Saturday, January 22, 2011

Journal: Ferry Building & Farmers' Market

For two Saturdays in a row the weather in San Francisco has been glorious. With that, I headed out this morning...and what did I discover as soon as I entered the Ferry Building? Pepple's Donuts.  My mind was blaring with conflict: OH YES! (more scruptious treats at the Ferry Building! Doughnuts, doughnuts, doughnuts!!! and OH NO! (I can NOT afford to eat like this!) 

Well, it turns out that Pepple's is organic and vegan. Does that make them wholesome? You betcha.   They could be  some of the healthiest doughnuts on the planet. In any case, the two that I tried today are certainly among the best doughnuts I have ever had. I think I like them better than Dynamo.

I tried Pepple's two most popular flavors, Salted Caramel and Candy Cap.  Indeed The People know! These doughnuts were stop-in-the-tracks yummy. 

Salted Caramel. (A bit bruised from the beets I was also carrying.)

Candy Cap. (Ditto. A little battered. Smooth and pristine at time of purchase.)
I could not believe these doughnuts were vegan...I do they do it?! Unlike most doughnuts, these had none of that yucky doughnut aftertaste that lingers and lingers.  The doughnuts themselves (plain) are so good that they could be quite tasty with just a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Yes, the icing on these puppies really are the "icing on the cake"--a bonus. Salted Caramel is topped with a sprinkle of rock salt, and Candy Cap has a frosting that tastes like maple butter.  

Candy Cap doughnut, bissected

Other flavors offered today included Matcha Green Tea, Kaffir Lime Leaf, Mango Chili as well as conventional favorites such as vanilla glazed, cinnamon sugar and chocolate.  Oh boy.  $3 a doughnut.

I have never paid so much for a doughnut, but these are not Dunkin' Donuts, or Entenmann's, the toxic kind I grew up on.   

My next stop at the farmers' market was Primavera, my traditional first stop. Their lot has expanded and they have a new sign from the last time I was there...early last summer.

I passed up on my regular order of chilaquiles (with beans and perfectly scrambled eggs) for a single tamale, thinking I would be feasting more later. Their tamale was succulent, as usual.  Hot and moist without being greasy.   The salsa verde was really spicy! 

Next stop was the Downtown (Healdsburg) Bakery for some fig newtons (FNs). These are the best and biggest FNs I have ever had. The outside is firm cake and the inside is a soft, almost gooey fig center with a strong mincemeat flavor.  These cookies could be called mincemeat newtons.  $1.25 each.

Huge for a FN

My last stop was serendipitous.  I was all done shopping and was about to head out but could not resist a bit more food-prowling.  So I flitted inside the Ferry Building until  I ran across a cart filled with scones and squares of chunky coffee cakes and met the hospitable owner of California Coffee Cake Company, Nancylee Hawkins.  Among her repetoire are cakes like Cranberry Butter Crunch, Butter Orange,  Chocolate Death, and an even more dangerous-sounding Double Chocolate Orange. She also features  coffee cake classics such as New York style crumb and cinnamon crumb.

Chocolate chip scones

Almond cake mini-loaves

Pecan scones
When asked, Nancy said her bestseller was her blueberry scone. So I took one home with me.

Blueberry scone
The scone tasted comfortingly familiar. Not because I have had something similar at cafés but because it tasted homemade. The texture was something between cake and a more typical (eg dense) scone. Nancy said that her products can be found in places that serve Blue Bottle coffee, and I think the two would  make for a power couple--a wonderful flavor combination. The scone pairs well with tea too! I can't wait to try her New York style crumb cake...

The visit to the California Coffee Cake Company was an uplifting one to end my food trip today.  As lovely as the Ferry Building is, not all the sellers seem happy to be there. Understandably, interacting with swarms of people, who carelessly touch and handle the products that have demanded your blood, sweat and tears can take a toll...and make you lose faith in human nature.

I doubt I could work at the farmers' market for this reason!

This is why my hat goes off to those who are kind and pleasant anyway.  My patronage will too. 

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