Saturdays? YES. Sleeping in, relaxing day trips to Napa with Angel, hiking sprees in Purisima, urban farming in SF, and cat naps in Dolores Park topped off with a chilled, chocolate drenched, chilled vanilla bean cream stuffed eclair or bruleed cream atop smooth and tangy lemon custard in a firm yet delicate buttery tart crust from Tartine. And what better way to embrace the day if not with a euphorium enhancing moment at my local farmers’ market.
Look at how busy DP gets during events and whatnot, courtesy of Brian.
(The busiest I’ve ever seen Dolores Street! Well, okay, this was during SF’s Gay Pride. But that’s an amazing crowd.)
(Dolores Park on a nippy summer Saturday afternoon after Angel’s and my vacation getaway to Napa. This picture Angel took is breath taking.)
Luckily, I live down the street from a farmers’ markets located in the highlands of San Mateo, California (in San Francisco’s Bay Area) aka — the College of San Mateo parking lot. Luck-ier-ly, CSM’s farmers’ market is awesome and is in my top 5 Bay Area farmers’ market list. With a hearty glug of organic and fresh produce from nearby farms and a few sprinklings of prepared goods, this market bakes its way into my heart every Saturday.
But then again, this market and I go way back. I met her seven years ago as a sparkling teenager. She welcomed me with the wafting scent of freshly popped kettle corn and the lure of plump, ripe, strawberries; and until this day, I still visit this market religiously.
From the expected fresh fruit and vegetables, baked goods, and honey vendors found at most farmers’ markets, this market also offers the unusual — an occasional face painting lady, a homemade granola person, artisan beef jerky and handmade natural soaps with a musical treat for the ears.
I’ve only seen Singing Wood once at this market, but take a gander at my poorly recorded home video of their music. I stood stunned by the musical bliss — never had I encountered an orchestra of xylophone playing wonder. (And yes, I would know — I played the xylophone in 8th grade. My junior high symphonic band even traveled to Disneyland to perform. I know, I know; so bad ass.)
Singing Wood — please listen to them; these cats have mad talent. Warning: this video will be incredibly shaky for your eyes. Watch it with your ears, please.
So, because this market is my favourite thus far in the Bay Area and has so many goodies to share, I split the market into two post. This post will feature the prepared goods, as in all-thing-not-produce.
Non-produce vendors that all my money finds its way to:
1. Pamela Soaps
2. Farmhouse Culture
3. Jerk’N Pickle
4. Crepe and Brioche
Let’s start with the soaps — made of natural and high quality organic oils, shea butter, and absolutely no preservatives or artificial ingredients, Pamela and Dirk’s home and handmade gourmet bar soaps will leave mass produced and chemical filled cleansing products where they belong — on the store shelf (or better yet, not produced).
These bars fill your shower steam with relaxing, soothing scents of aromatherapy while leaving skin moisturized and lightly perfumed. I, personally, have been addicted to these square shower buddies for a healthy 9 months now. Having dry skin that doesn’t react well with sulfites/sulfates and chemical based products guided me on a hunt towards alternate shower products. Then one Saturday, a gentle sliver of Pamela’s soaps slipped into my hands just as I was departing from my usual trek through the market’s aisles. I was hesitant that a soap could relieve my unmanageable and irritable skin, but I was so so so wrong. How wrong? I noticed immediate improvements. I was so amazed by this soap that I purchased a 6 month supply for myself not realizing that I didn’t have the room for it. Away I mailed them and was soon receiving requests for more soap from friends and family. (True story — ask Brian.)
With scents ranging from floral to citrus filled or peppermint oil and made of coffee grounds or crushed herbs, to the classic lemon verbena, Pamela Soaps has me addicted to a few soaps including the Bella Flore, rich in moisturizing jojoba oil and shea butter, and lemon verbena, just because their version of the scent is delightfully crisp and clean. Refer to their site at PamelaSoap.com to see what other scent soaps Pamela and Dirk make. They also have containers of pure shea butter as well as amazingly refreshing and rejuvenating facial moisturizers. Don’t be afraid to ask for samples! (And let them know Virginia sent you. Wink.)
Now onto the kraut — t’s fermented and local, it’s German and organic, it’s delightfully tangy and packed with probiotics that are great for health, digestion, and your happiness. Showcasing 5 types of kraut on a regular rotation (apple fennel, classic caraway, garlic dill, horseradish leek, and smoked jalapeno (my favourite!)), Farmhouse Culture Kraut has been featured in magazines, including Saveur and Martha Stewart Living and The New York Times and has gained nationwide recognition. Let a tiny bamboo fork filled with strands of fermented cabbage and slivers of carrot and miniature cubes of jalapeno find its way onto your palate during a visit to this market, please. Your tongue will thank you. (Or if you’re too far, order a jar from farmhouseculture.com)
I don’t eat salads. However, top a salad with Farmhouse Culture’s kraut as a faux dressing and I”ll gobble it up. Yum!
Savory, spicy, meaty goodness. That’s right — artisan beef jerky. Jerk’N Pickles is essentially a beef and pickle haven, especially if you live for spicy. With flavours like jalapeno, habanero, and hot teriyaki, this jerky will rock your world. Well, maybe. If not your world, then certainly your tastes buds. Hop on over to the Saturday market in San Mateo to try the goodness. With 7 different all beef jerkies and 10 kinds of pickled things, including beets and hot & spicy green beans, a local beef jerky and pickles vendor is a special treat. ‘Find more about them at jerknpickle.com.
Crepes are delicious. Brioche(s? haha) are light and airy pockets of scrumptious dough fluff. Combine the two and you get Crepe and Brioche, an amazing French bakery with wonderfully European breads and pastries. Served by real Frenchmen (and a woman or two) with real live French accents makes a croissant taste that much better. Famed for their fresh loaves and baguettes, a plethora of cakes, chocolate pastries, custard and fruit topped croissants, and savory foccacia flat breads topped with cheesy goodness and my brother’s favourite — muffins, Crepe and Brioche literally take the cake.
Keep your boob tube tuned — an article featuring produce from the San Mateo farmers’ market is soon to come.