Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, San Francisco, Calif.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


This market sets up every Saturday morning around the perimeter of the historic Ferry Building (whose clock tower is visible in the picture above), right on the San Francisco Bay waterfront, a short distance from the Bay Bridge. It is one of California’s biggest and best. Dozens of farmers come to this year-round market from an astonishingly wide range of growing climates — from the sizzling hot Central Valley (where today the temperature will top 105 degrees) to the cool, foggy coastal plains south and north of the city (where today the temperature might barely make it into the 70s). That, as well as the culinary sophistication and cultural diversity of the clientele, certainly contributes to the diversity of the fresh produce that can be found here.

– Mark Thompson

Ferry Building
The Embarcadero
San Francisco, Calif.
Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
(415) 291-3276

slide show

What I Bought

(clockwise from top left) Costoluto Genovese, Lemon Boy, Purple Calabash and Copia tomatoes
Price: $2-3.50/lb.

I was shopping today with a plan to make a towering, multi-colored pyramid of sliced tomatoes for a large dinner party at a friend’s house tonight. So I was looking for as many sizes, shapes and colors of tomatoes as I could find. By the end of my market visit, I had 16 varieties in all, including the four above, which are from Eatwell Farm. Heavily lobed tomatoes generally aren’t the best bets for slicing and eating raw, because they’ve got so much skin. But they’re so exotic looking, I couldn’t resist buying a few. The others I bought (some of which are pictured below), included Kentucky Beef, Anna Russian, Flame Orange, Sungella, Stupice (favored on foggy coastal farms), Tiger Tom, Vintage Wine, Ivory Pear, Sweet Jolly, Big Rainbow and Hippy Zebra.

Rossa di Milano spring onions
Price: $1.50/bunch

flat-leaf parsley, rosemary, oregano, basil
Price: $1-1.50/bunch

Tokyo turnips, Middle Eastern cucumbers
Price: $2/bunch for turnips; $3/lb. for cucumbers

red onions including torpedo onions (upper right), sweet peppers, more heirloom tomatoes
Price: $3/lb. for peppers and tomatoes; $1/lb. for onions

Assorted Eggplants
Price: $2/lb

Summer Squash (left to right): Costata Romanesca, Gold Rush, Zephyr, Magda Cousa and Raven

Price: $2/lb.