While I make coffee in the morning, I like to open our kitchen door to let in the warmth of the sun or the coolness of the winter rain. Today, I could smell the remaining footprints of our last winter rains mixed with the scent of springtime jasmine.
After two days of icy cold rains, we were blessed with warm weather and slivers of sunshine. I was excited. I grabbed a quick cup of coffee, kissed Lenny good-bye and headed out with camera and notepad in hand, to explore the Alemany Farmer’s Market.
This market is not terribly far from our house so I had no excuse not to visit. As I turned the corner, I caught a glimpse of the market and got very excited. There was a sea of colored tops and vendor stalls, which was a very pleasant surprise as my last market adventure was near rained out. When I found parking immediately, I knew this trip was meant to be.
As soon as I started walking from my car, the foggy air was filled with the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, a hint of spicy food and the distant sounds of steel drums. I was immediately taken back to a far away land; I was no longer in the middle of San Francisco. I was completely ready to jump in.
When I arrive at a market, I first take a walk through, to see who is there, what is available and scout out the best prices. There was no fluff, no tourists, and the prices were right. I later discovered it was the first farmer’s market in California. Started in 1943, the Alemany Market has been dubbed the “people’s market.” It has all sorts of product, but also great just-cooked food and lively entertainment.
This market supports small family farmers and it is about 50% certified organic. There is fresh produce for a variety of backgrounds like Chinese chives, bok choy and daikon, and Latin-inspired sugarcane and guavas. The final days of winter were still evident in piles of root vegetables, citrus, apples and hard squashes. But, there was a small glimmer of spring in the early season green garlic, strawberries and bright tulips.
I fell in love with a small organic farmer, Tomatero Farms. They had an abundance of everything I wanted: broccoli, beets, wild arugula, wintergreens, kale and super sweet carrots. The staff at Tomatero are young, upbeat and very personable, and promised that the hints of spring would be budding at the market in only a few short weeks. I am so excited to be cooking with their produce this week and am equally excited to learn that they dry-farm their tomatoes. Can Summer come soon enough?!
This market also had an assortment of food vendors. I love street food and this is a great place to get some amazing food. Not only were there freshly shucked oysters but also amazing tamales, wood-fired pizzas and Malaysian-style crepes.
Entertainment was around every corner. I listened to a steel drum player who took me back to the days when I use to travel to the Caribbean. I watched the old woman who was entertaining small children with her dancing cat while she played her saw. And, finally, I was taken back to a movie I loved, The Visitor, when I heard drums beaten over at Princess Aisha’s stand, lovely background music to set off her pretty Shea products and baskets.
Alemany Farmer’s Market is more than a farmer’s market. It’s a place where everyone can meet up and fill their baskets with produce and a bit of community spirit. I’ll be returning soon.
Alemany Farmers Market,100 Alemany Blvd, 101 Saturdays, 6AM-6PM
Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic Studio. Follow Maggie Battista on Instagram.