Ferry Building Plaza, San Francisco - A Foodie Haven

As with all my travels, the planning stage typically happens last minute, usually in a frantic state and with repeated under-the-breath grumblings of "why didn't I start this before!"  I asked folks on twitter and friends who have travelled to San Francisco and I repeatedly heard the same two words: Ferry Building.  After doing a quick internet search, I soon came to realize that the Ferry Building Marketplace is a foodie haven.  If you could only make one stop in the city, you just need to come here because it has some of the best of the best, making it impossible to leave the building unsatisfied.

I arrived early, before many of the shops were open, and headed straight for Blue Bottle Coffee.  As I stood in line, getting heavenly wafts of freshly brewed espresso shots, I saw a gentleman pick up his coffee order and a waffle served in a coffee filter.  "What's that?" I asked out loud while adjusting the camera around my neck, squelching any doubts from those around me that I was in fact a tourist. "You have to try the waffle, it's soooo good" the lady ahead of me responds.

A cappuccino ($3.25) in one hand and a waffle ($3) in the other, I'm ready for breakfast.  As I sip back my artfully foamed cappuccino, I think to myself "what's the big deal about the waffle?  It's a waffle!"  I have eaten many waffles but as I bite into the crunchy, caramelized exterior and taste the sweet, soft interior, the voracious pace in which I finish it quickly affirms that I have never experienced a waffle like this.  I later learn that it is a Liege waffle which uses pearl sugar, a coarse-type of sugar, that transforms ordinary into extraordinary in this Belgian specialty.

Ferry Plaza slowly awakens with the sounds of shop gates opening and I am attracted to pastel colors of Miette Pastry Shop.  I ask the girl behind the counter what seems to be the popular items. "Everything" (of course) but she finally settles on the lavender shortbread, eclairs and the gingerbread cupcake with cream cheese frosting ($3.25), which I choose.  I take my dainty cake outside to enjoy while gazing out the waterfront.

The gingerbread cake is their best seller made with dark stout beer(!) and the comforting spices of nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom.  Thoughts of how so many children only eat the icing portion of their cupcakes comes to mind as I eat mine and I completely understand as the creamy icing melts on my tongue.  No sooner than one bite into the cake do I have two visitors approach, eyeing my treat.  In a momentary lapse of reason, I tossed the remainder of my cupcake and it took all the power in me not to scream like a little school girl as the two large seagulls and their multiplying posse descended upon me.  I, in turn, hightailed it out much like another bird known as the Road Runner. meep meep.  Tourist. Indeed.

I check out bakeware and other colorful kitchen related items in Sur la table.  I salivate over the gorgeous rounds of artisan organic cheese from the award winning Cowgirl Creamery. There is so much to see and eat.

After having the pleasure of speaking and photographing Chris Cosentino for my blog, I made sure to stop at his shop so wittily named Boccalone - Tasty Salted Pig Parts.  I picked up a cone of salumi samples ($3.75) consisting of Mortadella with pistachios and black pepper, brown sugar and fennel Salami and Proscuitto Cotto. I was reminded of the simple picnic I used to have when I lived in Vancouver, where I would grab some deli meat and a hearty roll from Urban Fare and sit at the Yaletown waterfront, taking in the ocean breeze and people watch. On my way back out to the waterfront to people watch and dodge seagulls, I grabbed a Schoolyard Levain roll ($0.60) from Acme Bread.

Around the lunch hour, booths and tents with merchants selling their wares can be found outside the front of the building among the tropical palm trees.  Tuesdays and Saturdays you will find the Farmers Market as well as free walking tours. Even if you only have one day to visit San Francisco, I couldn't imagine a day better spent that taking in all that Ferry Building has to offer.