Saturday, June 03, 2006

SF- Ferry Building Farmers' Market

I am always surprised at the joy of seeing so many ripe fruits and vegetables underneath the large white umbrellas that wait as a beacon at the farmer's market saluting me with seasonal abundance. Today was no different except I've not found the time to come and pay homage for many months- too long I found.

We were overwrought by organic cherries, strawberries and blueberries. A vendor sold handmade yogurt in small clay jars with flavors like Meyer Lemon and Honey. A slice of sweet, fresh orange collapsed in my mouth as if ushering in summer through its sweet citric juices. White mulberries and organic ollalieberries enticed, but I settled upon some hearty beefsteak tomatoes that did not disappoint later in the evening. Something holistic like purchasing fruit and vegetables from the farmers who are tending the land makes you feel like you are giving back to your community and the earth upon which you tread in gratitude and appreciation- not out of a greed for production through genetically modified foods.

There is something so captivating with the discovery of new food finds- as if Vasco da Gama is dwelling deep within my palate, so with childlike glee, we became acquainted with two new goodies: candy cap mushrooms and sea beans.

We stumbled upon a small vegan foodcart, hidden underneath the shade of a column of the ferry building for a restaurant called Alive and began our rather insightful tasting excursion. I appreciate and adore great vegan food and all of their offerings were tastefully presented. We tried the flaxseed cracker with zucchini and carrot, and the blueberry pecan chip. But the enticement which induced both my friend Michelle and I to make a purchase was the cheesecake made of Candy cap mushrooms. Silky and smooth the cheesecake, which is totally dairy-free and vegan had a sweet maple-like tone with a blueberry compote and pecan nut crust.

"Candy caps are available fresh in the fall and are used by various restaurants to be incorporated into sweet combinations. There's a store just inside where you can see what they look like."

No sooner had the Alive restaurant proprietor sold us our new delicacies for the evening than we swiftly sought out the fungus shop to continue our foray into the world of the sweet mushroom. I was beaming from ear to ear and felt like a child with a new toy. The employee at the fungus shop pulled down a glass jar and before he removed the metal lid asked us, "Are you ready?"

With abated breath, he unstopped the jar and I inhaled a sweet pungent maple aroma emanating from the jar. Twice, the words "incredible" escaped my mouth. I am eagerly awaiting the fall when the experiments for twists on desserts will abound.

As I am in my candy cap reverie, Michelle beckons me over to try a sea bean. I look at her quizzically, after looking down at these sectional green bean look-alikes. But I pop one in my mouth and they recall an al dente haricot vert with a wash of sea salt exploding from the middle. They're fabulous! We each pop another and decide to split a basket between the two of us. (My farmer's market salad is really taking shape now...)

And thus I am reminded of the joy of being alive from a slender bean of the sea and a sweet fungus of the earth.