Something magical happens in the Bay Area on a weekly basis. I'm talking about The Farmer's Market. You might think me sentimental calling a farmer's market magical, but in today's corporate climate, it is almost miraculous that something like a farmer's market even exists. Let alone thrives. And out of all the places in the U.S., the Bay Area probably has the most and best farmer's markets. One of my favorites is the Alameda Farmer's Market. Not only is the vendor turnout strong and consistent, the produce is always perfectly ripe, and the selection is always excellent.
The Alameda Farmer's Market also happens twice a week year round. Depending on your schedule, you can visit the market on Tuesdays from 9am to 1 pm or Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm. The market is located on Webster and Haight so you can have breakfast or lunch at one of the charming local eateries either before or after the market. My suggestions are Café Jolie, Domenico's Italian Deli, or Croll's (especially if you want a little something to drink).
Or grab the ingredients to make your own tasty and unique meal from the market. Items I always get are a variety of homemade breads, local honey, organic fruits and vegetables, hummus, pita chips, flowers, and kettle corn. The bread vendor always has whole loaves ranging from sourdough to levain as well as individual pastries and croissants. The honey vendor offers clover, flower, and sage honey. And you can actually watch the bees hard at work! Organic fruits I've recently enjoyed include Asian pears the size of grapefruits and strawberries the size of baseballs. My favorite vegetables include radishes, snow peas, and carrots. And if you like the kettle corn, you should also pick up a bag of caramel corn. You can also find a homemade soup vendor, a butcher, a pie maker, and a vendor who carries every Indian spice and ingredient you could ever need.
I have to dedicate a whole paragraph to the hummus vendor (Hummus Heaven). Not only do the workers of this booth encourage you to try every hummus they offer, they can tell you which hummus works best with which foods. And talk about variety and quality. You won't find a better selection anywhere. They have any flavor you can think of. Avocado, artichoke, tomato, garlic, jalapeno, chive, eggplant, basil...The list goes on and on. And they also sell pita chips to go with their hummus. These crispy beauties are buttery and wholesome. You can get garlic or lemon pepper. And the price is great. You get three items for $15. So you can choose three different flavors of hummus or get two dips and a bag of pita chips. You'll definitely be coming back for more.
Because of the Alameda Farmer's Market I always have fresh flowers in my bathroom, kitchen, and balcony. You can get a beautiful, varied bouquet for just $3, and the flowers will stay fresh for up to two weeks...at least. My current bouquet includes tiger lilies, mums, carnations, gerbera daisies, and baby's breath.
There's always a musician to listen to while shopping, schmoozing, and eating. And the vendors are all very friendly. It's almost not an option to pass on free samples. But beware. Anything you sample you will probably buy. This market, in particular, reminds one that supporting local vendors, farmers, and businesses is not only affordable, it's fun. What better way to enjoy your community than to go out and taste it. If you want to try something new and unique, you have to shop the Alameda Farmer's Market. You can learn more about it at www.pcfma.com. Or visit your own community farmer's market. Remember that these are the people who keep variety, quality, and the environment alive.