Why I love San Francisco’s Ferry Building

Market and Mission, two of San Francisco’s most famous streets, lead to the same jewel at the head of the Embarcadero – the Ferry Building. This beautiful structure, built over a hundred years ago, looks out onto a breathtaking expanse of bright blue sparkling water.  Ferry service continues to run North through the San Francisco Bay to Tiburon, Sausalito, Angel Island and Vallejo, as well as East, to Oakland and Alameda. Fortunately, public transport is not all this magical building has to offer. It is also an epicenter of gourmet food.

Purveyors of everything ranging from organic coffee to farm fresh fungi line the aisles of its spacious interior, attracting a good mix of faithful locals and inspired tourists. Tiny store fronts serving decadent gelato and delectable chocolate peek out from between larger shops selling cookware and recipe books. The Ferry Building’s flagship restaurant, the Slanted Door (one of my all-time favourites), caters to a higher-end crowd seeking haute Vietnamese cuisine and luscious cocktails. Taylor’s Automatic Refresher, the other gem of the building, is a San Francisco institution, serving up gourmet burgers, must-try sweet potato fries and an assortment of old-school milkshakes and lemonades.

As if this weren’t enough, every Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday, the Ferry Building outdoes itself by playing host to an outstanding Farmer’s Market. Stalls of fresh fruit, local vegetables, aromatic herbs and pretty flowers line the front of the building, while tents selling hot snacks and brunch specials squeeze together in the back. We tried sturgeon with capers, onions and cream cheese on a freshly baked baguette, followed by “korean tacos” comprising deliciously spiced minced kobe and sticky rice wrapped in seaweed paper and lastly, a cheese-free but melt-in-the-mouth delicious pumpkin lasagna. We also picked up a few items from the vast range of regional artisan specialties including cheese, jams, sauces as well as olive oils, specialty salts and cured meats.

A huge fan of local produce and Farmer’s Markets, I only wish New York or Boston would follow suit. After being spoiled by two wonderful years of Borough and Old Spitalfields Market, I’ve struggled to find similar wonders in US cities. Ithaca Farmer’s Market, held every weekend in upstate NY, is surprisingly good and extremely popular amongst tourists and Cornell students alike. Are you listening Boston?

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