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Quest for amazing ingredients in SF

miss louella Feb 23, 2014 01:28 PM

Hi all, I'm on a quest for amazing ingredients I can get in San Francisco. I'll be hitting the Ferry bldg farmer's market, of course, but I'm also interested in non-produce that's available further afield.

For example:

-fresh rice noodles from Kun Wo Food Product (2939 16th St, San Francisco, CA)

-fresh milled flours from Josey Baker Bread/The Mill (736 Divisadero Street. San Francisco, CA 94117 (415) 345-1953)

I'm a bit too squeamish to be looking for live animals, but otherwise am super open to possibilities. (I like these ingredient quests to open new culinary doors for me, so it doesn't matter if I've used it or heard of it before.)

Thanks so much for sharing the delights of your city!

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  1. g
    GH1618 RE: miss louella Feb 23, 2014 02:43 PM

    Mama Lil's goathorn peppers are sold at Boccalone in the Ferry Building under their private label.

    1 Reply
    1. re: GH1618
      miss louella RE: GH1618 Feb 23, 2014 05:39 PM

      These sound delicious, thanks!

    2. m
      mlutsky RE: miss louella Feb 23, 2014 04:31 PM

      pickled green beans from local mission market.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mlutsky
        miss louella RE: mlutsky Feb 23, 2014 05:40 PM

        Yum! Now I've got Local Mission Market on my radar. Also added Rainbow and Bi-Rite. Any others I should know about?

        1. re: miss louella
          miss louella RE: miss louella Mar 6, 2014 10:45 PM

          I found Rainbow market a fun mix of people and products. Was sort of overwhelmed so I didn't end up buying too much, but wanted to report that the Guisto polenta is really wonderful. I don't know how they mill the grain, but whatever they do makes for a really nice (to me) mix of fine and coarse so the polenta itself is amazingly smooth and nicely textured at the same time. Fantastic. Crave worthy. I need more.

      2. possumspice RE: miss louella Feb 23, 2014 07:41 PM

        I like Hodo Soy's products, particularly their yuba and the braised tofu (if you have the time, their factory tour is really fun).

        Tons of sources for great farm-fresh eggs. I believe this is the most complete thread on that topic:

        Also love Gioia burrata, which is made in the the greater L.A. area, but is available at places like Cowgirl Creamery, Bristol Farms in the mall, and occasionally Bi Rite.

        Oh, also a fan of Sinto Kimchi. You can find it at Whole Foods and Rainbow. Speaking of which, I also like Bubbies sauerkraut from the bulk bin at Rainbow, which somehow seems tastier than the jarred version, but maybe it's my imagination?

        4505 Meats is well worth a visit. They have an outpost near 16th and Mission (easily combined with a trip to Kun Wo) that's open 7 days a week.

        1 Reply
        1. re: possumspice
          miss louella RE: possumspice Feb 24, 2014 03:08 PM

          Wow, thanks so much! I had no idea there was a Hodo Soy tour. (Turns out they're putting a hold on tours from March to June 2014, so I'll miss that, but some other time!)

          Gonna hit 4505 for sure and will be exploring Rainbow (repeatedly, I bet).

          I better walk to all these places to work off some of the deliciousness. :-)

        2. Robert Lauriston RE: miss louella Feb 24, 2014 09:03 AM

          Some places with products I haven't seen elsewhere:

          Rainbow Grocery - SF
          Le Sanctuaire - SF (appointment only)
          The Pasta Shop - Oakland & Berkeley
          Spanish Table - Berkeley & Mill Valley

          3 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            miss louella RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 24, 2014 03:05 PM

            Thanks so much! I'd never heard of Le Sanctuaire--looks like I should bring a couple of friends to make the appointment worthwhile for the store.

            1. re: miss louella
              Robert Lauriston RE: miss louella Feb 24, 2014 03:47 PM

              I believe they're there anyway, handling mail orders and whatnot.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                miss louella RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 26, 2014 03:55 PM

                Probably so, but I don't just want to make an appointment and gawk--better to bring along friends who will gasp and purchase while I take the time I need to assimilate what's there. And probably go back later when I have an idea of what to do. Thanks again for the rec!

          2. wolfe RE: miss louella Feb 24, 2014 11:35 AM

            Multiple Eastern European cured meats.

            2 Replies
            1. re: wolfe
              miss louella RE: wolfe Feb 24, 2014 03:05 PM


              1. re: miss louella
                davidg1 RE: miss louella Feb 27, 2014 12:51 AM

                And everything else Russian (and Russian-Armenian) - Royal Market.

            2. s
              SFGourmande RE: miss louella Feb 24, 2014 03:19 PM

              Harissa spice mix at Rainbow. Mix it with good olive oil, lemon juice, and minced garlic into a liquidy paste for a fabulous (and hard to find in the States) condiment. Reminds me that i have to get more... Yum!

              Oh - and check out Olivier's butcher shop in Dog Patch. He has French-style everything. Very good!

              2 Replies
              1. re: SFGourmande
                davidg1 RE: SFGourmande Feb 27, 2014 12:57 AM

                For Middle Eastern stuff, especially spices, Samiramis on Mission St. They have, like, 4 different kinds of Za'atar in bulk and tons of other stuff. (And it happens to be a couple of doors from Old Jerusalem, the best Middle Eastern restaurant in SF by a million miles. Really).

