I wandered over to Civic Center at 11:15 today. There are around 10 stalls serving prepared food, each doing one or two specialty items, and maybe 50 farmers or vendors each selling a single product, many offering small tastes. Almost all of the stalls and farmers were from the greater Bay Area, so a regular visitor to the Ferry Plaza and Alemany markets and regular eater at Chowhound board favorite spots won't find much new. I purchased prepared food at three stalls, making a point to try things from restaurants outside SF (much as I really wanted the Bi-Rite ice cream sundae, which I could have any day by walking a few blocks from my house).
* hand-pulled noodles with beef stew and chili oil from Imperial Tea Court
* puri from Vik's Chaat
* muffaletta from Armando Batali's Salumi in Seattle
Aside from fact that those three items don't belong in the same meal, I enjoyed all three. The puri was my favorite -- cool yogurt and tangy tamarind on light, crispy puffs was the right thing on a hot day. Hand-pulled noodles had excellent chew texture, and it was fun to watch them pull out the dough and slice the noodles right there. Apparently Imperial Tea Court only serves this regularly at their Berkeley store, not at the Ferry Building. The muffaletta sandwich was too oily, but all is forgiven when Batali's mole salami is involved. I could eat a whole stick of that salami in one sitting (oh, wait, I once did).
Lines were already long. I can't imagine what the scene will be over the weekend, especially since both the hand-pulled noodles and puri are very labor-intensive made-to-order items. Very Slow Food Nation?
Each of the three items I had was $6 or $7. Two would have been enough for a meal for me; one would have been enough has a snack.
Side note: all the prepared food stalls and farmer/vendors are in front of City Hall, west of Larkin. The Sunday Heart-of-the-City market is scheduled to go on as usual.
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