San Francisco is a food-lover’s city. Many will attest that it represents the most exciting and energetic food system in America. Over here, organic food is HUGE, supported by a dynamic organic farming movement. During my short time here, I see that if the food isn’t organic, it probably won’t sell as well. Artisan products strut side by side with their organic cousins ”“ these are products which utilize traditional American or European methods to attain a superior product.
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
This city’s love affair with their food is embodied in the numerous farmers markets, the most notable of which is the one held at the Ferry Plaza. Held four days a week, I went there on a Saturday, which I’m told is the best day to go. The market is held both in front of the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero and on the rear plaza overlooking the Bay.
The first thing I saw at the market was this nice man freely giving out orange slices. “You’re going to get full from all the samples here at the market,” my friend and host, Bobbie, tells me.
Like the foodie let loose that I am, I snap photos of things that catch my eye and foods that I love, like these tomatoes. Whether they be a fruit or a vegetable, this is beauty itself. And look at those well-formed stems!
Just like bell peppers, tomatoes go through various color stages before becoming their characteristic red.
In the Philippines, squash is squash or kalabasa. It’s one of my favorite vegetables, although I particularly favor butternut squashes. These are terrific drizzled with a little butter and honey before roasting which brings out its inherent sweetness.
My love for eggs is well-documented in this blog. They are also one of the things I most love to photograph. I saw these different-colored eggs and felt the love again. As you know, all eggs pretty much taste the same although the color of the shell will differ depending on the chicken’s diet.
This is Bobbie, San Francisco denizen, my host around her proud city, and my good friend of 18 years. Wow Bobs, has it really been that long?
Lemons are a luxury in Manila. A small one will cost between P13-15. The ones pictured here are Meyer lemons, which are rounder and smoother than most commercial lemons. Its aromatic juice is also sweeter and less sour. These are excellent in pie.
I’m attracted to the various colors here. What wonder.
Another of my favorite vegetables (hmm, do we sense a trend here?), and perhaps the most versatile. Potatoes are classified according to their starch content and their “mealy-ness,” ”“ some are more suited for cooking or baking or just for eating.
Dates, the edible kind. Great for food for the gods. It’s a thrill to see so many varieties, and they all taste so different too.
To try double cream Brie is on my “must eat!” list for this trip. Surprise, I get to try triple-cream Brie! It tastes like a rich, rich cream cheese, a delight in its own right, but I feel that the unique character of Brie is consumed in all that cream. I appreciate how I am given a sample of each cheese that I express interest in.
Scharffen Berger Chocolate Factory
The air around the Scharffen Berger chocolate factory smells like chocolate. It’s earthy and intoxicating. One of America’s premier chocolatiers, Scharffen Berger are ”˜first-tier chocolate manufacturers:’ they execute every step of the manufacturing process, from sourcing the best beans to molding the bars. The chocolate is made in small batches employing artisan manufacturing methods.
Scharffen Berger’s factory in Berkeley is a chocolate mecca for grown-ups; it includes a retail store, a chocolate café, and of course, the factory.
As I was puttering dizzyingly around the store, (too much chocolate! too much chocolate!) Bobbie comes up to me and excitedly whispers, “Psst, Ijust signed us up for the chocolate tour!”
The first part of the tour is a sit-down which includes a presentation about the history of cacao, how and where cacao is grown and processed, the history of Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, and a tasting of Scharffen Berger chocolates. The second part of the program is a brief walking tour of the factory. Here’s what we saw:
Scharffen Berger carefully roasts the cacao beans by country of origin and blends them to create unique and unusual flavor profiles that bring out the best chocolate flavor.
Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker
914 Heinz Avenue Berkeley, CA 94710
Café Cacao at Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker
Of course after seeing how the chocolate was made, we were more than hankering to get our teeth into some chocolate.
There’s something so reverent about a café devoted to a particular item, more so if it’s chocolate. After more than an hour of my senses being caressed by the smoky earthiness of chocolate, it was time for …
Hot chocolate! Yes, it looks pale, no? In a mecca of chocolate, I thought that this cup of chocolate would encapsulate the entire character of chocolate, its indefinable flavors and nuances. Hmm, not quite. This hot chocolate did have an intense chocolate flavor, but it was watery and almost too sweet. Sigh. I longed for a pastry among the many that were calling my name, but alas, I had no room in my stomach. Even this dessert lover knows when to surrender.
Café Cacao at Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker
914 Heinz Avenue, Berkeley CA 94710