                1. re: davidg1
                  Robert Lauriston RE: davidg1 Feb 27, 2014 09:46 AM

                  That place never seems very busy. I'm wary of buying herbs and other spices where freshness matters from places that are that quiet.

                  If you want really amazing za'atar, get fresh herbs and grind your own.

              2. Robert Lauriston RE: miss louella Feb 24, 2014 03:52 PM

                For a cook, Brundo in Berkeley is a good source for all the North African spices you'd need to make your own harissa.

                Some generally well-stocked spice shops are Lhasa Karnak in Berkeley, Penzey's in Menlo Park, Oaktown Spice Shop in Oakland, and for Indian spices Santos in San Leandro or Milan International in Berkeley (same owners).

                1. f
                  foodeye RE: miss louella Feb 25, 2014 10:25 AM

                  While at the Ferry Building, be sure to see what is in the Larder at Bouli Bar (formerly known as Boulette's) - here is a not very current listing: http://bouletteslarder.com/menus/menu...

                  1. r
                    Ridge RE: miss louella Feb 25, 2014 03:39 PM

                    I am sure I will think of other things.

                    Like Marin sun farms

                    I love Poco Dulce chocolate squares. Local. Not overly sweet (poco dulce translates to a little sweet). The chili flavor is my favorite:


                    Lots of good foodie stuff in the East Bay:

                    Fifth quarter charcuterie:


                    Phoenix pasta:


                    Berkeley cheeseboard:


                    Mushrooms from the Monterey market:


                    Seafood from Tokyo fish market:


                    9 Replies
                    1. re: Ridge
                      Robert Lauriston RE: Ridge Feb 25, 2014 04:42 PM

                      Speaking of pasta, if you make your own, Monterey Market has 00 pasta flour in bulk. Most places don't know the difference and stock only 00 bread flour.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        miss louella RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 26, 2014 03:59 PM

                        I haven't made my own before, but I've been tempted... may just do it now. (I didn't know there was a difference between the pasta 00 and the bread 00...)

                        1. re: miss louella
                          Robert Lauriston RE: miss louella Feb 26, 2014 04:21 PM

                          00 is about how the flour is milled. 00 bread flour is made from higher-protein wheat than 00 pasta flour.

                      2. re: Ridge
                        Ridge RE: Ridge Feb 25, 2014 09:09 PM

                        You will enjoy the Saturday ferry building farmers market. A couple of things to check out there:

                        Near the back of the market there are these people that make the most amazing lox and smoked fish. It's extremely pricy, so much so that I only buy it a couple of times a year. But it's amazing stuff. Haven't gotten it in a while.

                        On Saturday I got some Tierra hot sauces. These folks are in the middle of the market next to Marin sun farms. Their hot sauces are complex and full of flavor and last Saturday you could taste them all. They had several different kinds made with different peppers. We purchased the Aji which was peppery with passion fruit notes and the Jamaican habanero which had had carmized sweet potatoe notes.

                        1. re: Ridge
                          Robert Lauriston RE: Ridge Feb 26, 2014 08:48 AM

                          Tierra is tops for dried chiles and in season fresh ones.

                          1. re: Ridge
                            miss louella RE: Ridge Feb 26, 2014 04:01 PM

                            Yum! I will make a point of finding the amazing lox and smoked fish. I'm generally a cheapskate, but happily splurge for amazing.

                            I've sampled the Tierra sauces at the well-stocked home of friends, but would LOVE to sample the lot. My middle name could be side-by-side taste comparison if it wasn't so unwieldy.

                            1. re: Ridge
                              miss louella RE: Ridge Mar 1, 2014 02:52 PM

                              Biked to the farmers market today. I went toward the end of the day, hoping to find bargains and sparser crowds. Sadly, no end-of-day bargains.

                              Located the smoked fish and lox place you were talking about; I will save those purchases for when I have (dear) friends coming.

                              Also went to Tierra and wound up getting some Rio Zape beans to cook up to go with my home ground/home made corn tortillas. And some White Gold Tepary Pebble beans because I've never seen them before. They're small--look kind of like oblong lentils--and are supposed to really hold their shape and have a sweet/nutty flavor. Anyone ever sample them?

                              Thanks--so fun to explore the City one bite (ok many bites) at a time!

                              1. re: miss louella
                                miss louella RE: miss louella Mar 3, 2014 01:14 PM

                                Well, I think the Rio Zape beans were pearls before swine (oink oink). Yes, they had a nice creaminess and a smooth beaniness and an all-over richness. But I'm not sure they're worth spending 5-7 times what beans cost at my local market...

                                But glad I had the experience and I'll keep hunting/harvesting!

                            2. re: Ridge
                              miss louella RE: Ridge Feb 26, 2014 03:58 PM

                              Wow, Poco Dulce sounds riiiight up my alley! Thanks. In fact, your recommendations could be the basis for a pretty fabulous dinner... Not sure I want to explain to my dinner guests that the Ridge dinner is inspired by an invisible food friend though. Thanks again!

                            3. d
                              davidg1 RE: miss louella Feb 27, 2014 01:00 AM

                              And of course Sunset Super on Irving or on Vicente, and New May Wah on Clement are the big Chinese supermarkets in town.

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