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May 15, 2009 11:29 AM

Need recommendations for the Sunday San Rafael Farmers Market

I went for the first time in a long time last Sunday and there were a lot of vendors I was unfamiliar with. So, who and what do you like?

Are there any produce vendors who stand out?

I don't believe I've tried Arrowsmith Farms.

I wasn't going home so I couldn't take advantage of meat and cheese vendors. I did like the taste of Bodega Aritsan Cheese.

How are Clucky Plucky chickens (Barrett Farms)? How are the eggs? The chickens are frozen which she said was necessary for health regulations. I wonder why Hoffman was able to sell unfrozen poultry so many years at Ferry Plaza.

I finally got to try Robert Lambert marmelade which the Napa Whole Foods in Napa. They are not inexpensive so I didn't want to commit for an unknown. However, I'd buy some of the unique flavors. He had some lovely preserved lemons Has anyone tried those?

I thought Just Like Grandma's jams were nice. She collects heirloom jam and jelly recipes and then makes them.

I also had plans to eat elsewhere. How is the organic dim sum stand?

I was glad to see Alive raw vegan cuisine. I wanted to try the SF restaurant, but given the category and location, it wasn't the highest on my list. This is more accesible. What's good there.

I know someone does great reports from time to time on this market, but I'm not finding them in search. Anyway, I think the last report was a while ago.

I didn't really have time to look at the whole market and just mainly did the perimiters. What else should I look for?

Sunday San Rafael Farmers Market
3501 Civic Center Dr, San Rafael, CA 94903

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  1. County Line Harvest has had some greens that I really liked that are finished now. Spigarello and Broccoli di Cicco. They are also in Berkeley on Saturdays and at Ferry Plaza on Tuesdays, but I find this time better. The County line referred to is Marin/Sonoma. There is a farm called Tomateros from the Santa Cruz area that sells a variety of vegetables. They had a good selection of tomatoes last year.

    The Bavarian bread place from Berkeley sells at this Market. There is a wood-burning pizza oven that looks good, Pizza Politano.

    As far as chickens, I have been buying Soul Food Chickens from Prather at the Thursday market. They are not frozen. They are expensive. I haven't looked on Sunday.

    1. I bought eggs from Barrett Farms last winter (that hat of hers is a riot) when Marin Sun Farms had run out. They were just fine and their prices are a little less than Marin Sun where I usually beeline to for my chicken and eggs. Marin Sun's eggs come in different colors, brown, white, blue, and their meats are not frozen.

      Just Like Grandma's Jams eventually inspired me to make my own, but for a while I was using them in my holiday thumbprint cookies. She has a pepper jelly that I really enjoyed.

      There is a Japanese vendor who sells strawberries. I don't know the name of the stand but last week he was located in the "middle" isle. I've seen him at SF Ferry Plaza so he get around, you might recognize him. The berries have always been very sweet and juicy.

      Another vendor sells heirloom varieties of dry farmed potatoes like german butterball, carola, kennebec, yellow finn, to name a few. Strike up a conversation with him and he'll tell you which ones hold up best for potato salad, smashed potatoes, etc.

      There is a seafood vendor kind of away from the other stalls. Huge variety of just about every fish you might want. I think they also do crab cakes and salmon cakes. In the past there has been someone beside them who does barbequed oysters. Have not tried those yet.

      I generally just shop early and run because it becomes too crowded for me. I rarely venture down the bakery and artists aisle because you have to fight your way through the lines for the coffee/tea, crepes, waffles, tamales, kettle corn and sausage stands. Don't get me wrong, I love the market but I'm not up for running an obstacle course on a Sunday morning.

      The market is pretty popular and is a draw for families to get out and enjoy the day. There are musicians playing great music, and the weather is almost always gorgeous. Once in a while I will get a cup of coffee or tea then head to the other side of the market where they have the RoliRoti Chicken, Venga Paella, etc., and listen to the music there where it is a little less congested.

      Parking can be a bit of a challenge at times, but if you don't want to wait for something to open up in the lot closest to the market (across the way), there is a gravel lot down the road. You can almost always find parking there.

