SAN FRANCISCO FERRY BUILDING, Pt. 1

I
magine a location that unites America's gourmet creme de la creme. The finest cheeses, wines, chocolates, coffee, pastries, breads, olive oil, cured meats and fresh produce and meats. I know it's a bold assertion to name any one place, so I'll make the leap to at least proclaim one place that comes pretty darn close: the San Francisco Ferry Building. If I had to choose one place to grocery shop and eat from for the rest of my life, I would choose the San Francisco Ferry Building. It  contains one of the strongest collections of suppliers of artisan/organic products I've encountered yet.



When I started writing this post, I thought that it would be a good idea give a cursory introduction to each vendor in one post, but then realized that I was doing an injustice by glossing over the unique detail that inspired my admiration.  It would be akin to taking you on a trip to go window shopping, without pointing out the distinct attributes that make each shop so special. Since there is much ground to cover in the Ferry Building, I'm going to break it up into a couple of posts over the upcoming days to highlight the significant detail of each vendor.


Cowgirl Creamery, does this name sound familiar? You may recognize it from the several award-winning cheeses that carry their name: Mt. Tam, Red Hawk, Pierce Pt, Inverness, and St. Pat. In addition to aged cheeses, they always have on hand same day freshly made mozzarella (heavenly!), cottage cheese, fromage blanc and creme fraiche - the last three are also award-winning. If the accolades are not enough to convince you, Cowgirl also carries a stunning collection of great cheeses from highly regarded producers from across the US as well as France, Italy, Spain and Greece.


Mimolette, Extra Vieille, Jean d'Alos, Normandy, France($36). If you cut into a well-aged mimolette, it's unlikely you'll ever forget its intense reddish burnt orange color, which is reminiscent of the maddening and entrancing color of a harvest moon. For its complex, earthy and nutty flavors, this is my husband's favorite cheese.

Roncal ($25/lb), made from rich sheep's milk of the Lacha and Aragonesa breeds of oveja sheep in region of Spain, adjacent to the Pyrenees, makes our list of our favorite semi-hard cheeses.


Mont St. Francis, Capriole Dairy, Greenville, Indiana, ($27/lb). I haven't had this cheese but was intrigued by the notes: Mont St. Francis is a hearty, stinky, cheese, semi-hard and rich. We love it but it's not for the faint of heart! One of our customers has described it as "a cheese you would not want to eat on a first date, but maybe on the 2nd if the first one went well."  I dare anyone of you guys to eat this on a first date!
 

Sofia, Capriole Dairy; Greenville, Indiana ($26/lb).

Wabash Cannonball, Capriole Dairy; Greenville, Indiana ($9/ea).

Cowgirl also offers the additional supplements to the cheeses such as jams, sauces and crackers from local artisan producers. 

If one whiff of the odoriferous cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery knocked you out, then the heavenly aroma of freshly baked breads will be sufficient to restore and tickle your senses to reflate your appetite. Next door is Acme Breads, which carries a full selection of warm and crusty artisan breads. Acme uses only organic flour and works closely with multiple farmers in selecting the finest grains to source their ingredients. Friends from France, who lament about the inaccessibility of good crusty and chewy baguettes, say that this is pretty darn close. Given that nothing will ever match up to what they've grown up except for the real deal, it is a very good compliment. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos, but here is one from flickr.

If you're looking to make a sandwich with the cheeses from Cowgirl, and loaf of bread from Acme, you can look to Boccalone, which offers handmade artisan cured meats, from salumi, bacon and sausages to cooked specialties such as mortadella and pate.  Boccalone is also mobile, offering sandwiches and cookies in the pictured food cart that can be tracked by twitter, where it has over 2,200 followers to date.

The sandwiches are huge and delicious, however, I have found the salumi to be excessively salty at times.

Rounding out cheeses, breads, salumi would be the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, which offers an amazing selecion of wines, a large portion from California. How amazing you might ask? I've been able to taste wines that I've never seen sold anywhere except by exclusive auction houses such as Christie's or Sotheby's. The first and last time I tasted the 2002 Screaming Eagle Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was at the Wine Merchant. Even though I wouldn't have even coughed up the insane amount of dough for a bottle of this cult classic, I was impressed that the wine bar was able to offer it at all. And after tasting it, I can confidently say that I will not pay the asking price of this wine. This is a picture I took of the wine bar I took over the summer.

The wine bar is full-service with a knowledgable and friendly staff that will run a few shops down to bring charcuterie from Boccalone, breads from Acme, cheeses from Cow Girl, and even sturgeon cavier from Tsai Nicoulai cafe, another amazing vendor that I've barely made a dent in because it's so expensive, to pair with your wine.

There's more but it will have to wait until the next post!  In the mean time, I'd love to hear about your local vendors that are notable.

43 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

"It would be akin to taking you on a trip to go window shopping, without pointing out the distinct attributes that make each shop so special. Since there is much ground to cover in the Ferry Building I'm going to break it up into a couple of posts over the upcoming days to highlight the significant detail of each vendor."


FABULOUS approach to this post series!! I'm awestruck by this first installment, and am eagerly awaiting the next :)

A Year on the Grill said...

sigh... I'm from Kansas... nothing close. We are meat folks. We do have severa; specialty meat stores worth writing home about, but Dean and Delucca is as close to a quality cheese shop as we get.

We do have a real farmer's market that you would like. Lots of fresh off the farm produce

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

I loved this post and can't wait for the others in the series!!! The Ferry Building is truly amazing; I haven't been in years but plan on taking my mom when she visits in the spring. I think the Cowgirl Creamery will be a VERY dangerous place for me.... :)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I absolutely LOVE the Ferry Building, and your cheese photos are making we crazy happy! If not for the East coast snow, I might have been stopping at the Ferry Building this week. Glad to have at least made the trip virtually!

