Monday, February 13, 2006

The Ferry Building and Fisherman's Wharf - San Francisco

My boyfriend, Chad, came up to Napa again this weekend, and instead of an intricately planned out road trip spanning three counties, we took the ferry from Vallejo to the San Francisco Ferry Building. I knew that once there, we could just walk around wherever the spirit moved us; Fisherman's Wharf is about a 20 min walk away.

The ferry, by the way, is fantastic. Not only is it comfortable and smooth, but for $17 and free parking in Vallejo, you get a pass for full day ferry use (one way is $10). You save yourself the stress of driving (narrow, hilly streets w/ small signs) and parking ($$$) in SF. $34 for two is probably even less than gas and parking in SF.

I also planned our visit to coincide with the Farmers Market outside the Ferry Building, which itself is a treasure trove of artisanal food purveyors of surrounding counties -- it was like an all star game for me after reading about all these companies, and seeing their stores all neatly tucked into the building.

I bought a donut muffin from the Downtown Bakery and Creamery in Healdsburg I've heard the stuff of legends about the bakery, but this muffin was awfully dry with a poorly proportioned cinnamon and sugar mixture on the outside. The bakery remains on my hit list nonetheless.
Although booths encircled the entire Ferry Building, there's only so much that can be produce in the winter.... pretty much potatoes and citrus. There were also cheeses, spreads, honeys, etc.
And almond blossoms...
And butter...
I found Point Reyes Blue Cheese to buy from the source! It was very tangy and strong. Good, but I still have cheese from last weekend, so I didn't get any.
Inside the Ferry Building, Peet's Coffee won the longest line contest.
A permanent mushroom store.
I got a star anise-pink peppercorn truffle and a grapefruit tarragon truffle at Recchiuti Confections. The latter was a predominantly tarragon ganache with a candied grapefruit peel on top, while the former had an elusive licorice and more flavor. Both melted nicely on the tongue. I was surprised by their, um, rustic appearance, but it works. The LATimes had two great CA chocolate articles this week, which includes this company. Read 'em before you have to pay for 'em.
It was just about lunchtime, and this was probably one of the hardest choices I've ever made in my life--the buffalo tacos? Oyster Po' Boy? Lamb sausage sandwich? Something from the Japanese Deli? Something in the Slanted Door, a Vietnamese restaurant? Scrambled eggs and bacon on a baguette? Cheese? Cookies?

We chose Rose Pistola and Rose's Cafe, and I got the Hawaiian Tombo Tuna w/ fennel, arugala, and aioli on that kind of cakey, buttery bread that is sooooo good. It was a great sandwich--and even with a green and white theme-- that was made even better by not being made of boring seared tuna. This tuna was a rich white fully cooked tuna that was just excellent. Chad got the pork sandwich with salsa verde. The odd name comes from melding the name of their two eateries -- an Italian restaurant in the North Beach area and a cafe in the Cow Hollow area..
An old-fashioned cupcake from Miette, an organic pastry shop in the building. It starts out cakey but practically melts into fudge in your mouth. Just perfect.
And a grapefruit macaron, which was probably the best macaron I've had in the US. Light as air, and barely chewy at the end, with a fresh grapefruit tang. Also one of the more rustic I've seen.
I liked Miette a lot, and even approve of their aesthetic--elegant and casual, and nothing annoying like a star tip in sight.
We then walked along the piers to Fisherman's Wharf, which has areas that are much more of a theme park rendition of a waterfront. Bubba Gump. Hard Rock. Fudge. NO pictures of that.
But I do love the strip of seafood booths that look like this one.
And cook their food like this.
It's exciting to walk through and be a part of this sea of people where everyone carries at least one red and white paper basket full of seafood chunks, fries, or a bread bowl filled with soup. Combined with a beer pulled out of one of the ice buckets, it's a great idea for lunch.
There's also the original bushman, who scares people, poses for pic's, and amuses me to no end.
The flagship Boudin Bakery also resides here. They've been making sourdough--from the same maintained starter--since 1849. They recently renovated this building, into a 27,000 square foot... well... bread themepark, including a museum.
They sell 20 different kinds of breads, and arrange some into amusing shapes, while baskets of bread float around from tracks on the ceiling
From the sidewalk, you can even watch the bakers shape dough. If you've been harboring things you want to say to a baker, here's your chance to let it out.
We turned around and walked back to the Ferry Building after going inland a couple streets. I was glad that these two people found each other.
A cute little park with jumpin' stones.
We had some time to spare before our ferry back, so we just sat on a bench and admired the view.


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