Ohio when it is all over - both for myself and friends. Coffees, preserves, vinegars, oils, spices - things that are uniquely San Francisco, but also sustainable.

Thanks in advance for any/all advice. :-)

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  1. Recchiuti Confections in the Ferry Building:

    1 Ferry Bldg # 30, San Francisco, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: kattyeyes

      Nice. :-) I'm actually even more impressed by the online recipes than the purchasables! The smores look fantastic, though!

      1. re: kattyeyes

        Fantastic suggestion - seriously. The S'mores were fantastic and the Kona and Green Tea were delicious as well.

        Actually, the whole Market was superb - Tangerine Olive Oil from Stonehouse, a Cinnamon and Currant Pullapart from ACME, a Crab sandwich from Ferry Plaza Seafood, and some incredible chocolate covered Figs from Sharffen Berger. Pete's coffee was alright.

        Village Market, Cowgirl, Boccalone, Ciao Bella, and Frog's Hollow looked excellent - but with later dinner reservations at Danko I abstained.

        Boulette's Larder was closed and the selection (and help) at Miette were very subpar.

      2. I wouldn't get hung up on "sustainable" since it's just a meaningless marketing
        term. Everybody's cooking with gas.

        The Saturday Ferry Building farmer's market is a must. Maybe some of June
        Taylor's jams?

        6 Replies
        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

          Doesn't look like from the dates that the op will be here on a Saturday.

          On Sunday morning you could always drive up the the Marin farmers market and pick up some good items. You could stop by Murray Circle in Sausalito for breakfast and have some of their fabulous croissants for breakfast.

          There are still some things to take home if you go to the Ferry Building.

          Frog Hollow has some nice jellys and jams. Not as good as June Taylor, but still good.
          Boulette's Larder has some nice stuff from local artisans.

          There's Blue Bottle coffee. I like the African one.

          In North Beach, I really like XOX truffles. I'm really into dark coffee, so Graffeo's across the street from XOX has some good coffee. They roast there and it always smells wonderful.

          On your way to French Laundry, you could stop by Oxbow Public Market to pick up some nice items.

          Fatted Calf carries stuff from my favorite farmers market vendors. They have Rancho Gordo's magic beans and also carry his cookbook for how to use those beans. They have the balsamic apple vinegar from Bates and Schmidt which is one of my favorite vinegars in the world. They carry some nice jams and I think Marshall's honey.

          There's an olive oil and vinegar at The Olive Press. They have tasting so you can judge for yourself what you like.

          While the chocolates at Annette's don't do it for me (except the beer brittle) their sauces with wine are wonderful. There is tasting available.

          I love Whole Spices blends. The zhug is one of my favorites.

          I haven't checked out Oxbow produce since it moved to it's new location, but i'm guess that they carry lots of local products.

          The cheese merchant at Oxbow also carries some local jarred products that are good though at this time what they are I am blanking on.

          Hmmm ... seems I repeat this stuff a lot. Here's a list I'll start a list

          1. re: rworange

            >"Doesn't look like from the dates that the op will be here on a Saturday."

            Good thing he still has time to fix that :)

            Apparently, meyer lemons aren't easy to find in other parts of the country? The last
            couple of visitors I had both left with five pound sacks. Take them home, squeeze,
            and freeze in 1/2 cup amounts in baggies.

            1. re: Chuckles the Clone

              Meyer lemons are also grown in Florida. However rarely commercially (same as here), mostly backyard trees.

          2. re: Chuckles the Clone

            Sustainable is not just a meaningless marketing term to some of us.

            1. re: chemchef

              I think maybe he meant that it's a vague term that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and that is all too often being slapped on things for marketing purposes.

              In addition, there's more to food's sustainability than how it's raised, including how far you have to travel to get it. If you get in your car and drive to Marin and back to buy something "sustainable" at the farmer's market, that's really no more sustainable than buying conventionally raised food at a corner market. In fact, for people who are into "carbon footprints" a small farmer driving a small truck or van 100 miles or more round trip to sell at a farmers market has a larger carbon footprint than food that's being shipped much larger distances in mass containers.

              To me, when I think of "sustainable" I'm thinking more of the idea of sustain*ing* agriculture that sustain*able* agriculture. I believe it's important to support local agriculture for the health of society.

              To answer the original poster's question, I'd definitely browse through the shops in the Ferry Building, regardless of whether its farmers market day. Cowgirl Creamery, for example, sells it's own and other local cheeses, plus June Tayor jams and other local artisan products.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Thanks, Ruth. I agree. I just had to put in my 2 cents in response to Chuckles comment, as its a concept that I wholeheartedly stand behind.

          3. Another Ferry building recommendation: Frog Hollow Peach Preserves!

            4 Replies
            1. re: The Librarian

              Thanks all. By Sustainable I meant - can make it back to Ohio and doesn't need to be eaten within a week. :-)

              1. re: uhockey

                Sounds like salumi/salami to me to me. Maybe one that doesn't have national distribution.

                1. re: wolfe

                  In addition to Boccalone, Cowgirl carries Fra Mani.

                2. re: uhockey

                  Fatted Calf beef jerky is sustainable by any definition. But as far as I know requires a visit to the Berkeley or Ferry Plaza farmers markets on a Saturday, or a trip up to Napa. This is my favorite Fatted Calf product, and not just because it is sold in portions I can afford.

              2. Yet another Ferry Plaza pick. Rancho Gordo Beans.

                1 Reply
                1. Plain and simple See's friends back east love it when I bring them a box.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: energy

                    See's is a great idea. Never had anyone from east of the Rockies not like it. I guess that's why they have those stands at the airports. Before they opened a store in Hawaii, it was a must bring back item.

                    1. re: ML8000

                      So true. I have a friend who grew up in the Bay Area but now lives in Pennsylvania, and whenever I visit I'm tasked with bringing a custom-packed box of her favorites from See's. I don't know if they're "gourmet" enough for uhockey's tastes, though, unlike Recchuiti.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Haha, I sold See's as a cub scout to raise money so gourmet isn't possible and I don't think See's would ever cop to that word. International tastes however seem to like it, even sophisticated types. It's tricky stuff, simple recipes made perfectly with quality ingredients, a hi quality middle brow product.

                        I think people like them because they can eat 4-5 pieces, taste all the stuff and still not be grossed out but know you ate chocolate. Interesting to hear other theories.

                        1. re: ML8000

                          Excellent description. I know See's is very popular in Asia. I once heard that the highest volume See's was in Hawaii, which sold huge amounts to Japanese tourists to take back to Japan. The other thing about See's is that it never changes -- it still tastes the same as it did when I started frequenting it 30+ years ago. They've added things to their product line, but they don't mess with the existing products. The stores look the same, too. Classic.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            See's are big in Asia and Hawaii...which of course led to a store in HI. Interestingly enough I found that some Middle Easterners and Mediterraneans liked them as well with comments about balance and such. Overall a good product and a good value and yet very American in the production.

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Thanks for the backhanded compliment, chief.

                          FWIW, I've had See's previously - about 2 years ago in near Century City. If I remember correctly, it was actually pretty good. I think, though I might be mistaken, they had some diabetic-friendly peanut brittle there that I bought for a friend.

                          In all honestly, I was never a huge fan of "chocolates" in general until I tried the Rooster and Balsamico at Vosges, additionally the Blood Orange truffle at TRU was possibly the best chocolate I've ever tasted.

                          1. re: uhockey

                            Ferry Bldg- Stonehouse Olive oils- sample them all and save room in your luggage!