Chef E said...

I cannot decide what I want more...so, I will take the bike, whiz through and grab as much loot as I can before they haul me off, and put me behind bars for being in foodie heaven! I will make sure however that I bribe the guards with nibbles of that cheese and maybe share some bread...

♥peachkins♥ said...

This is my kind of place. I wish I could visit this place some time.

Chow and Chatter said...

oh wow what a place me likey!!

Dolce said...

I love the ferry building! When I go to San Francisco, I always stop by... There is so many great stuff to eat and see :)

girlichef said...

Gorgeous cheeses!!! Wowza...if only Greenville weren't at the southern tip (I'm at the Northern tip) of Indiana...I'd be there in a heartbeat!! I'm totally wishing I could visit SanFran, though :)

Anncoo said...

I've never been to these places when I was in San Francisco. Thanks for your info.

HippieMom said...

WoW!WoW! You are transporting me each time..

Wish you Happy Holidays!

((Hugs))

Mimi said...

I must agree I would love to do my shopping at the ferry building. Nothing close to it here in San Diego. I guess I need to visit SF again soon.
Mimi

Debinhawaii said...

It's been a couple years since I have been there but the Ferry Building is truly incredible. Your post made me drool! ;-)

Angie's Recipes said...

What a drooling post! I would have a hard time to choose...

Natashya Kitchen Puppies said...

Oh my, you visit the most wonderful places! cheese and bread, my two favourite things.

Erica said...

That place looks amazing! I can't wait to visit..thanks for sharing!

5 Star Foodie said...

Drooling over all the delicious cheeses!

Jennie said...

Fantastic post! I went last summer and I was in heaven! Thanks for taking me back there again! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm green with envy!! SF is one of my favorite cities, what an amazing event.

Katherine Aucoin said...

I would love to be able to grocery shop there every week. what a fine selction...and that's just the cheese. i would never have a bored pallette there.

kat said...

When I was there in November I was so lucky to get to do a cheese tasting with one of the founders of Cowgirl Creamery. Their cheese can't be beat! I also had to buy a t-shirt from Boccalone

Joy said...

After reading all of your posts about San Francisco I am now itching to go back to visit. The last time I went was when I was 12 and all i remembered doing was whinning about riding in the car for too long. It is so nice to have a city full of artisan and organic goods and not to mention the numerous fabulous restaurants that are spread throughout the city. Thanks for sharing, now I know where to go for my next vacation :)

Joanne said...

I went to the ferry street market when I was in SF for the marathon and absolutely fell in love. It's such a good thing that I don't live there because I would be spending obscene amounts of money there every weekend! I did some taste testing at Cowgirl Creamery...everything was absolutely amazing. God I love cheese.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Oh how I love the Ferry Terminal Market! Its an absolute treasure and you've really captured it here. It goes without saying that I could spend a lifetime in the Cowgirl Creamery's stall alone! :)

As for your question ... I know you know the drill here in NYC, so this is nothing you haven't already heard ... but, I'm a big fan of Chelsea Market, The Market at Grand Central Station and, of course, Union Square.

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Super tour....thanks and boy do I have a long list of places to see and do when I eventually make it across the Atlantic!!!! Thanks for taking me there....

John D. said...

I love theFerry Building! I would so move to San Francisco just because of it. Well, maybe not just because of it. Actually seen a famous SF chef shopping there, so it's not just for the tourists.

Nancy said...

Great post! I love SF and the ferry building in particular. Those cheese pics are incredible!

Krissy @ The Food Addicts said...

This reminds me of the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival. One of the events was held at the SF Ferry Building. I wasn't able to attend this event, but heard a lot of great stories about the market there. Looks like you had a great experience...looks like a lot of interesting and unique merchants!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Fantastic! Great building and gorgeous food! That cheese looks so fine!

Cheers,

Rosa

and this blog said...

I miss that building full of deliciousness!!!... did you see the thinly sliced pears covered in chocolate? jen and i were tempted to buy last time, but they were pricy.... but sooo good...

man i wanna go to Boccalone right now! =)

Julia said...

So jealous!! I miss the Bay Area. Sigh.

Ravenous Couple said...

actually got a chance to use that meat slicer at baccalone to slice up some prosciutto...it was like slicing butter!

kiss my spatula said...

oh...how i miss wandering the ferry building on saturday mornings. thanks for bringing me back!

kiss my spatula said...

oh...how i miss wandering the ferry building on saturday mornings. thanks for bringing me back!

nancy at goodfoodmatters said...

I love CowGirl Creamery and have been fortunate to enjoy their amazing cheeses on the few occasions that we were in the Bay area. Now,
my daughter lives in DC, close to Cow Girl "outlet."

Janice said...

I love these pictures, you've truly captured all the deliciousness inside the Ferry Building and more. I love coming here whenever I'm in town, it's a foodie heaven

3 hungry tummies said...

OMG! I ve been to cheese heaven and back!

Danielle said...

I'm trying to catch up on all the posts I haven't had time to see and comment on (so sorry)...I just have to say...wow! Incredible cheese and mushrooms (from previous post) and chocolates and everything. You take fab. photos girl.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

So glad I found your blog. I can see the Calif. girl coming out in your posts. The Ferry Building is fantastic though - especially on Sat. during the farmer's markets.

Sprouted Kitchen said...

what GREAT pictures! i love that place, makes me want to pack up and leave right now!

fahre said...

I am really enjoy the fantastic traveling blog...

ashleygerrald said...

Thanks for the fantastic ferry travel blog, Your ferry travel pictures are really good.

cheers.

Anonymous said...

Wow, just looking at those pics makes me hungry haha. Are all those cheeses local ones or are there imported ones as well?