I lived in the San Francisco Bay area for almost a decade and it was there where my passion for food really blossomed. So, in my first “discovery” post, it seemed very fitting to feature one of my all-time, favorite food destinations in the world: the San Francisco Ferry Building. Timing was such that I was recently in San Francisco for a friend’s wedding and had some spare time to “rediscover” this amazing place!
The Ferry Building was built in 1898 in a Beaux Arts style – the entire base is an arched arcade reminiscent of European buildings. It has a 240 foot clock tower inspired by the Giralda bell tower of the cathedral in Seville, Spain. The highest quality materials were used and the Grand Nave is 660 ft. long. In the early 20th century, it was one of the busiest transit terminals in the world. However, with the construction of two main bridges in the late 1930’s and the widespread adoption of the automobile, the ferry use fell sharply and the condition of the building declined with objectionable changes to the interior use.
In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, as part of a comprehensive port plan, the Ferry building went through extensive restoration and renovation. While still functioning as a ferry terminal, it was also transformed into a food market and restaurant space that focuses on local, sustainable products. The sky-lit Grand Nave is lined with dozens of specialty food producers – artisan cheesemongers and bread bakers, pastry chefs and chocolatiers, mushroom purveyors and olive oil merchants among many others –showcasing the very best of the Bay Area's world-renowned food community. In addition, it also home to one of the country’s top farmer’s market in the country. On Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays, the exterior of the Ferry building is lined with local chefs and farmers selling farm fresh produce, prepared foods and artisanal products such as jams, dips and sauces. If this does not qualify as a food paradise, I am not sure what does!
When I visit San Francisco, I take advantage of my jet lag and make my way to Ferry building quite early before it gets too crowded. This allows me to have in depth conversations with the farmers, chefs and purveyors and I always walk away with having tasted more samples that I bargained for and a bit more food knowledge!
For more information on the San Francisco Ferry Building, go to www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com.