      3 Replies
      1. re: AntarcticWidow

        Thanks for the tip about the potatoes. I saw them. They are Little Organic Farms who replaced Small Potatoes when they retired from Ferry Plaza. When I get down to FP, I haven't chatted with LOF, so I'll take advantage of that.

        I forgot about the paella stand. Anyone tried that?

        I'm so glad for that new Wednesday market in Point Richmond. There's only about 20 vendors, but some of the San Rafael vendors are there.

        1. re: rworange

          Ahh, thanks for the potato vendor name. I don't usually look, I just put produce, stall locations and faces together.

          There's a mushroom vendor who had some great looking morels last week. They've had chanterelles in the past, but I think their season is done for now.

          One more vendor: Peppahead. ( He sells different blends of chile powders. My favorite so far is the Dixon Red Chile. Has a nice, rounded chile flavor and is only a medium hot. I used to buy my powders from a chile/pepper vendor met at Marin FM, but she stopped a couple of years ago and does the FP

          1. re: rworange

            Little and Small Potatoes were actually there at the same time for a couple of years. They talked some about growing problems.

        2. If you want tomatoes then you need to check out Bruins. They are the best. They grow them in a hot house so they are always ready before anyone else's. They are by far the best tomatoes at the market. The sellers are also very friendly.

          1. Capay organic lettuce, Santa Rosa Fish market has great salmon burgers, $6 each or 4 or $20, get them early, they run out. Also, their peppered, smoked salmon is to die for. The Brickmaiden bread is good (wholewheat with sesame, or the ficelle), Panorama Bread has great open face breads topped with veggies and cheese, Brioche bakery has the best fruit danish and ciabatta rolls. At Bruins be sure to get the heirloom tomatoes, they are the best. This vendor leaves in midsummer. The organic dim sum is good, not so much their buns, but the paella is even better and a steal at $12 - loaded with seafood and served with greens. Also the oven baked pizza is phenomenal. Once corn is in season, the best is in the aisle by the pony rides, expensive but worth it. The asian farmers offer great snap peas, bok choy, leeks, thai basil, kohlrabi, etc.

            1. I love the dim sum stand. I have eaten most of the selections. Some of the clear wrappers are a little thick and the sticky rice in the leaf is hohum. The vegetarian stuffed pockets are great, I like the peashoot and goldfish dumplings and ah.. I can't remember any other specifics. I have never regretted any that I have bought. Nice people too and you can order ahead for bulk. I like the porchetta sandwich a lot. It is expensive and the vendor is a little manic but I was there for the sandwich. In the tomato season, I think the stand on the row closest to the building and first one on your left away from the parking lots has an outstanding variety, high quality and close to the lowest price. In past years, she will take orders for overripes and splits sold by the carton for about $8 if you feel like working at home after you shop. There is a small stand (same row, other side) that sells nice Belgian endive and those slim, seedless, dense and crisp cucumers, a woman with nice spice blends. (I like the z'atar) The stand run by (I think) a Hmong family has outstanding mint, greens, okra, herbs, bok choy etc is usually at the end of the second row by the food stands, very high quality.

              4 Replies
              1. re: tomatoaday

                On the organic dim sum stand, True Gourmet, have you ordered ahead for bulk? I emailed them to ask about a catering/order menu and didn't hear back. We tried their stuff at an outdoor event in San Francisco, and it left a very positive impression. Not cheap, but very good quality dumplings.

                1. re: SteveG

                  Tru Gourmet is allegedly at the Metreon farmers market too.

                  1. re: SteveG

                    I have been with a friend when she places her order (she eats them for lunch several timesa week) She has always ordered them from the nice woman manning the front and paid when she picks up the following week. Not major bulk though ~ maybe 15 pieces. I don't think there is any price reduction. Maybe now that they have 2 locations they will try to streamline advance orders. RW was smart asking for a business card ~ I'm not that smart at 8 am. One thing I like is that they have their food ready to go early so it makes a great breakfast. Now if someone would open an Asian soup counter, or jook bar, that would be great.

                    1. re: tomatoaday

                      At the Metreon there's at least a gumbo stand with ready to eat gumbo if you want to do fusion on the fly.