It dawned on me yesterday that I am probably one of the most knowledgeable customers at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (on San Francisco's waterfront, for those of you who aren't locals). I visit the market faithfully every Tuesday and Thursday, and most Saturdays.
A lot of the fun of shopping at a farmers market is seeing the produce evolve over the weeks and seasons and finding the perfect moment when a fruit or vegetable is at its prime. I call this dynamic shopping. But not only is there variation in the quality of produce from week to week, but there is also variation from vendor to vendor within a given week.
For example, I'd been buying sweet, dripingly juicy navel oranges from one vendor for the past several weeks, but then, practically overnight, the oranges became small and mealy. So I switched to another vendor. In my mind, there's no brand loyalty at the farmers market; it's simply a matter of buying from vendors when their particular crop is at its best.
Without further ado, here are my picks for tomorrow's market. "Front" indicates locations in front of the Ferry Building. "Back" indicates behind the building.
Porcini Mushrooms from Far West Fungi (booth in back; storefront inside)
Look at those beauties! They're newly arrived and ready to enjoy. If you don't see them at the outdoor booth in the back of the building, go to their storefront inside.
Sugar Snap Peas from Chue's Farm (front)
Wow, have these been super sweet and crunchy! It's hard to find snap peas that aren't scarred and tough-skinned this season, but Chue's peas have been consistently smooth-skinned and tender for the past few week. Sold in 1-pound bags.
Navel Oranges and Tangelos from Bernard Ranches (front, first vendor on left)
This citrus is so juicy and bright flavored, you'd swear it was the height of the season. If you like tart, bracing flavors (like I do), tangelos will hit the spot. If you prefer something sweeter, navels are your choice.
Asparagus and Baby Cabbages from Dirty Girl (back)
Their asparagus yesterday was absolutely pristine. Picture-perfect. Slender, smooth stalks that practically glistened. I'm sure they'll be the same tomorrow. I adore their baby cabbages. Unless you have a larger family, a full-size head of cabbage is far too large. Dirty Girl's cabbages can fit in the palm of your hand.
McGinnis Ranch Strawberries (front)
These strawberries are consistently sweet. And a good bargain, too. (I believe they are $3.50/large box.) I've also found them to have an impressive shelf life - about 5 days in the fridge.