Life gets busy… and you realize you haven’t traveled anywhere in a very long time. I enlisted my Mom over lunch one day to go on a weekend adventure. The goal was to go somewhere that was farther away than driving, like Vancouver BC or Portland. She hadn’t been to San Francisco in years, and I hadn’t either. There are certain cities that make you feel comfortable, like an old friend. Or maybe it’s more the fond memories you make, you apply to a location. Either way, we were on our way.
I have to include a note about Anthony Bourdain because the news of his death that morning brought a grey cloud that followed me throughout our weekend adventure, and longer. I thought about him everywhere we visited, and his familiar voice echoed in my head, “If I’m an advocate for anything it’s to move. As far as you can… as much as you can… Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.” My only hope is that he had a sense of how much he meant to all of us.
We stayed at the Hyatt Regency, I’m so thankful that we did. The service was amazing and we spent a lovely weekend in a room with a patio, and many hours wandering the beautiful food vendors and Saturday Farmers Market across the street.
Inside the Ferry Building, the combined smell of warm bread, fresh cheese, herbs, boutique chocolate, pastries, produce and flowers was captivating. We wandered through all the vendors that were tastefully curated and impeccably displayed. The beautiful ceiling flood the vendors with natural light, giving off a spacious, warm feeling.
We smiled when the first store we saw was called Far West Fungi. A one stop shop for everything mushrooms? If this was what we had in-store in terms of quality, we were very excited.
One of our favorites was a gorgeous shop called The Gardener. It is incredibly curated. We picked up some white sage, a vintage style map of SF, and enjoyed the cookbooks, textiles, jewelry, and fresh smelling artisanal soaps. Check out their other locations here.
The smell of cheese pulled us into Cowgirl Creamery. How can you pick a cheese here? We settled on a sampler to-go plate with three cheeses, marcona almonds, olives and a few mini jars of Fig and Black tea jam. (I really wish I would have bought 10 more.) And yes, we did enjoy on our patio with a glass of wine while we watched the sunset.
Heath Ceramics, one of the few remaining mid-century American potteries, has been making tableware and tile for over a half-century in its Sausalito, California factory. It’s beautifully crafted, my Mom shared it was also her first dinnerware when she married my Dad and they still own and use it over forty years later.
There are so many more vendors to enjoy including a Wine shop and tasting room, Blue Bottle coffee, bakeries and tea houses- there’s something for everyone. You can check out the Ferry Building’s Instagram @ferry_building
I had done some research in advance for a place to have lunch. I decided on Boulettes Larder, at the southeast side of the Ferry building. They have two rooms to choose from, both beautiful, the open air kitchen faces the Bay Bridge.
We were seated outside on the patio with a view of the expansive and colorful Saturday Farmers Market at their back door. Their freshly printed menus on beautiful paper were presented, and we were informed the menu changes daily, everything was organic, sustainable and locally sourced from Northern California. We enjoyed the iced hibiscus tisane, which is like a tea but an infusion of hisbicus. It was lovely and refreshing. The service was friendly and kind.
We started with the Muhammara and fresh baked pita which was unlike any that I’ve had. Muhammara is a Middle eastern puree that is a wonderful mezze to start, made with roasted red peppers, walnut, black pepper and pomegranate syrup. The pita was freshly baked, chewy, warm and delicious.
We also enjoyed an Eastern Mediterranean salad with bulgur, faro, cucumber, purslane, pumpkin seeds, barberries, pomegranate molasses, red wine vinaigrette and Za’atar, and a glass of a local California Cabernet.
Other noteworthy items on the menu that made it hard to choose included a Circassian chicken salad with walnuts, dates and and toasted spices, and Poached eggs with toasted walnut muhammara and Tunisian harissa. I would have snatched up a cookbook had the chefs had one…
The server and hostess both walked us to the door, wishing us a warm departure when we left. I commented how wonderful that was as most restaurants miss the opportunity to say goodbye and thanks. I highly recommend a visit when you’re in town. Mark Bittman, writing in The New York Times, said breakfast at Boulettes Larder may have been the best breakfast he ever had. Check out their Instagram @bouletteslarder
We were impressed with the size of the Saturday Farmers Market. It’s widely acclaimed for both the quality and diversity of its fresh farm products, artisan and prepared foods- and renowned throughout the country as one of the top farmers markets to visit. Some of SF’s best known chefs, and famous farmers can be seen at the market, rolling chefs carts throughout. I loved sneaking a peek at the carts to see what goods they had chosen.
“My weekly visist to the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market brings rhythm and meaning to my life.“- Alice Waters, Owner, Chez Panisse.
The rest of the afternoon was spent walking around the city and uphill to North Beach where we enjoyed a well-earned cold beer in an Italian Cafe before a visit to the landmark City Lights bookstore.
We circled back to the our hotel where we had a picnic dinner on the patio and shooting some night photos before ending the day.
There are so many more neighborhoods in the city to explore, this spot I’d recommended for food lovers. What’s your favorite spot in San Francisco?
Sharing photo credit with my Mom, Deb Hunt – Summerhunt Design (website to come.)