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The Berkeley Farmer’s Market Overview– best breakfast pastry in the Bay Area


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The Berkeley Farmer’s Market Overview– best breakfast pastry in the Bay Area

Stanley Stephan | Jul 29, 2003 04:45 AM

The lobster ravioli caught my eye at Phoenix Pastificio. So I was looking over their pasta, ravioli and sauces. However, a crowd was hovering near by waiting for the Danish. A huge tray still warm from the over was pulled out of the van and people flocked around them like hungry pigeons.

Forget Tartine. Forget Bay Breads. I’ve never been to La Farine, but I can’t imagine ANYTHING better than Phoenix Pastificio Danish.

This is what I imagine Danish is supposed to taste like, not the limp Enterman’s type stuff that passes for Danish. A thin crackly almost croissant like crust was sugared. Inside were rich, buttery, eggy layers of pastry studded with raisins. There was a hint of cinnamon. Paired with a cup of Blue Bottle smooooooth decaf Americano, it was one of the most memorable breakfasts in my life.

An Auggie Doggie for this one. (The cartoon dog that would take a bite of his food, start moaning “mmmmmmm” and then float in the air in ecstasy.

If you can’t make it to the market, Phoenix Pastificio has a shop at 1786 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley where they sell these outstanding pastries.

I actually wrote this up on Saturday and just as I was going to post, I lost everything. Just as well. It was way too long …. War and Peace long. So I’m going to break it up into readable posts.

I’ve actually been at both the Tuesday and Saturday farmer’s market a few times since May and have put off writing about it. It is both my least favorite and favorite market.

For me, I have to be in the right frame of mind to go to this market. This market has a vibe that is unique.

It has the most aggressive panhandlers patrolling the entrances. I had just spilled some hot coffee on my hand and was trying not to drop the cup. A guy approached me trying to sell a street sheet. “Not now”. I said. “Come on you can afford it”, he persisted following me. “I finally turned and growled “Listen, this just isn’t the time” …. And he still followed me.

Then there is the petition signing, the politicians running for something or another, the whole political spectrum. I just want to buy my tomato in peace. There is a time and place for everything. The farmer’s market isn’t it. Again, if these people were not so aggressive, it would be less annoying to me.

Finally, the parking police hover around like mosquitoes. A few times I had to pick up and leave to beat a cop to the meter. Leave the cars alone on market day. Does Berkeley really need the pocket change so badly?

On the plus side, there is a similar sense of community that the old Ferry Plaza market had. The vendors really know their customers and chat it up about the produce. I learned quite a bit. I put separate post on the general board about one egg vendor who said the organic eggs didn’t need to be refrigerated. Looking at the posts in response, I’m starting to think that eggs, as one poster said, may be like tomatoes. The refrigeration kills some of the taste. It seems in Great Britain, people don’t refrigerate the eggs and they have a richer flavor (no, not like sulfur).

Also, this market has more vendors that don’t sell anywhere else. Many don’t have their own shops. So you get a different variety of products.

This market gets big points for being the only one of two that doesn’t sell Sukhi's Quik n Ezee Indian Foods. Big points …., big, big points. I don’t know that much about Indian food, but I’ve tried the stuff out on my friends from India and they pretty much concede it is not too tasty and overpriced.

Berkeley probably has the largest prepared food variety of all the markets. The down side of this is that I don’t seem to buy many vegetables.

This is also the most generous in terms of samples. A walk around the market is breakfast and a heavy breakfast at that with the sauces, spreads, breads, fruit, etc, etc, etc.

This is also big vegetarian country. Many of the prepared foods are vegetarian or vegan and they all have some vegetarian product. Surprisingly most of the vegetarian products are very tasty, even to a meat eater like me.

There is a nice shady park next to the Saturday market. The Saturday Market is 10am to 3 pm on Center Street at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

The Tuesday market is a little more scaled down and in a different location. It runs from 2pm to 7pm on Derby Street at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. This is a more neighborhood type of market. Locals stroll over from their houses. There is a near by nursing home that seems to take some of the residents over for a visit. Parking is easier. However you must brave the street people and petition signers to gain entrance.

The full list of vendors is in the link below with address, phone numbers, a brief description of products and links to web sites, if any.



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