March 16, 2007
One Ferry Building
San Francisco, California 94111
The Gastronomer: The Ferry Building, located on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, is truly a gastronomic paradise. The Marketplace brings together local farmers, artisan producers, and independently owned and operated food businesses under one architecturally beautiful roof. The Astronomer and I felt like little kids in a candy store and wanted to try a bit of everything.
The Astronomer: It was a rare sunny day in San Francisco, and the quality of the food was on par with the quality of the weather. Our first hour was spent perusing the available options and consuming as many free samples as possible. The number of vendors was somewhat smaller than at Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, but nearly every stand looked like it would offer an ideal lunch. I decided that the wisest approach would be to order small dishes from several different vendors.
The Gastronomer: Our first stop was at Japanese Deli – DELICArf-1. I ordered a lunch plate with two salads and one main entree ($9). For one of my salads, I chose the Hijiki and Soybean Salad – Hijiki mixed with dried soybeans, edamame, konnyaku, daikon, wild mizuna, fried tofu, and kuko (wolfberry). For my second salad, I chose the Spicy Burdock and Lotus Root Salad – a spicy mix of braised burdock, lotus roots, and konnyaku (mountain potato) tossed with thin slices of white onion, celery, julienne carrots, and wild mizuna. Both salads were vegan. For my main entree, I went with the Tofu & Chicken Patty with Hijiki – Free-range chicken and organic tofu patty with hijiki seaweed and carrot served in a sweet soy sauce. My Japanese lunch plate was fresh and flavorful. The salads were out of this world, I really need more seaweed in my life. I kept thinking as I was eating that this is what food should be–healthy, delicious, and creative!
The Astronomer: I began my four course adventure by ordering two fried items, the Potato Croquette ($1.50/ea) — delicately fried Russet and Yukon gold potato and sautéed onion croquette and the Sweet & Spicy Chicken ($1.25/ea) — marinated chicken, lightly fried, served with sweet & spicy sauce. These were petite, but well worth the price. The chicken had just the right amount of flavor. The potato croquette reminded me of a crab cake–it was lightly breaded and balanced the chicken nicely. The Gastronomer thought the croquette tasted like an onion ring.
The Astronomer: To compliment my Japanese appetizers, I stopped by Acme Bread Company and ordered a ham and cheese croissant. It was an entirely different flavor–powerfully cheesy, but also deeply sensual. For around $3, it was quite a deal.
The Gastronomer: For my first dessert, I went for a Chocolate Croissant ($2). The croissant was perfectly flaky, I enjoyed peeling away each layer and having them melt individually in my mouth. In the end, I was left with lots of chocolate and only a thin layer of croissant, which was completely decadent.
The Astronomer: My search for desert took me to the Miette Patisserie, where the chocolate madeleine ($0.75) looked irresistible. I also ordered a miniature creme fraiche scone ($0.50). We ate our desserts outside in the sun–the madeleine was delicious, much like a slice of my favorite chocolate poundcake, and the scone also hit the spot. What could be better than chocolate with cream? Perhaps chocolate with cream and fruit.
The Gastronomer: Even though we were both pretty stuffed after our first round of desserts, we decided to go all out and have some gelato too! We ordered the smallest size with two flavors–I chose Dulce de Leche and The Astronomer chose Blueberry. We asked for separate cups because blueberry and caramel do not mix well. The Caramel was good, but nearly melted. The overly soft texture sadly took away from the flavor. However, I did appreciate Ciao Bella’s authentic Italian square spoons!
The Astronomer: I ordered a scoop of blueberry, which actually tasted like it had been made with real berries. Delightful.
The Astronomer: All in all, I would highly recommend the Ferry Building for those in search of a tasty and economical lunch, a sampling of champagne and caviar, the world’s most fibrous pancakes, or simply a nice walk along an avenue overflowing with pleasant aromas.
The Gastronomer: If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the Bay Area, do your tastebuds a favor and head to the Ferry Building.