There is Ferry Plaza.
There is the Ferry Building.
There is the Ferry Building Marketplace.
There is the Farmers' Market on Ferry Plaza.
Ferry ferry ferry ferry! They are all different. They're in the same place, but they are different.
The Ferry Building is the physical building, which sits on, and is surrounded by, Ferry Plaza. The Ferry Building Marketplace is a permanent fixture inside the Ferry Building. The Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market is the outdoor farmers' market on Ferry Plaza that takes place a few days out of the week. None of the above should be confused with either Ferry Corsten the DJ, or with the tooth fairy. (Does saying "ferry" out loud sound weird now to anyone else other than me?)
So, now that all of that is squared away in your notes, let's talk about the Muni. (Naturally!)
We got a wee bit of a late start the morning after bouncing around Ruby Skye for longer than necessary, then bouncing around the streets surrounding Union Square, looking for our hotel. In fact, we can't really call it the "morning after" since it was long past lunchtime when we actually rolled ourselves out of bed. We were dehydrated, achy, sore, but with, you know, that "afterglow." :)
Our day's destination was the Ferry Building, but we had several transportation options from which to choose. Given that our feet had been through the techno wringer already, and that the Ferry Building is more than 10 blocks, i.e. 698 miles, from Union Square, we ditched the idea of walking. We could have hopped into a cab, or even taken BART. I am BART savvy; it's not like I went to Stanford, you know. *points to head* In the end, we decided to brave the Muni. The Muni is San Francisco's bus system.
"Brave" is the term I use, not because the Muni has freaky weird people on it and "braving" it is the way one "braves" LA's Metro Rapid. I say "brave" because though I know BART, I have only used the Muni once before in my life, and at that time, I was given highly detailed instructions on what to do - what side of the street to be on, where to stand, what color, number and letter to look for, the travel time give or take 30 seconds, the name, address and SSN of the driver. When we asked the Concierge how to get to the Ferry Buidling, he said, "Muni. F Line." Right. Then I asked again, how? He looked at me as if I had just stepped out of the rice paddy in my highwaters and Chinaman straw cone hat. "Eff liii-n." Ah. Ten q berry motch.
Our adorable orange antique Muni bus/trolley was illegal refugee-ly packed. Luckily, our ride was short. It's not to say that I didn't enjoy the fifteen minutes pressed up against a 13-year-old anorexic runaway trembling from lack of *ahem* medication on one side, an overweight German tourist couple on the other side, and fearing for the lives of two toddlers playing an aggressive game of "tail" with the seeing eye dog across the walkway. I was just excited to get the hell out of there. Oops, I meant "to see the Ferry Building." Almost half the riders were disembarking at the Ferry Building stop, which is across the street. I clutched my bag to my body and kept my hand gripped onto my camera in my pocket as my body just naturally flowed out with the wave of people and eventually plopped out onto the sidewalk.
The sight of the Ferry Building surrounded by the Bay took my breath away. It's not like I haven't seen the Ferry building or the Bay before. Though I didn't live in the City, I saw the Bay from the City-side at least twice a week while I was at Cal. But the sight of the clock tower against a bright blue sky as someone who only gets to see it once in a while makes it special. Everyone else clamored to get across the street while the red hand was still flashing, but I had to stop. I just stared.
*sigh* I miss the Bay area.
The Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market takes place four days a week. Tuesday and Saturday morning are year-round; Thursday evening and Sunday morning take place seasonally. We decided to stroll through the farmers' market and enjoy the outdoors before heading inside the building.
Saturday mornings seem to be the busiest (we did go back the next day and it wasn't as crowded). We scurried around the side of the Ferry building to see everything out back. Like all farmers' markets, there are a several vendors that offer cooked food to eat and enjoy while shopping (not that I didn't enjoy all the samples of citrus, tomatoes, and cheese while shopping!). I was tickled to see that Rose Pistola was still there, and I paused for a moment to remember a long-ago dinner in the restaurant sitting at the bar, flipping through the cookbook at home, marking pages, and promising to myself that someday I would make the shaved baby artichoke salad.
We picked our way through the produce stalls, and though the offerings weren't as abundant nor as vibrant in late spring as it is during the high season of summer, the fruits and vegetables were still sexy in every way to me.
It took every ounce of discipline to not buy them up left and right, without an idea in my head of what to make, only the faith that the freshness and quality alone would serve as inspiration in the kitchen later. As I always do, I grabbed a handful of lumpy, bumpy fava beans and hissed "a nice chianti." It's so si
lly, but I can't help it. Lemons laughed out loud in sunshine yellow, tomatoes screamed every shade of fire, and I fondled Italian zucchini and tiny white eggpplants in the most obscene way possible.
I just about fell over when we ran into the table for the Fatted Calf. I looked the at the man behind the table straight in the eye and whispered "This is the Fatted Calf." He replied in the most serious tone he could muster for someone who just stated the painfully obvious, "Yes, yes it is." He must have thought I was on an outing from the local insanity ward. I couldn't help it. The Fatted Calf! The one about which fellow food bloggers from the Bay Area write and the one about which I read all the time. Standing there in front of the table covered with perfect red and white gingham check, admiring the sausages, the little jars of pretty salt, the vacuum packed meats secured away on a small table in the back, I had a feeling that is difficult to describe. It's like... IMing and emailing and txting with your friends about some totally rad guy that everyone has a omg! maaaaajor crush on, and he ends up walking into the pizza place where you work.
While the eye shopping was fun, though the slightest bit disappointing with back to back to back realizations that I couldn't buy anything to take home and cook, the real exhilaration came when we decided to eat something for lunch on the Plaza. Yes, of course there would be a world of tasty tidbits inside the Ferry Buidling, but we wanted to buy something, sit on the benches facing the Bay, and enjoy the moment. Rose Pistola rolled off my tongue first because that is what memory and familiarity do to you, but we ended up at Hayes Street Grill.
It was a $9 crabcake sandwich. It was on a simple white bread that had been grilled and generously smeared with nothing more than tartar sauce. We were sitting on a dirty, stained bench surrounded by germ-infested squawking seagulls. Any other day, I would have noticed, but after strolling through the farmers' market and now gazing upon the Bay Bridge, I only noticed that there sure were a lot of sailboats out there.
Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market
One Ferry Building (on the Plaza)
San Francisco, CA 94111
Saturday 8AM - 2PM
** a year ago today, asian kitchen is a misnomer **