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Markets & Stores 3

Jack London Square Sunday Farmer's Market

Stanley Stephan | Jun 2, 200301:18 AM

If you like your Farmer's Market with a view, this market has the best one. It was also a lot larger than I expected with about 40 vendors.

They also have a frequent buyer's plan. If you buy the spotlighted produce (I think it was oranges this week) and four other fruits or veggies you get a small gift. At the end of the summer there's a drawing for a grand prize for all the participants.

Another thing I liked about this market was that there were many small farmers represented. Having done a tour of the markets the past few weeks, there were farmers I didn't encounter before with some stellar produce. Also there were many of the farmers from the South Bay Farmers Markets.

My find at this market was John Spenger Foods for their oils and vinegars. My favorite was the Bistro Blend which has garlic infused EVO, Balsamic vinegar, spices, chile flakes and parsley. Really an elegant vinaigrette.

Everything I tried was great. They had a really nice 18 year old Balsamic vinegar. I suffered through the years when fruit vinegar was a trend, however Spenger's balsamic blackberry and the balasamic raspberry had a flavor that was true to the fruit and not at all cloying. Not inexpensive at $16 a bottle but, IMO, worth every penny. The basil garlic parmesian is supposed to be great according to another customer, but they were sold out. Nice Thai Sesame Ginger blend as well.

Stackhouse Bros. Orchards sells nuts and this is the first vendor to give Van Mourick true competition. Wonderful almonds. They also sell a number of flavored nuts and had a nice concept of a selling bags with all the flavors mixed together.

Valley Best had some beautiful summer squash and delicious Fisher naval oranges.

Reno Xeiri was the egg vendor with non caged hormone free eggs.

Joe Goteili and his wonderful cherries that are sold at a number of the markets was there. However this week I would say that Mora family farms had the best cherries with their sweet crispy Bings.

Ibarra-Cruz has some wonderful bagged lettuce and produce. Happy Boy, which is one of my favorites in the South Bay, had beautiful kale and bok choy this week. I'm a fan of their bagged lettuce with edible flowers at $2.50.

In prepared foods I really liked Mercy's homemade monkey bread, a yeasty almost sweet bread. Would be wonderful as dinner rolls.

Dot's Baking Pantry had some delicous looking desserts which included Hershey cake, red velvet cake, sticky rolls with huge pecans on top, pies, cookies, scones.etc. etc. It all looked good.

Il Pastio was selling fresh pasta. Cuneo bakery had some foccacia which looked like Linguria's. Their bakery is in South San Francisco and they had 8 different varieties at the market today.

Golden Sheaf breads had pre-sliced breads in plastic bags, but they also had some good looking biscotti. Speaking of bagged in plastic, Beckman's bread was there and I maintain they don't belong in a farmers market.

My favorite at the Los Gatos Market, Nina's Kitchen, with it's Russian baked goods was at the market. They were selling some wonderful buckwheat crepes. I love this place and they give lot's of samples to get you hooked on their excellent food.

Shaymee's Aussie Toffee was giving generous samples of their buttery toffee. Here's their website:

The sausage vendor was DiBrova Sausage which is available at many markets as well as Costco. All the hot dog talk on the board this week made me crave a dawg with saurkraut. Not impressed. Inferior kraut, Rainbow rolls and the dog was just ok. I fed the roll to the pigeons and they walked away. I haven't tried their sausages which include five pepper chicken, Bratwurst and a number of other varieties, so they might be tastier than the dog. People were lined up at this cart.

Other regulars were the ever present Marin Gourmet and Quick N EZE Indian foods. Donna's tamales is at a number of markets as well.

Seafood included Capn Mikes Holy Smoke and a fresh fish vendor that also had oysters and smoked fish.

Blossom Bluff which were my favorites for peaches, plums and apricots at Ferry Plaza were there. If you see their blueberries snap them up. Really tasty. I've also seen them at the Marin Civic Center Market.

Iocoppi which is also at Ferry PLaza has really nice beans (fresh and dried) and peas.

Fontana farms with nuts, jams and fruit also sells in Los Gatos. Their stand here is much smaller with less variety.

Santa Fe Trading which sells it's dozen or so flavored tortillas at the Marin Civic Center was there, also with a scaled back product line and no tortilla warmers. Barini Olive Oil is also at a number of markets as well.

Although this market is spread out, it is very handicapped accessable. Benches line Jack London Square if you need a break. Parking is under the square and validated (seventy five cents the first hour).

It's a great place for kids as well although there are no kid specific attractions. All sort of interesting boats ... the Oakland fireboat the Sea Wolf ... Franklin Delano Roosevelt's yacht, the Potomic ... ferries ... tug boats ... sail boats. There's even a small fire station at the end of the square. You can see Jack London's original cabin (well half of it is original).

The horse like cranes that lift trucks off the ships stoically seem to watch from the distance and the trains that pick up those trucks run by the square. There's a huge grassy lawn where some families put down blankets and were picnicing and soaking up the sun and enjoying the view.

There is even a place you can take kayak lessons. All of this set amoung the shops and restaurants at Jack London Square.

There's also a Artisan Market place on one end if you like that sort of thing.

It's been a decade since I've been to Jack London Square. It's much better than I remember although it is still seems the land of the chain restaurants.

I'm wondering if some of the restaurants in the produce district next to the square are any good. Last time I was there the Oakland Grill was a hot restaurant. However, they were only half filled on a Sunday. The Cuckoos Nest seemed to be doing a thriving business. Has anyone tried Soizic Bistro?

Speaking of which, I'm going to make it to the Friday market one of these days. Is Ratto's Italian Deli still good? Last time I was there they were as good as Molinari's. I never see them mentioned on the board.

Next Saturday, June 7th, is the PortFest at Jack London Square. Events include an airshow, harbor tours, aviation exhibits, maritime exhibits, three stages of entertainment ... and ... International food booths.



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