Food and Drink

Farm-Fresh Eats Across the Bay Area

A tour of Northern California's seasonal produce and the best places to buy and enjoy it.

WHEN ASKED ABOUT the time of year, my four-year-old daughter — very much a Northern California girl — is more likely to tell you that it’s cherry season than summer. We have very little temperature variation in Oakland, so it’s easier to measure time by the passion fruit or fava bean. Walking our abundant farmers’ market stalls, it’s no surprise that the Slow Food movement, helmed by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, was born here.

At the South Berkeley Farmers’ Market, I regularly encounter alumni from the pioneering restaurant, who now have their own exciting farm-to-table eateries. Sam White, of Oakland’s Ramen Shop, tells me that this Tuesday market is popular among chefs and that — between Riverdog Farm, Full Belly Farm, and Dirty Girl —“it’s got the best of the best” produce, such as dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes and salad greens.

On Saturdays, I take the ferry across the bay to San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market. For cheese, there’s Korean-born biochemist Soyoung Scanlan’s artisanal offerings. You can also find Nico Pena, formerly of Michelin-starred Quince, here, shopping for green garlic for Octavia, where he is the newly minted executive chef. I’ve also spotted Saison’s team here, as well as Brandon Jew of the celebrated contemporary Chinese spot Mister Jiu’s. Inside the Ferry Building, you’ll find Hog Island’s oyster restaurant, but why not go directly to the source? I prefer to grab a dozen oysters from their Tomales Bay farm and drive down Marin County’s Highway 1 to shuck them on the beach in Bolinas, a hippie town with breathtaking coastal views. On the way out, I stop by Gospel Flat’s honor-system farmstand for artichokes and carrots, picked by hand just yards away, and, if I’d remembered my cooler, live crab.


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Our Contributors

Laura Smith Writer

Laura Smith is the deputy editor of Departures. Previously, she was the executive editor of California magazine and has written for the New York Times, the Guardian, the Atlantic, and many more. Her nonfiction book, The Art of Vanishing, was published by Viking in 2018.

Hisham Akira Bharoocha Illustrator

Hisham Akira Bharoocha is a multimedia artist based in Brooklyn, NY, working across various mediums including large-scale murals, paintings, drawings, collages, audio/visual installations, and performances. Bharoocha has had solo exhibitions at Snow Contemporary and Ginza Mitsukoshi in Tokyo, D’Amelio Terras in New York, and De Vleeshal in The Netherlands, and has exhibited his work in numerous group shows in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. His work has been published in Artforum, NOWNESS, i-D, V, and Flaunt Magazine to name a few.


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