On our summer road trip, we spent four nights in San Francisco. When planning the itinerary for the trip I made sure to allow plenty of time there. I absolutely love the city– the crisp sea air, the beautiful architecture, and the amazing restaurants. San Francisco has so much character and history; I’m always looking for an excuse to visit!
One of our first stops was the Ferry Plaza, a huge seaside hall that has been overtaken by local food brands. I’d been before, but my husband never had. I was excited to introduce him to the place. It’s truly a feast for the senses!
Ferry Plaza is open all week long, and it also hosts a special outdoor farmer’s market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. When the market is going, there are tons of fresh and local options– anything you could want in terms of ingredients can be found there.
Our first stop was an outdoor cafe next to the farmer’s market. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and we felt like eating something light before exploring the building. I ordered this caprese salad with mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, and fresh basil. The simple salad was sprinkled with sea salt and drizzled with olive oil. The tomatoes were wonderfully sweet. Everything tasted like it had just been picked earlier that day… I guess that’s the advantage of having a cafe next to a year-round farmer’s market!
Next, we explored the inside of the ferry building. It’s set up like a long hall, with small stands and little stores offering their food-related wares. There are bakers, butchers, organic markets, cheese mongers, olive oil farm stands, gourmet chocolatiers… there’s even a stand devoted totally to mushrooms and mushroom-related products!
The fresh produce is so colorful and ripe– you can smell the freshness of it walking past. I wonder if this is where the cafe buys their heirloom tomatoes?
I had to stop at a stand selling local artisan cheeses. If we hadn’t been on the road, without a refrigerator, I probably would have spent a pretty penny here. Alas, my ice chest would only keep things cold so long.
You can find pretty much anything in the ferry building, including freshly cut organic flowers.
My favorite find of the day was Straus brand organic frozen yogurt. Straus Family Creamery is a family-run dairy Marin County. They were the first certified organic creamery in the United States– quite an accomplishment! I couldn’t help but sample the product. With toppings like raspberry puree, chocolate covered espresso beans, and Miette gingersnaps, who could resist??
I chose dutch chocolate frozen yogurt with caramel sauce and Maldon sea salt. Happy Shiksa!
The ferry building is always an exciting outing, and I never fail to have fun tasting and exploring there. If you’re in San Francisco for a visit, I highly recommend it!
When I’m on vacation, I’ve made it a hobby to collect cookbooks from the different places I visit. Some people collect stones or snow globes, I collect recipes. While in San Francisco, I discovered The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market Cookbook. The book is full of fun, fresh, simple and seasonal ideas. It’s organized by month, highlighting the seasonal west coast produce available throughout the year in easy and tasty preparations. As I was thumbing through the book, a recipe for Blackberry and Nectarine Crisp caught my eye. I loved the simplicity of the dish, but I couldn’t resist making a few changes. Blackberries and nectarines can veer towards tart, and I prefer a sweeter dessert, so I chose to make it with ripe peaches and blueberries. I added a touch more sugar to the filling to counteract any natural tartness from the berries. In the original recipe, flour is used to thicken the filling. When I bake pies, I prefer minute tapioca as a thickener, so I used that instead.
The result of my experimentation is this Peach and Blueberry Crisp, which turned out to be a resounding hit with our family. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
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- 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans, almonds or walnuts (I used pecans)
- 6 tbsp chilled unsalted butter cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 large ripe peaches, pitted and sliced into 12-14 pieces each
- 1 pint ripe blueberries
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3 tbsp minute tapioca
- A few drops aged balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice (I used a honey orange balsamic)
You will also need
- Food processor (optional), shallow 2 quart ceramic or glass baking dish or gratin, cookie sheet
- Vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche for serving
- Place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. In a food processor, combine the first 5 topping ingredients - flour, brown sugar, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse a few times till ingredients are blended. Add nuts and unsalted butter to the processor. Continue to pulse till the mixture is combined and crumbly. Do not over-process-- you want some texture to the nuts and bits of butter in the mix. If you don't have a processor, you can instead mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the butter mixture with your fingers or a pastry blender. Work the butter into the mixture till a crumbly texture forms.
- To make the filling, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir gently till combined. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes.
- Pour filling mixture into your baking dish and spread it in an even layer.
- Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top of the fruit filling. Place the baking dish on a cookie sheet - this will catch any overflow of fruit juice in the oven.
- Put the crisp and cookie sheet in the oven and let it bake for 50-60 minutes, turning once during baking, till the crisp is lightly browned and the fruit filling is bubbling.
- Remove the crisp from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve the crisp warm topped with vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche.
- Store any leftover crisp in the refrigerator. Reheat before serving.